When I talk to companies who want to build their first community, I often hear:
“Our upper management is all bought-in”
“We understand the value of community and are in it for the long haul” OR
“This is a major push from our CMO”
All of these quotes are great to hear when you want to help a company build their community, but the problem is, boards/employees/leaders change, and do so quickly.
The CEO or CMO might be with a company for 6 months or 6 years, and it’s not just that one role that can make or break your efforts (although they can). A new head of Revenue or VP of marketing can bring in their own experience and overhaul the entire project.
Communities that were doing well, quickly lose momentum because of personnel changes. The Community professional running the community can be given other assignments, be asked to make a change in approach, or be let go because they don’t fit the new leader’s vision.
This is why it’s important to prove value where you can, from the start.
Measures have to be taken by the Community Head to make sure a community is giving value, to make sure it is tracked, and other teams support the community efforts because of the value they are getting.
Sure, as community experts say, it can take a good 12 months before revenue or ROI can start to come through, but in the meantime, there are ways you can achieve value sooner. And I think it’s important to remember we don’t live in a world that wants to wait for a return.
Make sure you take the time to understand what other teams are working on, what value they can contribute to and get from the community, then plan to address all of that.
This won’t be your priority as you build the community, but it is important to keep team members updated.
Monthly community email update
When planning the community, ask who wants to be updated on a monthly basis about the community, then provide these updates in an email newsletter.
Prioritize the teams you can help
Make it a point to work with at least 1-2 teams to help them reach low-hanging fruit goals. Maybe marketing could use some market research through a survey, customer marketing might need a few reviews to contribute to rating apps, product might need a couple more people for beta testing – then ask these teams about the monetary value of the community contributions and report it in your email updates.
Over time, as the community grows, you’ll be able to work with additional teams, to bring them value as well. Having some prioritization around these teams will help you identify who to help next. Meet with teams every 6 months to keep your approach updated.
It’s very exciting the number of people I talk to that want to grow a community and do not expect a lot of results immediately, but that isn’t always the case, so we have to be creative and show what value we can, where we can.