I spend a lot of time talking with organizations about communities. I listen to their challenges, their frustrations and their successes. What I've discovered is some organizations buy into some of the biggest community management myths out there. These myths then impair their ability to develop the kind of Fiercely Loyal community they know is possible. I'd like to do a little "myth busting" and perhaps share some fresh and useful approaches to these challenges.
According to the recent Gallup research, customers and clients who are happily engaged with a brand spend an average of 18 percent more than customers and clients who aren't. I can't think of an organization anywhere that wouldn't like to get their hands on an 18 percent increase in revenue, can you? And according to much of the Happiness Research I've read, the number one thing that makes us happy, more than money, more than the pursuit of pleasure, are meaningful connections and engagement.
A community, especially a Fiercely Loyal one, can deliver that happy engagement and revenue increase in a powerful way. Just take a look at Apple. Apple has truly mastered the Fiercely Loyal community. Apple devotees proudly proclaim their loyalty to anyone who will listen and that loyalty travels to company profits. Just a few weeks ago, when other major companies were reporting substantial losses, Apple posted a 38 percent profit.
Knowing that an 18 percent revenue increase is possible just by focusing on your community, how does that change things for you? How does it change the conversation about the importance of a community to your organization? I'm betting that the case for your community just got a whole lot stronger.
Social media channels are fantastic building communities. They give you the ability to reach a wide audience of members and potential members, to have conversations and to offer valuable content. I love to think of them as community "feeders", because done correctly they will help feed the pathway to your community home base in a natural, easy way.
However, for the long-term strength and viability of your community, social media channels don't make for a solid home base. If you use Facebook, for example, your community isn't owned by you - it is owned by Facebook and subject to whatever new rules and regulations Facebook puts in place. If Facebook were to disappear one day, your community would disappear with it. In addition, you can't create a robust community platform tailored to the specific needs or your community on any social media channel.
Invest in creating a dedicated area on your website that is specifically designed for your community members. Better yet, get your most active community members to help you design it, so that it truly reflects the needs of your community.
There is no doubt that the sales and marketing teams plays an integral role in the development and management of a community. They have data and insight into your member base that can help you tailor your community to very specific wants and needs. They are also especially skilled at creating and delivering great content.
However, the most successful communities I've ever seen have the buy-in and active involvement of the CEO and every department in the organization. Members want to feel connected to your organization in a very real way. They also want to know they matter to the whole organization, not just the sales and marketing people.
Create an interdepartmental team that is responsible for your community. Actively involve your CEO and other department heads in your community activities, like creating content and hosting chats. This kind of high level access and connection will make your community members feel important and valued in a much deeper way.
What about you? What myths do you hear about? Share them below and let's bust them!