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Illustration of two human icons behind a blue plus sign. Branded communities blog post

The 9 Best Branded Communities for You To Join

TJ Kiely

Apr 28, 2023

Are your customers fangirling over your brand? Are they creating tons of user-generated content that shows just how much they love you? Do they give you shoutouts on social media, just because? If so, you don’t just have a brand — you have a branded community.

Some brands have done such a great job promoting their images and values that their fans want to participate beyond the purchase. Building a sense of community gives fans a place to share and engage, which can help to spread the love for your brand even further.

Let’s explore what makes a great brand community tick and several examples of brands that get community right.

Table of Contents

What Is a Brand Community?

What is a branded community? A group of customers invested in a brand beyond its products and services. Customers typically engage with the brand’s content, connect with fellow fans, and create content on behalf of the brand.

The definition of brand community can be summed up into two words: brand fandom. It can be official (sponsored by the brand) or unofficial (created by third parties). Either way, it’s about bringing people together through a shared interest, which is your brand. 

Brand communities thrive when they give their members a reason to engage. This might be an intense love for your products or services, incentives for creating or sharing content, or access to other fans who can answer questions or provide inspiration.

Reasons why community building needs to be on your radar:

  • Community-led growth has become a core focus for businesses and organizations, with many calling themselves "community-centric organizations" in 2022.
  • In 2023, more companies are expected to dedicate resources towards building year-round communities for multiple stakeholders, recognizing that communities are valuable business assets.
  • The 2022 State of Community Management report showed that 88% of C-level executives had positive views towards community programs, up from 56% in 2017.
  • Community-based marketing (CBM) has gained momentum in 2022, with investment in community for building awareness, generating data and insights, and creating valuable relationships with prospects, customers, and stakeholders.
  • McKinsey named community as the "big idea" in marketing for this decade, underpinning marketing strategies with community.
  • Community aligns closely with influencer marketing and employee advocacy, with CEOs becoming celebrities online, and influencer partnerships and campaigns showing impressive business outcomes.
  • Events and community are becoming more integrated, with renewed interest from events organizers in providing a pre, during, and post-event community and networking experience.

How Do Brand Community Practices Create Value?

Community means a lot to your brand. While its purpose is geared toward your customer, all that community building helps you create customers for life.

Those loyal customers create hype for your brand on your behalf. They’re sharing ideas with current and future customers, providing helpful information, and talking about your products and services. All this buzz can help your customers feel closer to your brand and discover more of what you offer.

Your community can be a powerful marketing tool that highlights your best features. It’s easy for customers to see why you’re a great choice and loved so much by others. When customers are doing some of your marketing for you, you don’t have to try so hard to win them over.

Tips to keep in mind

  • Authenticity is Key - Consumers are looking for genuine connections and experiences, and brands that focus on building authentic communities around shared values and interests are more likely to succeed in engaging and retaining customers.
  • Personalization is Critical - Personalization is essential for creating a sense of belonging and loyalty among community members. Brands that tailor their messaging, offers, and experiences to individual members' preferences and interests are more likely to drive engagement and retention.
  • Technology is an Enabler - Technology has made it easier for brands to build and manage communities, with tools like social media, chatbots, and community platforms. Brands that leverage technology to create seamless and personalized experiences for community members are more likely to succeed in driving engagement and loyalty.

9 Best Brand Communities to Join and Learn From

To get an idea of what a great brand community looks like, we’ve rounded up nine companies that get it right. We hope these examples of brand community will inspire you to build your own.

Meltwater mCommunity

Meltwater’s community, mCommunity, is a platform where Meltwater users can share, connect, and learn from each other. The sea of social media, PR, brand management, and branding is quite large with lots of moving parts. For comms professionals, it’s helpful to learn from other industry players to become more effective in their roles as well as to get the most out of the Meltwater suite.

Tip: Check out the Meltwater suite by role: Meltwater for marketing professionals, Meltwater for PR professionals, Meltwater for sales teams, Meltwater for the C-Suite & Executives, and Meltwater for Research & Insights

Meltwater community

At mCommunity, users can:

  • Ask questions
  • Build 1:1 relationships
  • Get product updates
  • Submit ideas
  • Share open job positions
  • Become beta testers
  • Participate in conversations

mCommunity also includes a searchable database so users can see what’s already been posted on a specific topic. It’s easy to use and driven by fellow Meltwater users.

Gymshark Community

Gymshark is one of the fastest-growing fitness brands, and its success is in large part due to its branded community. One popular feature of its community is the Gymshark Central blog, which is packed with health and fitness tips, workouts, and how-to’s that also feature Gymshark customers wearing the brand’s apparel. 

Gymshark also leans heavily on influencer marketing. Every customer is technically an influencer, as they take photos of themselves in their Gymshark gear and tag the brand on Instagram. Gymshark will also handpick its influencers to represent the brand, helping them to get in front of even more potential customers. The company also hosts a number of in-person pop-up shops and live classes to interact directly with its community.

Reading Tips: Look at the top South African fitness influencers and the top sports & fitness influencers on a global scale to inspire your brand.

Starbucks Community

A brand that needs no formal introduction, Starbucks remains one of the most talked about coffee companies in existence. That’s partly because of its tasty drinks and partly because of its commitment to building a successful brand community. 

Starbucks community stories

For starters, Starbucks makes you feel like part of the family by branding your cup with your name. They’re also heavily involved in social initiatives and making sure their customers feel seen and welcomed. One example is the volunteer matchmaking that connects Starbucks partners with community members. 

