Communities vs. Audiences: Why Brands Should Focus on Building Communities

Learn how building communities elevates brands beyond traditional audiences.

The Moast Team

August 23, 2023

If you've spent time on LinkedIn recently, you've likely had the phrase "build an audience" fill up your newsfeed from different brand managers, marketing gurus, and other salesmen trying to sell you their course. As much as building an audience can be important, it is only half the battle; e-commerce brands and business owners should be focused on cultivating a community of like-minded and connected individuals. 

An audience typically suggests a one-way relationship where information is coming from the brand or creator to the consumers, the audience. A community opens up this relationship beyond something merely transactional, creating a place where like-minded people can engage and interact naturally with the brands they know and trust. 

Be sure to read the rest of this blog as we provide tips on how to start turning your audience into a community or building one from scratch!

Audiences vs Communities: What’s the difference?

Let’s start from the basics, what differentiates a community from an audience? A simple definition of an audience, in a marketing context, would be a group of people that follow a brand or creator with the intention of consuming the content that they are creating. For example, a food creator might post videos on platforms like TikTok or YouTube demonstrating how to prepare different meals and recipes. Generally speaking, audiences are more impersonal, they might enjoy listening to what you have to say but their interactions with your content is more passive. 

A community, on the other hand, is generally more active and goes beyond just a collection of people looking to absorb content. Instead, it's a group of people actively engaged with not only the creator and the brand, but each other. As a result, a strong community doesn’t require you to constantly be pumping out content or finding ways to keep them engaged. 

To reiterate, here are some of the benefits that you can gain over spending time nurturing a community versus building an audience.

  • A community fosters deeper connections: Customers who feel like a valued part of a community are more likely to purchase and become return customers.
  • A brand community increases loyalty: Being a part of your brand community becomes part of the customer’s identity and builds their trust in the brand.
  • Gain access to useful feedback: Building a community provides an organic way to connect with customers and figure out their pain points.
  • Collect more UGC: Communities are more likely to share content using your products, think unboxing, giveaways, and contests.
  • Gain new customers: Loyal community members are more likely to spread the news of your brand and its offering to friends and family, leading to potentially new customers.
A visual representation of audience vs community
Differences in relationships

How to build a community?

Building a community isn’t something that happens in seconds, but it takes time to nurture and cultivate a strong and engaged community. However, there are some things you can do to speed up the process and start building your community today. Take a look at some of the suggestions that we have compiled below:

Be responsive to members 

While communities can shape themselves, brands should remain active and recognize community members. While allowing for interaction and member-driven initiatives is valuable, it is equally important to stay vigilant and engaged. One potential approach is to appoint a community coordinator or manager to oversee the community's activities, moderate discussions, and ensure members adhere to any community guidelines. Additionally, brands should actively respond to and engage with community members asking questions or providing feedback. Having a strong level of responsiveness demonstrates to your members that their voices are being heard and respected. By actively participating in discussions, addressing concerns, and providing guidance, brands can foster a sense of community ownership and create an environment where members feel valued and supported.

Ask for feedback and use it

By listening to your community and asking for feedback, your brand can better understand your target audience and tailor your products, services, and marketing strategies accordingly. Feedback helps identify pain points and areas of improvement and allows your brand to enhance its offerings and deliver a better customer experience. Involving your community in decision-making also helps to build a sense of inclusivity, making customers feel valued and engaged. Additionally, utilizing the feedback collected demonstrates genuine care for your customers' opinions, leading to increased loyalty and trust.

Leverage user-generated content

User-generated content (UGC) holds immense value for brands seeking to establish customer trust and confidence. It can make a brand appear more relatable and connected while building social proof for the brand and its products. Encouraging existing customers to share UGC through giveaways, challenges, and contests can be highly effective. By requesting videos, blogs, or pictures featuring the brand's products in action, brands can showcase the real-life experiences of their customers. A great example of this approach is seen in the luggage brand Away, which focuses on collecting and sharing travel content to inspire customers to share pictures and stories from their favourite trips and vacations while using Away's luggage and accessories. This strategy boosts customer engagement and generates a wealth of UGC that reinforces the brand's authenticity, inspires others, and cultivates a sense of community among its customers.

Have strong touchpoints

In building a strong community, it remains important to maintain active touchpoints with members and regularly share content or interact with them through various platforms and methods. One effective way to achieve this is through well-executed email marketing campaigns. It is widely recognized that email marketing is a highly effective method for e-commerce brands to sell their products. Strategies such as welcome emails, abandoned cart sequences, newsletters, and recommended product emails provide valuable touchpoints to keep community members engaged and informed. 

Turn existing customers into ambassadors

Oru Kayak, Outer, and Merkava eBikes are examples of brands that have successfully leveraged the Moast platform to build and nurture strong communities. Through this platform, they have transformed their loyal and existing customers into enthusiastic brand ambassadors who actively contribute by sharing user-generated content, providing feedback, and organizing in-person meetups centered around the respective brand's products. By fostering these communities, these brands have created spaces where prospective customers can engage with like-minded individuals who already possess deep knowledge and love for the brand and its offerings. This active engagement within the community not only enhances the overall customer experience but also serves as a powerful marketing tool, as it showcases the authentic experiences and positive sentiments of existing customers, attracting new customers to join the community and become brand advocates themselves.

A case study on Oru Kayaks

An example of strong community building

Keith Lee, the rising sensation on social media, started his journey by sharing food reviews of local restaurants, driven by a desire to help promote small businesses. Keith built a large audience in no time, amassing millions of dedicated followers who resonated with his cause and personal brand. Other major brands like Pepsi recognized his influence and joined him through sponsorship opportunities. However, what truly sets Keith apart is his authenticity in engaging with his viewers and followers. He is actively responding to comments, asking for feedback and suggestions, and staying engaged. As a result, he's turned that audience into a loyal community of food enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, and individuals who wholeheartedly support his passion and cause.

Start Building Your Community With Moast

Moast is a cutting-edge platform revolutionizing the shopping experience! By connecting shoppers with existing customers seamlessly, Moast enables eCommerce brands to create an unparalleled opportunity for honest, authentic, and personalized interactions. Our innovative approach empowers brands to build strong communities, allowing shoppers to make informed decisions and enjoy a more thoughtful shopping journey through genuine and personalized interactions.

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