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  • Writer's pictureGretchen Fox

The Value of Values: Authenticity, Transparency, and Building True Communities

Community with a Capital C

Take a cursory scroll through your LinkedIn feed, and it probably won’t take you too long to stumble upon a community-centered post. After all, the concept of “Community” in business is a hot one these days, as an increasing number of companies are realizing the importance and impact of keeping their consumers or userbase connected and engaged.

And hey, as far as we’re concerned... it’s about time! As those of us in the community sphere have long been well aware, an active community is one of the best possible ways to create (and maintain) company loyalty, find passionate brand evangelists, and generate authentic word-of-mouth buzz.

But what does it really mean for a company to grow (or, in many instances, launch) their community? What are community membersconsumers, customers, users, followers, and simply your average, everyday folkreally looking for in the communities they engage with, and thus the companies they support?

The Value of Values

With a global pandemic still raging and the past year bringing to light a serious uptick in social, racial, economic, and environmental activism, it should come as no surprise that authenticity and transparency are incredibly important to consumers. In fact, 71% of consumers prefer buying from companies aligned with their values, and that number only increases as the ages of said consumers decrease, with 83% of Millenials saying value alignment is important to them.

Communities naturally form when folks with a shared interest, background, or value set come together. And they’re already growing completely organically around brands that are not afraid to stand behind their values, and that engage with their communities via relatable and honest (and thus, humanizing) content.

Out with the Old

In the past, companies often drew hard lines when it came to speaking up and standing behind anything that might be deemed remotely controversial, even if internally they prided themselves on their “company values.” They’d cite reasons like it being inappropriate or irrelevant, knowing full well the real issue was that they risked potentially alienating customers by choosing a side. But hey, times change! And the fact of the matter is that sitting on the fence simply doesn’t work for most people anymore.

Consumers want to be able to make meaningful connections and engage with each otherand with the company itselfin authentic ways. By embracing strong values from the top down, companies are encouraging community growth, and by extension, developing that brand loyalty and awareness that is so key for long-term success.

In with the Now

The connection between a consumer’s hard-earned dollars or valuable time and the ideals they support is stronger than ever. If companies want to form dynamic and engaged communities, they need to recognize that, sure, loudly and proudly standing behind their values might turn off some consumers… but the strength of the appreciation and loyalty they’ll receive in return is more than worth it. And if a company really cares about building up a true community… well, those unaligned folks? You wouldn’t want them to be part of it anyway. After all, if you’re trying to cater to everyone, you’re not really catering to anyone.

And as one of our Founding Fathers, the late, great Alexander Hamilton purportedly said (or, at least, as paraphrased by the arguably even greater Lin-Manuel Miranda): “If you stand for nothing... what’ll you fall for?”

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