Retail Communities: How to engage your brand ambassadors
When you hear the word “community”, what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s a community you belong to, or maybe you imagine the television show with the same name.
In this blog post, we are focusing on communities built by brands that are core to their DNAs. These communities go beyond just social media but manage to foster feelings of inclusion and the urge to live the brand’s core beliefs. By first understanding how these communities are built and function, and learning how personalization can help further grow engagement will become clear.
We will mention two e-commerce companies that are the perfect examples of how to build a strong community. The members of these communities are invested beyond just the product, essentially becoming brand ambassadors. At the core, you need to understand what is important to your consumers and how they interact with your brand.
On top of that, to create a successful community, these three steps need to be considered:
1. Have a captivating reason to join;
2. Make it worth their time to engage;
3. Make it easy and valuable to share your community with others.
The first example we want to consider is Lululemon. Their community functions on working with authentic influencers for their brand so that consumers can interact with the brand in a relatable way. They first created an internal community within their company values and their employees to then reflect within their respective communities. The employees are then able to communicate about their brand to their external brand ambassadors, typically local athletes, creating a Lululemon ecosystem.
They also created a significant focus on the offline experiences for their community to grow and connect. This takes shape as yoga classes, pop up shops, or booths at relevant events and festivals. However, with the recent changes in how we live our daily lives, the online community has become more and more important for brands to cultivate this culture.
The second company is Gymshark, an athleisure brand founded in the UK. Their community is primarily focused on their blog. They create content focused on healthy nutrition, be it workouts for the gym or healthy recipes. Similar to Lululemon, when it comes to brand ambassadors, they also focus on using local athletes representing their own community to create and spread their own content. They also have an offline presence where they combine online engagement with in-person pop-up experiences to help grow the community.
One aspect we found interesting in the wake of the pandemic is how they were able to adapt to their consumer needs. After collecting user feedback on what is most important to their clients in the current climate, they adapted their content to match this. For example, the switch on at the gym workouts to at-home workouts. By being adaptable and communicating, they ensure their ambassadors still see it worth their time to engage.
How to put this into practice for your business
As the pandemic has shifted our everyday lifestyle to be focused on staying home, limiting social contacts, and increasing our digital behaviors, there has never been a more important time for these communities to be created and utilized.
The switch from an offline to an online focus can be challenging for some brands. First, building up the right kind of content for your consumers can be time-consuming, let alone making sure it is relevant and engaging. AI-based personalization will help ease some of that burden by curating the most relevant content to that individual consumer in real-time. By personalizing content, you help to link to other members who share similar interests quickly, and you can also link this content to relevant products. This kind of engagement allows your ambassador to interact with the most valuable content and makes it easy for them to spend the time engaging.
This kind of personalization can also be applied to any channel to ensure you can reach your consumers in a way that makes the most sense to them. Keeping consumers engaged and interacting is key to making these communities function in the way they have to use it.
By building a community of brand ambassadors through shared experiences or content, brands can keep themselves relevant to their audience. However, going one step further to deliver personalized content can link members together faster and more frequently, helping to increase brand loyalty even more.
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