"Birds of a feather flock together". Brands have understood this. In fact, an emerging trend illustrates it well and it is community marketing, or tribal marketing.
What’s the goal? It is to rely on a community of consumers to make your products or services shine, thanks to a dose of consideration, a pinch of unifying values and a dash of influence.
Are you ready to exploit the full potential of tribal marketing? We'll give you the recipe, with the advice of Olivier Amici, Head of Marketing France at Semrush.
What is tribal or community marketing?
A short definition of community marketing
Community marketing, or tribal marketing, consists in using a community to reach its marketing objectives. It could be with the launch of a new product, for example, by delivering a specific message.
But what does community mean? In marketing, it's mostly individuals who come together by affinity, shared values, common interests.
☝️ In this sense, this marketing approach goes against classic strategies that separate people based on homogeneous and fixed criteria: age, gender, geographical area, etc. Here, people come together because they feel they belong to a group, they share codes, behaviors, and vocabulary.
For example: a brand that targets a community of surfers reaches out to a variety of age groups, genders, and nationalities.
Organic VS sponsored
It is important to distinguish two types of community marketing:
- Organic community marketing. In this case, good old-fashioned word-of-mouth works. The community naturally talks about a brand that has won its heart by meeting its needs or by providing emotions. Which is a godsend for the company. It gets publicity without spending a dime!
- Sponsored community marketing. It implies the implementation of concrete actions to:
- use the community to your advantage,
- or create your own. If your brand has not reached a sufficient level of awareness, this is the scheme to consider.
How is community marketing evolving?
An increasingly distrustful consumer
Community marketing has emerged in a context where consumers are increasingly exposed to advertising: on their phones, on the Internet, on television, in the street, etc. This overabundance of advertising has led to a form of disinterest and distrust of traditional advertising messages.
This overabundance of advertising is creating a form of disinterest and distrust in traditional advertising messages. So, who do we turn to in order to know which brand to choose? It’s the people who look like us, who we identify with.
This overabundance of advertising is creating a form of disinterest and distrust in traditional advertising messages. So, who do we turn to in order to know which brand to choose? To the people who look like us.
“The consumer then becomes proactive. They look for information from their own people about the products that correspond to them, even before brands come to them.”
The new challenges of community marketing
Where to find your tribe?
One of the first challenges when tackling tribal marketing lies in the fact that the structuring of communities is not really predictable. It can be complicated to identify groups, to locate them, to find the way to get in touch with them.
But the good news is that with the rise of the Internet, communities are becoming virtual. Forums, groups on social networks, etc., are all ways to access your tribe more easily, and therefore potential customers.
How to talk to them without losing their trust?
Historically, what reinforces the trust of a community towards a brand is the spontaneity with which members gather around it.
Therefore, if you don't have enough brand awareness to build your tribe on its own, you need to be clever when introducing your marketing messages to them. Focus on the value you bring, on the consumer's interest, and listen. In other words, no navel-gazing.
Why should you switch to the community strategy?
Benefit #1: Cost
Let's face it, money is the lifeblood of any business! And tribal marketing has real economic advantages: since your notoriety can spread through word-of-mouth, positive reviews spread by your most loyal ambassadors, you don't even have to spend fortunes on your advertising.
💡 The Best of the Best: use the feeling of belonging to your brand and its values. Is it worth remembering how Apple managed to sell (very) expensive products by letting its community think it was different from the average person?
Benefit #2: Acquisition
Any community strategy involves understanding the codes of its tribe. And by taking time to understand them, you’ll be able to identify the needs of these consumers and address them in a more relevant way.
Moreover, by being less intrusive, tribal marketing wins over customers who have become resistant to traditional advertising.
Benefit #3: Loyalty
Once conquered, your customers remain loyal more easily! Indeed, in their communities, they feel good, confident and feel less like going elsewhere.
Moreover, by getting to know the members of your tribe, you know how to pamper them, encourage them to stay. It is a real advantage when you consider that retaining an existing customer costs 7 times less than acquiring a new one.
Benefit #4: the offer
It is quite easy to get feedback on your offers from your community. It helps determine the best way to perfect your products or services so that they best meet their needs.
