Marketers essentially have three options. The first is to ignore the idea of communities altogether and market to customers in a top-down fashion. Much of traditional advertising took this form: blanket billboard ads that marketed your product to anyone driving by or television commercials that speak to customers instead of speaking with customers.
The second is to enter existing communities to market your product or brand. In the online world this means display advertising targeted to particular forums or web content where communities have already been established.
Now, in the era of content marketing, some companies are attempting to create their own communities, drawing their ideal customers to them. These communities, often in the form of a corporate blog and or a Facebook business page, are not just intended to sell products but to provide a social space for customers.
The marketer should choose an approach based on the type of product they’re marketing. Building a community can be a good idea if your aim is to establish yourself as an expert in your field.
For instance, if you’re in the business of home improvement, you may want to create a space where people come and share tips and success stories with each other. The brand doesn’t necessarily participate in these conversations, but hosting these conversations shows that your brand cares about what people really need from a home improvement provider.
But be aware that building a community without due diligence can dramatically backfire. You may attract the wrong type of customer, which has the effect of repelling the people you actually want to participate in your community.
So the choice is yours. If you choose to build a community, you need to develop a sound content strategy. The content you share will dictate the type of customers you attract. Will you build a community?