What do the most dynamic creators, the fastest growing startups and the best-loved brands have in common today? The ability to build and nurture a valuable community.
From Salesforce and Shopify to Canva and Tonal, community has become the new moat—a distinct, competitive business advantage—for an expanding range of companies and industries.
Online communities are versatile and can support a variety of business goals. Brands are leveraging communities for R&D, customer support, engagement, customer acquisition and more.
In this three-part article series for eMarketer, I’ll examine how different types of businesses are leveraging the power of communities to gain an advantage over competitors and support their customers. Today, I’ll introduce you to two small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) who’ve built incredible communities that are making a meaningful impact on their businesses.
The Broke Black Girl is an 80,000 member strong Facebook group that provides practical money management resources and strategies to women of color. The group was started by Dasha Kennedy in November 2017 because she saw a problem in her circle: there weren’t spaces offering free educational resources where women of color felt safe having vulnerable conversations about finances. By November 2019, Kennedy decided to quit her job to pursue The Broke Black Girl full-time as a small business, providing financial consulting and other resources.
The Broke Black Girl community is a highly-engaged educational hub and the primary acquisition channel to the company’s paid products and services, which include courses, books, and consultations. The community has helped Kennedy grow her business and better understand her customers.
“This group has given me 80,000 people who will tell 80,000 more people that they love my work and my community, and that my products are worth buying,” Kennedy said. “My group gives me free market research. I know exactly what they need, and what their grievances are with other offerings out there.”
Another SMB that’s innovating with community is Cocokind, a beauty company started by Priscilla Tsai in 2015. Today, Cocokind’s products are carried at Ulta, Target, and Whole Foods, and the brand’s Instagram community is 310,000 people strong.
Cocokind uses its community directly for R&D. With Cocokind Lab, the company polls customers along every step of the product development lifecycle, asking questions about preferred colors, packaging, ingredients, and more—with around 30,000 responses each time. I highly recommend checking out this series of Instagram Stories from Cocokind Lab, where the company develops a new lip SPF product entirely from community feedback.
This transparent approach has helped Cocokind build an incredibly strong connection with their customers, who feel heard and are more invested in the brand because of this.
Stay tuned for our next article, where I’ll share an example of a global brand that’s leading the industry in their approach to community. In the meantime, if you’re interested in learning more about this topic, download our brand community playbook.
—John Cantarella, Vice President, Community Partnerships, Meta