How to activate your brand's community
Tim Masek from 1-800-D2C joins us and speaks about the way to truly activate your D2C brand's community
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to have a chat with Tim Masek, founder of 1-800-D2C, which is a platform and newsletter that helps e-commerce operators and brands identify which are the right tools to use for your business, by looking through a detailed directory of brands and the tools they are using in their stack.
Besides the directory of brands and tools, 1-800-D2C is also a blog, which contains advice from and interviews with great e-commerce founders and operators, sharing insights about how they’ve made their businesses successful and the different tools they are using.
Tim also leads growth for Storetasker, a marketplace for freelance Shopify developers.
What does a community mean to you?
To me the community surrounding a brand is the fans of the brand — the people who want to be involved with your brand. And there are different levels to that. People on the fringes, and die-hard fans.
As a brand, the key challenge is to identify who your community members and figure out how to activate them. Not all brands know how to do that.
Let’s take the example of an art gallery.
The art gallery is just a venue, enclosed within 4 walls. But its community is the people who frequent the gallery. If the gallery can’t identify who keeps coming back, they’re going to struggle to activate their community.
So you can have a community, but that’s not the same as an activated community.
Once you activate the community, that’s where things get a little bit more powerful because now you’re no longer working solo, you’ve got an army of people working for you for free, by expressing themselves through you as an outlet.
How could a brand identify this to-be-activated community?
There are actually really simple ways to do it. The question you want to answer is “who, within my gallery visitors, actually wants to be a part of this in a more meaningful way?”
Somebody who keeps liking every post you put out on Instagram or somebody who signs up for reminders to upcoming events - those are really clear, simple signals
Once you’ve identified those - The next step is to activate the community.
Activating a DTC brand’s community
The core of it is opening up a dialogue with your consumers.
Define your reason to exist
But the first step is to put a stake in the ground, to really have an identity, something that you exist for. Without a strong ‘reason to exist’, it’s gonna be really hard to build a community around your brand.
Pick up on the activity
Once you define this, that’s when you’re gonna start getting people intrigued, interested, and wanting to be a part of the community. And the brands that are successful quickly pick up on this activity, and quickly start a dialogue with community members.
Iterate and grow
That’s when you take the learnings you get, implement them, and then the community will grow further that way.
Example: How Obvi leveraged activated its community through Facebook Groups
Obvi is a collagen protein brand, launched in 2019, and now they’re doing around $18m in sales.
One of Obvi’s key marketing strategies is its Facebook Group of over 50,000 members. Using the group, the brand is able to activate and leverage its community to identify new flavours and product choices for Obvi to launch.
“There’s probably about a 25-30% overlap of customers. It's not something that we push heavily on our customers, they can decide to choose if they want to. Really it’s a community of women who simply want to support each other and better themselves. They take inspiration from the group, which is why it’s so active and full of love.” — Ash, founder of Obvi on his interview with Tim at 1800d2c.com
Choosing a platform to build your community around
When you want to build a community, you wanna make sure that people can communicate with each other and with you as a brand.
If everyone is scattered across different platforms, it's gonna be hard for them to talk about your brand to their friends on the network. So I think it’s quite important to capture your community on a platform where your customers already are present.
So it’s better to go to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat — just use the big networks where people are, and you’ll be able to build buzz through that network.
How a brand would capture community through Instagram
Think of an Instagram follow as a newsletter sign up. When someone clicks on follow, they’re basically saying that they want to be up to date on anything that’s happening with that business.
People can like and comment on your content, but you can also use it as a platform to say “Hey guys, let’s all meet up for a crazy night-time run or for this event”.
There’s this business called “The Last Crumb” in Los Angeles — they sell cookies. And they “drop” cookies (like a fashion drop, limited-edition and limited-time). So when they “drop” a new cookie, the whole community goes crazy over it. And they do this all on Instagram.
How do you know the level of engagement of your fans?
I think you quickly know this once you start dropping cookies and see whether they actually sell out or not.
Once you start to do real business initiatives like releasing limited edition products and releases, which require more involvement than scrolling through a feed, that’s when you can really tell whether your community is engaged or not.
The right kind of content for the right kind of community
Here again, it’s important to open up the dialogue with customers and understand exactly what draws them to your brand and to your community. Why did they enjoy it? Why do they care about our cause?
When you understand the full reason why people interact with your brand, then you’ve got a lot more breadth to play with in terms of your content.
Thanks a lot Tim for your time and sharing, this was incredibly valuable. What did you, the readers, think of this?
How are you activating your communities? Let us know in the comments or by replying to this email.