You know, in searching for ideas for topics to cover, it’s honestly pretty surprising that it took us so long to get back to what it is that we do so well. Here at the Noname Nerd, we’ve built our entire business around growing and nurturing a community. But why? Why go through all that effort to build a community? Shouldn’t we focus more energy on other aspects of the business, like content creation, product development, customer service, or backend systems? In this article, we’ll define what an online community is, discuss why it is important, and give you some insight into our own community, and how it has helped grow us as a brand.
Have you ever joined a Facebook group? A Discord server? A Twitch stream chat? For the old nerds out there, have you ever participated in an online message board? These are all great examples of online communities. At its most basic level, an online community is simply a collection of people, who meet in some capacity, to discuss a shared topic of discussion. For example, the Noname Nerd communities are focused on all aspects of nerd culture, with our Facebook group focusing more on nerdy pop culture and memes, while our discord focuses more on gaming, streaming/content creation, and lately, NFTs. Regardless of the topic of discussion, it’s wonderful to have a place to discuss what we love.
But how can this be an important key to your brand strategy? The short answer is that building a community around your brand is a surefire way to build brand loyalty. If you can build a healthy environment in which your community can thrive, they become a captive audience, and can be much more easily marketed to. This technique is also a way to build a base of what they call “superfans”, or people who are so excited about what you are doing, that they will do much more than the average person to support you or your brand. Don’t believe us? Let’s take a look at a case study.
One of the examples of community building gone right would be a look at Rooster Teeth Productions. Rooster Teeth was founded in April 2003, which is a bit early for an online video production company. They beat YouTube to the game by nearly two years! But more critical than their race with the video giant was their community site launch in 2004. By building a community around their content, it allowed them not only a streamlined method for communicating with their fans, but even added new streams of revenue. In 2005, they launched their exclusive early access platform for paying members, called Sponsors (now RT FIRST). Their community approach kept fans coming back to their site, and therefore, might as well consume their new content while they were at it. They built such a strong bond with their fans in that community site, that they ended up making real-life meetups at conventions, with local groups, and even unofficial conventions, such as RvB TO in Toronto. Eventually there was enough community demand to warrant a full scale annual convention, held in their hometown of Austin, TX. By focusing on their fans from a community standpoint, they were even able to crowdfund 3 feature length films, all of which had a limited global theatrical release. Their community has grown to be decentralized over the years, Rooster Teeth, through the founding of RTWorld, a group of community leaders from across countless platforms and local communities, has done a great job of finding a way to continue to nurture the community relationship off-site. It is this dedication to building and maintaining the community which is entirely responsible for producing an army of hardcore fans, that have helped support this company for nearly 20 years. None of this would have likely happened if Rooster Teeth hadn’t put much emphasis on a community approach from the beginning.
So, how do we use a community approach here at The Noname Nerd? The way we set it up, the business is about going Community First, no matter the cost. We built a community around our philosophy that every nerd deserves a place to feel welcome, to feel a sense of belonging. Nerds truly do Belong Here. Once we established that, we started chasing ideas that the community wanted and/or needed. For example, our discord community has always been really heavy on streamers and content creators. We began testing and launching a whole suite of solutions for streamers, from web services, to graphic design services, even a merch-on-demand storefront, so any nerd can make merch for their community! We’ve also begun making a lot of free content, like our blog and podcast, to help these creators build their brand. Another great evolution came out of our discord, when a number of nerds started talking a lot about crypto and NFTs, so we dove into the NFT game as well, and are still rolling out new products, as well as community content in the NFT space. All of these business ventures are great, but the important part has always been going back to the community, and listening to what they want and need, while creating open dialog, and giving them a million other reasons to hang out with us. One thing is for certain, The Noname Nerd would be nowhere if it weren’t for the amazing community that sprung up around it.
Now what? So, we know what online communities are, why they are important to your brand, and how we use them here at The Noname Nerd. How can you apply this knowledge to your own brand, be you a streamer, youtuber, podcaster, or even a business owner in nearly any field? Over the course of this series, we’re going to look at how to build a successful community, take a look at how to build communities on a couple of different key current platforms, and even how to be a good community member, so you can help support your favorite brands and creators! Want to see a great community in action? Check out our Discord and Facebook groups! Not already a member? Grab the links to our communities at NerdsBelongHere.com! And as always, stay tuned to this blog for more great tips and tricks!