HTC Uses Exclusive Community to Harness Brand Engagement

In a market now dominated by Apple, Samsung and Google, it might be hard to believe that at one point HTC held the highest share of smartphone sales in North America at 24%, ahead of Samsung and Apple. The Chinese tech pioneer, whose tagline is, fittingly, ‘quietly brilliant’, won TechRadar’s Phone of the Year in 2014 and was the first smartphone to run the now famous Android operating system. In recent years, Google purchased many of the HTC R&D employees and much of the intellectual property behind the best-selling Pixel smartphone (made by HTC), and the company has shifted its focus to VR and IOT technology. But before the change in strategy, HTC utilized vibrant online communities to support its impressive word-of-mouth growth.

Screenshot of HTC Community on iPad and iPhone

The Challenge

The brand’s focus on innovation earned it an energetic, cult-like following. HTC leadership recognized the opportunity to bring fans together around the brand they loved. The company’s goal was to create an always-on channel to get answers to essential brand questions and to test product and service hypotheses. They also hoped to gather user-generated content that would help build hype for new device launches. Finally, HTC wanted to use the community to beta-test products with select groups of consumers.

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The communities have been exceptional drivers for marketing at HTC, both regionally in North America and globally. While each of HTC’s three communities cater to different audiences, they’ve helped with feedback and promotion of the HTC brand.

Aaron Baker

Sr. Manager,

Global Communities HTC

Over a Million Contributions from 100+ Countries

HTC worked with Chaordix to create HTC Elevate, an invite-only community whose popularity surpassed the company’s already high expectations. Composed of over 3,000 highly-engaged members in over 100 countries (predominantly in North America, Europe, and Asia), HTC Elevate gave members a space to share their thoughts about HTC products and features, and a vehicle to express how they use and draw value from phones in their day-to-day lives. This often took the form of direct conversations between Elevate community members and employees of HTC. The combination of passionate fans, exclusive perks, and behind-the-scenes access resulted in over a million contributes from community members, including in-depth discussions, ideas and insights, as well as user-generated image and video content.

For many members, HTC Elevate became an important social gathering spot. As the community matured, HTC began organizing global face-to-face meetups between community members and representatives from HTC itself. It was this personal, authentic connection that kept members devoted to the community, and on-call when HTC needed them. This “always on” group of brand advocates were willing to provide product feedback and contextual information, and could be counted on to evangelize for the brand in person and, critically, on social media channels. They also increasingly generated multimedia content, allowing HTC to crowdsource marketing materials directly from its most important consumers.

Partly due to the success of Elevate, HTC launched two additional communities: HTC Champions for sales representatives and Team HTC for consumers.

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