Are Brands Investing in Social Media Communities in 2023? We Asked 1,200+ Marketers

Are Brands Investing in Building Social Media Communities in 2024? Here‘s What You Need to Know
Social media has evolved from a place for individuals to connect with friends and family to a powerful marketing channel for brands to engage with customers. But simply having a large follower count is no longer enough. To really thrive on social platforms in 2024, brands need to focus on building active, engaged communities.
What exactly is a social media community? It‘s a group that forms around a shared interest, hobby, goal, or topic related to your brand. Members interact with each other and your brand account by liking, commenting, posting user-generated content, and starting discussions. Over time, their participation and sense of belonging grows stronger.
A whopping 90% of social media marketers say building an online community is critical to success in 2023, according to a recent survey by HubSpot of over 1,200 marketers. One in five social media users reported joining or participating in an online community in the three months prior to the survey.
Instagram and Facebook ranked as the most effective platforms for community building. And 88% of marketers predict most brands will have an active social media community by the end of 2023.
So how can your company harness the power of social media communities this year? Here‘s everything you need to know, including key benefits and challenges, standout examples from brands doing it well, and a step-by-step guide to launching your own.
4 Benefits of Building a Thriving Social Media Community for Your Brand

  1. Drives word-of-mouth marketing
    Think of your social media community members as an army of micro-influencers. When they post glowing reviews, share their experiences, and offer tips related to your products or services, it influences other members‘ opinions and purchase decisions. In fact, nearly 9 out of 10 consumers read reviews before buying something.
    Even negative reviews can be a positive when handled well within your community. By responding empathetically, asking for more details, and offering solutions, you show that you genuinely care. Since members are already loyal to your brand, they‘re more likely to grant second chances.
  2. Reduces customer support costs
    When your social media community hits a critical mass, it becomes more self-sustaining. Members start answering each other‘s questions, alleviating the burden on your support team. One study found that communities are 72% cheaper than traditional support tickets.
    Active communities can also reduce your social media advertising budget. Instead of paying to boost posts, you can reach highly-engaged customers where they already are for free. With U.S. social ad spend expected to hit $200 billion in 2024, those organic impressions can lead to huge savings.
  3. Encourages active participation
    It costs more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. That‘s why building brand loyalty is critical for sustainable growth. Social media communities help deepen customer relationships beyond one-time transactions.
    Encourage active participation with regular polls, AMAs, contests, giveaways, and spotlights of top contributors. Respond to comments to let members know you value their input. Over time, your community will feel more emotionally invested in your brand‘s success.
  4. Provides valuable consumer insights
    Pay attention to the conversations happening in your social media community. What questions or complaints come up frequently? How are members using your products in unexpected ways? The anecdotal feedback you gather can inform everything from product development to your content strategy.
    Whenever you implement a change based on community insights, highlight it in a post. It will make members feel heard and incentivize them to keep sharing ideas. Just make sure you follow intellectual property laws and get permission before using any specific suggestions.
    8 Strategies to Build an Active Social Media Community for Your Brand
  5. Define your community‘s focus
    The most engaged social media communities rally around a particular interest, industry, or lifestyle associated with the brand. For example, Sephora‘s Beauty Insider Community on its website is all about makeup techniques, skincare routines, and product reviews. Sephora employees also contribute tutorials and expert advice.
    To identify the right focus for your brand community, consider your target audience‘s passions, goals, and pain points. Maybe it‘s a place for dog owners to swap training tips, or remote workers to discuss productivity hacks. The key is choosing a niche both broad enough to attract members and specific enough to keep discussions on-topic.
  6. Choose the right platform
    With so many social networks to choose from, where should you build your community? The HubSpot survey found that Instagram and Facebook Groups drive the most engagement and ROI for brands. However, the best fit depends on your industry and audience.
    For example, Discord and Reddit are popular for gaming and tech brands. Twitter is ideal for timely conversations around events or issues, especially in sports, politics, and business. TikTok thrives on fun, creative video content. Consider where your target customers already spend time online and what type of content they prefer to engage with.
  7. Set clear guidelines
    Establish rules and norms for your social media community upfront, and make sure they‘re clearly posted for all new members to see. Common guidelines include:
  • Be kind and courteous
  • No hate speech or bullying
  • Don‘t post promotional content without permission
  • Use trigger warnings for sensitive topics
  • Stay on topic and add value to the discussion

Having a code of conduct sets expectations and weeds out trolls. If you spot comments crossing the line, issue a warning and remove or block the person if needed. Protecting your community‘s positive, welcoming environment is crucial for its long-term health.

  1. Lead by example
    As the host, how you engage in your social media community sets the tone for everyone else. Post consistently and prioritize responding to comments, even just to say thanks. Ask open-ended questions to spark conversation. Uplift others‘ posts and add your own insights.
    Remember, this isn‘t the place for heavy-handed marketing or promotion. Focus on providing value that enriches your followers‘ lives in some way, whether that‘s education, entertainment, or commiseration. When you do mention your offerings, frame it in terms of how it relates to the community‘s needs and interests.

  2. Encourage participation
    A vibrant social media community requires a steady stream of fresh content and conversation starters. But you can‘t do it alone. Prompt members to post their own photos, stories, questions, and tips related to the community theme.
    User-generated content is an especially powerful engagement tool – people love seeing their contributions celebrated by a brand. Re-post glowing reviews and success stories, or run contests encouraging members to submit photos or videos. Always credit the original poster and ask for permission to re-share.

  3. Collaborate with influencers
    Bringing relevant influencers into your social media community boosts credibility and reach. Their seal of approval exposes your brand to new potential customers. Just make sure they‘re a natural fit for your industry, values, and voice.
    Start by looking for micro-influencers who are already fans of your brand. Invite them to join the community, host an AMA, contribute content, or co-create products. Be up front about compensation and expectations. Their participation should feel authentic, not forced.

  4. Provide unique value
    Why should someone join your social media community instead of all the others out there? To stand out, you need to offer exclusive perks they can‘t get anywhere else. Maybe that‘s first access to new products, personalized advice from experts, or networking with like-minded people.
    Think about how you can use your brand‘s unique strengths and resources to enhance your community experience. The more indispensable you become, the more loyal your members will be.

  5. Measure and optimize
    Like any marketing initiative, building a social media community requires regular tracking and tweaking. Define what success looks like in terms of metrics like engagement rate, membership growth, or conversions. Check your platform‘s analytics weekly to spot trends and opportunities.
    Pay extra attention to which types of content get the most likes, comments, and clicks. See what time of day your audience is most active. Notice any FAQs or hot topics that come up again and again. Then adjust your strategy to do more of what‘s working and less of what‘s not.
    Get Started Building Your Social Media Community
    Building a thriving social media community for your brand takes time, planning, and consistent effort. But the long-term benefits of increased loyalty, lower acquisition costs, and deeper customer insights are well worth it.
    The most important thing is to focus on providing genuine value to your members. Encourage their participation and listen closely to their needs. Measure your progress and keep optimizing your approach. With the right strategy and a commitment to serving your audience, you can become an indispensable gathering place for your biggest fans.