The secret behind brand communities

When Facebook launched its pages dedicated to brands, it used the perfect words: “brand community” and “fans”.
Probably THE best in class B2B marketing move: tell people what they want to hear and they’ll follow you.
Most marketers never really thought they could have a “brand community” or “fans” but if Facebook give you the tools to connect with them, it must be possible…
Well it wasn’t.
To put it in very simple terms, if you don’t have friends and I give you an iPhone, you still don’t have friends.
If you have friends but you lose your iPhone, you still have friends.
The tools don’t matter much; it is as simple as that.
And I can hear you saying…


 Some brands have a community, right but….

Right, yes, you’re totally right.  There are, and we always talk about the same examples: Harley Davidson, Nike, Red Bull, Jack Daniels, Apple…and in the beauty industry, Nyx or Urban decay.
So what makes those brands so special?
Well, the difference is that they have both a strong sense of purpose and very well-defined values.
Each of their decisions/actions/products/services/events are connected to those, so their fans can always understand and refer to them.
The second thing is that those brands are organically social, which means they didn’t wait for Facebook to arrive to have a sense of community. Also it took them years to built those communities, not 1 year and a Facebook page…
Do I need to say it again: there is no short term R.O.I. in relationship and therefore in communities.
They’ve chosen some vertical communities that they could fit into and made sure they could bring something new and relevant.

As Matt Hirst, the former director of culture marketing at Red Bull put it:
“Brands cultivating brand communities is, I think, one of the biggest fallacies of modern day marketing. At Red Bull, what we did was not experiential marketing although technically could be classified as such. There were lots of events, sure, but more importantly they allowed people from certain tribes to come together and bump into each other to create those human connections. They were events that could stand on their own. The brand was somewhere in the background. At no point were people coming to these big Red Bull events because they like the drink and wondered what else we might be up to. They didn’t dislike the drink, but they came because they knew that the event was going to blow their mind — was really a critical part of it. The mistakes that the brands make in this area is assuming that they are the center of the universe and that they can do no wrong. At the end of the day, you’re a f***ing brand. You’ve got to be clear that there’s a lot of human emotion that as a brand, you’re lucky to be part of. But you’re certainly not the star of the party.”

Help people! It’s empathy stupid

I loved that article about the future of advertising explaining in simple words how the advertising world has evolved because marketers have really created shitty advertising, believing consumers will love them.
Marketers are the 1st to criticize advertising but they believe that consumers will love their.
This lack of empathy amongst marketers is even more scary when you think that marketing is actually a lot about E-M-P-A-T-H-Y.
It’s pretty much the same with all those brands that see Facebook merely as a newsfeed about the brand and then wonder why people don’t care…
The reality is, a brand has the power to make people come together and meet, which is very powerful.
They have the power to defend amazing ideas (like Dove and women’s empowerment –  even though the group also possesses one of the most laddish brands with Axe) or simply blow one’s mind.
However it doesn’t mean that the brand should be at the center!
When bikers meet, the primary motivation is that they like to meet and because they belong to a vertical community.
The fact that Harley Davidson organizes the event tightens the link between the brand and the bikers. It helps the brand to better understand their “target groups”, but they don’t talk about HD all day long or showcase the new product.
That just doesn’t make sense.
Marketers need to be a bit more humble about their brand products and services and bring a seamless experience to their consumers but while helping them to connect.
That’s also what we call being consumer-centric and trust me, very few brands truly are.


gregfromparisAuteur: Grégory Pouy
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