There’s so much to do when it comes to your digital marketing. We understand the pressure that’s out there. Social media, blogging, email marketing, ads, lead generation, marketing funnels, etc, etc. But the reality is, all of your efforts should be focused on helping you to build a community around your brand. 

When we think of the most successful brands in the world, it’s clear to see the community they have built and how those communities have helped them achieve success. Think of brands like Tesla, for instance, who only released their first Roadster in 2008. A high-priced electric sports car that immediately grabbed the attention of a very small group of people.

These people started Tesla’s community. Be it online, offline, or anything else. They were the Early Adopters. They began telling their friends. Began driving around in this unique car. Ultimately, they helped fund the early stages of Tesla as we know it today. 

In 2020, I believe that we’re still only just entering the Early Adopters’ stage for Tesla. By the end of 2020, the range of vehicles will include the Model S, Model X, Model 3, Model Y and the (soon-to-be-released) Cyber Truck. 

From 2008 – 2012, Tesla sold just under 2,500 Roadsters, but by then, their community had a solid foundation.

By end of Q3 in 2019, Tesla had delivered more than 255,000 vehicles. In 11 years, they have gone from 1 vehicle and around 500 sales a year, to 5 models with sales projections of 350,000 vehicles a year. 

Today, Tesla has 7 million followers on Instagram, 4.7 million followers on Twitter, and Elon Musk has 30 million followers on Twitter. 

Let those numbers sink in for a bit. 

Community Is Key

Whether you like Tesla or Elon Musk for that matter, or you don’t, it’s hard to deny that the business model surrounding Tesla centred on community.

Starting with the Innovators, and slowly shifting towards the Early Adopters is a sure-fire way to give your business a solid foundation for growth.

When people are starting out and dipping their toe into online marketing, they focus on the wrong metrics. The Vanity Metrics as we call them. How many people are following your brand? That’s the wrong question. 

Your focus should be on, how many real-fans, engaged users and customers are part of your community?

Especially in the early stages. Getting the right people to become part of your community is essential. Those people can be your ambassadors. They will be the Innovators who tell their friends. They’ll be the ones who are proud to have become part of your community. 

Now, let’s be clear about something. It’s not good enough to just bring them in. And these Innovators won’t want to be part of a dead/one-way community. They want to feel like they’re a part of something real. As if they know you, your company, your brand and your product/service.

We need to engage with them. We need to have conversations (more specifically, 2-way conversations) with them. Most importantly, we need to learn to understand them and we should first and foremost value what they bring to our businesses.

Now Is the Time to Build a Community

I don’t care if you’ve just started your business. Or if you’ve been around for years, but have convinced yourself that “social media doesn’t work for you”. Or even if you think “email is so last decade”. The reality is, there isn’t a single successful company out there that hasn’t had to build a community around their products.

You don’t need to be on the latest platform to build a community. You should choose the right platform for you and your business and you should get started.


You may even already have the founding members of your community in mind. Those initial customers you signed up, your suppliers, or supporters of your business. People who’ll be happy to get involved. 

Whoever you think should, or could, be a part of this community you’re building, now is the time to bring them together.

Give them a good reason to get involved in the conversation. Spark interesting debate and make sure that your community is the place to be (this doesn’t mean special offers and cheapening your brand).

How Do You Build a Community When You’re Just Starting?

Don’t panic! If you’re just starting out, it can seem like there is nothing but tumbleweed and crickets around in your community. That’s normal. Remember, at one point, Tesla hadn’t sold a single car yet.

If you’re just starting out then it’s time to get involved in the conversations. And there’s no better way to do that than identifying other communities where you can get involved.

If you are one of those people that believes “it all has to be mine” then chances are you’re going to struggle. Identify the people you want to engage with, and find out where they currently meet and participate in discussions. That’s where you’re going to start out.

Getting involved in those other conversations is a perfect way to help people identify and recognise who you are, what you are about and start that initial relationship to build trust and bring them to your community.

Time to Build Your Community

That’s enough from me about why you should build a community. Truth is, you probably knew most of this already, right? But before I wrap up, here are some other examples to help solidify the message:

  • Nike – 97 million followers on Instagram. 
  • Apple – 21 million followers on Instagram.
  • KFC UK & Ireland – 101,000+ followers on Twitter. 
  • Lidl UK – 343,000+ followers on Twitter. 

You see, it’s not just the huge, iconic brands like Nike and Apple that have built communities. And it’s not about reaching millions and millions of the wrong people that matters. KFC, who sell fried chicken, are doing a great job in creating a community around them. Lidl, a supermarket that not everyone wants to be seen shopping in (impressions matter to some more than others) are also doing a great job in bringing their community together.

So What’s Your Excuse? 

If you need help understanding how to build your community, feel free to reach out to me, or the team at Social INK. We’ll be happy to help point you in the right direction, and build a powerful strategy for your community-building plans in 2020. 

Chris Bruno
Chris Bruno

Chris, founder and CEO of Social INK, has devised and consulted on more digital marketing and social media marketing campaigns than you can shake a stick at. He’s also got a bit of a thing for online advertising and social media advertising.