Hi—my name is Jenny and I have doubted the power of using data in communities. Before you judge and shame me, let me explain how I overcame this doubt. I was a community manager for an organization that had some difficulty getting our community off the ground (something you can guarantee I'll write a lot about).
With a lot of competing use cases and moving parts both internally and externally, we came to many impasses that ultimately would delay our launch. One such impasse was the daunting process of integrating our platform with our CRM database (we clearly didn’t have Higher Logic!). We came to a point where, heavy on the to-do’s and short on the time, we posed the question: How important is this, really?
As community and overall project manager, I had some guilt and fears about putting the integration on the back burner. But it wasn't until some recent research and reading that I realized just how fatal that decision was for the health and growth of my former community.
In Richard Millington's book "Buzzing Communities", the importance of data is a common theme. My "aha!" moment came when Rich was discussing how most of a community manager's time can easily be hijacked by being reactive to those "squeaky wheels" in your community (we all know the type). But with data, a community manager can determine if one person's complaint is just that – a complaint – or a symptom of a much larger issue. As Rich states, "It's the invisible – unseen – problems that hurt the community the most."
So here are the top five ways your integration will make your job easier and confirm your rock star community manager status:
1. A full and complete community network on day one
Just imagine- a myriad of contacts, experts and colleagues all searchable and ready to connect!
2. Automatic creation of communities based on interests, committees and skills
As a member of community, it’s a heck of a lot easier for someone (read: the magical elves that transmit data from AMS/CRM to your community) to decide that since my title is Community Manager, I’d likely enjoy being in a group of other community managers, than for me to go digging for that myself.
3. Single sign-on (SSO) across both platforms for a seamless web experience
This is a biggie. No one wants to have to remember two different passwords. It’s like being given a key to a house and then realizing that was just for the screen door and you need a different key for the main door. I’d rather break into the window, thanks.
4. Member profiles and demographic data generated from your database
These days, people have profiles everywhere they look: social media, professional communities, your bank. Anytime you can bypass having to type in your bio will make you an instant super hero.
5. Reduced staff time with only one data source to manage
This is the same idea as #4, only your staff responsible for keeping an up-to-date database will want to treat you to lunch or bring you cookies.
So there you have it. I am a converted integration advocate. How has integration made your job easier? I'd love to hear your stories!