What brands must do now to engage their customer communities

Simon Mainwaring / Brands / 8 years ago

Image: Majorly cool things

There’s an adage that is an apt description of the new dynamic at work between brands and consumers connected through social media: People support what they help to build. But now that many brands are launching community-driven cause marketing campaigns, the challenge becomes what to do next? Put another way, how do brands stay connected with their communities while also standing out from their competitors?

The answer is a logical extension of what brand leaders are currently doing in the marketplace. For example, Pepsi is doing a fantastic job of funding community generated ideas while also raising the profile of the brand. This strategy is effective because it serves as a powerful demonstration of a brand listening to its customers and valuing what they care about. By supporting these projects Pepsi is allowing their community to become co-authors of the brand narrative.

Moving forward, brands must go one step further. Brands must empower their community to be change agents in their own right. To that end, they need to take on a mentoring role. This means the brand provides the tools, techniques and strategies for their customers to become more effective marketers in achieving their own goals.

Exactly how a brand does this will be specific to each industry or shared value. It might require creating a collaborative platform through which brand loyalists can work together to achieve their goals. It may necessitate an online education platform through which a brand makes expert knowledge available to its customers specific to their goals. It may take the form of technical support that enables consumers to create mobile apps of their own.

Whatever the approach, the goal is to recast consumers as brand ambassadors working to achieve personal goals whose values are in alignment with those of the brand. This has an enormous halo effect for the brand. When a brand empowers consumers to act on their own ideas, it demonstrates not just trust, but an effective transference of responsibility for the well being of the brand to the customers. It also acknowledges how sophisticated consumers are in their use of social technology and their desire to participate in meaningful change. It solidifies a partnership between brands and consumers that drives dialogue, content and community growth. In short, the more brands do to celebrate the success of their customers, the more success they’ll enjoy themselves.

Do you believe brands should mentor their customers? Do you agree this would strengthen their brand communities?


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Avatar Mr. Social says:

    Another great post, Simon. Good value in there. Really useful pointers. Just shared it with my network. Your post clearly points to the changing role brands have to play in social media today.
    To quote Charlene Li of Groundswell, the focus is on Relationships… not Technologies. Your post reaffirms that.
    Providing the tools, setting the platforms, empowering consumer etc. calls for specialist hard work behind the scenes. Looking at it positively, (as mentioned during the Call for Action at World Economic Forum, Davos 2011)… SM infrastructure creation = Job creation. Best Wishes to all for 2011, @

    1. Thanks so much, and yes, I was really encouraged by the messaging at the WEF
      this year. What you say is so right. Reputation and relationship management
      is all. Thx, Simon

  2. Thanks, Eric. This is a whole new partnership dynamic that can achieve
    amazing things if done right. Thanks., Simon

  3. […] Purposeful storytellers must engage the listener(s) in a dialog. Telling purposeful stories is interactive. It’s not a monologue. Ultimately, purposeful tellers […]

  4. […] brands are waking up to their social responsibility and doing good work through cause marketing campaigns. Yet too many still go about it the wrong way. I mean ‘wrong’ in two senses.  Firstly, […]

  5. […] You Economy does a critical job of demonstrating how consumers now co-author the stories that brands tell and why they must celebrate their communities if they hope to inspire their customers to go to work […]

  6. Avatar Dydacomp says:

    Great post. I definitely agree with you on the importance of brands taking the time to mentor clients to help them grow businesses. I think it is a great way for not only the company to engage customers, but this engagement allows the customer to build up trust which is necessary for a business relationship to grow and benefit both parties. I know here at Dydacomp, we try to help our clients grow and expand their ecommerce businesses through blog with tips, tricks,webinars ect.

    Thanks for this one!

    Molly Griffin

    1. Thanks Molly. Yes, I think the more trust brands invest in customers the
      greater loyalty they inspire. Sounds like you’re doing great things at
      Dydacomp. Simon

  7. […] terms of challenges for business, I see it as having two parts. Some businesses have a communication problem. They need to, as I’m used to saying, go on a different diet and be less constipated with their […]

  8. […] Engage your community in dialogue rather than impose a corporate […]

  9. […] Engage your community in dialogue rather than impose a corporate […]