Here’s the deal, not all customer communities drive value - neither for the business nor the members.
Don’t we always say brand communities are just GREAT for any business? We do. But too often, we see mismanaged communities that fail at delivering results - usually because they didn’t get the idea of community building right.
Susan Fournier and Lara Lee listed seven commonly held myths that get in the way of building a successful community. Check out three of them here:
Myth One: Community building is a marketing strategy
The reality is that the community should drive your business strategy and not be isolated in the marketing department.
Once Harley Davidson recognized the business value and impacts of its community, it put the community at the center of the organization and reorganized staffing, operations, and even governance. Executives were required to spend time with customers in the community. Later on, Harley Davidson established a stand-alone team reporting directly to the president to formalize and nurture the company’s relationship with the community.
Myth Two: The community is supposed to serve the business
Businesses should only build a community to serve the customers. Delivering business results is the by-product.
“Putting the brand second is tough for a marketer to do, but it’s essential if a strong community is the goal.” For the members, your community is never an end in itself. They join a community to find support and encouragement, contribute to the greater good, and cultivate interests and skills.
Pepperidge Farm learned this the hard way when their first community with Goldfish-branded kid games failed. Later, they built a highly successful community by focusing on children’s mental health - something that could actually serve the kids and their parents.
Communities are strongest when everyone plays a role. Opinion leaders help communities by spreading information and influencing decisions. However, in a strong community, everyone is empowered to play a valuable role.
To function and grow, a community needs 18 distinct social and cultural roles. Some of these roles, such as Mentor, Learner, Greeter, and Ambassador are better known.
Susan Fournier and Lara Lee introduced other roles too. A Historian “preserves community memory, codifies rituals and rites”, a Guide assists newcomers in navigating the culture, and a Catalyst helps other members connect and introduces them to new ideas.
Companies should assess their community, list the roles they have in the community and create a plan to fill the gap. A healthy community lets members change their roles or accept new ones. Creating subgroups is a great way to make this happen.
Measuring community success - the metrics that actually matter
Each business is unique, and that’s exactly why there is no cookie-cutter way to create a brand community. However, there is one no-brainer in community building, and that is experimenting and measuring the performance.
It’s sometimes hard to find the right set of metrics, though. This is a quick review of the areas we think you should track:
The Health of the community
Measure community traffic, member and active member growth, and the number of posts and comments by members. Also, track stickiness, retention, and new contributors to better understand if your community is on the right path or not.
Effectiveness of the user-generated content
You can measure the quality of your community content with these five criteria:
- Shareability (Number of times the content was shared by members)
- Uniqueness (How unique is the content from the ones already present in your community?)
- Comprehensiveness (How comprehensive is the post?)
- Instant gratification (How quickly can the reader implement the takeaways?)
- Evergreen factor (Will the content be in demand in the long run?)
Impact of the community on the organization's goals
Depending on your goals for the community, you can track the number of support tickets deflected, growth in repeat purchases, customer feedback, and ideas collected in the community. Also, consider measuring the impact of your community on brand awareness.
We are getting closer and closer to the holiday season, and it’s swag time for many communities.
Even if holiday gifts aren’t your thing, many communities use swag campaigns to improve engagement, excite members, and accelerate member growth.
Nobody likes a generic, lame gift. So it was no surprise when a swag-related question in the CMX community turned heads. Wanna know what all those brilliant community builders do for giveaways? We summarized that here for you :)
Many communities go with the more common choices like shirts, bottles, hoodies, and stickers. Mugs are a popular item in this category - especially if you like a “virtual toast with your fellow community members.”
Books always work - whether the hard copy or the Kindle version.
Less usual items like reusable straws, dog leashes, potted succulents, and lip balms have their own fans. An umbrella is not a typical swag, but many agreed it’s a great option.
Also, consider asking the recipient what they would like as a gift. Why not send them “a spa voucher” if that’s what they’ll enjoy most? Millennials reportedly “prioritize experiences over stuff.”
As some CMX members pointed out, quality is almost always more important than any specific item. Cheap swags end up in the trash, and your community members most likely won’t appreciate being forced to contribute to the plastic pollution crisis.
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