Community Memo #3

Welcome to the third issue of Community Memo!

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This month we are covering user contribution systems and community-led growth.

Let's dive in!

How to unlock user contribution for business growth

Insight from Harvard Business Review

“Every day, millions of people make all kinds of voluntary contributions to companies— from informed opinions to computing resources.”

Facebook profiles, eBay goods, Youtube videos, Wikipedia entries, and Skype’s phone network are just a few examples. They are all a base for user contributions.

However, letting people comment and contribute to a business is counter-cultural. It challenges our assumptions about “the role of management, the value of experts, and the need for control over the customer experience.” It seems messy and scary.

Scott cook, an enthusiast of user contribution systems, came up with a few tips for creating such a system and gaining buy-ins from executives.

Why don’t we use these tips to up our community-building game? After all, communities are nothing but a user contribution environment.

Use personal experience to move mindset.

To overcome hesitant executives, ask your colleagues to share their experiences in other customer communities. Analyze thriving communities as a case study and brainstorm how to imitate some of their features and processes. Nothing can change mindsets better than a first-hand experience.

Let enthusiasts and young employees provide ideas and leadership.

The most brilliant ideas come from those who use communities more. Identify them, make them your mentors, and ask them to create prototypes for you.

Nurture small experiments.

Create a sandbox - such as an exclusive space with your trusted advocates - for experiments, and let your team try different ideas without being worried about the results. Challenge yourself to come up with new ideas, and make sure you communicate what you learn from each experiment.

Let users vote, early and often.

Your community members can better pick your best ideas. Don’t waste a lot of time on market research, analysis, PowerPoint presentations, and internal meetings. Launch your ideas, and let your members pick the winner.

Seek organizational buy-in only after you’ve had some success.

Small experiments are a great way to get around organizational resistance, but you’ll need to ultimately secure your executive’s buy-in and change processes. Experiment until you have a few success stories, then hold a meeting and share your wins with the broader team.

Trends for community-led brands

Insight from Bettermode

Community-led growth isn’t just a new marketing buzzword. For many brands and products, it’s now a necessity for growth.

The customer acquisition cost has tripled during the last three years, and traditional marketing methods have made it harder and harder for brands to stand out. Community-led growth flips traditional marketing on its head by moving away from transactional relationships and focusing on meaningful ones.

However, community building is easier said than done. It needs patience and a strong value proposition, and it could take six to eighteen months to see results.

During a webinar, Pramod Rao, the CEO of Threado, shared a five-step framework to ignite community-led growth:

Phase one: Define your community member persona
Find your perfect member persona and explore social media, subreddits, slacks, and discords to learn more about them. Contribute, and add value without trying to steal members from other platforms. A personal, human touch, such as meeting select members in person, helps you stand out and grow organically.

Phase two: Adding value

Help members feel accepted and welcomed in your community with personalized onboarding, a predefined welcoming experience, and meaningful connections. In the early stages of community building, community content and support are entirely dependent on community managers. They are critical components in creating value for your members.

Phase three: Enable connections

Quality connections are a key component of community experience, and they should happen by intention and design. Pick a community platform that facilitates networking among members.

Phase four: Driving participation

Driving participation is the key problem community members face. Solve this by responding to every message, organizing content to simplify posting, and celebrating super-users. Use community rituals such as weekly wrap-ups and fireside chats to keep users engaged.

Phase five: Empowering members

Pramod described this step as what kicks community growth into high gear. Put a simple system in place and let your members take on responsibilities like hosting webinars.

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