How to build a community on social media | insights from Lick paints

Barney Cox
minute read
Written By
Barney Cox
November 22, 2023

Amie Caswell is Head of Social Media and Creators at the DTC paint brand, Lick. As well as taking the interior design world by storm, Lick’s mission is to make decorators feel confident. To do this, they produce fun, engaging and educational social content which has helped them build a loyal, vibrant online community. 

On our podcast, Ecommerce Marketing 101: How to Scale Your DTC Brand, I spoke to Amie about how she built Lick’s organic, community-focused social presence. We discuss how they successfully launched on TikTok, why they use in-house influencers and how they were approached by Heinz for a partnership. Keep reading to find some tips that you can use to start building your brand’s community on social media. 

🎧 Listen to Amie’s original interview on our podcast: Ecommerce Marketing 101

🎥Watch Amie’s full interview on YouTube.

Amie’s key takeaways from the podcast 

Here are some of Amie’s key takeaways for building a community on social media: 

  • Become a knowledge hub for your audience: Become a knowledge hub for your industry and create content that’ll genuinely help your audience. 
  • Use internal influencers: Use the expertise of your team to create social content. This puts a face to your brand and strengthens trust between you and the consumer. 
  • Build a community on TikTok: This is arguably the best channel to quickly build a community. It’s cost-effective and TikTok champions authentic ‘unpolished’ content—meaning you can easily test what does and doesn’t resonate with your audience. 
  • Balance brand and entertaining content: Strike a balance between brand-focused and entertaining content (like funny trends and memes). You can continuously evolve content based on your audience’s response. 
  • Incorporate customer feedback: Listen to customer feedback and make adjustments to your products where necessary. Your community will appreciate the fact you’ve listened to them. 
  • Partner with community creators: Collaborate with creators already using your products and help tell stories that align with your brand. 
  • Partner with other brands: If it's relevant, look out for brand partnership opportunities. These will be mutually beneficial to you and your partners, and might help you pick up some media coverage—perfect for raising brand awareness. 

9 ways to build a community on social media

Let’s dive into the ways Lick has built up their community on social media. Under each section, you’ll find a key takeaway that you can use in your ecommerce brand.

Become a knowledge hub for your audience

The Lick social and creative strategy is centred around their decorators. This is their primary target market, so everything they post has to meet their needs and help them feel more confident in what they do.

“[We need to think about…] Where do our decorators hang out? What would our decorators want to see? What would they find valuable? Would they find this meme relatable? As much as we plan and choose the content, it's ultimately not about what we want to see on our feeds, but what our community wants to see.”

Just look at Lick’s Instagram page— you can easily spot content that aims to educate their target audience.

💡Key takeaway: Dig down into your audience’s needs and create content that will genuinely help them learn something new about your product. In other words: Become the knowledge hub for your particular industry. 

Find internal influencers 

Tash is Lick’s Director of Interior Design. She provides in-house training about colour psychology and interior decorating. She also regularly meets with customers to advise them on what paint colours to buy.

When Amie first joined, she quickly realised that Tash's expertise was too good not to share, especially since the same community questions kept popping up time and time again. So Amie decided to get Tash on their socials to answer FAQs and advise on colour combinations. 

Tash has since become Lick’s ‘internal influencer’. Amie says: 

“It's really nice for our community to know that there are real people at Lick, like Tash, who’re there to give our decorators help and advice. This is important for our brand values as well. It's also given us a unique way to lean into video content across our key platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Plus, Tash creates the colours, so who better to tell our community about them than the person who actually creates them?”

💡Key takeaway: Consider picking an expert or two in your team to help create social content. You can put a face to your brand, build authority and create genuinely helpful, expert-led content for your following. 

Use TikTok to build a community 

Amie believes TikTok has the most potential in terms of building a community quickly. She says you need to have a certain amount of video content to be able to support the platform, but TikTok generally has the best opportunity for small brands to grow without much paid activity. Here’s Amie’s advice for starting out on the platform: 

“Just start by putting stuff out there and seeing the reception you get. I think a lot of people get stuck because they don't know what to post, so they don't end up posting anything. So just start with something. Look at how your target customers are using the platforms, either with other brands, or with creators. Use that as a starting point to create some of your own content. TikTok has less of that ‘perfect’ feel about it so it's much more accessible for people with little-to-no social media background." 

Amie also says you should continuously have  conversations with your customers. This, in turn, will help you generate new content ideas. 

Take a look at this video on Lick’s TikTok account. It has racked up 2.6 million views and 49 comments. It’s such a simple idea, too! 

💡Key takeaway: If you’re ready to launch a TikTok account but not sure what to post, consider chatting with your customers and learning who they’re interacting with. Ultimately, the more you post, the more you’ll learn what resonates with your audience. You can also read my guide on launching a TikTok strategy

Balance brand content and entertaining content 

As well as being a knowledge hub for decorators, Lick leans into its fun brand personality. They regularly post entertaining content and memes—but it’s not always an easy thing to pull off. Ultimately what someone finds ‘funny’ is down to the individual. As Amie says: 

“I’ve found that creating entertaining content is actually quite hard. We've had some really good memes and entertaining content, but that's a constant evolution piece for us. We’re always asking ourselves: How do we bring our brand personality to life? How do we create more entertaining content that isn't so brand heavy and serious all the time? Every time we post something, it could go either way in terms of the reception it gets. So we constantly evolve our content and try to learn by taking on our audience’s feedback.”

