19 May 2022

Community Cultivations #1 - Standing Out & Maintaining Ownership Of Your Brand’s Community

Danny Freeman

Union Realtime

In an age where everybody is vying to get their brand noticed online, competition is sky high, most digital markets are increasingly oversaturated and the overall level of ‘noise’ across social media continues to get louder and louder until it becomes virtually deafening - the two key questions are; how do you make your brand stand out & how do you maintain ownership of your community?

Standing Out

The first thing to realise is that there is a huge difference between making your brand stand out ‘just for the sake of it’ and making it stand out ‘for a purpose’, because whilst the former may raise some eyebrows and start a few new comment threads about you, the latter will create a call to action and potentially even may serve one or more of your brand’s goals. Many brands have fallen victim to the concept of trying too hard to appear personable online and then achieving the exact opposite effect - the key is to keep your interactions as organic and genuine as possible, because ultimately people want to feel valued and accepted and that they’re not conversing with a robot or a faceless or ‘fake’ brand.

Don’t fall into the trap of copying and pasting techniques that you’ve seen work for other brands either, even if they’re within the same space as you - chances are that if their posts picked up engagement it’s because what they were posting was ‘on brand’ and authentic for them, but that is exactly why it wouldn’t be for you, as your brand is not a carbon copy of theirs - so instead of trying to take a proven concept from elsewhere and directly duplicate it for use on your audience, focus on what YOUR followers would want to see more or less of from you, run some multiple choice polls, host Q & A’s - get their feedback and make sure your community really feels seen and heard, nothing will build loyalty as much as this will, even if it is a slow burn in terms of growth at first.

Maintaining Ownership

When it comes to your digital identity, maintaining hosting ownership of your community is vital to the success and shelf-life of your brand - lack of hosting ownership leaves you entirely at the mercy of the social media giants and their ever-changing algorithms. For example, if your community is built up and based entirely on Facebook then ultimately if Facebook disappeared tomorrow, so would your community and all of the attached growth, effort and innovation that you’ve poured into it for the last however many years - the same goes for Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and so on. The bottom line, if you don’t have control of the platform, you don’t have control of what happens to the content. The recent Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram outage left many companies completely in the dark and with no ability to conduct normal business and trading for many hours on end - showing the vulnerability and potential losses of hosting on/with a third party.

Given this kind of scenario, one of the best things you can do besides building your own platform from scratch (which can very quickly become both time and finance intensive) is to create and maintain a contacts database or mailing list. Whilst that might sound extremely simple, the mailing list is a very powerful tool - if any of the other platforms that you have a presence on suddenly go down or get deleted overnight, you still have your mailing list and database of built up contacts and you can reach out to them (assuming you have their permission and are complying with GDPR) at any time, to update them of a new development, notify them of an upcoming system update, outage etc - in short, you’re never left in the dark and neither are they.

Additionally to this, there are also third party hosting platform options well away from the main social media giants and their restrictive algorithms that will provide you with the hosting and the functionality that you need but with all or much more of the control that you want over your brand and its reach. Some of the strongest examples of these include Circle, Tribe, Slack and Mighty Networks but even this list isn’t completely exhaustive - at the time of this blog being written there is probably another new platform in development, close to completion and launch to the market. The best thing about these kind of platforms/websites is that they will give you the same level (or even higher) of functionality that you can find on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any of the other main platforms, but they’ll present you with FULL control - you decide who sees what in your community, how often, when, where etc, instead of an algorithm taking away most of that capability from you. In essence, you have your OWN social media platform.

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We recently created our own community space for our property management platform ManageSpace using the third party provider Circle - here we utilise the above methods and more on a week by week basis, you can check that community out if you are interested HERE .