Building a Brand Community is like developing a Sourdough Culture
Did you know that building an online community around your brand doesn't happen overnight? Developing a sourdough culture doesn't either. There is a lot more involved with both.
You might be wondering why I would make the connection between these two things? Well, after years of people refusing to give me a sourdough culture, I made my own.
I then realized that developing a sourdough culture, which you need to make sourdough bread, is a lot like developing a community around a brand.
Here is what I figured out:
The Beginning Stage
Adding water and flour together.
At the beginning of developing a sourdough culture, you mix together two basic ingredients flour and water and let it sit for 24 hours.
At the beginning of building a community you develop good engageable content and push it out the channels people use. This could be Facebook, Twitter, your Website, or email list.
You might not see any results at this stage because you are brand new. No one knows to look at your content, just like flour and water are still too new to attract any amount of wild bacteria in the air.
The Repeat, Repeat and Repeat Stage
The hardest part of any process is when you are not yet seeing any results. The key is to persevere.
The sourdough culture process requires you to throw away half of your culture and add new water and flour every day for a week. You are feeding fresh ingredients to a small part of the bacteria you are cultivating and allowing it to grow.
In building a community, you must repeat the content and distribution process. You must develop engaging content and distribute it through your designated channels on a regular basis. This might be many times a week, once a day or once a week. The key in this step is to distribute it on a frequent and continuous schedule.
During this time, you will start to see results. Your culture will grow faster, just like you'll slowly see people start engaging with your content. At this point, you'll want to be proactive as well. If your culture needs feeding, you feed it. If someone engages with your content, you engage back.
The Developed Stage
There will come a point where your culture is ready to use and your community has grown to a stable point.
At the time when your culture is fully developed and is what many consider to be wild yeast, you can then bake bread with it.
When it comes to the development of your community, it is not about having the most people, but rather having an engaging and loyal group of people. People who believe in what you do or the service you provide are more valuable than simple numbers.
The Maintain and Curate Stage
The point of developing a sourdough culture and a community is to build a lasting resource.
You use the sourdough culture to bake bread, to feed your family. It is important to also save some culture, continue to feed and maintain it so you can always bake more bread and continue to feed your family.
The same goes for building a community. Developing a community is not a campaign, there is no end date or one final call-to-action. If there was you would lose that community and waste all the hard work you put in developing it.
Instead, you will want to continue to be a resource to your community and provide them with relevant information. This will continue brand loyalty and encourage repeat customers while drawing in new ones.
The Outcome Stage
The outcome of these stages is the best part in both cases. A sourdough culture can be used to make some of the best tasting bread you will ever have once it is alive. It’s tangy natural flavour will make you want more. Just like once you have a strong community you will feel as though they are family, who believe in what you do and will be ambassadors for you.
The lesson in all this is that building a community around your brand is just like the first time you develop a sourdough culture. It takes time, patience and determination while seeing little results, but the outcome is well worth it if you put in the effort.
There are many variables that will affect the outcome of course. The temperature of the room, the ratio of ingredients and the conditions of the environment, will all affect a sourdough culture. Just like your ambition to create content, the quality of it and the distribution of it will all contribute to the outcome of how your community grows.
The best thing to do is to start.
Now who want some sourdough bread?