About the author : Alex Pana

Alex Pana is the Marketing Manager at Oveit, the US-based tech company that developed Streams.live. Prior to joining Oveit, he worked with 2 of the world's leading financial services companies. Over the last 4 years, Alex attended more than 100 live and virtual events, understanding how entertainment and digital payments work together. He is people-oriented and although his role is to share the word about Oveit's solutions, he loves to learn about people's experiences. Be they good or bad. He has a degree in Public Administration. This is where he first learned that small changes can result in big improvements. Having this in mind it was only normal for him to join Oveit.

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Live shopping, also known as live stream shopping, combines e-commerce and live video to simulate the in-store experience. While buying your products straight from a live, interactive video experience, viewers can easily interact with shopping assistants and other potential customers. But how can we build a community with live shopping?

First, let’s see why building a community around your brand matters:

Why is it important to build a community around my brand?

Why should you consider building a community around your brand? Communities have the advantage of helping each party involved, creating win-win situations. A community created around your brand will help both your customers and your business. Communities have the power to bring like-minded people together. They do this through the power of your company’s purpose and values. It’s not just the products. Some of the most important benefits for your brand are increased loyalty and better customer retention, brand awareness, the opportunity to receive feedback, and more.

Building communities around brands is not something new, but it became more important over the last years. And there are two main drivers for shift:

  • Technology makes it easy to connect with like-minded people from all over the world;
  • Millennials and Gen Z’s have different purchasing habits. They first evaluate the brand’s values and purchasing experience before deciding to support a company. Quality products and services surround us, so they are no longer the most important aspect of a purchase. The overall experience is now as important as the products themselves. And we all want to work with companies that care about us.
print screen from GitHub's twitter account - sharing useful information with their community

Sharing information that your community may find useful.
Source: Twitter

What to know before starting a community

OK, you know why you want to create a  community. But why would someone  be part of it? According to CMX, a community has to have four elements for people to join and actually be part of it. After all, we don’t want to create a community just for the sake of it, we want one which members feel that they are a part of. The four elements are:

Values and identity. People will join your community if you have the same values, interests, and/or vision. 

Added value. Your group should add value. For example, when joining an online community created around new marketing solutions, I know that fellow marketers are part of this group and they are sharing their experience.

Onboarding and participation. People should know how to become a part of your community and what’s expected from them. Make it as simple as possible for somebody to join and contribute to your community.

Rewarding. Some form of reward should exist for your community’s members. Discounts, exclusive products, custom-created content, or another form of rewarding loyal fans. Rewards often come from within but also do your best to honour your active followers.

How to start creating your own community

You should not be afraid to start small. But before starting, ask yourself: what are the common values your customers appreciate? To make it easier to find an answer to this question, remove your product (or service) from the picture. Think only about the problem you are solving. This is where you will find the common denominator that will help you start. That’s the first element for which people will join.

Let’s take Nike for an example: their community is built around sports and exercise, not around snickers. It’s all about improving oneself, not about the technology and the materials used to create the athletic products.

Now, think about the value that your community brings to its members. The most obvious is that they will be able to exchange ideas with like-minded people. You can also share curated content with your community, create special offers, and so on. 

Is there a way for people to “officially” become part of your community? Is it available for everybody and people can easily join? Or is it closed? Social media or owned platform? A combination of the two? Where will the experience take place?

Rewards your members. Let them know they have a voice within your community and thank them for their contribution. Ask for feedback and make sure they get what they expected. 

This is the plan which will help you get started. 

To get it running, you would need to have a few like-minded people, preferably a mix between your team and some of your biggest supporters. This way, once you start inviting new members, they will not feel like stepping onto an empty dance floor. From here on, it’s all about passion, time, and feedback. Creating a community will take time, but it has some unmatched benefits.

Main benefits of creating a community around your brand

1. Customer Retention. Building a community means your business is not just about your products and services, but about the problem that you are trying to solve as well.  This will encourage people to come back to you. And having customers that keep coming back to interact with your brand (and products) is great for business. A study conducted by Bain and Company states that a 5% increase in customer retention will bring you a 25% increase in profit. Bringing a new customer to your business can be as much as 7 X the cost needed to keep an existing client. 

grapg showing how increasing customer retention will increase your profits

2. Word of mouth. Your most loyal customers will become your brand advocates. They will share the word about your brand. They will discuss with their friends and will encourage them to at least try your products. One in two Americans (50%!) prefer word-of-mouth when researching for a product or service. A study conducted by the Engagement Labs shows that on average, almost 20% of a brand’s sales are directly driven by word of mouth.

