One of the most powerful and important aspects of marketing is something that very few businesses or marketers think about: that is community.
A community is any collection of people who feel a certain kinship, often due to a shared set of interests, values, or cultural activities.
Communities online emerge all the time around certain topics and hobbies. And one of the most obvious examples of this is in Facebook groups. Good Facebook groups don’t necessarily create communities, but tap into those that already exist and give them a forum in which to communicate and grow.
Some of the biggest hits in the world come from these kinds of communities.
Right now on the web, there are countless businesses trying to make it in the emerging ‘nootropics’ industry. These are supplements designed to make people more productive, more creative, or more focussed. The problem is that companies bring out products with the same promises as all their competitors and then disappear without making a splash.
One company that was successful however was Natural Stacks, which found success with a product called CILTeP. The reason for this was that CILTeP began life in a forum – one user discovered the combination and became popular sharing their creation for free with the members of Longecity. By doing this, they developed a big following that was almost guaranteed to buy the product and to create buzz for it.
The same thing happens in games development all the time. The truly successful indie games are almost always the ones that began life as free Flash titles (such as Super Meat Boy, or more recently My Friend Pedro). These games build big followings while the creator shares their experience crafting the title.
There is a huge difference between something that truly feels ‘home grown’ by the community itself, versus something that an outside brand tells a community they’re ‘supposed to like’.
Moreover, there is a huge difference between a lead and a friend. When someone in an online community really knows you and considers you at least an ‘online friend’, they will not only be much more likely to buy your product, but also to provide useful feedback, to help you promote it, and to shout about it to anyone who will listen. In short, they want to help you succeed.
This is what many businesses never even try to do. Instead of thinking of making as many followers or customers as possible, think about making a couple of friends.