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If you bought into the Peloton craze, you just might have joined an online brand community.
Whether you were engaging with other users, comparing stats on the leaderboard, or bragging about your accomplishments in the Facebook group, your experience with the product was bigger than simply buying an exercise bike.
This is the magic of an online brand community, and more and more brands want one in an age where brand-customer relationships are no longer one-directional.
What is an online brand community?
An online brand community is an engagement space where customers or users of a specific product or service can meet to have questions answered, share knowledge, or even be entertained. It moves them from being consumers to being community members, helping them find connection and belonging with the use of a product or service. And a great online brand community has the extra magic of building some seriously dedicated fans!
If you want to create a successful online brand community for your product or service, you’ve got to move beyond sales pitches. Instead, focus on helping people be successful with using them. Figure out what they actually want. What was it that compelled them to buy, whether they hoped to master the guitar or have a clean kitchen? Then, educate and empower them towards getting that thing.
Their success will create raving fans which, of course, makes a successful brand.
If you want help building your own online brand community and app, schedule a call with us!
9 awesome examples of online brand communities
1. Topstitch Makers
You don’t need to be a huge company to build a powerful online brand community. Just ask Leigh Metcalf, who created a Mighty Network to replace her Atlanta bricks and mortar business which was hurt by the pandemic.
Topstitch Makers is an online brand community made up of stitchers and offers courses and weekly sewalongs to help anyone learn how to sew!
10 years ago, if you told someone you were staying at an Airbnb, they would give you a funny look.
"You're going to stay in a stranger's house?"
Today, the brand is synonymous with getting beyond tourism and staying like a local, feeling like you’ve experienced a place. And they’ve built an online community to help their hosts succeed at helping people feel at home in a totally foreign place.
Roblox is a super successful app and online gaming community, with 42 million people playing every day. People often point to Roblox as an example of the coming metaverse, and it makes sense. Roblox lets users immerse in digital worlds that are, in fact, pretty low-tech. But if you ask anyone under 15, you’ll see what the fuss is about.
Unlike the others on this list, Roblox isn’t an online brand community attached to an existing product or service. With Roblox, the community is the brand, and that's what makes it so fun. It's also why people disappear into it for hours and are willing to drop real money on features.
And it's more than just games. Users can attend concerts, drop into birthday parties, and grab real estate in a pretend town.
Oiselle is a women’s running apparel brand that wanted to create an online brand community around the joy of exercise. Their Mighty Network, Oiselle Volée, started as a place to find a running partner, but expanded to host powerful conversations and exciting virtual events for its 4,000 members.
Created by Penguin Random House, Underlined is an online brand and content community dedicated to the love of reading and writing. In addition to featuring reading lists and merch, Underlined is also a content community, allowing users to create and share their own writing with the world for feedback, and there are some pretty talented writers there!
That’s German for, “How’s it going?”
And if you want to learn how to speak German, or a bunch of other languages, you might turn to Duolingo. It's a fantastic language learning app that’s used around the world. In fact, its language features are so good that it’s even used by the UNHCR to teach languages and administer language exams for refugees.
Behind the scenes, Duolingo has a dedicated volunteer community of polyglots who work hard at answering user language questions and improving the app.
You can use Lego to build pretty much anything. If you don’t believe it, check out the Lego online brand community, where people share their custom builds and the best ones get turned into real Lego kits.
Adobe products are perfect for creatives, but they’re also complicated. As a result, a thriving online brand community, AKA the Adobe support community, provides a space for people to share questions and answers and learn to create beautiful things.
They’ve got fierce brand loyalty, and Apple has built a community that helps their customers use their products well.
They’ve even turned the experience into a game, so that community members can win points for their answers and ultimately--if they get enough points--get access to an exclusive space just for Apple experts. It’s community-driven customer support, and it’s active.