Brief #84: How to build community for your brand

This content originally appeared on October 14, 2021 as part of the Future of Marketing weekly email series. Subscribe here.

Welcome to Future of Marketing.

Each week, we send you the most relevant trends, resources, and strategies in social and user-generated content (UGC) from leading marketers and brands around the globe.

Today, we’re discussing: 

  • What marketers can learn from Squid Game
  • How to build community with customers
  • #BrandCrush: Netflix 

What marketers can learn from Squid Game

Netflix announced its new Korean series ‘Squid Game’ is officially its biggest show ever. In fact, Squid Game is so popular that white slip-on Vans have seen a 7,800% spike in sales since its premiere – and a South Korean internet provider is even suing Netflix

But the real question is… How did ‘Squid Game’ become so successful?  

In addition to Netflix’s recommendation engine, much of Squid Game’s success is due to a combination of social media and word-of-mouth. For example, on TikTok alone, #SquidGame has over 37 BILLION views – where fans are sharing user-generated content (UGC) of them recreating scenes, sharing highlights, and discussing the series.

“Brands and independent creators alike have been having fun with ‘Squid Game’ memes that utilize some of the show’s most iconic scenes,” shared AdAge. 

A user (@GeorgieeLillian) tweeted "I just finished #SquidGame and I'm literally sat here like:" and shared a meme of an old man from Squid Game sitting in a corner

TIP: Popular Netflix shows (like Squid Game) are great opportunities to connect with people by tapping into pop culture and consumer sentiment – whether by resharing memes, engaging with UGC, or participating in a show’s hashtag. 

Because remember… the best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing. 

How to build community

Community building is easier said than done – but in order to start, you have to talk to your customers and make an effort to understand their behaviors. 

“Trying to design the ‘ideal’ brand community in-house and then pushing it onto consumers rarely works,” shared Stefan Read, Senior Vice President, Strategic Advisory and Strategy Practice Lead at Jackman Reinvents. “Brands must view community as something they build with their consumers, not for them.” That’s why resharing user-generated content is so valuable… it shows people that you care about making them part of your brand. 

But how do you get people to share user-generated content in the first place? 

Here are some ideas:

  1. Run polls and quizzes
  2. Leverage hashtags (when used strategically, hashtags can be a great tool to categorize content and help find relevant UGC)
  3. Ask questions
  4. Request feedback 

Brands like Lego and Airbnb do a great job at this: 

Lego polled their audience "The battle of land vs sea begins. What type of animal would you rather build for this challenge? Land vs. Sea"
Airbnb tweeted "pick one: domes edition... which dome do you want to stargaze from?" and included four images of domes around the world

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: To build a community, reach out to customers regularly, engage with them, reward them, ask questions, share updates, implement customer feedback – and make your brand more personable

What we’re learning 

#BrandCrush: Netflix 💘 

Each week in #BrandCrush, we highlight exceptional brands that are channeling their customers' voices to connect more authentically with their audience.

Squid Game, Money Heist, Queen’s Gambit…  

There is no question that Netflix is a prime entertainment marketing company with a strong community. Their brand relies on their streaming services – and they accomplish this by using user-generated content (UGC) to spread the word about their shows and movies. For example, if you scroll through Netflix’s Twitter, you’ll notice they often blend community voice with brand voice by retweeting user-generated content, sharing memes, and teasing users about new shows and movies to get people talking.

Netflix retweeted a tweet from another account that says "hi, I can't come into work... "I'm sick" Actually I'll be binge watching #YouNetflix all day Friday"

UGC is such a strong tactic for Netflix because they leverage social proof and word-of-mouth to encourage people to watch new content. Netflix also uses specific hashtags for different shows and movies to get fans to join the conversation, and give them the ability to filter through feedback (and buzz) around new releases. 

A major bonus is that they can use UGC as feedback to see the potential success of a show or movie before it is released!