Skip to content

The Future of Marketing is Community Building

David Sherry
2 min read

Attention online has seemed to get more and more difficult over time.

The typical channels; Instagram, FB ads etc. have saturated to a point that makes it feel like you’re shouting into a fire hose.

And, we’re already seeing (and hearing) more chatter about how the content that used to generate sales on Instagram, is being seen and interacted with less and less.

Take for example; the average Facebook or Twitter user has an engagement rate of only 0.5–1.0%.

Instagram is currently at 3%, but this will decline, as well.

At the same time, channels like Youtube, Blogs, Forums, and even email lists unexpectedly held much higher rates of engagement and “Fandom,” with channels hitting consistent numbers of views and searches over time.

We’ve been living in the “Attention Economy.”

But to thrive in the future, we’ll need to make the shift into the “Community Economy,” or the “Community Marketing Economy”

This shift, from customer attention to communal relationships, changes everything for how we approach marketing, sales and customer retention.

What we’re going to witness play out over the next 1–5 years is a whole host of companies drying up and dying, thanks to this subtle change.

So what’s behind the subtle shift away from social channels, to more dedicated (and seemingly less interactive channels) like email and blogs?

It’s a nuance so small that one would likely miss it, for not looking deeper.

And, ironically, it’s an idea that’s old, not new.

People aren’t on social media so that we can “soak up their attention.”

People are on social media because they want to come together in communities, to interact with other people with shared passions in a way that helps them grow.

It’s as old as the Church. It’s about participating and engaging in our favorite topics and dreams, together.

Companies that thrive with their communities have the following:

1. Your media promotes discussion between customers and members.

2. Your members connect with each other, online and offline.

3. Your products make each individual feel special, leading to an increase in word of mouth.

4. Your product promotes positive values, with social reinforcement of the tribe.

5. Your customers feel as if they are part of the direction and influence of the product.

People have less and less of their time than ever to spare, thus they do not want to commit themselves to a vague organization or product that does not align and bond them with like-minded people who share similar objectives.

In the new world, we must ask different questions in our Marketing efforts.

Instead of asking questions like…
* How many subscribers do we have?
* Do we have a content calendar?
* How many likes did we get?

We’ll need to ask new questions. Questions like…
* Are my customers connecting with each other?
* Does my media promote discussion?
* Are my members/customers recruiting for me?
* Are member investments, rewarded?
* Do our customers feel a shared ownership of the product?

In the new world, Brand Marketing is about Leading, Growing, and Managing Communities. It’s bottom up, instead of top down.

My new course, Generously Human ( is 25 Days of lessons about the foundation of community building.  It's made to help you or your brand shift into a mindset towards community. It's discounted for the first week for CC subscribers, and the road map takes you through storytelling, the "science" of community building and what creates an attractive brand.

We don’t want to be told what to do, and talked down to.

We want to be supported moving forward in our own unique way, with the trust and support of like-minded peers who help us get there.

xx David