Aligning business goals with community efforts

Community Blog

Having a community can be a major plus for a company. But, to make it a successful effort for your company you’ll have to reach certain business goals. These goals can be quite varied and are based on the type of community and the business itself.

For example, eBay’s community for power sellers may want to run a campaign to get their power sellers using their newer promoted listings options. Uber, on the other hand, might have goals around helping drivers increase satisfaction ratings, growing the number of drivers in certain areas, or decreasing support requests.

Several departments can benefit from the community. One of the creative aspects of your job as a community manager is to help these departments understand how community involvement can help them reach important KPI’s.

It’s inevitable you will run into goals to meet in or for your community. And, it can be a struggle to align them with the community itself. To help you better understand aligning your business goals and community efforts, I’ve come up with a win-win approach. I will also include a few examples to explain how it works.

What Makes or Can Make the Community a Success for the Company?

To start, you need to know what goals your company has for the community. What will make this a win or where are they benefiting from having the community? How does your team expect this to be successful? Since the business will fund the community and all proactive efforts the business needs to see some kind of return for the investment. It won’t always be monetary, but it can often be tied back to dollars and cents. Here is a list of possible successes for your team:

  • Revenue targets
  • Decreasing churn
  • Fewer support tickets
  • Improved NPS
  • Customer education
  • Customer success
  • Feature adoption
  • Market research
  • Marketing exposure
  • Program onboarding
  • Business partnerships
  • Recruiting
  • Beta testing
  • Success stories
  • Surveys
  • Feature/Design testing
  • Understanding customer needs
  • Opportunities with influencers
  • Potential business partnerships

You can list out the potential business goals you foresee from engaging customers or a particular cohort in a community. In fact, you’ll want to consider these objectives for any campaign you run in the future.

Why Do Members Participate in Your Community?

Now, the potential participants have to be taken into consideration. What will motivate them to join and engage in your community? In many cases it comes down to self-interest. Here is a short list of the most common reasons to engage, any combination of these can motivate your members.

Learning – how to use your software, how to improve their business, personal growth, learning can address any topic.
Recognition – members are sharing their skills/talents/knowledge and like to be noticed for their contributions. Giving back falls under recognition.
Exposure – by participating in your community they get access to your followers and potential growth in their own businesses/hobbies.
Career – A lot of professional forums are frequented because they directly tie into success with a career or position at work.
Network – People want to connect with others who are just like them, your community is a hotbed for networking.

Your members’ reasons for participating must be known in order to make it successful for both sides, you have to fulfill their needs when focusing on one of your own. If you aren’t already sure why your members participate, now is a great time to run a survey and find out.

Matching Business Goals & Members Motivations

Next, you’ll take your campaign or goal and try to match it with a member benefit. The more members are motivated by that reason to participate the more likely it is you’ll be able to push your campaign and reach your goals. Let’s look at some examples of ways you can reach align goals with their participation.

eBay & Power Sellers

I worked with an e-commerce software company that had a close relationship with eBay, especially power sellers. The sellers participate in the forums in order to see how they can best use features to make more sales. And eBay wanted to get power sellers to adopt their new sponsored listings, so one way eBay encouraged this was to talk about how it would increase their sales.

Further, they discussed the drawback of losing their search rankings to sponsored listings and how they could get around this while maintaining profit margin with educational material that helped them improve results.

This is where having a forum/community to discuss these things with your members is beneficial to the business. You get to interact with the members to fine-tune your campaign, help them be successful, and get their feedback. Not only are you presenting a new feature to them but you are also working to keep their business successful and in this case their businesses feed the company.

Forbes Business Forums

In the Forbes forums where I was a Community Manager, we wanted to get more members engaging in our monthly expert panels. These were used in our promotions for getting new members to join. In order to get more members to answer the questions in the panels we posted the questions in our forums and sent them emails appealing to their hopes for additional exposure with our partners. When they did answer, they would be included on our partners’ sites outside of Forbes, and we were always adding new partners.

HubSpot’s Forum

A goal we had at Inbound was to increase the listings on our job board. We needed companies to post their needs for Inbound Marketers on the board in order to get people to apply for jobs. This wasn’t easy to do because the jobs weren’t on the homepage of the site and few people knew about it, so we started by reaching out to active members and asking them if they would like a free listing for their company.

To prove the effectiveness of the board we helped them find members who would apply for the positions. This appealed to the job listers because it was free and they needed to hire, and it appealed to the members who were always open to opportunities. We ended up getting 10x more posts in two months. We also increased traffic to the job board and positions started getting filled without our interference.

Hopefully, these stories help you see how you can align goals with member motivations so that everyone wins on any campaign you are considering for your community. With a shortlist of why your community participates, you can strategize how you’ll handle your next goal.

In order to prove how well your campaigns are working, you’ll need to be tracking a lot of metrics. These are absolutely necessary when convincing your superiors of the success of your community. In a future post, I’ll share some of the metrics I’ve used to help validate campaigns.

And, if you have any questions about aligning goals with community participation I’m glad to help, just contact me here.

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