How to Build an Online Community With Your Brand
We are entering an exciting new time where brands telling stories is a thing of the past. Today, globalisation has reshaped the way that successful enterprises are interacting with their customers. It's all about dialogue and building a following. If this is leveraged well, this type of commitment is a terrific way to create an online community – the next frontier in brand loyalty.
Companies with interactive products are finding this to be increasingly important. Here at Plarium, we are focused on maintaining high levels of customer interaction – even during the months between game launches. We want to keep our players happy and provide them with maximum entertainment value. Product updates are one of the many ways we do this.
If you are a budding entrepreneur, business owner or even marketer, you’re probably eager to get started building a community around your brand. What follows is a listing of the best-practice methodology that you can apply to any consumer brand:
No doubt consumers are providing you with feedback about your services and products on a daily basis. They also want to be sure that you’re listening to what they are saying. It's important to dedicate resources to this end. Products need to be continually nurtured – well after brand launch. Companies investing in communication already realise that product launches are simply the first step in the process.
The people offering you feedback regarding product improvements are your engaged customers, and it's important to make them part of the product development cycle. Some folks are of the opinion that customers don't know what's in their best interest, but we believe that their opinions truly matter.
When it comes to Plarium, the social component of our products goes well beyond our games. We have community teams and support teams that monitor social media profiles on a daily basis. We engage in discussions with our players and value their opinions highly. What's the result of this? Our players appreciate the interactive communication and the fact that we use their advice when we design aspects of future games. This builds trust.
Strong communication with customers equals a solid understanding. This is especially important when they use your products. Prioritisation of your community’s needs allows you to build a better product. Quality generates enthusiasm for your brand, and keeps people interested in the long term. Quality upgrades to meet audience expectations will dramatically improve the customer’s opinion of your company. Only quality upgrades can erase negative experiences with your company.
Here's another personal example: we are especially picky about all aspects of our games – sound quality, character development, graphics and storyline. Back in 2009 when we began development of our games, quality social games were a faraway concept. We wanted people to be blown away by the quality of our games on social networks like Facebook.
We are also very meticulous about localising our games. We wanted translators that resonated well with people in specific countries. So we would screen different translators and have strangers read character dialogue aloud. If they weren't rolling over on the floor in hysterics, we found new translators. That's the level of commitment that we look for in our products.
We all differ when it comes to our definitions of quality. Your brand should focus on what your customer’s value most.
Customers become brand ambassadors when you communicate effectively with them, and you build a quality product. Brand ambassadors are the customers that are loyal to your particular brand. They are also the people who defend your products and recommend them to other people. You cannot pay for these types of customers – it is the result of quality products, communication, trust and a community culture which develops.
Brand culture begins with the people within your company. Customers can instantly tell whether or not the company truly believes in its mission statement and its own inherent value. Your level of commitment and investment in your products and your brand will truly resonate with the community around you. They will feel that passion and share in it.
Here at Plarium, our culture is one that fosters a sense of global camaraderie. Social boundaries, geographic boundaries and linguistic boundaries don't come into the equation – the company culture pervades all. We are committed to bringing total quality gaming to our community of players, and our players influence us in turn with equal enthusiasm.
The enthusiasm we have for our products is showcased through our staff. We have recently moved our Kharkiv office into a new office complex, and it sports a fun-filled theme with all of our games, as well as a wet and wild slippery slide. The social culture that we have managed to foster is all pervasive. Our team members live, eat and breathe the culture we have created.
In fact, we even have themed days, such as Pirate days and even Military events, replete with tanks, choppers and APCs. There are also plenty of social events that help us to maintain a sharp focus on delivering superior products for all of our customers. You could not hope to find a team that enjoys their corporate life quite as much as ours. We truly believe in the products we have created, and we have a whole lot of fun providing the crème de la crème of social gaming to our customers.
The advent of the Internet and especially social media has allowed for the creation of a high degree of real-time interaction between customers and brands. It's important to develop and foster trust within the gaming community, and to engage in robust dialogue at all times. The end goal is always a higher quality product, and collaboration certainly goes a long way towards achieving this end. By empowering your customer base and engaging them on all levels, you will develop a solid network of loyal customers. When you have reached this point, the sky is the limit!