During this lonely time where most of us are forced to stay behind closed doors, digital community building is more important than ever. And for brands that are looking to stand out in a crowded marketplace and establish a built-in audience for immediate sales before the launch of a new product, building a community may be your best bet.
What Digital Community Building is And Why It’s Essential for Brands to Succeed in 2021
Good news: it’s more possible than ever to be a successful beauty entrepreneur today compared to all the generations before us. With fewer starting costs and barriers, independent brands continue to thrive.
But at the same time, there are a lot of beauty brands out there competing for consumers’ attention, meaning it takes more effort to stand apart, and a whole different strategy also. For a brand to be successful today it needs to feel real. Simply running ads isn’t enough nowadays.
Instead of overproduced, photoshopped content (think Maybelline ads on the back of a Cosmo mag), today’s consumers prefer interacting with brands that are raw, transparent, and start a conversation. I see digital community building as an opportunity for customers to connect with one another, share how they use a brand’s product, share insights, jokes, and inspirations. Yes, the connection of brand and customer on an authentic level is important, but community building means that the consumers are connecting with each other the way Harley Davidson fans throw their own rallies with each other or Lady Gaga helps her “monsters” feel seen, heard, and feel like they’re a part of something bigger- a community.
Feeling a sense of togetherness is essential right now during this lonely pandemic where most of us are confined and unable to see loved ones.
So how do you do that? Two words: brand community. Growing your digital community with the strategies shared in this article is a great way to building a movement by creating platforms for customers to interact with one another while increasing loyalty and sales with your customers.
Similar to a real-life relationship, building trust with your customers is a long process. As brands are becoming more human, real, and adaptable, building a community is the extra step your brand can take to help your customers feel seen, addressed, and heard.
The Biggest Causes of a Weak Digital Community Around Beauty Brands
Your brand must have a strong core identity before all. This means having clear brand values and a purpose which will look different for each brand.
Fenty Beauty is an example of a beauty brand that has created a growing, supportive cult-like gathering of beauty enthusiasts online. Simply scrolling through the comments on their IG posts, you can see how Fenty fans show up for one another with encouragement and validation, giving the brand a much-deserved reputation of inclusion.
4 Best Ways to Build Digital Community for your Beauty Brand
1. Facebook Groups
Although fewer people are active on Facebook, Facebook groups are still a solid strategy to build connections with loyal fans.
Have you noticed that you never see FB page content on the top of your newsfeed? Since Facebook’s major algorithm change back in 2018, Facebook pages started to be prioritized to almost nothing. This was also the same time Facebook rolled out a new feature- groups. Since then, thousands of brands have turned to this method of communicating in a more personalized way.
FB groups are a space to answer questions, swap tips, expand lifestyle content, share brand updates, conduct polls, and share exclusive promos. Taking it one step further, brands can take advantage of their Facebook groups in order to survey their next product.
- If you have an existing FB page, invite all your FB page likers to join your group (FB has a simple button for that).
- Turn your group settings to private for exclusivity to entice new members and ensure privacy to encourage users to share more.
- Add a questionnaire for users to complete before being able to join the group to help you capture emails (maybe in exchange for a free sample or discount as an incentive).
- Be sure to fill out as much data as you can in your group settings (i.e. the type of group, description, tags, and linked pages) so that Facebook’s algorithm can better suggest your group to relevant users.
- Pay attention to curating posts that are more general to avoid being 100% promotional and sales-heavy (like Glossier).
- Groups are also a great place to recycle your older content – share your previous blog posts, youtube tutorials, etc.
- Keep in mind the goal with branded FB groups is that they quickly build up to be self-sufficient where customers are engaging with each other. Once your group grows, it’s helpful to have a moderator participate occasionally and curate conversation-starting content on a weekly basis.
- Facebook lives can also be conducted inside your groups. Bovanti Cosmetics hosts weekly live tutorials each Friday with a different theme each time, demonstrating how to use their products while interacting and responding to their followers in real-time.
