Being a global brand presents numerous challenges, not least how to create a feeling of community across, what is often, a diverse and varied audience. There are a range of different ways brands can create successful, thriving communities with The Financial Times the latest brand taking steps to foster, and promote, theirs.
THE BENEFIT OF CREATING A GLOBAL COMMUNITY
The Financial Times has developed a series of short videos showing a range of their readers the importance of being kept up-to-date by the FT in ‘Uncertain Times’. Darcey Keller, FT’s chief communications and marketing officer told The Drum, their readers see it ‘”more than a paper they read and subscribe to, it’s part of their identity, it says something about them”.
The videos convey that The Financial Times informs but also, unites their intelligent, thoughtful and important readership through international political and financial news.
A strong community can be a huge benefit to a brand. Just as the FT have targeted their readership with the ‘Uncertain Times’ video series, other brands have also attempted to create a community among their customers.
BRANDS CREATING SUCCESSFUL COMMUNITIES
Lego Ideas is a creative community that allows members to submit ideas for new designs, and in fact users can showcase their designs. If these designs get over a certain number of votes, Lego will consider producing it officially.
The Harley (Davidson) Owners Group, HOG, is a way to let fellow enthusiast arrange meet-ups and events, with comparatively little done online. The community instead is built on the experience of owning and riding a bike, allowing community members to meet fellow enthusiasts to share their passion for their bikes, the lifestyle, and the brand. Harley Davidson set the wheels in motion by promoting the group and sponsoring an annual event but the regular – often monthly meet ups of the HOG community is facilitated and run by the members themselves.
In 2008 Starbucks launched My Starbucks Idea, a platform to allow customers to voice ideas about new products and service improvements. To date, there has been over 240,000 ideas suggested and over 1000 implemented.
SAP is a global software company and one of the largest vendors of ERP and other enterprise applications. According to SAP, 75% of all global business transactions encounter a SAP system. Promoted as the social network for SAP professionals, the SAP Community Network (SCN) lets users contribute blogs, ask questions and learn on all the software products SAP offer. Particularly interesting is that there are global brands who are members, including Disney and BOSE, as well as SME’s. There are a range of incentives for users to contribute, including one user being picked as community member of the month who then features in a detailed profile on the website.
The Playstation forum allows (Playstation) gamers everywhere to swap tips, look for help, discuss games and their general likes and dislikes. Like the other communities, it allows users to interact with their peers from round the world but also, lets Playstation see first-hand how their consumers are reacting to their products.
Communities result in consumer loyalty and add authenticity to the brand. The critical point when creating a community is sincerity. Brands who are genuinely interested in their consumers create a community, through loyalty, as they feel the brand both listens and responds to their custom but critically also aligns with their own values.