Audience expectations have changed significantly, especially their digital preferences.
More people are watching videos. In 2018, digital video viewership was at 228.8 million, and the figure is projected to hit 248.9 million in 2022. In 2020, 75.9 million people were listening to podcasts, and that number is expected to go over 100 million by 2024.
With such dizzying figures, what are brands to do to tap into this goldmine?
People have — and will always have — a fundamental need for connection. And the same is true for brands. The need to connect deeply with customers is essential to their survival. Building thriving communities around your brand and delivering value to your customers — whether they’ve made a purchase or not — is a clever and vital way to cut to the front.
Community is about bringing customers together in an engaging and non-intrusive way that puts them first. You do this by using topics that align with, or are directly related to, your brand’s audience because it’s about the customers — not you. As customers increasingly turn to audio and video to explore new topics and ideas, brands have no choice but to take a media-first approach to their content and inbound marketing strategies.
We’ll go over how you can add value to your community through audio and video content, why it works, and examples of brands doing it.
Adding Value to Your Community Through Podcasting
Building a true community requires a daily commitment to nurturing your most passionate followers or customers. Once you have this group of loyal raving fans, empower them to talk to each other and create content around their interests.
Doing this will move your brand from developing creative from scratch for customer-like groups into allowing your customers to become a central part of your creative collaboration.
One of the best ways to build such a community today is through podcasting. There’s no single best practice of doing this, though. It takes time and effort because you have a unique audience, and only you know what interests them the most.
Engaging with consistency and care is a great way to start seeing growth. Seth Morales of the Morales Group knows this all too well. He and his team curate and/or cultivate the Morales brand’s community the right way by adding value through podcasting.
“Because truly it is about adding value, delivering value first, knowing that when you do that, you build those relationships and that’s when you get, that’s how you build an audience, that’s how you build a following. Yeah, and not expecting results right away,” said Morales.
While marketers desire to build a connection with their audiences, there’s the pressure from leadership to see something more tangible than “we want to add value.” Business leaders perceive an immediate return on investment as a greater goal than pulling in more followers.
“I would say, ‘Hey, this is not a sprint. This is a marathon. And this is more about a long-term play where you got to put in work on the front end, plant your seeds.’ It’s like when you get on LinkedIn, and you start out, you build your profile, you start to build a community, you start engaging, you start dropping comments, [and] you start trying to add value. Then over time, that builds into an audience. And I remember seeing your profile and seeing how you’ve grown over the last year, just in itself. You’ve really built, I think, a pretty cool following. It’s the same thing with the podcast. I think it’s a long-term value add … I don’t know if I can draw back to, ‘Hey, I’ve got these four or five exact wins that came from podcasting,’ but I can tell you that one, it’s adding value to the folks that I care about,” Morales added.
Instead of focusing on what you can get in return, take the time to dig in and figure out what’s most relevant to the people that need the content you’re sharing through your podcast. And podcasting is a long game. It takes some time. That’s why you shouldn’t focus on results right off the bat.
Build the community first, add value, and deliver that value. In return, you’ll build relationships that will lead to a larger community or following and eventually (not maybe) customers.
Finding Common Ground in Your Community
Three main things make a thriving community:
- A group of people
- Shared interest and care for each other
- A feeling of belonging together
Building a community begins with identifying who they are and what they care about in relation to your brand.
Once you have the unifying factor, create regularly cadenced, ongoing streams of content to bring your customers together over a topic that aligns with or is directly related to your brand in a way that puts them first. That’s how you meaningfully connect with them.
Terminus, a leading account-based marketing platform, uses authentic marketing to find common ground and build their community of loyal raving fans. They’re changing the world of B2B marketing by creating amazing videos through The Rooftop Series and audio content through their podcast, Flip My Funnel.
What’s Terminus’ secret? A deep desire to drive authentic connection with their audiences.
People need to feel that you’re being truthful and authentic in the content you share and how you interact with them on different platforms. This way, you can form relationships built to last as Jillian MacNulty explained on The Casted Podcast.