Since May 2020, Clubhouse is a new social media app that can best be described as real-time podcast episodes on speed. Since it’s still in beta mode, it’s currently only available for iOS phones and can only be accessed after being approved from a waiting list or personal invite.
Clubhouse is essentially a platform where users can join or create chatrooms focusing on a wide range of topics.
The advantage is that the format is an audio chat that disappears immediately once the conversation is over, which makes it easy to hop on and off different chats to interact with many people. Plus, there’s less pressure than Zoom since there’s no need to bother putting on makeup or nice clothes. You also don’t need any special equipment other than your iPhone, iPad, or Mac laptop.
- There’s no need to create a brand account. Instead, I recommend brand founders simply show up and interact with your own profile to offer valuable insight and make connections (while linking your brand’s social media to your profile).
- I recommend placing your focus on creating an ecosystem for one’s brand where customers can connect with one another. It can be a curated talk session where the link is only shared to VIP’s and you can invite guest speakers relevant to your brand. For example, if you have a makeup brand, maybe you curate a talk on zoom makeup and have makeup artists as guest speakers.
- On Clubhouse, you can engage with everyone from your customers, to influencers, to investors and develop beneficial relationships.
- Not sure what to say? Try a Q&A on a relevant general topic. For example, if you’re an eco-friendly brand, try hosting or joining a chat about sustainable shopping. If you’re a haircare brand, consider talking about healthy hair tips.
- Clubhouse can also be a platform where you announce company news.
Hosting free events such as Zoom webinars or IG or FB lives are majorly effective ways to add value to your customer’s lives while increasing connection and building community and keeping users engaged. The ultimate goal with these events is to provide education and spark conversation with your customers like Mented Cosmetics does with their Founders Zoom Panel series.
Glow Recipe’s Boss Babe interview series is another great example. Each month they interview an ambitious businesswoman or expert to offer their fans motivation, empowerment, and confidence, all the while reflecting their brand’s core values. If having strong brand values is something you’re struggling with nailing down, this is one of the first topics we cover in depth in our C2C program (doors are open only twice a year, but if the current cohort is closed at the time you’re reading this, you can still sign up for the waitlist here).
The more frequently you offer these, the more your audience will see you as a trustworthy and helpful resource. Another benefit of bringing on experts is that you’re able to borrow their audiences if they share about the workshop to their email lists, expediting your audience growth.
It’s all about finding what aligns best with your brand, whether you do it with a monthly series like Glow Recipe or like Bovanti Cosmetic’s weekly makeup tutorials on FB live with a different theme each time.
Action tip: Put an air of exclusivity around your events by capping the audience to a limited number. An even better option is to offer an invite-only to VIP customers (shoppers who’ve bought multiple times to build community. Another key to building your brand community on larger zoom calls is to break out into smaller sub-groups or pods that are sorted by the participants’ age or experience.
Whether you love it or hate it, being active on Instagram is still as essential as ever.
Here are some of the top strategies to build your digital community on IG like no other:
- Reposting user-generated content, which makes your customers feel included and motivated to use your designated hashtags in the hopes of getting featured like Summer Friday’s and Ilia Beauty do so well.
- Sharing relatable posts. It’s not all about promotional content. Sharing relatable memes and lifestyle pics makes your customers understand your brand personality on a more personal level and helps them connect and engage with you.
- Replying to comments and DMs. This is a time-consuming process, but essential, so delegate this process if you need to.
At the end of the day, consumers in 2021 have a profound need for a sense of togetherness. At the same time, helping them find a strong digital community through your brand’s platforms is also the key to increasing loyalty and engagement with your shoppers. Using any of these tactics can help you achieve that, being sure to stay faithful to your brand’s core values throughout the process.
Ready to start implementing community building into your brand strategy (while being amongst other brand founders doing the same)? We’re launching our third cohort of Conventional to Cult Status, our 16-week live group program, this March. Join our waitlist here to be the first to get access to it. Spots are limited to 20.
Written by Aggie Burnett & Keemia Kaboli.