This approach has paid off because most (if not all) of their entertaining posts hit the mark. Here’s a recent meme the team jumped on which perfectly captured their brand’s personality. 

💡 Key takeaway: Your content will evolve over time. ‘Entertaining’ content is hard to pull off, so it’s okay if not every piece lands how you expect. Instead, keep tweaking your posts and monitor your comments section for an idea of what your audience is enjoying.

Listen to community feedback (and act on it) 

Sometimes you’ll be surprised at what content takes off on social media. As we mentioned, Lick responds to their audience's FAQs by getting their in-hour expert, Tash, to post content on their channels. 

What’s more, they had a huge reaction when they responded to some community feedback about their packaging. This emphasises how important it is to listen to your audience. 

“We decided to change from our iconic tins which were unique to our brand, to the round tins you see today. This was all based on feedback from our community. They loved the uniqueness of our tins but from a practical, decorating point of view, it wasn't working for them. Of course, it's not a unique product for Lick to do a round tin, but when we posted on social media to say we're moving to round tins, the response that we got was amazing. And I think it's because we'd actively listened to our community.”

💡Key takeaway: Listen to what people are saying about your products. By responding to feedback and actually adjusting your products for the benefit of your audience, you’ll quickly build brand trust and loyalty.

Partner with creators 

Partnering with creators has been a game-changer for lots of brands. Whether that’s a paid influencer, or user-generated content from your customers—consumers would rather see product recommendations from people they trust

Working with creators has played a big part in building Lick’s community. Amie highlights the fact that many creators are naturally incorporating Lick paints into their content. This established connection provides a genuine way for the Lick team to approach creators, inviting them to share their experiences. Over time, this approach has organically led to more creators approaching Lick in return.

💡Key takeaway: Look for people who’re already using your products. They’ll be able to provide genuine, authentic reviews and demos that they’ll be able to share with their followers. You can also use it to promote across your social channels. Read more in our guide to gathering and using user-generated content.        

Build brand partnerships 

As well as working with creators, keep an eye out for brand partnership opportunities. This is when two or more brands team up to reach common goals. They collaborate on things like marketing, co-branded products, or joint campaigns to grow their audience and create something unique for mutual benefit. For Amie, one of her favourite partnerships was with the iconic UK brand, Heinz

Heinz approached Lick as part of their long-term campaign, 'Irrational Love of Heinz.' The goal was to capture the essence of Heinz in a distinct paint colour. The Lick team wanted to create a colour that’s not just visually appealing but also practical. The campaign was designed to weave an exciting colour story, ultimately inspiring people to embrace this unique hue in their lives.

If you Google the Lick and Heinz partnership you’ll see loads of features in the media, like this article in House Beautiful. It’s a real milestone that shows how well Lick has built up its brand presence via its online community.

💡 Key takeaway: Partnering with a well-known brand, or a brand that your audience already buys from, is a great way to build trust. Make sure any partnerships align with your brand goals and ethos. This could be a great opportunity to get lots of media coverage for your brand. 

Do your research before approaching creators 

Amie stresses the importance of doing research and approaching creators for brand partnerships with care. Here are her key points:

  • Be mindful: Avoid getting in touch with creators without understanding their background. Unsolicited messages may not be well-received.
  • Consider creators with smaller audiences: Amie suggests looking for creators with smaller audiences who might be starting a new project. In Lick’s case, they look out for people who’re about to start a new interior design project. They’ll likely need some good paint, so it offers the perfect, mutually beneficial partnership.
  • Look out for storytelling opportunities: It’s not just about promoting your products. Look for creators who’ve got a good story to tell and consider how your brand can help them promote it. 

💡Key takeaway: Take time to research and find creators who really align with your brand. Perhaps they’re already using your products or maybe they’ve got a great story to tell and you can work with them to bring it to life. 

Don’t underestimate the importance of organic content 

Throughout our interview, Amie stresses the importance of organic content. She says it’s like a modern storefront for your brand. Considering how much time people spend on social media, it's really important your brand can access organic channels. 

Of course, you still need paid advertising and other strategies to maximise reach. But for small businesses, organic social is a fantastic starting point. You can build up a daily rhythm of activity that engages your audience, builds a community, raises awareness about your brand and establishes trust. It also provides an opportunity to try out different types of content and gather feedback on your products.

Amie recommends checking out DTC brands like Glossier, GymShark and REFY to see some well-executed social content. However, her favourite is Normans Cafe in London who’s Instagram feed is “like a work of art.”

You can enjoy their content no matter where you are in the world, and it provides great inspiration for local businesses who want to up their social media game. 

💡Key takeaway: Organic content is super important in helping you build a solid brand presence. Take time to research, plan and consistently post content that will resonate with your audience. 

If you’d like to listen to Amie’s full episode, make sure to subscribe to our podcast: Ecommerce Marketing 101: How to Grow Your DTC Brand. 

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Barney Cox

Barney is the Marketing Lead for Dash. He writes about small business marketing strategies and how DTC brands can boost sales.

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Barney Cox

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