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3 big reasons to build a brand community

Create a space for your customers to connect with your brand and each other. Learn why you need to build a community around your brand ASAP.

Picture this: A group of like-minded people focused on accomplishing the same goal, supporting each other, and learning from your content and digital products.

That’s the power of an online community. Brand communities give your audience the chance to connect with your brand and each other in an exclusive, dedicated online space.

In this article, we’ll cover three major benefits of building a brand community. Then, we’ll share how you can use Podia’s community feature to sell your products, share your content, and build your community — all in one place.

But first, let’s define what we mean when we say “brand community”.

What is a brand community?

A brand community is a group of people who are brought together by a common interest in your brand and products.

Members of a brand community have shared goals, challenges, and values. As a creator, your products help them achieve their goals, while your brand community offers them a supportive social community along the way.

Online brand communities are becoming more and more popular year over year.

55% of consumers want brands to help connect like-minded people, and 52% say they could be encouraged to join a brand community.

If you already use social media for your small business, you have the beginnings of an online community. But building a brand community means creating an exclusive space for your members to connect, collaborate, and engage with your brand and each other.

Often, this means moving away from the confines of a traditional social network like Twitter or Facebook Groups. 74% of the creators we spoke to are using Facebook for their communities — but 88% of those creators want to switch community platforms.

Dedicated community spaces are better moderated and more exclusive than social media platforms, and members already have a shared interest or goals to bond over.

Take Sephora’s Beauty Insider community and rewards program, for example. Sephora was one of the first brands to build an online forum for their fans to share beauty tips, receive invites to influencer events, and seek advice from brand experts.

Now, the Beauty Insider forum hosts over 76K conversation threads and 1,500 active topics per day. There are also 42 different groups in the community, each with an average of 36K members.

But you don’t have to be an international ecommerce brand or bring in thousands of members to benefit from a successful brand community. Keep reading for three big reasons you should build an online community ASAP.

3 big benefits of building an online community

1. Connect with your customers

“It’s easier to love a brand when the brand loves you back.” — Marketing pro Seth Godin

You can’t have a great brand community without a brand. As a creator, you are your brand. First and foremost, your brand community gives your customers access to you and your work.

Once a community is built and thriving, your followers will start to interact with each other — but it’s you, your products, and your content that drive people to join your community in the beginning.

64% of consumers want brands to connect with them, and 90% feel that values are important when choosing which brands to buy from.

The discussions you create in your brand community let you build those connections and bond over those shared values. You get to know your target audience on a more personal level, and in turn, you can create products and content that truly meet their needs.

Ask specific questions in your posts, then reply to comments to make your members feel heard.

Here are some conversation starters you can include in your posts:

  1. What are your biggest challenges when it comes to [topic]?

  2. What do you want to learn more about?

  3. How can I help you succeed and meet your goals?

  4. What was your most important takeaway from our last discussion?

  5. What was your biggest success last month? What advice would you give others who want to achieve that?

You can also ask your existing customers for feedback on new content ideas or invite them to test out a prototype of your new product.

One great example of learning from your customers comes from Tiffany Williams, founder of Rich Girl Collective.

Tiffany learned what her audience wanted by asking them directly. “People really want to learn and know what they can do to start either a side-hustle to make some extra money or to be able to leave their job so they can do it full-time,” Tiffany told us.

“I just ask my audience what they want, what they want to learn, and if it matches something that I have done, and I have been successful with, then I teach it to them.”

Now, Tiffany has a membership community of nearly 40K entrepreneurs and sells digital downloads that help her audience grow their own businesses.

Overall, asking for feedback creates a better customer experience and makes customers more likely to stay loyal to your brand. In turn, those loyal customers are more likely to give you actionable feedback. It’s a win-win.

2. Help members get more out of your products and content

When you create a community around your products, members can connect over a shared experience. Working through the same online course or striving to meet the goals of a membership challenge creates a sense of community.

Community members get a lot out of the community for help and troubleshooting from their fellow members, but the most prevalent motivation for engaging in a brand community is hedonic.

In other words, people seek out and engage the most with communities that create emotional experiences for them. There are few examples of this better than Make What Matters, a membership by podcast pro and entrepreneur Jay Acunzo.

Make What Matters is a group for creators looking to create meaningful content and connect with each other, so the ability to read and discuss Jay’s posts is a major perk. Community building allows Jay’s customers to make the most of their membership experience.

Similarly, Becky Mollenkamp’s Gutsy Boss Club membership offers an online community as one of its many perks.

In an FAQ, Becky highlighted these recurring benefits of joining her membership:

  • Twice monthly group coaching calls

  • Monthly journaling prompts

  • Quarterly book club

  • Quarterly trainings from outside experts

  • Private community

Those recurring benefits make it clear why Becky’s members renew their memberships month after month. As Becky put it, “You don’t have to go it alone.”

