How to Build a Community Based on Emotions, Not Transactions

October 4, 2018 Tim Peckover

I hear it again and again, “if I don’t lower my prices or run more ads and promotions I am going to lose to my competition.” This is a purely transactional way of thinking, and one that will put your business at risk in the long run.

No matter how much you reduce your price, or how often you run ads/promotions, someone out there will always be willing to do it more. This is often referred to as the race to the bottom. If a direct competitor is not willing to do it, Amazon and Walmart are.

Do you shop with brands who send you the most offers?

The brands you love are not giving you the best price or advertising to you constantly. So why do you shop with them? They have provided you with an emotional connection and a sense of belonging in their brand community.

You can build a brand community in three easy steps, but the worlds best communities are also introducing an emotional connection to the customer at each step.  Beating-Black-Friday-Cyber-Monday-Community-BuildingTo show you how it’s done, I thought it would be best to take you through a real example. Here is how Workout Empire built an emotional connection with their customers through all three stages of the community building process.

1.Make joining your community an emotional experience

The first step to building your community with emotions is to to make the process of joining your brand community an emotional experience. Creating emotional experiences can seem like an ambiguous goal, but it is actually easier to achieve than you might think.

One of the easiest ways to get started is simply to make your community a reflection of what you value as a brand. Workout Empire’s ethos is centred around empowering women to work out while being SASSy: Strong, Ambitious, Stylish, Stunning.How to Build a Community Based on Emotions, Not Transactions - Workout Empire Sassy Army banner - women in Workout Empire clothingWith sass as the goal, they’ve perfectly captured it with the way they’ve branded themselves. From calling their community the Sassy Army, to awarding members with Sass Cash, everything about how their community presents itself screams fierce, strong, and chic.

Once members have join your community, it’s important to keep building off that emotional connection is by showing the immediate value of the community - and Workout Empire knocks this out the park.

How to Build a Community Based on Emotions, Not Transactions - Workout Empire - redeem points

Right after signing up, they award new members with 1000 Sass Cash. That amount gets even better when you realize that it is redeemable for either 10% or $10 off a future purchase - talk about great value straight out of the gate!

When you make the experience of joining your community based on value and emotion, everything your customers do within the community will strengthen their emotional connection with your brand.

2. Make engaging with your community an emotional experience

After joining, the next step to building your community is to get members to engage. In order to make this step emotional, the goal is to make every interaction with your brand a highly valuable experience.

How to Build a Community Based on Emotions, Not Transactions - Workout Empire - earning points methods

As part of the Sassy Army, members experience this through the variety of ways they earn points. The important thing, is that each action has enough value attached to it to make it worthwhile, and not be seen as trivial.How to Build a Community Based on Emotions, Not Transactions - Workout Empire - regalia loose tank product review Another key way that Workout Empire engages their community members with emotions is by awarding for product reviews. Product reviews are valuable to everyone involved: Workout Empire gets detailed product feedback, community members get 100 Sass Cash, and other customers gets the social proof of someone else’s experience with the product.

Everyone loves the feeling of being valued, so making this multi-value engagement creates an emotional connection between customer and your brand, while also creating connections between your customers and other customers.

To continued creating value, members of the Sassy Army make their way up through a number of VIP tiers as they engage more with the Workout Empire community. The more they engage, the higher up they get, motivated every step of the way with great experiential rewards and the emotionally driven achievement of reaching the top tiers.

How to Build a Community Based on Emotions, Not Transactions - Workout Empire - VIP top tiers

At the highest tiers, the perks become increasingly personal. Experiences like being flown out to the Workout Empire offices go above and beyond what customers might expect from a brand community, driving home the emotional connection they have to the Sassy Army.  

When your community knows it exists to give its members value, and you provide them personalized, motivating ways to give and receive it, they won’t be able to resist engaging with your brand.

3. Make sharing your community an emotional experience

The final step to building your community is to make sharing your community an emotional experience.

How to Build a Community Based on Emotions, Not Transactions - Workout Empire - Facebook share

Workout Empire does a great job of making the sharing process emotional by tying the referral back to their Sassy brand values. Making the referral a continuous part of the brand image has a huge impact on continuing the emotional connection with their brand.

Apart from the social post itself, they also make the act of referring a valuable action for their community members, offering a 500 Sass Cash reward for a successful referral, as well as giving the recipient a 15% off coupon. By making the referral valuable to both parties, and especially to the receiver, the action of sharing the community isn’t just another thing for members to do. Instead, they get tell their friends and family about an awesome brand community while giving them something of value - talk about an emotional experience.How to Build a Community Based on Emotions, Not Transactions - Workout Empire - Instagram UGCOne final thing Workout Army does to make sharing their community an emotional experience is show their community members customers the value in sharing on social media. By re-sharing the user-generated content customers have posted with their branded hashtags, they give members social recognition, letting them know they are valued, appreciated members of the community.  

Sharing your community is crucial because it closes the community building loop. The important thing to remember is that your community members will only share it if they can feel good about sharing something of value - either giving value to who they are sharing with, or the possibility of receiving recognition for it themselves.  

Think about what your customers want to make every part of your community emotional

You know how awesome your brand is, and you want your brand community to feel the same way. The not-so-secret then is to make sure all three steps are packed with experiences that are valuable to your customers. These customer-focused experiences are what will transcend transactions to connect with your community members on an emotional level.

Join, engage, and share with emotion.
It’s as easy as that.


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