The power of community-led growth is undeniable (duh!)
Brands that recognize the potential of cultivating vibrant and engaged communities around their products or services can unlock increased customer loyalty and advocacy, invaluable feedback loops and insights.
However, embarking on this journey requires careful consideration and strategic planning. In this article we’ve gathered insights from our inspiring conversation with Jared Robin, Co-Founder of RevGenius, Jillian Bejtlich, Community Lead at Calendly and Rebecca Marshburn, Head of Community at Common Room.
Dive in to uncover the transformative impact that communities can have on your brand’s success and the steps necessary to harness their full potential. (And if you’re interested in the story of Syncari, who generated $1M in the pipeline with the community, check it out here).
- Understanding the role of communities as a powerful driver of business growth.
- When is the right moment to engage?
- Successful examples of companies that effectively integrate communities across the customer journey.
- Does the community contribute to revenue?
Debunking the Myths about Building Community
Myth #1: “Communities are self-sustaining”
Many hold the misconception that once a community gains momentum, it will effortlessly maintain its vitality. While it’s true that flourishing communities exhibit members who actively engage and support one another, the notion that such communities can simply run on autopilot is far from accurate. A sustained and vibrant community necessitates ongoing effort and commitment.
Healthy communities comprise diverse members who collaboratively address challenges, offering mutual assistance and guidance. Yet, for a community to continuously deliver value, it requires dedicated individuals who steer its course, comprehend its members’ evolving needs, and assess its strategies’ effectiveness.
Consider aspects like the channel and content types, the benefits extended to members, and the methods employed for fostering connections. Without a vigilant host or moderator overseeing these facets, the community’s survival and growth prospects become grim.
It’s easy to assume that establishing a community is a “set it and forget it” affair, but this couldn’t be further from reality.
A successful community thrives on consistent attention, adaptation, and facilitation.
Without proactive management, even the most promising community can wither away.
Myth #2: “We don’t need any community team”
This misconception undermines the importance of having a dedicated community team within an online or offline community. While it’s true that users can provide valuable peer-to-peer support and engage in helping each other with challenges, this does not negate the necessity of maintaining a core community team. It serves various essential functions that users cannot fulfill alone. They act as the backbone of the community, ensuring its stability, growth, and positive atmosphere.
Firstly, a community team provides consistency and organization.
They establish and enforce community guidelines, maintain order, and ensure discussions stay on-topic. This consistency is vital for preventing chaos within the community and maintaining a welcoming environment.
Secondly, a main community team often includes experts or individuals with deep knowledge of the community’s subject matter or the products/services it revolves around. This expertise is invaluable for offering accurate information, addressing complex queries, and guiding users effectively.
Users may not always possess the same level of knowledge, making the community team indispensable for specialized support. While user interactions are crucial for community engagement, having a dedicated community team complements these interactions and ensures the community remains healthy, organized, and reliable. Therefore, dissolving the community team would harm the community’s overall well-being and effectiveness.
Myth #3: “I can “do” community and work on other things too”
It is a misconception that underestimates the depth and complexity of community management. Building and maintaining a thriving community requires dedicated effort and a genuine intention to improve it continuously, making it challenging to relegate to a secondary role.
Managing a community demands full-time attention. Effective community management involves moderating discussions and resolving conflicts, actively engaging with members, organizing events, and ensuring the community adheres to its guidelines. This level of commitment ensures that the community remains active, vibrant, and responsive to the needs of its members.
Secondly, the intention to improve is at the core of successful community building. A full-time community manager can invest their time in understanding the evolving needs and expectations of the community, gathering feedback, and implementing strategies for enhancement. They can stay abreast of industry trends and best practices, fostering an environment that remains relevant and valuable to its members.
Understanding the role of communities
Communities are potent business growth drivers.
When businesses cultivate vibrant communities, they create spaces where customers, users, or stakeholders can connect with the brand on a deeper level. These connections often increase customer retention, word-of-mouth referrals, and positive brand advocacy. As a result, businesses can experience organic growth as satisfied community members become loyal customers and advocates, driving revenue growth without the need for extensive marketing expenditures.
Community is a product in itself.
It underscores the idea that a well-managed and thriving community can be as valuable as any tangible product or service. Just like a product is designed, developed, and refined to meet specific needs and provide a positive user experience, a community requires thoughtful curation, active engagement, and continuous improvement to create a valuable and meaningful space for its members.
A thriving community not only fosters connections and interactions but also offers its members a sense of belonging, support, and shared purpose, making it an essential “product” for those seeking information or solutions, human connection, and a sense of community identity.
Communities provide businesses with valuable insights and feedback.
Organizations can gather direct feedback on their products, services, and brand perception by actively participating in community discussions and monitoring member interactions. This real-time feedback loop allows for agile adjustments, improvements, and innovation, ultimately enhancing the quality of products and services. (More on field-testing messaging with the community here).
Communities also serve as a source of new ideas and collaborations, driving innovation and diversification of offerings, which can lead to expanded market opportunities and sustainable business growth.
When Is the Right Moment to Engage?
