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From #SXSW: 6 ways to build a strong brand community

This guest post is by Daley Epstein, a contributing writer for SmartBrief.

Every business needs a base of loyalists to build it up — a community, a fan club, a tribe. At the recent South by Southwest Interactive Festival, Andrew Warner, the founder of Mixergy.com, and Timothy Sykes, the CEO of TLC Media, shared some tips that can help businesses that are unsure how to build a following and keep it strong.

  • Aim for the evangelists first. When building a following, you shouldn’t be targeting all your current customers, Warner says. Instead you should focus on people who are extremely passionate and supportive of what you are doing. If you create a product or an idea and sell it to a customer who’s really excited by your brand, his enthusiastic explanations to his friends about what you offer will multiply your fan base. Enthusiasm spreads, so always be working to build a web of passionate people.
  • Create a sense of demand. False urgencies, such as deals that “end in 24 hours,” lead people to feel like they have to get involved or risk  missing out. Missed opportunities break hearts, and nobody likes the feeling that they can’t go back and change their actions. It’s the same concept that exclusive nightclubs use when they turn people away. You get a sense of fulfillment when you make it in, so you continue going back instead of trying that new bar down the street. Make your brand an exclusive club and people want to be a part of it.
  • Have a common enemy. Anger is a powerful emotion that sparks ambition and motivation. If you and your tribe are united against something, that shared opposition will keep your bond strong.
  • Don’t let them forget what you’re all about. Never let people forget what your selling or trying to accomplish. Feature your product on every page of your website. Be bold in your requests and be willing to urge customers to take their commitment to your business to the next level.
  • Bring in a ringer. Involve something that’s bigger than your brand, then capitalize on the benefits of association.
  • Treat your people well. Their loyalty and appreciation comes from mutual giving, so once you have them, help them enjoy being there.