How to Leverage Digital Communities to Stay Connected to Customers

Janey Zitomer
June 4, 2020

People don’t use Facebook or Twitter because they’re drawn to the articles alone. They use social media to take part in or observe the conversations that content spurs. At LA companies H Code Media and Ori, leadership understands the value of a digital community — whether it’s for support, feedback or friendship. And they’re using it to their advantage. 

But in order to keep the conversation relevant and respectful, authenticity has been key. At Ori, that’s meant keeping members of the plus-size clothing company’s Facebook group engaged with weekly virtual activities and through personal stories rather than direct plugs. 

“It’s a safe space to talk with fellow plus-size women about everything from finding the right plus-size underwear to sharing tips on advocating for yourself at the doctor as a fat person,” Co-founder and Head of Brand Ashby Vose said.  

Users look for similar groups to express themselves among like-minded individuals. If brands are strategic enough, those same users will champion the company’s products as a result. 

 

H Code Media
H Code Media

At H Code Media, Hispanic audiences can engage with brands, users, editorial content and more. Founder and CEO Parker Morse said the targeted nature of the platform’s content serves as their secret sauce. In other words, it allows the team to connect with viewers purposefully and scale digitally so they can offer advertisers specific placement and distribution options.

 

What was the most important strategy you used to build a digital community around your brand? 

Our company was built on the foundation of “digital first.” More and more people are connecting with each other online through social media platforms, the articles they read and the video content they consume. Our platform houses every digital touchpoint U.S. Hispanics use when consuming content and media. Moving forward, we intend to focus our strategy on expanding our network and continuously optimizing our workflows with our first-party data and insight into this engaged audience. 

 

Through our digital platform, we are able to connect with and speak directly to our audience.’’

What’s one way you’ve leveraged that digital community recently to improve your connection to customers at a time when physical connection isn’t possible? 

Every individual has in one way or another been impacted by COVID-19. Through our digital platform, we are able to connect with and speak directly to our audience. We are able to collect data to learn more about what U.S. Hispanics are thinking, feeling and doing throughout this uncertain time. 

Our insight into our community has allowed us to provide a snapshot of U.S. Hispanic lives during the last few months and create a COVID-19 resource space. In particular, we’ve leveraged our research to educate our partners and advertisers on how to improve their messaging. We hope that doing so will not only help them navigate this changing landscape but also ensure they are creating lasting connections with U.S. Hispanics digitally. 

 

What has been the most important consideration for your team when it comes to the messaging and tone of your digital content? 

Our team strives to deliver trustworthy and accurate digital content and authenticity to reach multicultural audiences. We have found that utilizing the H Code Intelligence Center, our proprietary solution for collecting first-party data, has been the most effective way to engage our audience and inform our work. Our data-driven marketing strategies are centered around the needs of the Hispanic audience and the nuances that exist within this powerful community. By tailoring our digital content with our knowledge, we are able to create content that interests and resonates strongly with U.S. Hispanics because it speaks directly to their culture, passions and everyday lives. 

 

Ori
Ori

The Ori team has started offering their online community more than just access to discounts, sales and clothing. Vose said members of their Facebook group vote on which movie to watch for their “Friday flick” via Netflix Party and come together for weekly art therapy sessions. They’ve also seen a boost in Instagram Live participation.  

 

What was the most important strategy you used to build a digital community around your brand? 

Our private Facebook group has become our go-to platform for our digital community. It allows us to speak openly, gain feedback from customers and share content and stories that resonate without being purely promotional. 

On the first Tuesday of each month, a customer and member of our Facebook group hosts an art therapy session for our community on Zoom, allowing us to process our feelings while also getting to know each other.

As a brand exclusively selling plus-size clothing, we find our Facebook group to be a safe space for our community to be open about shared experiences. We elevate stories from customers about how the pandemic has triggered eating disorders, what it’s like to furlough employees and how to battle fatphobia in the medical field. We share these accounts on our blog and in the Facebook group so members can respond openly.

 

What’s one way you’ve leveraged that digital community recently to improve your connection to customers at a time when physical connection isn’t possible? 

We’re going live on Instagram much more frequently than we had before. On Monday nights, a customer leads us through a guided meditation. On Wednesday nights, we host “Wednesday wine downs” where we chat candidly with a member of our community who has a story to tell. Recently, that’s included a nurse on the front lines of the pandemic and a customer isolated in their NYC studio apartment. 

We’ve seen higher engagement on Instagram and a stronger sense of community within our Facebook group as we share content created by and with community members. We’re finding ways to elevate the voices of our community to create content that gives back to our community. 

 

Most of our content is focused on stories from members of our community.’’  

What has been the most important consideration for your team when it comes to the messaging and tone of your digital content? 

While we are sensitive to the fact that everyone is on a strict budget, we are also aware that our small business can’t operate on razor-thin margins, so constant sales and discounts isn’t the right fit for us (though we did try it, like many brands did at the beginning of quarantine). Most of our content is focused on stories from members of our community. When we are promotional, we find ways to leverage our community too. 

Since our Facebook group has been so highly engaged, we’re offering members exclusive early access to new products and sales. Instead of incentivizing folks to join our SMS list to receive a discount on their next order, we’re providing them with early access to styles and sales too. With small quantities, our styles sell out quickly. So providing those most engaged with early access lets them get their hands on products before they disappear and feel like they’re part of an elite group. It also encourages others to join this group of highly engaged community members, which we believe increases their lifetime value. 

 

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