You’ve built a thriving brand community, and everyone is happy about the new support forum, your beautiful knowledge base, and how easy it is to collect customer feedback. BUT your manager wants to know how the community is impacting the organization’s major KPIs.
Is it even possible to measure the benefits of a brand community? Not easily. After all, how could you know how many support tickets would be created if there were no self-service support resources available in your community?
To make our lives easier, FeverBee convinced a client to hide their community for four months so that they could measure the impact of the community on the company’s performance. And this is what they found:
It was 72% cheaper to answer a question via the community than support.
The number of support tickets increased by 58%.
The average speed of response to support queries dropped by 35%.
Customer satisfaction score declined from 4.3 (out of 5) to 3.8.
This experiment focused on only one aspect of a brand community - customer support. However, the outcome was prominent enough for FeverBee’s client to shift from “whether a brand community is worth the cost to how do we drive as many people as possible to visit the community before calling support?”
And thanks to them, we now know how to answer “Is it worth it to build a brand community?”
Creating a sense of community - Nerdy edition
Sense of Community has been studied in social psychology and other related fields for a few decades. Although started to examine IRL communities, there is no reason why we shouldn’t apply this concept to our online brand communities.
McMillan and Chavis theory identifies four elements for the Sense of Community - all surprisingly familiar for community managers.
Here is a quick overview of these elements and how we can use them to enhance the community experience.
Membership is shaped by a few dimensions, such as:
Emotional safety: Willingness to reveal how one really feels. Enforce community guidelines to create a troll-free space where everyone would feel safe to voice their thoughts. Also, every now and then, run anonymous polls and surveys. This gives all members a chance to participate in shaping your brand community.
A sense of belonging and identification: Expectation that I will belong and be accepted by the community. Empower your members to connect and network in your community, share their insights and learn from their peers, and they will feel that they are “part of the group.”
A common symbol system: Making shared experiences for members and creating distinctions between members and non-members. Is there a specific emoji that you all use in your community? Do you have a recurring discussion session? Do you send swags to your super members? Think of these as your rituals and common symbols.
Community members will participate in the community only if they feel empowered to have influence over what the community does. Also, group cohesiveness depends on whether the group has some power over its members.
Have a process to communicate how members’ insights and contributions make a difference. For example, if a member shares an idea about a new community initiative or your business, let them know if their idea is approved and when it’s going to be implemented.
Also, giving everyone a chance to flag spam posts is an example of how a group can influence its members.
Integration and fulfillment of needs
Members should feel rewarded for their participation in the community. Leaderboards and badges are effective tactics to check this box.
Shared emotional connection
This is simply shared history and shared participation.
If you want higher member engagement, let them participate in community planning and strategies. Are you organizing a new webinar series? Ask your community to share their insights, report your progress to them, and make them feel being part of this launch.
Sense of Community is all about the member experience. It upgrades our community game and helps us go beyond the community’s structure and features.
Creating a brand community has become a no-brainer. However, it comes with its own operational challenges.
Community is a new data source to your usual information flow, and it touches all aspects of company operations. That’s why putting the right processes in place and integrating the community platform with your day-to-day tools will make a big difference.
There is no cookie-cutter approach to building the operation engine for communities. However, here are a few tips for two major types of communities:
Build a tag system to help members easily find the necessary information.
Have a system for assigning customer inquiries to different team members.
Create a plan for saving, digesting, and repurposing the knowledge created inside the community.
Integrate your community with Intercom or your other customer support application. So you can track and connect requests to already existing information in your knowledge base.
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.
Create an exclusive space to embed the calendar.
Use Zoom or Gather to host the events.
Create a knowledge base to save and share the recordings and resources after the events are ended.
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