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The Community Identity, a Sense of Belonging

A community is an identity, an entity. And therefore, it is important.

Community is a group of people in a shared interest or loving space and have similar characteristics. When it comes to human civilisation, a community is a thriving ecosystem having its unique DNA, social and legal structure, beliefs, and practices. Threads of reliance and togetherness among the community members keep it alive. Community is an important facilitating agent of influence and change as it consists of people who share common thought processes and camaraderie. We usually talk about urban, suburban, and rural communities. But communities are varied and formed based on shared lifestyle and beliefs, like religious communities, occupational communities, political ideological communities etc.  All this make the concept of a community very relevant and important for businesses and government and whoever intends to sell an idea, service, product, or positive behaviours.

Building Community

Community building is a field of practice that aims to connect with a target group of people with a message in an effective way. Sometimes also called community development, it is a communication strategy and has time and again proved successful for the enhancement of a community. Community building exercises are important especially in a developing and populous country like India having a huge stratum of poor and rural population with high illiteracy and traditional belief system. Many social development policies and interventions of government and non-government agencies use community centric implementation strategies to bring about positive change. Social marketing of public policies and interventions are most effective when designed in a community specific manner, e.g, ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ interventions will be different for a tribal community in Rajasthan or Haryana which are areas steeped in patriarchy and religious beliefs than rest of India where female infanticide problems are not so grave. Health insurance concept can be promoted in a better way through community-based health insurance schemes (CBHI) to bring more adoption and utilisation of the concept, eg. VimoSewa of Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in Gujarat that built a community of poor and self-employed women. Community buildings help the government in achieving the goal of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). In a similar way, the power of community has been leveraged in many other development interventions like immunization, mother and child nutrition, disease or pandemic management, awareness programmes etc. The community members look up to community influencers and their peers to adopt to change rather than a plain reason to change.

Marketer Relevance

The community has always been attractive to the marketer who targets specific markets or niches to sell its products and services. A new whey protein manufacturer targets the gym going and vegan community specifically as it makes more sense to gain ground and a steady revenue stream. Lakers team in basketball is a world-famous brand that has built its own community of Laker fans to whom it sells its Laker merchandise. When Harley Davidson was incurring losses and had reached on the verge of shutting its shop, it tried the community building method (HOG-Harley Owners Group) for its bikes and accessories through its community building strategy.  Podcast uses community building and marketing strategies successfully to run its business in the face of tough competition from video-centric content. Mobile companies like Oneplus and Apple use community building and marketing strategies to promote their products and new launches.

A business can build its community through face to face personal contact, social media presence where the page google analytics can help the business check the leverage. Campaigns, events, theatre plays, festivals, fairs, social work and relevant, quality offerings that connect with the members help to build communities for the products where members feel involved. Marketing efforts for any product or service to the communities is easier and fruitful.

IILM and Community Building

Community building efforts help maintain lifelong connects. Many educational institutions, for example, IILM University, lays a lot of stress in harbouring its alumni community, roping them in for guest lectures, motivational talks and placements and highlighting them on a pedestal pf inspiration for future students. Every student feels part of the IILM family long after he/she has left the organisation. for its social work and CSR initiatives, IILM University also adopts villages in its vicinity and promotes education, healthcare, and other programmes of social upliftment for the poor communities. Students actively participate with full zeal in such programmes and develop a commitment towards community building for the larger good of the nation

Therefore, community building and marketing is important for organisations and businesses to remain relevant and in the competition. It not only empowers the business but also the customer. A thriving community ensures a happy society. Community building will also help in reducing social disintegration, harmful behaviours and will knit fabric of social support, social justice, and economic development along with brand loyalties.

The trend of community building and marketing is getting more prevalent and more niches will be created. It will not be exaggerating to say that community will be the future of marketing. Future marketers and policymakers should concentrate their efforts towards community building to remain relevant in the new age business and marketing scenario. It will be very beneficial for students to opt for Institutions like IILM that have dedicated community building programs which give ample exposure to students in this domain and help with their placements and career development. Students need to take up skills like interpersonal communication, blogging, public speaking, communication design etc. very seriously to gain competitive advantage. such skills are much in demand and will bring an added shine to their personality to make them stand out in the crowd. In this regard, students can further follow the author’s blog on IILM blog site or connect personally for queries and guidance on the email given.

Follow my blogs or write to me at shahana.qutab.phd2019@iilm.edu