How to create a community that ‘sticks’

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Recently I jumped into an interview over on ausbiz TV to speak about the current place of start-ups in the world, and in particular how Mindhive is adapting to the current crisis. During my segment, I mentioned the need for businesses to start fostering ‘sticky’ communities and received a lot of great feedback about highlighting the need to invest in your customers and clients to succeed in what you do as a business.

But what I also received was a number of questions inquiring as to what exactly a sticky community is, and how to build one, so I’ll do my best to explain it in full.

The first step to creating a community that ‘sticks’ is to understand that one factor above all else decides whether or not consumers will stay within the orbit of your business.

Loyalty.

Loyalty is a word thrown around so often in the world of business that it has begun to lose all meaning, and now risks being relegated to little more than a metric on a marketer’s chart. But at its core, loyalty is whether or not a customer/client stands by your business and trusts you to look out for their best interests.

Loyalty raises the idea of not just attracting but retaining consumers who believe that what you do will provide for their needs wholly.

Which is the essence of what a truly ‘sticky’ community is all about. The act of providing a product or service that’s so good, that those who engage with it can’t help but stick around to see what they get to enjoy next.

But what helps build a ‘sticky’ community?

This is the question that often follows the answer given above. Unfortunately, as with many things in the world, there’s no hard and fast answer to creating a collective community that stands by you through thick and thin.

However, there are a few things that can get any business moving in the right direction.

Start by employing the right people.

Bright minds and amazing ideas are what attract consumers to companies far before they even think about opening their wallets. Talent is everything in the modern age of business and not investing in it is a dire mistake for any company to make.

Employees underpin every part of building a loyal community. From quality assurance to customer support, your workforce dictates how customers see your business and what they expect when they interact with you (sometimes daily, as many service providers will no doubt know).

This goes hand in hand with creating the right atmosphere around your business.

I was told some time ago that the internet has ruined business as we know it, as the ‘uninformed customer’ is now a thing of the past.

While the former can be dismissed as alarmist rubbish, the latter is proving more and more true every day.

Customers have a fantastic nose for when a business is trying to forcefully create a community for their own means, rather than that of the consumer. Look at any failed marketing campaign in the last decade and you’ll more often than not see that it was undone by a lack of uptake and retention in customers.

The best advice that can be given, therefore, is to do what you set out to do as a business and be genuine in the way you nurture customers and bring them into the fold. As was already covered above, a ‘sticky’ community is built on trust. Which means you can’t just assume one will form around you if you aren’t willing to meet your customers halfway.

And remember, if you stop giving, your customers will stop coming back.

This is worth mentioning as countless businesses have lost amazing communities because they’ve become complacent with the way they continue to foster growth and retention.

The best example I can give is if you’ve ever tried to switch internet providers.

No doubt when you first made the move you were treated like absolute royalty. Then, as the deals dried up, you were probably left feeling like the only way to speak to a human about your service was by threatening to move to another provider and repeat the process ad nauseum.

This is the exact opposite of what makes a community truly ‘sticky’, as those who have nailed keeping customers clustered around their business have also mastered the art of making their members feel like royalty every single time they engage with a product or service.

Find the right balance and you’ll quickly see that your customers old and new are jostling in place to become part of your community.

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Mindhive | ex — Eidos, Boilerhouse, Basement, Margaret Marr | Speaker, Author | Bringing the shared economy to problem-solving #collectiveintelligence

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