“I think that’s something that is so fascinating to me too, is that podcasting has always been known for the real authentic longer-form conversations. And I feel like video has been known for the polished, put together. You invest a ton of money in this production company and these actors and all these things, and it’s scripted, and it’s put together. And in my mind, I’m like there is such a middle ground there for both of those things. And I think that’s why I love what you guys are doing with video podcasting.
“Some people might be watching us right now, and I think, especially in this time of COVID, that connection is so wanted. And it’s what we were going for with The Roof too, where it’s like we could have done this superscripted, super-polished thing, but people kind of prefer to have it be more authentic. And so I see so much more crossover there. And that mindset for me has come from just listening to our audience and listening and reading the comments that people put on our videos and taking that feedback and realizing, oh, we’re getting all this positive feedback on The Roof series and on the dumpster fire and on these things for different elements. For The Roof, it’s the authenticity, quick-paced snippet, something I can consume while I’m scrolling. For the dumpster fire, it’s for the humor and realness and authenticity, and also just kind of WTF-ishness of it all and really listening and realizing ... [In the] We Are Terminus video, people were like this was an incredible look into your culture, and I’ve never seen a video like this that just was so concise and quick that showed the heart of your company.
“And so listening to that feedback and taking [it] into account and going, okay, we can kind of draw from all three of these very different types of videos and different types of feedback that people just want connection. And people just want to find a common ground in a community, and they want to laugh, and they want to feel seen almost by the content they’re consuming,” said Jillian MacNulty, Terminus Content Marketing Manager.
A New Era of Creative Business Built on Community
In the current business climate, community is a crucial part of the business, but how you get that community isn’t a cut-and-dried process. Start small, sustain those relationships by building camaraderie with your customers, and aim for organic growth while you’re at it.
Gina Bianchini, CEO of Mighty Networks, is doing just that — building a creative business around the community. Her company provides a platform for creators, coaches, and brands to build online communities using an online course tool, a website builder, and a membership area.
Today, Mighty Network supports over 10,000 highly engaged, paying customers. How did they do it? They created something that’s different than the status quo and addresses why people do what they do. They built networks around a shared interest.
“I believe there are different connections that are around a purpose — that are about mastery, yhat are interesting and different, but also create a space for people to master skills, reach a common goal, be a part of something bigger than themselves, and ultimately navigate challenges and setbacks honestly because that’s actually how somebody is actually going to get there. And so, to me, that’s what I care about.
“The other thing that’s really fun about the moment is, this software I’ve been building for 15 years, today, is so relative to anything that people expect, or when I say community, they’re like, ‘Oh, that Slack community that I’ve been in,’ or like that it’s quicker. What is coming next will feel fundamentally different because there is so much we can do with software to create these natural, normal relationships that feel almost like the best party or the best event you’ve ever been to with like a fabulous host. Who’s like, ‘Gina, you have to meet Lindsay. Lindsay is amazing because she is this incredible founder with this incredible business. Here are the three things you need to know about her. Lindsay, you need to know about Gina because Gina has this in common with you,’ or whatever it is. You’ve been to those, whether it was just a serendipitous night where you ended up at the right party or an event where you’re like, ‘This feels different. This is better.’
“And software has the best ability to provide that context and the difference between social media ... I think about it as like, in social media we’re in the arena, and we’re fighting for attention. This is describing something very different of like, again, showing up at that party or that event or that dinner. And it’s about how are those people connecting to each other, which is fundamentally different than sitting in the audience of a drop-in audio talk show. It doesn’t mean there’s not a place for that, but that is what we do at Mighty Networks. That is my passion because I think it’s human relationships are the most interesting puzzle that any of us can have,” said Bianchini.
She believes that brands can do three things to get started:
- Get buy-in from your CEO and team to start taking your audience and developing a network effect
- Know your migration or launch strategy — what you’re doing now and want to keep doing, what you want to move into, and what you’re going to stop doing
- Identify who will own the community to facilitate conversations and value
A strong community helps keep your customers engaged and enables you to cement your authority in a niche — a true win-win for everyone. But a thriving community doesn’t just happen — it requires time and a workable plan.
Wondering how your content can help you grow your own strong community? Let Casted help.
Schedule a demo and find out how we can help you fuel your community through multimedia content.