The right moment to engage in building a community within a business context often arises when an organization recognizes several key factors:
Sustainability and Growth
When a business aims to maintain excellence and continue progressing without incurring substantial ongoing costs, it indicates that a community may be beneficial. Communities can provide a cost-effective means of engaging with customers, partners, or stakeholders on a broader scale. Instead of relying solely on one-on-one interactions, a community allows businesses to interact “one to many,” making it an efficient way to maintain and scale their efforts.
Companies prioritizing a customer-centric approach often find that community building aligns with their goals. Engaging with customers in a community fosters stronger relationships, encourages loyalty, and provides valuable insights into customer needs and preferences. Recognizing that a community can enhance the customer experience can prompt an organization to build one.
Value Beyond Transactions
A community becomes a strategic option when a business realizes it can provide value to its audience beyond the core product or service. Communities offer a platform for sharing knowledge, fostering collaboration, and creating a sense of belonging. This value extends beyond transactional interactions and can significantly enhance the brand’s reputation and impact.
Market Trends and Competition
Monitoring industry trends and observing competitors successfully engaging with communities can also be a catalyst. When a business sees others reaping community-building benefits, it may prompt them to explore similar strategies to remain competitive and innovative.
How Does the Community Contribute To Your Revenue Generation?
Communities play a crucial role in revenue generation by serving as the initial touchpoint with potential customers or prospects. While they may not directly generate revenue, they often act as a fertile ground for cultivating leads and building relationships.
Within a well-managed community, businesses can interact with individuals who share an interest in their products or services. These interactions provide an opportunity to educate, inform, and build trust with prospects. As businesses engage with community members and provide valuable insights, they can position themselves as trusted authorities in their industry, which can significantly influence a prospect’s decision-making process.
Furthermore, communities can indirectly generate revenue by facilitating referrals and word-of-mouth marketing. Satisfied community members are more likely to recommend a product or service to others within the community and their broader networks. This organic, peer-driven promotion can attract new customers, contributing directly to revenue growth.
Additionally, communities can provide a platform for businesses to share announcements, promotions, and exclusive offers with a highly engaged audience, leading to increased sales and conversions. In this way, while communities may not be a direct source of revenue, they are a strategic tool for nurturing leads, building brand reputation, and indirectly influencing revenue generation.
Companies That Effectively Integrate Communities
Here are examples of companies that have successfully integrated communities into their customer journey:
Figma, a cloud-based design collaboration tool, has seamlessly integrated its community into the customer journey. They’ve created an active online forum where designers and users can share their work, seek advice, and collaborate. This community offers valuable resources and insights and serves as a platform for Figma to gather user feedback, understand user needs, and prioritize product development. By engaging with its user community, Figma has built a loyal customer base that actively contributes to product improvement and spreads the word about the platform, ultimately driving growth and retention.
Asana, a leading project management and productivity tool, has built a strong community of users and advocates. They offer a variety of resources, including a community forum, webinars, and educational content, to help users maximize their use of the platform. Asana’s community provides a space for users to share best practices, troubleshoot issues, and connect with like-minded professionals. Asana enhances user satisfaction and loyalty by fostering this sense of belonging and knowledge sharing. The community also provides valuable feedback, enabling Asana to refine its product offerings to meet user needs better.
Notion, a versatile productivity and note-taking tool, has effectively integrated its community into the customer journey. They offer a vibrant online forum where users can exchange ideas, templates, and tips for using Notion to its fullest potential. Notion’s community has become a valuable resource for new and experienced users, creating a sense of camaraderie and support. Through user engagement and feedback collected within the community, Notion has iteratively improved its product, addressing user pain points and introducing features that enhance productivity. This customer-centric approach has helped Notion achieve strong customer retention and advocacy.
Building Bonds: Community-Led Path to Brand Brilliance
Treating your community as a product means understanding that it, too, requires continuous improvement and innovation to thrive and endure. As you invest in adding new features and enhancements to your core product, you should apply the same dedication to your community. The vitality of your community relies on your ability to keep community members engaged and motivated, just as you aim to satisfy customers with improved product experiences.
To build a thriving and persisting community, consider three fundamental principles:
- Be Agile
Embrace the ability to adapt and change swiftly. Communities, like products, evolve, and being agile allows you to respond promptly to changing member needs, emerging trends, and unforeseen challenges. An agile approach ensures your community remains relevant and appealing.
- Be Adaptable
Recognize that not all strategies or initiatives will yield the same results. Be open to adapting your community-building tactics based on member feedback and evolving goals. Adapting to the changing landscape of your community ensures its longevity and continued growth.
- Be Approachable
Foster an environment where community members feel heard and valued. Encourage open communication, actively seek member input, and be responsive to their needs. Approachability builds trust and strengthens the sense of belonging within your community, making it more likely to persist and flourish.
Incorporating these principles into your community-building strategy will help you create a thriving community and position your brand for sustained success in the era of community-led growth. Remember, just like your product, your community is a dynamic entity that can evolve, expand, and flourish with the right approach and commitment.