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Firstly, let's start off with the basics.

Your brand is your name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies your goods or services as distinct from those of others. A community is a group or society with common values, helping each other. These days they are more often than not found on social networks.

Developing a community of like-minded individuals around your brand is a daunting challenge; not everyone gets it right; however, with a little ingenuity and perseverance they will come to know, like and trust you. And people do business with those they know, like and trust. Obtaining wealth is all about building relationships and building up your personal and business network. Through this process comes true success because once you establish relationships with people and you get them to believe in you, the sky is the limit.

There's a whole science called Business Relationship Management(BRM) that concerns itself with the building, maintaining and measuring the success of brand in respect to a community. While the purpose of this blog is not to delve into the complexities of BRM but simply to shed some light on some factors that affect all marketers, big and small alike, looking to brand themselves within a community. While I don't profess to be an expert in the field there are some pointers anyone wanting to connect with like-minded people should take note.

One of the first things to keep in mind is that it's not about the tools nor the platform that build a community. Though the ultimate goal is to sell a product or service, it is important to know that a community does not form around a service unless a business proves that its service can empower others. A business should therefore  take time to engage and cultivate potential customers. Rather it's the engaging, the human interaction, connecting with people on a human and personal level. It's all about them, not your product or service.

Find where they are. Communities or tribes are nomadic on the web. Go where the people are. Determine what they want. Decide to join or make up group. Introduce yourself. Invite them. Ask them about their goals and hopes.  Share yours. Begin the journey to deeper relationship building.

Realize that community is a gift; be humble. Be thankful for the interaction. If you resonate with people there's a palpable feeling that will endear your business to them. It's a mindset change. You are there as a participant, not the owner. Listen, really listen, ask questions, take polls, take notes and take action.

Equip them with what they need to succeed. Empower them. Give them great content. People naturally want to succeed and will look to you for more and more success. Then give it to them, instead of that product or service you have to sell.  Celebrate them. Seek out personal and professional successes and praise those.  This subtle approach will garner more favor for your brand in the long run. It's a fine line in blending social concerns with selling products and services.

Ensure you measure the ROI of the community; important metrics need to be defined, monitored and reported on a regular basis. A business needs to define what goals it wants to achieve on social media to maximize the return of time spent on managing its presence. For example these are things that affect the sales cycle: lead generation, support, polls, R&D for future products.

Realize that core activities for interacting with your community cannot be outsourced. Customers are your most important asset outside of employees and should be treated as such. Prompt and courteous responses to feedback will go a long way to building your social capital. Outsourcing can take over doing perhaps doing the drudge work, such as the measurement and monitoring activities. 

I hope the pointers above help in building your brand within communities. It's an ongoing process and it takes time but one that can be tremendously rewarding. Watch the video from IM University for more.

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