Five Ways Brands Can Establish and Nurture Micro-Communities
Dan Flay explores the rise of private groups and micro-communities on social media.
Secret groups and confidential threads are at the forefront of social media marketing, as brands seek to connect with followers on a deeper level.
When it comes to audiences, quality, not quantity, is the focus for an increasing number of luxury retailers, who are stepping back from their blanket approach to social media in favour of a more personal touch. Creating organic, tight-knit communities through private groups and secondary accounts allows for a less transactional approach and enables brands to establish an authentic and meaningful connection with their audiences. In addition to increased brand loyalty and trust, micro-communities are often highly engaged and can provide invaluable product insights and feedback. Most importantly though, micro-communities make people feel special and at a time when a huge number of us are feeling isolated, a more human approach is needed. Brands must understand the value of conversation and community to succeed in this space and to generate meaningful results.
Read on to discover ways in which brands can establish and maintain micro-communities of their own.
Partner with Micro-Influencers
Target a specific niche in the market through micro-influencers, as beauty brands such as Mac Cosmetics and Clinique have done. Typically, these users have a more engaged following than their macro counterparts. Niche interests and shopping behaviours make it easier to accurately target future customers. According to Hootsuite, 62% of people say they have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it on Stories. Micro-influencers' audiences are incredibly loyal and as a result, are more likely to make purchase decisions based on their recommendations and brand partnerships.
Create a Secondary Social Media Account
Secondary accounts act as private spaces where brands can craft personalised messages for a specific subgroup and communicate with them freely. K-beauty favourite Glow Recipe recently launched @GlowGang as 'a safe space to celebrate diverse beauty through self-care and expression'. Anyone wanting to be a part of the community is able to request to follow the account on Instagram. Speaking to Vogue Business, Co-Founder and Co-Chief Executive Sarah Lee explained why it was important to create this private space for customers to openly communicate with each other and the brand itself: 'We wanted this platform to be about facilitating meaningful connections, not only between [the brand] and our followers, but also within the community itself.' Communication in private spaces forces brands to think more creatively and as a result, they are able to produce more valuable content.
Use the Close Friends Tool
In the same vein as membership platform Patreon, some influencers have utilised the Close Friends Tool as a pay-to-view hub for exclusive content. For many brands, it wouldn't make sense to put products or content behind a paywall, but for those offering scarce or one-off pieces, there is an opportunity here. A handful of vintage sellers are creating paid subscriptions for those who want first dibs on pieces; in return for a small fee, subscribers get first Access via Close Friends. Additionally, many brands are specifically targeting influencers by adding ambassadors and collaborators to their Close Friends lists in the hopes of sharing key information, nurturing longterm relationships and gaining valuable and honest feedback from those whose opinion they value the most.
WhatsApp Business Group Messages
WhatsApp Business enables brands to communicate privately with customers. Many luxury brands already use WhatsApp to interact with their networks including Chanel, Prada and Net-a-Porter. Easy communication is of course an essential part of establishing and nurturing an authentic relationship between brand and customer. A recent survey by Facebook IQ found that messaging is the second most popular way for consumers to interact with brands. The survey also found that 53% of people who message businesses are more likely to shop with a brand they can reach through a messaging app.
Ever since 2018, when Facebook redesigned its algorithm to favour 'posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions', more and more brands have turned to Facebook Groups to bring people together and engage organically with their most loyal customers. The more frequently group admin posts questions and interacting (an action the algorithm favours), the more likely members are to see posts in their newsfeeds. Glossier is no stranger to crafting micro-communities having previously experimented with workflow tool Slack to bring customers together in 2014. The Into The Gloss Facebook group is its latest incarnation and seeks to provide its members with a forum to share, learn and inspire. All questions, comments, and shares must be beauty-related and there's even a section dedicated to the group's most popular threads. It currently has over 19K members and counting.
Words by Dan Flay