How to Build a Meaningful (and Massive) Community, From Someone Who’s Done it Twice

Family therapy for communication issues near me,Family therapy for communication skills,Family therapy for communication issues online,Family therapy for communication difficulties,Family therapy for communication and trust,Cognitive-behavioral therapy for OCD,Cognitive-behavioral therapy for OCD online,Cognitive-behavioral therapy for OCD near me,Cognitive-behavioral therapy for OCD children,Cognitive-behavioral therapy for OCD adults,Cognitive-behavioral therapy for OCD and depression,Therapy for depression and grief,Depression therapy near me,Grief counseling near me,Depression and grief therapy online,Depression and grief group therapy,Depression and grief therapy,Mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques,Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy techniques,Mindfulness-based stress reduction for anxiety,Mindfulness-based stress reduction for depression,Mindfulness-based stress reduction for couples,Mindfulness-based stress reduction for groups,motionally-focused couples therapy near me,Emotionally-focused couples therapy for infidelity,Emotionally-focused couples therapy for communication,Emotionally-focused couples therapy for anxiety,Emotionally-focused couples therapy for depression,Online therapy sessions,Online counseling sessions,Online therapy video sessions,Online therapy chat sessions,Online therapy phone sessions,Online therapy group sessions,LGBTQ+ affirming therapy online,LGBT-sensitive therapy near me,LGBT-friendly therapy in my area,LGBTQ+ affirming psychotherapy,LGBTQ+ affirming therapy for couples,Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques,Evidence-based trauma-informed therapy,Trauma-focused therapy for children,Trauma-informed therapy for adults,Trauma-informed therapy for couples,Individual therapy for anxiety,Individual anxiety therapy online,Individual therapy for anxiety disorders,One-on-one anxiety therapy near me,Individualized anxiety therapy sessions,Individual anxiety therapy for adults,Couples therapy near me,Couples therapy in my area,Couples therapy near me today,Couples therapy close to me,Couples therapy in my city,Couples therapy in my zip code,Best PTSD therapy techniques,PTSD therapy near me,Effective PTSD therapy options,PTSD therapy for veterans,Affordable PTSD therapy services,PTSD therapy for children,Holistic PTSD therapy approaches,Online PTSD therapy sessions,Natural remedies for PTSD therapy,PTSD therapy for first responders,PTSD therapy for sexual assault survivors,EMDR therapy for PTSD,Group PTSD therapy sessions,PTSD therapy for caregivers,Military PTSD therapy options

You probably already know the value of building a community behind your brand: more powerful word of mouth, stronger customer retention, better organic growth. And yet, I find many small business owners aren’t quite sure how to foster real communities or don’t believe they can if they don’t have the money to really do it successfully.

I’ve built two thriving communities on startup budgets, first as employee #1 and Director of Marketing and Community at theSkimm and now as the founder and CEO of puzzle company JIGGY. Here’s my advice for doing it right.

1. Find Ways to Support & Celebrate Your Organic Ambassadors

You probably already have a community of champions—people who love what you’re doing and want to tell the world about it—even if it’s just a small one. If the cheapest customer is always your existing one, the easiest community to build is the one you already have. So, look for ways to help your current advocates help you, and thank them when they do.

At JIGGY, we make it clear on our product packaging and website how puzzlers can share their progress on social, tagging us and the artist who designed the puzzle artwork. We also always react or share their posts on our stories to show how much we appreciate them (and encourage them to continue sharing!).

JIGGY’s customers love sharing their puzzling journey—and we’ve made it easy for them to help spread the word about our brand in the process.

At theSkimm, a simple prompt in our daily newsletter to share it with a friend evolved into an entire ambassador program (called Skimm’bassadors), with detailed guidance on how to best spread the word and tiered perks based on the number of referrals. For a long time, we even chose incentives that cost us almost nothing and further drove community engagement: access to a private Facebook group, invites to Skimm events, and the chance to meet the team.

Whatever you do, taking a little time now to support and appreciate your biggest fans will save you a lot of money in the long run when it comes to your community growth.

2. Bring Your Followers Into the Business-Building Process

Traditional marketing is a one-way conversation, but to build a strong community, you should create opportunities for your customers to feel like they have a voice, too.

Again, this doesn’t have to be complex. Our JIGGY team makes sure to respond to every customer email we get so our users know they are being heard. We keep an ear to the ground and make product decisions based on what our customers want, letting them know when we’ve addressed their feedback. We ask our followers for their thoughts on ideas we’re considering, rather than just trying to read their minds. Even a simple Instagram poll can be engaging and insightful.

When we released our first kids puzzle, we emphasized that this decision came from customer requests.

