The benefits of communities

There are numerous business advantages to online communities for all types of organisations. Discover why top brands have already bought in.

The benefits of communities

I recently ran a search on the term ‘benefit’ on the Zapnito community (these are the results if you’re interested). I found that a few of us had discussed some of the business advantages to owning a branded community, but no one had brought them all together. Until now.

Perhaps the best place to start would be Kam’s What is community marketing in 2019? article and as we’re coming to the end of the year, it would be good to revisit it anyway. Kam is absolutely right in suggesting that “Now is the time to take advantage of the benefits of community” for the reasons listed. These are:

  1. A genuine alternative to social media
  2. Harnessing the power of thought leadership and content marketing, then adding to it
  3. It’s about the quality of engagement and reaching the ‘right’ people

On the latter point, Charles wrote about meaningful engagement a few months later. This told the story of why brands are now focusing on engagement, moving away from so-called ‘vanity metrics’ (such as impressions and page views). Charles makes the point that enterprises should be (and are) beginning to target their own niche communities.

This not only ensures that the efforts of the brand are not wasted on meaningless metrics, but also that genuine expertise is showcased effectively, reaching those who will get the most value from it. This in turn creates significant benefits for businesses who seek to build authentic relationships with their audiences.

According to the ranking on my Zapnito community profile, my most popular contribution is this 5 great examples of brand communities post. In the article, in reference to the purpose of brand communities, I suggested “We see it as a combination of content marketing and thought leadership, but with the key added element of building relationships with people, rather than with a brand… the benefits are powerful.”

We aren’t here to tell you that communities are easy, require no resources and also save the world from self aware robots while we’re at it. As Laura can testify, there are a few challenges to building an all singing community but she can also provide you with the means of overcoming them. This is a crucial element of the Zapnito offering, which we supply on a daily basis to all our wonderful customers around the world.

What is certain however, is that the benefits of owning and managing your own community are significant. From trusted learning to peer-to-peer collaboration to intelligence sharing to relationship building, the possibility for expertise accessibility is never ending on your branded community.

The opportunities for content marketing are also just as plentiful. As I described in my 7 great reasons to build online communities around your events article, “whether you run events as part of your marketing or customer engagement programmes, or you’re an event/media company, there are significant benefits to using an online community”.

Here are my top seven benefits of online communities

  1. Reclaim your audience from social media
  2. Create, share and showcase expertise
  3. Create multimedia content from you and your audience
  4. Realise rapid return on investment
  5. Increase customer loyalty and engagement
  6. Create new revenue streams
  7. Save money

You can find more detail on these in our free infographic. Find it in the bottom right of your screen or click here to download.

As referenced in Jade’s notes from VP of Journals at Nature Research, James Butcher’s presentation on the history of the Nature brand and it’s community’s successes with Zapnito, “Nature Research’s reputation as a leading publisher has also benefited. 58% of authors said that they were more likely to publish in a Nature journal again, because of the opportunities offered by the community.”

Online communities are becoming increasingly important to businesses for a number of reasons – more than we could possibly go into in one article. Whether your goals are to improve customer relationships, generate additional revenue or drive value around your product, a brand community, owned in-house, enables enterprises to harness expertise and reach the people that matter most.