One of the best reasons to keep yourself surrounded by a strong and carrying community is to have the support you need when you need it most. People often turn to their religious communities if they’ve lost a loved one and homeless people go to soup kitchens for food provided by the community in times of need. That is also one of the greatest benefits of keeping your brand community close at all times.
Imagine you’re in crisis mode. You’re in the grips of a PR disaster or sales are plummeting as complaints emerge about one of your core products. What do you do, release an official statement? Consult big data and industry experts to try to find where you went wrong? Stay silent and try to ride out the storm? Maybe. But a brand community opens up several other options. It can help shield you from the worst effects of a crisis and get you back on track sooner than planned.
Brand communities are an extension of yourself – well, sort of. In a time of crisis, they can certainly be thought of as an extra arm, another tool you can leverage to do some damage control. Ideally, this same characteristic of brand communities will help you prevent crises from arising in the first place, but shit happens.
How does a brand community function as an extension of yourself? Well, think of it as an external, organic PR department, effectively multiplying your workforce and ability to spread the message you want to get out there. You can send an official statement out into the void and hope customers see it and are convinced, or you can channel your message through your brand community, where participants are already on your side.
In some cases, you can even ask the community or specific members directly for help in defending your cause. They’ll help you make your case online and show the world that you’ve still got a base of loyal customers. Not only will they help spread your message, but they’ll also be more convincing than any statement you could make thanks to their completely independent status. They aren’t trying to sell anyone anything. They’re just sharing their experience and telling everyone why they still think you’re the best at what you do – like a recommendation from a friend.
Your brand community is essentially the most powerful influence you can have online in case of an emergency. Not only that, they can give you ideas of the best ways to respond, improve a product or change behavior to get yourself out of the hole. They are the trusted bridge between yourself and the rest of the world. Use them wisely.