So, whether your members want to discuss your latest newsletter or need help understanding a lesson in your course, your community provides a space for them to talk to and learn from each other.

3. Build brand loyalty and turn customers into brand ambassadors

As a part of your community, members feel more emotionally connected to your brand. And when people feel connected, they’re more likely to recommend your brand and products to others.

Emotionally connected customers:

  • Have a 306% higher lifetime value (LTV).

  • Stay with a brand for an average of 5.1 years vs. 3.4 years.

  • Will recommend brands at a much higher rate.

Brand loyalty and customer retention can help your bottom line, too. It can cost up to seven times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one and repeat customers are nine times more likely to convert than a first-time shopper.

That’s why loyalty programs and affiliate programs are such effective digital marketing strategies.

Customer loyalty is the top business outcome of creating an online community. People tell their friends and networks about the brands they love, and word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools.

This is especially true in the age of social media. Your customers have bigger platforms than ever to spread the word about your business. When your customers become engaged, emotionally invested members of a community, you can turn loyal fans into brand advocates.

72% of customers say they share good experiences with others, and 65% of new business generally comes from referrals. As Dharmesh Shah, Founder of HubSpot, said, “The more advocates you have, the fewer ads you have to buy.”

Brand communities can also be a stellar source of user-generated content (UGC), like testimonials and reviews. Across industries, potential customers who look at UGC convert at a 161% higher rate than people who don’t.

​​Sales page testimonials work even better for higher-priced products, like annual subscriptions or pricey courses. In one experiment, conversion rates rose by 380% when reviews were included on a higher-priced product’s landing page.

For example, Jay Acunzo’s Make What Matters membership costs $1,000/year. Jay uses member testimonials to highlight how much value members get out of the subscription.

To gather UGC from your community, encourage them to share their biggest takeaways from your content or courses. You can also ask them what advice they’d give to someone who’s considering joining your community, signing up for your course, or working toward a similar goal.

For more tips on making UGC a part of your marketing strategy, check out these guides on how to ask for testimonials and how to display testimonials on your site.

Here’s the bottom line:

Creating a strong brand community can help you connect with your customers, create a better member experience, and build brand loyalty. To make it happen, you need the right community platform.

Build your brand community with Podia

At Podia, we spoke with creators about what it takes to build and run a community.

We kept hearing about the same problem: “It’s hard to talk to your customers and let them talk to each other in the same place where they consume your content.” That’s one of the big reasons that nine out of ten creators we talked to want to switch their community platform.

Many creators end up cobbling together separate solutions, like Facebook Groups, online course platforms, payment processors, and email marketing services. But these patchwork solutions create a gap between the community and the work it’s built around. Your work.

That’s why we launched Podia Community.

The community feature makes it easy for you to connect your audiences and your work. Community members can:

  • Purchase your products

  • Consume your content

  • Post and join discussions

…all in the same place. Because they’re already logged in to purchase your products or consume your content, there’s no need to build the habit of logging in to a standalone platform.

Podia’s Community feature also lets you create a variety of topics and posts to encourage community engagement. Your members can follow topics, comment on discussions, and even create their own posts.

You have complete control over the visibility of and access to different plans, topics, and posts. And because your community is built on your Podia site, you own the community member information.

All in all, Podia Community allows you to:

  • Build a community around yourself and your work.

  • Create opportunities for interaction and discussion.

  • Bring your work and audience together on the same platform.

If you have a Podia account, this feature is included with all plans. If not, don’t worry — sign up for a free 14-day trial and try out Community along with all of our other creator features. Or join our weekly demo to see the community feature in action.

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Bring your content, products, and audience together with a brand community

A brand community is an exclusive online space for people with shared goals, challenges, and values.

At the center of that community sits your brand, products, and content.

To recap, here are three big reasons creators should build brand communities:

  1. Discussions in your community let you build emotional connections with your customers. When you get to know your target audience, you can create products and content they’ll love.

  2. When you create a community around your brand, members can discuss your content, share advice, and help each other make the most of your products.

  3. Connected customers are loyal customers, and loyal customers are a top-notch marketing tool. A brand community boosts brand advocacy and awareness.

If you’re ready to reap the benefits of your own online community, check out Podia’s Community feature. You can sell your products, share your content, and build your community all in one place.

We can’t wait to see what you and your community members build together — and we’re here to help every step of the way.

A portrait of Rachel Burns

About the author

Rachel is a content marketer for Podia, an all-in-one platform where online courses, digital downloads, and membership websites – alongside their creators – thrive. When she’s not writing, you can find her rescuing dogs, baking something, or extolling the virtue of the Oxford comma.