A thriving online community is one of those factors that truly sets brands apart. Engaging with your audience in an authentic way can be a huge catalyst for long-term, sustainable growth because it benefits so many areas:
✔️ Customer acquisition
✔️ Competitor differentiation
✔️ Brand loyalty and retention
✔️ Understanding your audience
✔️ Gathering valuable data, feedback, and insights
However, if you’ve ever set out to build an online community, you know it’s easier said than done. Logistics, like choosing the right platform, can be tricky. And exactly how much time should you spend engaging with your audience?
Never fear, fam!
To cover these questions and gather tons of juicy insights, we sat down with two brands crushing community: immi Ramen and Modern Fertility.
Both brands have taken a unique approach to building a community…
🍜 immi has created a more nutritious, equally delicious ramen. But the secret to their sauce may be their private Facebook Community, where they’ve focused on building a fanbase of real ramen lovers since day one (now over 4K members).
🟡 Modern Fertility is a reproductive health company making personalized fertility information, tests, tools, and support more accessible to every person with ovaries. Their custom-built platform, Modern Community, houses a Slack-like interface that allows members to connect, attend online events, and access medically accurate, peer-supported resources and education.
Here’s our convo with Kevin Lee, co-founder of immi, and Reina Pomeroy, Head of Education at Modern Fertility. 👇
💬 In what ways has a thriving community helped your brand?
Kevin Lee @ immi:
“As our community has gotten to know us over the years of watching us build from the ground up, they treat us like their family…. [they’ve] become our biggest evangelists and have even debated trolls in our paid social ad comments on our behalf, without our prompting.
Our community has also become our #1 source of user-generated content. Members post new photos almost daily of their immi ramen bowls or different methods of preparing immi that we wouldn't have thought of before, like using immi noodles to make trail mix or even immi sushi.”
Reina Pomeroy @ Modern Fertility:
“The Modern Community has created a flywheel model of marketing. We have members who joined just for information prior to purchasing products and have become our biggest advocates on and off our platform.
We have a firm stance that we do not ‘sell’ in the community, but despite that, we have a high conversion rate from members who join the community.”
💬 How have you been able to utilize your community for insights, data, and growth?
“We regularly reach out to members of our community to do video user interviews… We [also] conduct occasional polls/surveys to help us prioritize our product innovation pipeline.
These survey results help us understand what flavor profiles our community desires, which helps to de-risk time and dollars we spend into developing new flavors or, in the future, entirely new product lines.”
“Our members bring us ideas in direct and indirect ways every day. We see the community as a place to learn about gaps in content, opportunities in research, and ideas for future products.
Additionally, we have a Community Advisory Board that has served as a sounding board for all our product ideas and launches and has provided insights and GTM launch support.”
💬 What online community platforms have you used? Any new tools you’re excited about?
“At the end of the day, it's important to think about where your core users live.
We realized that a core majority of our initial audience leaned towards the 35-65+ female demographic, which is an audience that spends a lot of time on Facebook.
So I'd encourage others to do that initial research and build community on a platform that makes the most sense for your audience.”
“We relaunched our community on Circle’s community platform in July of 2021, and it has been a game-changer.
The next phase of community will be tools like Commsor, Orbiit, Lu.ma, and Spontivly, which will all allow community operations to be more streamlined and give more data and insights to the community builders.”
💬 If you were to go back and build your community again, would you do anything differently?
“I'd spend even more time in the early days getting to know each member 1:1…
[I’d also] figure out how to connect more members of our community to each other…. It's only when your community members start to engage with each other that your ‘audience’ evolves into a true community.”
“In the past year, we have opened the community up to non-customers and it has shifted the community for the better.
It creates new opportunities for the community and content team to support members to learn more about fertility… [and] an environment where we can build trust with these members as their go-to hub for all things fertility education.”
💬 Do you have any tips for companies looking to build a sustainable, thriving brand community?
“Invest the time to do the unscalable… People are smart, and they can sniff out inauthentic brands from a mile away.
You have to invest the time to get to know people in the community and to respond to every single comment. If you aren't taking the time to be engaged, why would anyone else?”
“If you’re just starting out, focus on building a strong, engaged, small community at the beginning. Learn their stories. Deeply understand what they are looking for within your community, and create a space that supports it.”
Now that you’ve heard from the experts go forth and crush those communities! 👊