Four ways to mobilise and cultivate a community for your business

Before the business world discovered “community mobilisation” as highly relevant and effective for business success a decade or so ago, the concept had largely been applied in the humanitarian and developmental context.

It refers to the process of building social relationships, facilitating active community participation in pursuit of common community interests.

A renowned example that successfully mobilised communities and brought about impactful social change is the NAAM Movement in Burkina Faso, West Africa that has been working since the 60s to make villages responsible for their own development.

The aim of NAAM is to set up autonomous communities that are self-sufficient in food, labour and finance. Due to its ability in gathering local power, NAAM is able to support local farmers and village communities in the form of targeted assistance such as customised training, education and work programmes.

NAAM is currently one of the largest farmers’ organisations in West Africa, involving 85 national and 11 international unions with over 650,000 members. Its model has been adopted across many African countries.

Fast forward to 2015, when social media has become an indispensable part of our life, it is obvious for businesses that the online social platforms offer additional channels to reach out to their customers.

Let’s look at some of the triggers that drive companies from startups to Fortune 500 around the world to build their “brand communities” or start to invest in their “community marketing strategies”:

Lower marketing expenses

Community is the best place for word-of-mouth promotion. Think of community-based reviews of Airbnb, the majority of the hotel booking sites, electronic gadgets review websites, etc.

Community reviews have become a trustworthy place for people seeking unbiased purchasing advice. Very often it is only a fraction of the marketing budget, and with it you get the most updated market info, trends and purchasing patterns.

Read more on community reviews:

Build and retain loyal customers

Human beings are social creatures, we seek commonality and connections and approval. Thinking of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory famously postulates “the need for love and belonging” is one of the top basic needs right after the basic physiological and safety needs are satisfied.

Once people find communities with like-minded people, they are likely to stay, share, discuss, and even contribute to make the community bigger and better. A good example would be Harley Owners Group (HOG), a famous example in the brand community study, as the HOG has helped to turn around Harley Davidson’s business when it suffered from close to extinction back in 1983.

The HOG is a community among Harley-Davidson enthusiasts to share their loyalty to the brand and to connect and engage online. Currently, there are over one million active members around the world, all linked by one passion of Harley Davidson.

Market-driven innovations

Communities provide the ideal testing ground for innovations, as you get immediate feedback on existing products, can identify customer needs and can proceed to developing customer-focused products or services that have secured market demand.

For startups, crowdfunding is a very useful means for attaining such feedback. It’s quite simple: if people want what you can offer them, they’ll chip in some money to help you get to the finish line, and provide useful feedback along the way.

At nexpaq, we pushed-off using Kickstarter, and it let us know that not only did people want our project, but what they wanted to see from it in the future.

We believe there are four main areas to truly mobilise and cultivate your community – continue reading on the next page to find out what they are and the strategy employed by Nike.

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