It takes a village to launch and maintain an active online customer community. The most successful customer and member communities are supported by many people in addition to the community management team.
So where should you start building your coalition? Right inside your company walls.
No community is built on the shoulders of just one department. Look to executives across all departments and leave no email unsent when it comes to educating people and getting multiple business areas involved.
Before you build value for your community members, you need to show the value to internal staff and stakeholders.
The more the people inside your company value the community and what it can do for your business, the easier it will be to obtain the funding and resources that you, as a community manager, need to achieve success.
Now, I know that this task sounds easier said than done. However, there is a key to unlocking supporters for your online community management plan.
Tie the Community to Their Goals. Not Yours.
That's right, when it comes to company-wide buy-in, it is not about you.
Start the conversation with department heads around their personal and departmental objectives. Good areas of your organization to approach first are the sales, marketing, and product development departments, as their goals tend to tie in well with the higher customer engagement delivered by online communities.
Start the conversation about the specific insight your community could provide that would make their day-to-day easier.
For examples, sales has a simple goal: sell more. Your sales team may have a revenue number they need to reach with existing customers. Your community is a great way for them to identify those customers that may be in need of additional services or products that your company offers. Thus, sales' investment in your community means more revenue opportunities and a faster sales process for them, and more resources for you to manage your community.
Setting up these win-wins is the best way to guarantee that your customer community continues to flourish and provides consistent value for members of your community.