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The Objectives Behind Creating Your Online Community

Written by Lauren Perkins | on November 15, 2016 at 8:30 AM

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Creating a community may seem like a daunting task. This month we will describe some of the main objectives that will help streamline the process. If you already have a community, these objectives can help you validate the value while re-grounding your team and stakeholders.

In the last post we discussed how online community can help establish business value. This month is all about the objectives that need to be met in order to build a strong and validated community. We’re going to look closer at how to achieve these goals and what metrics we can assess along the way to ensure the community is going to thrive.

Developing and growing relationships don’t happen overnight but result in intangible benefits. Many business owners struggle to measure the results of community management, and thus hesitate to invest the necessary resources to really get the benefits they’re looking for from this initiative.

So how do we solve this chicken vs. egg problem? One of the most important rules in business says: We manage what we measure. We need to set up certain objectives for community initiatives, in order to measure their impact.

Let’s get tactical -- how do we meet these objectives? First you need to do some groundwork and build the foundation for your community to flourish:

Know your audience well.

Be genuine in your interactions and get to know your fans and followers. Each of them is an individual, with their own reasoning and behaviors associated with why and how they interact with your brand.

Ask and listen (active listening).

The best way to find out what people want, of course, is to ask them, and then really listen to the feedback they give. People appreciate a genuine interest and are ready to provide you with information crucial to making marketing decisions.

Extend the borders of your community.

Instead of focusing just on your own product or service, talk about the lifestyle, problems they help to solve, achievements, etc. People talk about what they care about.

Now we need an action plan on how to get the community rolling, stimulate activity, orchestrate interactions between customers and support its organic growth.

Here are a few examples of objectives, the approach, and measurable results.

  • Ask the community to “share the love” with other like-minded people
  • Ask people to share content on other networks (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
  • Invite people to join the community

Measurable results:

  • Number of new members monthly
  • Shares, likes, and other forms of engagement with the content
  • Referrals
  • Provide incentives and rewards for the community members
  • Launch special initiatives for loyal groups

Measurable results:

  • Activity trends in the initiatives

Measurable results:

  • Lifetime customer value
  • Subscription base
  • Number of upgrades, cross-sales and up-sales

Another crucial element of building a loyal community is engagement from your employees. At Perks Consulting, we call this “Building Brand Love from the Inside Out,” but this activity has a two-fold benefit: engaged employees that are willing to double down at work AND loyal customers who want to bring all their friends along for the experience they love with your brand.

How do you make your employees a part of a successful community?

Set the objectives:

  • The members of your organization should understand the objectives of the community program.
  • Setting milestones for those objectives helps ensure that a campaign either succeeds, or if it isn’t producing results, doesn’t keep wasting money without measurable results.
  • If you reach a milestone and are unhappy with the results thus far, it may be time to pivot.

Make it accessible:

  • Every employee involved in a campaign should be aware of their role in reaching milestones and ultimate objectives.
  • Asking employees to set their own goals is one way of ensuring they know exactly what they should be doing. If they set a goal that is way out of scope, you can coach them in the right direction.
  • Ensuring that employees know what their roles are helps promote ownership.

Set the tone:

  • Without a positive attitude towards community building initiatives within the organization, reaching milestones, completing objectives, and ensuring ownership of responsibilities likely will not happen.
  • Setting up a strategy that shows measurable results throughout the process will help sell the community building initiatives to management.
  • Remember, we manage what we measure.

With clear objectives, milestones, and employee engagement, a solid community to compliment your brand is one hundred percent attainable. Listen to your audience and make changes where necessary.

For without an audience, a community is not really a community at all.

Topics: Communications, Online Community Management, Engagement, Marketing, Online Community

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