The dividends are huge when brands connect to their target audience on an emotional level because emotions usually dictate consumer buying decisions.
And a high-impact emotional connector of brands to their customer is ‘sense of belonging’. Consumers today want to see themselves when they look at your brand. In fact, 5WPR’s Consumer Culture Report revealed that;
“83% of 18-34-year-olds and 73% of 35-54-year-olds say It’s important to them that companies they buy from align with their values.”
“62% of 18-34-year-olds and 50% of 35-54-year-olds say they enjoy buying products that show off their social or political ideology or beliefs.”
You can leverage this desire of consumers to feel a sense of belonging by projecting your brand in the light of narratives that reminds your target audience who they are and what they stand for.
But you can’t do that without first uncovering what makes them thick and thin, their worries and what gives them joy. Take a dig at their values and philosophy, their lifestyle and what they feel passionate about sharing.
The idea is to uncover a psychological itch your target audience has that needs scratching. Then build a brand community of consumers around it through deliberate story-telling in your content.
The outcome is a community of loyal consumers who will use your product/services and even recruit others simply because they can see themselves in your brand story. You’ve connected with them on an emotional level beyond just the products or services you sell to them.
The big question now is: how do you use your content to foster a community of consumers that has a deep ‘sense of belonging’?
How to use your content to foster community
1. Involve customers in your content creation
There is no better way to have your customers emotionally invested in your product and services than having them create the content.
What this means is that you need to prioritize user-generated content. Share customer stories or engage them to create the content through social media challenges.
This form of content strategy does not only get existing customers emotionally invested but also helps you reach a lot more people who can relate to the content shared by your customers. Ultimately, helping you acquire more customers who are emotionally-connected to your brand.
A great example of this is SoFi’s #2BillionTogether Social media challenge. SoFi is a San Francisco-based marketplace lender and student loan refinance solution.
The challenge requires their customers to share stories of their student loan repayment journey and stand a chance to get their remaining loans cleared by SoFi. It got a lot of traction on social media as many Americans could relate to the stories and are inspired with the hope that they can also be debt-free. This put SoFi as the No. 1 go-to solution for them as well.
2. Humanize your brand
If you want your audience to see that they share common values with you, take off the mask of a ‘brand’ and share your company culture. Let them see the people behind the brand and what you do to advance the values and lifestyle you proclaim. Show don’t tell.
If you are targeting Gen-Z, for example, let your video content include your Gen-Z employees.
Share video content of activities promoting the culture within your organization. If you are committed to a cause, make sure to share content showing off your organization and employees contributing to the advancement of the cause.
It could be a tour of your facility showing how you maintain environmental friendliness or a video showing your employees volunteering for a health awareness campaign.
When you consistently create content showing the values that resonate with your target audience, you are reinforcing your brand in their subconscious mind.
3. Create content that contains memorable personalized impressions
This is especially important when creating video content. Make sure your content speaks directly to your target audience's experiences and includes characters they can relate to.
Dove’s Real Beauty campaign is one content that made sure to leave a personalized impression in the mind of its target audience. The video took an experimental approach where a forensic artist made drawings of some women based on their descriptions of themselves only (without seeing them) and then made another drawing of the same women based on descriptions from a stranger.
The women were shocked to see the disparity between the two sketches of them. The video shows that women do not always see themselves in a good light.
The content seeks to pass a message to women to love themselves and give less attention to others' opinions of them. The message resonated well with the audience because the video content speaks directly to a major concern for them.
In conclusion, creating a sense of belonging for consumers through a brand community is a huge brand asset. It will allow you to acquire new customers with ease, through word-of-mouth and help you retain existing customers as they become your fan and not mere users of your product and services.
And the great news is that all of this is easily achievable with a bit of clever content & ingenuity!