Communities are so much more than “just another brand touchpoint” – they represent a priceless opportunity to connect with your target audience firsthand. Building a solid community gives your customers a very active role in your brand’s ecosystem. Instead of being receivers of your brand message, they can help craft it.
Social media has amplified the voice of consumers; and more than ever, their feedback is invaluable. This is what you welcome in your community – your target audience talking about your brand and the things that matter to them. This is where they can raise their concerns and you can address them directly.
I always enjoy attending our mum and baby events, because I get to interact with our mum community in a fun setting, and end up learning so much from and about them. These interactions are in the back of my mind whenever we come up with strategies for theAsianparent. Sometimes, these conversations spin off into new products or campaigns!
We’ve all heard that it takes a village to raise a child. Well, now that village is online.
While we’d attained substantial success with theAsianparent.com, it was when we committed to building our parenting community through events, social media groups, and eventually the app, that we experienced exponential growth for the brand.
Now at close to three million installs, theAsianparent (TAP) app is the hub of our community. What started out primarily as a Q&A platform among parents, supplemented by experts, has since evolved into what we call a “one-stop app” for mums and dads. They can now also access exclusive content and helpful/fun features such as a pregnancy/baby development tracker, nutrition guide, medicine guide, a photo feed with milestone stickers, and so on.
An incredibly hard working team aside, what’s behind our success is putting content at the heart of what we do while remaining relevant with tech.
Many talk about User Generated Content (UGC) as if it were a resource, a cog in the content supply chain. But it’s so rich and dynamic that it’s practically a living thing. It’s the beating heart of the virtual community. For us specifically, parents sharing not just advice and parenting hacks, but also their specific and real concerns, is what led to our thriving community and sustains it to this day. This lends authenticity to our platform and what makes it truly useful to our users.
On the back-end, we use data science and machine learning integration in our platform to gain insights into our community. This constant learning lets us tweak our strategy in-line with our ever-evolving community.
Strong communities are built around core principles that define the parameters of how you interact with your audience.
For us, what's first and foremost is providing a safe space. We’ve always been adamant about publishing non-judgmental content, and our community platforms are no different. Here, mums can share diaper rash photos, questions about sex, concerns about their in-laws, their fears and insecurities when it comes to raising children, or even just how exhausted they are. It may be curiosity (or algorithms) that leads them to theAsianparent, but it’s the support that makes them stay.
Second is to add value. What do the members get out of being part of the community? Is it information? Rewards? Access to content or exclusive events? Discounts? A community needs interaction, two-way communication. If the community reaps benefits (tangible or intangible), it encourages increased engagement and loyalty.
Lastly, focus on experience. Constantly make User Experience/User Interface (UX/UI) improvements. No matter how excellent the content is, it is ultimately ineffective if users are unhappy and frustrated with your platform. Small things like design details or pop-ups or the registration process – these can add to or take from user experience.
Especially if it’s an online community, break through the clutter by serving a niche. Be unique; attract your audience instead of scrambling for their attention. This involves a lot of market study, so don’t be afraid to do a deep dive into data on what’s already out there. You’ll save time and effort in the long run, alongside streamlining the resource allocation.
I’ve always been passionate about building brands, but it’s when I started thinking like an engineer that I was able to grow theAsianparent to the next level. So don’t shy away from technical details - whether complex or tiny - and hire good talent with the expertise to help you along your growth journey. Again, it goes back to user experience; and while you will be fine-tuning as you roll out, it’s best to get most of it right from the get-go.
This is the exciting part, though it may require monumental effort from your team. Instead of worrying or feeling hopeless when numbers trickle instead of skyrocket, focus on drumming up creative ways to draw people in.
This is such an important part of community development, yet is also a common pitfall. So much effort goes into building the platform and brand, then growing the community, that there are no more resources dedicated to – simply put – making things better. Study your audience data, get feedback, spot trends, and act on these insights.
When things are good and settled, don’t get comfy. Think of how you’re going to continue engaging your users, further develop your community and grow the business.
Engagement is a matter of relevance. Always ask yourself if you’re connecting with your audience in ways that are meaningful to them. Flashy gimmicks don’t hold a candle to genuinely useful content and features. Focus on giving your audience what they need more than dangling things they could possibly want.
As with any product, word of mouth works best in bringing people in. So you should make sure your platform keeps bringing its A game, while also incentivising the action you desire. Make it worthwhile for your current members to invite new ones.
To avoid concentration risk, diversify by having multiple revenue streams. For example, theAsianparent’s revenue streams include display advertising, content marketing, a KOL platform, events, market research and commerce. Remember to make it as non-intrusive as possible for the community.
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Group CEO & Founder