By treating your customer community as a very large board of advisors, you may also start to feel confident trying half-baked ideas to see what kind of reaction you get. For instance, when we were figuring out how to monetize our newsletter at theSkimm, we simply told our readers, “We’re going to start putting some ads in, let us know what you think!” By staying transparent and opening up this line of communication, our users felt more invested in what we were doing—and more forgiving as we figured it out.

The real magic of a brand community starts happening when you help users build connections with each other.

About a year after we started doing events for our Skimm’bassadors, we did a user survey, and found that a huge indicator of satisfaction was the people our users were meeting through the group: new friendships, professional connections, even some romantic relationships.

Early on with JIGGY, we saw a ton of organic engagement on social between our customers and the artists who create the work for our puzzles, and we found that it made both communities feel more dedicated to what our brand is doing. More recently, we noticed users having puzzle parties over Zoom—so decided to launch the Puzzle Club to help further encourage this kind of engagement.

Puzzle Club members get the same exclusive puzzle every month so they can all share their progress, as well as opportunities to interact with JIGGY artists—both great drivers of deeper community.

Think of ways to bring your community together, and then step back and watch the real connections start to happen.

4. Stay Guided by Your Why

Ultimately, none of this works if you don’t have a deeper why behind your brand. At theSkimm, that was about being informed and connected with current events in the world around you. At JIGGY, it’s about reconnecting with downtime and practicing mindful self care while also supporting independent artists. People want to be part of these communities because they want to be around like-minded people.

It’s not just about stating your values—it’s about living them out in your branding, your copy, and even your business decisions. In the early months of Covid-19, we ran out of product and couldn’t restock because of supply chain issues. All we had access to was blank puzzles so, after hearing about the financial struggles our artists were having, we had them draw one-of-a-kind puzzles on these blanks and auctioned them off for charity and artist relief. This didn’t benefit our bottom line, but helped puzzlers stay engaged with our company even when we couldn’t sell them anything, supported our artist community, and reinforced what we’re all about as a company.

During the early months of Covid, our Jiggy Originals campaign supported our artist community and drove a deeper connection with our puzzlers.

Communities don’t rally behind a product—they rally behind values that matter to them or a lifestyle they identify with. Figure yours out, live it out in the brand, and make sure you really care about your customers along the way, and you’ll be amazing at the dedicated following you can build.


Find Out More

Marketing Tips You Need

Keep In Touch

Quick Subscribe

Client Reviews Tell The Tale.

Dan was a delight to work with. I needed a few headshots taken for my LinkedIn profile and Dan provided the easiest and most comfortable experience using state-of-the art equipment in a very professional setting. Also, the turn-around time on results was quick and I felt completely engaged and satisfied during the entire process. I highly recommend his services.Donny RitcharoenDecember 19, 2023
I got headshots taken and they turned out so well! The lighting was amazing.Tessa ChanMay 30, 2023
We used Appture to build a lodging website, and they were awesome! Dan went above and beyond to show us the functions and make all of our changes. Appture is our go to for web design from now on!Abigail HaleOctober 26, 2022
Dan did a fantastic job making me feel comfortable while shooting. He also made me look great! I don't photograph well, so I am very pleased with the results and speed at which I got the final product.Lily GostinSeptember 13, 2022
Appture knows their business and will go the extra mile for their customers. They do high quality work and provide great ongoing support.Chris McCorkindaleMay 24, 2022
Anita CauthornMay 24, 2022
It’s so rare in these times to find one man with so much wow factor and more rare to find men with similar interest and passion in their life journey as myself . Dan Elliott has been introduced to many in what is now considered as the Terror Dome , a place where many dreams are not deferred they are detoured to routes that lead to dead ends , he comes in full of optimism so infectious that he, maybe with out knowing is energizing those who have ventured where others would fear going with just the right jolt to forge on in the way of helping fallen humanity … His various fields of expertise has helped many in my region and I can only imagine the number he has effected beyond those I know … from day one I knew “ this was a man of kindred spirit “ Dan Elliott is a Gem and adds glimmer to things he touches … I’m a Witness ….and eternally grateful….L.Rashaan RichMay 21, 2022
Dan and his group are highly capable and knowledgeable. They work fast and get the job done. I highly recommend Appture.Justin FrankMarch 26, 2022
They are highly specialized in their work and constantly seek innovation.Ismail YenigulMarch 14, 2022
Dan is a marketing wizard. Honest, Experienced and a read deal. I am blessed to have him in my journey online :) Highly recommended.Sabbir HasanMarch 7, 2022
So much to say. Creative, Intelligent, Talented, Limitless, Affordable. It's amazing what these guys can do.Hack mackMay 17, 2019
We'd used some other agencies before, but man, they simply knocked us all over. After being in business for 30 years, I wonder how much more business we'd be doing if we'd hired them earlier.Rebecca HoneaMay 17, 2019