Another good point: use the ideas generated by your community to feed your own thinking. It's a good way to innovate!
Some examples of tribal marketing to inspire you
🏃🏻 The connected sports equipment brand Sport Heroes relies on events to bring its community together and motivate them. Therefore, it organizes many events allowing sportsmen to exercise their physical activities together. It also sets up challenge systems to encourage practice.
☕ Starbucks gives a voice to its tribe. Thanks to the My Starbucks Idea website, consumers share their ideas with the brand to improve products and develop an adapted offer.
🎮 PlayStation has integrated a forum to its site. This way, gamers freely exchange on many topics around their common passion for video games.
How to do community marketing? 8 steps to get started... and perform!
Step 1: Define your personas
First, you need to identify the type of people you consider to be your best representatives, those who correspond the most with your values. In other words, determine your personas.
But beware, in community marketing, people's interests prevail. So avoid segmenting criteria such as gender. Instead, focus on components such as:
- hobbies, passions,
- common issues that your products/services address.
Step 2: Get to know your community
Getting to know your community means identifying :
- its culture,
- its codes,
- its language.
This observation is essential to engage and inspire your tribe, as you’d send them the right messages, both in content and form.
💡Tips: go where your community is, by subscribing for example to groups that interest them on social networks. A very good way to discover “their world”!
Step 3: gather around the right values
Creating a community is first of all, about bringing together individuals who share common ideas and values
So you will have understood, you must identify these very special values, those that will propel the actions you will deploy as part of your tribal marketing strategy. For example:
- sustainability, etc.
Step 4: Go where your community is
Once the DNA of your community is identified, it becomes easier to guess where to find it. Social networks remain a good entry point. You can, for example:
- Join groups that bring together consumers who share interests related to your brand,
- Create your own pages to communicate with them.
Other paths to consider:
- Build a community around your blog,
- Consider the community present on review sites,
- Create thematic events.
Step 5: Create an atmosphere for your community
This is where things get tricky, because once you know your community and where to find them, how do you actually go about engaging them?
The bad news is that there is no magic bullet. It all depends on who you are and the type of target audience you have. However, there are a few ingredients that work every time:
- Create relevant and unique content on a regular basis (posts, blog articles, videos, etc.). After all, how can you provide emotions to your community if you don't talk to them?
- Share content other than your own. If your audience loves you, you're not the only one who finds favor in their eyes! By sharing what others are doing (as long as it fits your community's DNA), you increase the trust relationship.
- Focus on their needs and aspirations. In other words, don't systematically talk about yourself and your products.
- Interact as much as possible with your community, especially by responding to comments.
- Think "multi-channel". In the internet age, your audience is on all fronts... and not only on social networks!
- Think multi-content. Videos, blog posts, white papers, etc., vary the formats. One thing is certain: the need to adapt to your audience.
Address your community using the codes and language that are specific to them.
Step 6: Bring your community home
Some companies, such as Amazon and its review system, have understood the importance of bringing their community back to their own websites. To do this, there are several strategies:
- Integrate testimonials on your blog posts,
- Integrate forums on your site (with moderation of course),
- Integrate reviews on your products or articles, etc.
💡Why not lean (discreetly) on your best customers, those you have identified as your ambassadors? For example, approach them to get a testimonial, in exchange for a business offer.
Step 7: Use influencers
Today, influencers are the talk of the town, promoting brands to a trusted audience.
Influencer marketing has the advantage of increasing visibility to your products/services to targeted personas, and helps to establish viral marketing.
💡 It's up to you to wisely select the right influencers based on the characteristics of your community (content offered, channels used, etc.) to preserve your credibility.
Step 8: Get the right people around you
Community manager or not community manager ? That is the question ! If you can afford it, hiring this type of profile is a good way to develop your tribal marketing strategy. Indeed, a good CM will be able to animate all your virtual communities and make your products and services shine on the web.
In general, keep in mind that all the departments of a company contribute to the broadcasting and promotion of its brand image, from marketing ,to support, to sales departments.
It's up to you to make the most of their skills, and all the levers mentioned above to conquer the heart of your target.