How to build an online community in 2023

Interactive video can help organizations connect with audiences by using touchpoints to better understand their online community and build two-way dialogue. Interactive video can contain different topics, empowering organizations to create subgroups that bring people together who have shared passions. If you’ve ever thought about creating an online community, then read on to learn how.

Dec 15, 2022

The pandemic highlighted the importance of online communication and the strength of community. A lot of us remember jumping on Zoom with loved ones, holding virtual dance parties and playing games together - just to name a few experiences. While it doesn’t always beat catching up in person, it is a way of staying in touch with people that we might not otherwise get to speak to on a regular basis.

However, it is often difficult to create and nurture an engaged online community, especially if you’re starting from scratch. As a brand, it can take time to cultivate a community that has genuine interest in your product/or service, and who may potentially become brand advocates. This is where interactive video can help.

Interactive video can help organizations connect with audiences by using various touchpoints to better understand their online community and build two-way dialogue. Interactive video can contain different topics, empowering organizations to create subgroups that bring people together who have shared passions. If you’ve ever thought about creating an online community, then read on!

Why create an online community?

How do you turn interested prospects into brand advocates? You tell them a story - one that captures what your brand truly stands for. Word of Mouth advocacy can increase marketing effectiveness by up to 54%, according to AdAge, so increasing brand loyalty is key to your long-term success.

The rise and success of TikTok during the pandemic has been a testament to how building an online community can drive brand loyalty. Take Fenty Beauty for example. Products have been sold out online, in stores and country wide due to viral videos of everyday people like you and I, showcasing specific items. User generated content is one way to share authentic stories, but how can this be amplified through other brand channels?

People want to not only know more about brands, but also resonate with their message, so detailed and thoughtful storytelling is a must. Bringing together people is a great way of taking your brand from something people think about to something they believe in. If your company is just starting out, going through a brand refresh or looking to celebrate a recent success, it's important to tell stories to ensure people buy in.

Consider how passionate people are about brands like Apple and as mentioned above, Fenty Beauty. Steve Jobs and Rihanna are the figureheads of the company, and their stories give people someone to rally behind. More than that, these brands are able to convey their values and beliefs through both their work and marketing, giving people the opportunity to connect with their brand. Fenty Beauty targeted a gap in the market that focused on delivering unprecedented range and quality products to champion diversity and inclusion in the beauty industry. Whether it’s people waiting in line for the newest iPhone or rushing to Sephora for a new lipstick, it’s no coincidence that the demand for these brands is higher than ever. Both brands have dedicated communities that want to see them succeed.

Hawthorn FC used interactive video to encourage people to buy into the matchday experience of heading to the footy, which was their way of speaking to their brand's "in crowd".

Using psychology principles to build community

You can use psychology principles to help build a community and underpin brand marketing. Creating communities in particular is part of the wider theory of belonging, which plays a key role in motivating behavior and social connectedness. People love both exclusivity and feeling part of the ‘in’ crowd. You should aim to create marketing campaigns that include new customers while making existing customers feel special. Online spaces like Discord, Facebook Groups, Twitter Spaces and TikTok are ways of keeping people within your brand’s ecosystem.

Steve Jobs once said that “marketing is about values. It’s a complicated and noisy world… People want to feel included, which a community fosters. If you can appeal to people’s need to interact with like-minded individuals, then you can create a thriving community.” This idea is reflected in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which focuses on the fact that humans are social beings and have the need to feel like they belong. In addition to fostering community through product offering, being able to offer your community exclusive perks, discounts or brand experiences they can’t access elsewhere helps garner brand support and advocacy.

Interestingly, while social channels and pages are a great way to build community, oftentimes, brands’ owned assets do not reflect these immersive and socially connected experiences. So, how is it possible to bridge the gap between dynamic, user generated content and passive content commonly found on web assets? Interactive video is one channel that can help to facilitate user driven journeys through your brand owned assets.

Interactive experiences put your community at the forefront of their experiences, fostering belonging through personalized content. Interactive links and buttons allow you to guide users to exclusive web pages and other high-value assets that foster community involvement. If you’re promoting a game, create an interactive campaign that lets fans choose their own character and download an exclusive content directly from video. Selling clothing? Introduce your most loyal fans to your new range and let them choose their style, size, and any other preference! A happy customer is a repeat customer.

This BMW video is an example of speaking to loyal customers (as people are often passionate about BMW), while also showcasing a new range of vehicles.

Using interactive storytelling to build community

Building online dialogue and community has become more important than ever. Creating compelling narratives that are personalized rather than one-size-fits-all is essential in enhancing brand storytelling. So how can you use interactive video to help? Interactive touch points can be leveraged to build your existing brand community by facilitating two-way dialogue, educating and engaging with your community in new ways.

Want to hear customer feedback? Ask a question directly in video, or learn more about your customer preferences through an in video poll. Deliver personalized videos by allowing your community to access exclusive content through QR codes, that can be leveraged across campaigns you’re sharing elsewhere (in print media, at events, in store etc.) and give people access to perks and community benefits through these interactions. Brands in many sectors have used Vudoo to host interactive journeys and touchpoints that build community engagement, giving both customers and employees the chance to understand more about a brand’s values, mission and journey.

Finally, one of the most powerful ways to build community and belonging is interconnectedness through similar choices and values. You can leverage the power of choice through video by using branching technology to connect people that are interested in the same things (ie your products/services, preferences). Using branching, you can segment users and take them to different places where they can talk to like-minded people. By adding a choice and allowing users to self-select, stories and brand preferences become personal, and these decisions enable you to better understand your audience's thoughts and behaviors.

Nowadays, there are a range of places that people can meet, including Discord servers, Facebook and LinkedIn groups and forums (yes, they’re still around)! Here, people can create user generated content for your brand, and even build friendships. Interactive video allows you to build these communities through your brand assets and foster your brand stories. You should aim to keep people within your brand’s ecosystem - from there, the sky’s the limit.

Campus tours tell the story of student life, and this example from the University of Canberra demonstrates how a narrator/central figure take viewers on individual journeys.  

Heading into 2023, focus on how you can capture and engage your audience’s attention. The world is becoming increasingly digital, and adapting your business strategies to meet changing customer expectations will help you stand out. If you want to learn more about how interactive video can help you achieve your business goals, book a demo today.

Trisha Zileski
Trisha Zileski

Account Executive, Vudoo