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To talk about the topic ‘How brands can ace community building through content marketing?’, brought together some of India’s best marketing minds under one umbrella, in its monthly chat show Content Conversations, on September 30 evening.

The panellists of the session were Siddhant Mazumdar, Head of Mediabrands Content Studio of IPG, Manika Sharma, Head of Marketing of Firefox Bikes, Rajagopal Menon, Vice-President, Marketing of WazirX and Hansveen Kaur, Business Head of Momspresso.

Communities can drive brand loyalty and brand affinity if community members are provided with meaningful content. But building a brand-led community isn’t a cakewalk, it requires full-time attention. Brands have to think through the content they would post on the community pages, sustain them in the long run—thereby growing the community.

Terms such as ‘community-led marketing or ‘community-led engagement’ weren’t as common as they are today. What has changed now that more brands have got to building brand communities?

Answering the question, Sharma of Firefox Bikes said communities have always existed since the inception of humans but brand communities are relatively new.

She said that earlier, fairs and chaupals were the community spaces where people gathered and shared interests. Brands used to do various activities in and around these areas to grab the attention of people.

However, in the digital era, many things have changed and evolved. Consequently, the relationship between customers and brands has intensified, making community-based marketing a crucial component of modern marketing.

Sharma added, at Firefox, they don’t relate community engagement only in the context of content but they consider community engagement as something beyond the content. “We rather see content as one part of it.”

Talking about content marketing’s role in building a brand-led community and why must brands include community building as an important pillar of content marketing strategy,  Mazumdar said good content marketing comes from the point of intersection between two worlds, ‘world of a brand and the world of the users.’ The two worlds connect on the basis of shared interests. In the middle of these two worlds, there lies a sweet spot where they have shared interests. That's where good content today comes from.

He further said, “Content marketing is beyond just talking about the product. It is about finding ways to be useful, to be relevant as a product, to be meaningful in the user’s life. It is not something that happens overnight; it takes time to build a community. One needs a big brand story to form a content marketing strategy around it.”

Content marketing and community management cannot exist without one another, highlighted Mazumdar.

Talking about communities, he said beauty is one section, which has the richest brand communities. “Not just the legacy brands but the younger beauty brands too, because they talk about very relevant issues such as gender positivity and other different culturally nuanced conversations. It seems that their communities have been extremely loyal and tightly knit. The audience genuinely believes in the direction that their beauty product is taking, so there's a lot in the beauty space.”

Agreeing with Mazumdar, Kaur of Momspresso added some examples of how communities in the beauty sector are doing wonderfully. “Be Beautiful is one of the leading beauty communities in the country; it was created by HUL,” she said.

At the same time, she highlighted how Nykaa as a brand-led community is winning the content game. She said brands such as Nykaa and HUL are not directly talking about their products, rather they’re creating engaging content that helps customers gain some knowledge or learn something new.

Adding to Kaur’s statement, Sharma said when it comes to content marketing and communities, it has to go beyond the product; so the conversation and the focus point are not your product but the customer’s passion and interest.

Kaur highlighted how the digital mediums have bridged the gap between the communities and made them bigger and stronger.

According to Menon, today communities are bound by interests not just in one place but all across the world. He shared an example of how content creators on YouTube are creating videos, explaining using WazirX to users. This explains that probably all content creators are running separate channels and have their own community but still, they have shared interests.

We now see new brands specifically bringing influencers to give the community a boost so that more and more people join in. Earlier brands did not have influencers on board, but they still have a large number of people as part of the community. What brought about this major shift?

Kaur explained that earlier people were more fascinated by celebrity faces but now they tend to trust more if the speaker is one from their own community. They are more interested in the real-time experiences of other users.

“At Momspresso, 90% of our content is created by users and the influencer moms who are a part of their community. This user-generated content helps mothers to connect better with each other; they learn a lot of new things from the experience that other mothers share in the community.”

Asked if there is a difference between engaging with the audience and engaging with the community, Menon explained that the audience is who you talk to, which is majorly a one-way interaction. But the community is a larger group where a brand can have two-way conversations with or among the community members.

“A brand can purchase the audience but the community builds and flourishes on its own.”

To know more what the panellists had to share on brands ace community building through content marketing, View Full video here: