Selecting the Right Community Toolkit
You decided to start a community for your company’s customers. The big decision is made, and everyone is happy.
But the next day comes this question:
“How do we do this?”
“Where to build the community and how to integrate it with existing processes we have?”
My personal mantra is: that simplicity is key.
In this article I’ll talk about simple toolkits for 3 types of communities:
- Mastermind groups.
- Event-first communities.
- Customer support communities.
Why go after simplicity?
One of the reasons why I advocate for the simplicity of community tools is to be able to successfully integrate them with the day-to-day operations of your company. Community touches all aspects of company operations. Building a community is like adding one more data source to your usual information flow.
The community platform can be the most perfect one, however, if you can’t easily integrate it with your day processes it will add more problems than solutions.
In the 2021 CMX Community Survey 38% of community managers shared a lack of automation as a frustration.
Community is impossible to isolate from the company's mission.
Because of that, we see Community teams working alongside Marketing, Customer Success, and Product and Engineering teams to make sure that members’ voices are heard and accounted for.
Whether you plan for it or not, the community will result in:
- More customer support cases.
- Tasks for the engineering department.
- More thoughtful marketing campaigns.
- Changes in the product.
Your community home should of course be convenient for your members, however, it’s also important to look into the platform's ecosystem at large.
Before selecting a community platform look into how easy your Community team can work with it.
- Are there built-in integrations with other platforms?
- Can you manage integrations through Zapier?
- Is there an API that you can leverage to build your connections?
The selection of community tools can be overwhelming at first sight. Look for the simplest solution that can be integrated into your processes.
Here is the easiest recipe: a platform that will give the most customizable space + integrations with other tools in your current stack.
Hope this simple guide helps you in the journey of identifying your community toolkit.
Simple community toolkit for mastermind groups
Masterminds are a subcategory of communities that I adore. Usually, a mastermind group is an intense program that is focused on a very specific topic.
Let’s have an example just for demonstration purposes.
You can have a community for sales executives. At the same time in the community, you have a mastermind group “30 days of sales for companies in the construction industry”.
Mastermind groups usually succeed if they have a clear vision and program they adhere to.
This means the community platform of your choice should be able to handle:
- Organizing expert talks and panels.
- Resource sharing between members.
- Note-making for the event participants.
- Creating spaces for discussions and collaborations.
- Creating spaces for networking and milestone celebrations for members.
How to build a mastermind group in your community?
- Use Bettermode to host the community, and create separate spaces for your mastermind group participants.
- Use permissions so that only the mastermind group participants will see the relevant spaces.
- Create a separate discussion for each event in the mastermind program.
- Use Zoom to create icebreaker events between members. Zoom will also be handy.
- Encourage group note-taking during the events. Use tools such as Notion and Fellow.app.
- Use Tally to gather feedback after the mastermind ends
Simple toolkit for event-first communities
Events have become a core part of the way we build communities. Creating a recurring routine for the members to join in, collaborate, and co-create is one of the strongest ways to build a community.
Integrating regular events into your community is one of the ways to create those strong bonds between members.
Danielle writes in her Community Feelings newsletter:
A web community happens when each member has strong one-to-one relationships with multiple members with similar values, experiences, and interests. As a community member forms more and more bonds, the entire network grows in strength.
The key to a successful event-first community is to have a simple premise. Be constantly in touch with your members as to what kind of events they will be excited about.
When starting an event-first community make sure:
- The schedule of the events is available to all members.
- The members know how they can contribute to events, and choose topics.
- Everyone has access to the recordings and resources shared during the event.
How to build an event-first community?
- Use Tally to survey the community members, and find out what topics resonate with them.
- Use Google Calendar to create a shared calendar for the community members.
- Use our favorite Zoom or Gather to host the events.
- On Bettermode create a separate space to embed the calendar.
- Create a knowledge base to save and share the recordings and resources after the events are ended for other members.
Simple community toolkit for customer support.
Communities around any type of product are the ones that are created naturally. Even if you don’t want to create a community, it will be created by the customers, somewhere.
Building a good customer support community is challenging because by nature members will be creating a lot of content and knowledge inside of the community.
The role of the community platform and community manager in this case is to become a perfect search engine.
How do you build a customer support community?
- Build a tag system that will help the members easily find the necessary information.
- Organize the discussions and resources with Betternode's contextual search utilizing the tags.
- Create a system for saving, digesting, and repurposing the knowledge created inside the community for the members.
- Connect with Intercom or your other customer support application. To be able to track and connect requests to already existing information in your knowledge base.
Another reason to have a strong knowledge base in your customer support community is to be able to identify top contributors and creators inside the community.
By identifying the key contributors, you can create incentive programs to engage the community members and ambassador programs for your product.
The knowledge base also helps the Community team to understand what is important for the members currently, and what can be important for them in the future.
This information can be used to align efforts inside the Community team, with the needs of the community members. The right community toolkit will it easy for different teams to collaborate effectively.