User-generated campaigns like the #RedCupContest and the affinity for the famous pumpkin-spice latte help thousands of customers connect with the brand. The reward program also gives customers a reason to maintain community engagement. They can earn points through purchases, games, and other interactions, all in the name of future free drinks.

Tip: Check out more user-generated content examples for inspiration

Lululemon Community

Another strong community in fitness, Lululemon has created a whole lifestyle around its fitness wear. The brand has become synonymous with luxury and encourages its customers to lead healthier lifestyles while feeling comfortable and confident. 

Experience lululemon studio mirror

One way it accomplishes this mission is by offering varied experiences to its community. For instance, you might attend a free yoga class or participate in a local event or festival. Its experiential store in Chicago is a hub of fitness activities, including classes and a juice bar. 

It has also introduced a brand ambassador program as well as an affiliates and creators program to help spread the word about the brand and showcase its products. Its ambassadors embody the brand’s core values of living healthy lives and making fitness a priority.

HubSpot User Groups (HUGs)

Great branded communities aren’t just for B2C customers or product-based businesses. As Meltwater and HubSpot prove, SaaS companies can also benefit from building a brand community.

HubSpot user groups

Dubbed HubSpot User Groups (or HUGs), these groups cater to local audiences to help them get the most out of HubSpot. Regularly meet up with users who share common interests or are using HubSpot for similar use cases. This is a great chance to connect with a HubSpot Knowledge Expert and learn from them.

These groups host quarterly meetups, plus they have ongoing online discussion threads, Ask Me Anythings, and other events to stay engaged year-round.

Fiverr Community

Freelancing platform Fiverr offers communities to navigate the expansive freelancing landscape. Fiverr engages some of its top-rated sellers to host webinars and in-person events on behalf of the platform while sharing valuable tips with fellow sellers. 

fiverr community

Mentorship programs also allow Fiverr sellers to connect with others who are interested in learning new skills and building a successful career.

There’s also a user-driven forum where sellers can post questions and share best practices with each other. Sellers can also join clubs based on interests and geographic location. The self-service learning center keeps growing because of its highly active community base.

Sephora Community

Beauty retailer Sephora thrives on its community of like-minded fans, which now encompasses millions of customers. Users can share product reviews, before and after photos, tips and tutorials, and other content that gives Sephora more street cred. It’s also a great place for beauty mavens to ask questions about products or techniques.

Beauty Insider Community

The community features multiple Groups based on interests, where users can dial deeper into specific topics. Users can also earn community badges based on engagement. Members can add these badges to their profiles and show off their status.

Tip: Take a look at the top beauty influencers to inspire your brand.

Instant Pot Facebook Group

Of all the pressure cookers out there, none have become a household name quite like Instant Pot. This brand has taken to Facebook to create a loyal member community group, called the Instant Pot Facebook Group.

With more than 3 million members, it’s a place where users can swap recipes, ask questions about cooking times and methods, and enjoy this do-it-all appliance.

Instant Pot Community

This Facebook group is a great example of a low-lift online brand community. It relies 100% on user-generated content, making it easy for the brand to spread awareness via other users.

Rustoleum Community

Rustoleum is a leading producer of spray paints and coatings, making it easy to DIY home projects. The brand is also in the know about the benefits of an online brand community.

Rustoleum creator studio

The community serves as a source of inspiration to Rustoleum customers. Users can share photos of their latest projects and specify which Rustoleum products and colors they used. Dubbed Creator’s Studio, the online community has also become a place where customers can ask others for advice when a project doesn’t go their way. 

The brand also conducts member interviews and publishes user-generated content to show how much it values its customers. This is a great way to instill loyalty in customers who are already buying and sharing the product.

Measuring Community Building Success

Once you have implemented your community building strategies and utilized various tools and resources, it is important to measure the success of your efforts. This will help you identify what is working and what is not, and make necessary adjustments to improve your community engagement.

There are several key metrics to track when measuring the success of your community building efforts. These include:

  1. Community Growth: Keep track of the number of new members joining your community, as well as the number of active members. This will help you understand if your efforts are attracting new members and keeping them engaged.
  2. Engagement Levels: Measure the level of engagement among your community members. This can include metrics such as the number of posts, comments, likes, and shares on your community page or platform. You can also measure engagement through surveys or polls to gauge members' opinions and level of involvement.
  3. Return on Investment (ROI): Measuring the ROI of your community building efforts is crucial to understanding the impact of your efforts. This can include metrics such as the cost per acquisition (CPA) of new members, the lifetime value (LTV) of a member, and the revenue generated from your community.
  4. Customer Satisfaction: Community building efforts should ultimately aim to improve customer satisfaction. Measuring customer satisfaction through surveys, feedback forms, or NPS (Net Promoter Score) can provide insights into how well your community is meeting the needs of your customers and improving their overall experience.

How to Create Your Own Brand Community with Meltwater

Whether you’re targeting the general consumer or a very niche audience, there’s nothing like an online brand community to get the conversation started. If you’re considering starting a new brand community, one of the best places to start is with Meltwater data

Meltwater powers your online community by giving you 360-degree brand insights.

Monitor your brand presence across multiple outlets, including social media, blogs, media, podcasts, and other publications with our Meltwater media monitoring.

Meltwater Media Monitoring banner

Discover communities that you may not be aware of. Keep tabs on your existing communities to see how users are engaging, what they’re talking about, and how they’re feeling about your brand. See who’s leading these conversations and the content they’re creating on your behalf so you can connect with them and capitalize on more opportunities to grow your brand.

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