3. Can the community become your customer support center? Having a community build around your brand will help your customer support and customer success teams to better interact with new customers. Actually, sometimes it will make life easier for your teams, as customers will want to share how they managed to solve (attended or unattended by you) different problems that occurred. Also, a question asked by one member will be relevant for a larger part of your community – so answering it will help more of your customers. 

4. Feedback. The feedback offered by your community will prove to be extremely valuable in time. Used right, this information can save your company years of work towards the right product. Your community is composed of your target customers – people that interacted with you and decided to stay with you. Their feedback can prove to be more valuable than the one offered by total strangers. If you want to see an example of great implementation you can check Lego Ideas. Using the platform, Lego asks fans to share what they think would be a great idea for new releases, and other members can upvote/support the idea. They incentivise members not just by allowing their ideas to become reality, but also by sharing 1% of the royalties with the original designer. Now that’s a great example of how to use UGC in your favour.

How to build a community with live shopping

There are multiple platforms that can be used to engage fans. Branded or shared, these platforms facilitate both-ways conversations between fans and brands. Owned websites, forums, social media platforms, newsletters – all are used to create communities around. Here we discuss how to use live shopping to create a community around your brand and business. Sounds complicated? It’s easier than you would think.

Over the last half-decade, live streaming saw a 13 percent year-over-year increase. The interest in the video in general (and in live video in particular) is so big, that is expected that two years from now, just only one-fifth (⅕) internet sessions will not be video. 

Authenticity. As the name says it, live shopping is based on live video – bringing the authenticity your customers are looking for. Going live in front of your followers shows that you value open communication and you’re willing to walk the extra mile. Let’s face it live streaming will take us out of our comfort zone. It’s way easier to share an article on a forum than to speak in front of maybe thousands of viewers. But it’s worth every second!

Live shopping brings all your fans in one place. Some of your followers will read your newsletters. Others will read your blog. Most of them will follow you on social media. But using live shopping, you can bring them all to the same place. During the live shopping sessions, your website can be the get-together place for your community. Laptops, smartphones, smart TVs, you name it – they are all a click away from this live, engaging experience. 

Live shopping drives engagement

print screen from an embedded Live Stream Shopping session

You are standing live in front of your followers. Your products or services are explained live, and your followers can offer feedback and purchase. Live, without leaving the experience.  Without leaving the community.

New members. Live shopping sessions are a combination of entertainment, commerce and content. The result is what’s known as “Shoppertainment”. These sessions will bring new-comers as well. People that are more curious about the process than they are interested in your brand. Or seeing your session just as pure entertainment. But through live commerce, it’s easy to transform viewers into customers, and customers into fans. Engage them, answer their questions, provoke them by asking for their feedback. Make them feel part of something bigger, make them feel like part of a community.

Live feedback increases engagement. By making products available for purchase during a live session you encourage customers and viewers to give you feedback. This will encourage the more timid ones to make their voices heard. And seeing that you are open to answer their questions live will not only encourage them to buy but also participate in your following sessions.

Conclusion

Rome was not built in a day. Nor will your brand community. But if you put your passion into it, the benefits will make it all worth it. Li e shopping as a community building tool is a new idea. However, it has the benefits of allowing you to engage your followers live. The note of authenticity you create around your brand will be rewarded by your community’s loyalty.

Follow the ideas presented in this article. Go live. Not just to sell but to engage and collect feedback. Nurture this relationship and the benefits will come.

About the author : Alex Pana

Alex Pana is the Marketing Manager at Oveit, the US-based tech company that developed Streams.live. Prior to joining Oveit, he worked with 2 of the world's leading financial services companies. Over the last 4 years, Alex attended more than 100 live and virtual events, understanding how entertainment and digital payments work together. He is people-oriented and although his role is to share the word about Oveit's solutions, he loves to learn about people's experiences. Be they good or bad. He has a degree in Public Administration. This is where he first learned that small changes can result in big improvements. Having this in mind it was only normal for him to join Oveit.

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