As per Gartner, by 2015, 50% of online customer self-service search activities will be via a virtual assistant for at least 1,500 large enterprises. In their endeavor to leverage social and achieve success in digital marketing initiatives, marketers are embracing online communities. However, not every community is successful. Following these simple and effective steps for building, managing, and measuring a community, marketers can ensure success for their community.
Building a Community:
- Put Community Needs First: We all agree that communities help reduce support costs, generate more leads, convert inactive users to frequent and loyal customers, and build advocates. However, putting company’s goals over the community goals is counterproductive. A successful community is built by paying close attention to the needs of its users and understanding how your online community can cater to those needs.
- Know Your Business Well: No customer will recognize your company as a leader if your communication does not provide great insights, in-depth studies, or knowledge that your immediate customers think is extremely valuable. When you consistently and proactively put out the message across that, you know your job and your peers respect you; customers will choose you.
- Choose The Platform Wisely: There are multiple community development platforms available to build communities. However, it can be hard to decide the best. Each has its own uses and serves a niche. Nevertheless, which one suits you, you can decide after factoring in some important points like:
- Platform stability
- Flexibility and customization
- Mobile Capabilities
- License Fee
- Development Cost
- Setup and deployment time
- Out of box plugins
- Support and Maintenance
- Engage Experts: Engaging experts and industry leaders is an effective way to stay in touch and gain insights from the top people in the business. By providing access to your users for high quality content, you are useful to the users. New age consumer wants you and your content to be useful before he starts liking and maybe even loving you.
- Integrate Social Channels and Strategy: Online community is all about being social and it is essential to have an integrated social and community strategy. The community should highlight the company’s social presence. You should promote your community on the social media channels to gain traction.
Managing a Community:
- Manage Community Actively: An efficient community manager can make all the difference. Active administration and moderation keeps abuse, spam, neglect, inactivity, and poor behavior of the participants away. A smart way to do this would be to get a good community manager. Community manager helps build relationships, gives the company a voice, creates buzz, listens to the chatter, and figures out the trends and concerns. He passes uses the data gathered from insights to help build better processes for the organization and improve the community.
- Respond Proactively: A lot of community management involves keeping your ears to the ground, literally. It is crucial that you get your employees, certified non-employees, and champions to be proactive in the community. When you build a team of proactive community members who do not just respond but keep on top of issues, you can be successful in solving and seeking out customer queries and problems, faster.
- Consider Gamification: A good community has persistent and consistent communication, presence, and activity. People are quickly bored when you either say too much too often or say too little too late. To fill that gap gamification is an ideal choice. Find the balance and keeps that balance consistent for some time before you see some activity happening. Experts say that it can take up to 6 months to get results.
Analyzing and Measuring Progress:
- Measure Community Performance: Measuring community success is what matters at the end of the day for the marketer. Community setting up, management and running utilizes time and resources. So where is the ROI, this where measuring key points can help. There are many metrics, some of them to help you get started are:
- Unique visitors per month
- Number of registered members after the first year
- Unique visitors converted to members
- No. of active members
- Number of lurkers, free members, power users, contributors, paid members, managers
- Twitter followers and FB fans who are also on your community
- Mentions of your brand name or product name in the social channels
- No. of discussions, replies, or comments
- Response by members, employees and partners
- Value of content: Sharing and bookmarking content
- Focus on Long Term Engagement: Many companies make the mistake of building the community and expecting results immediately when in fact, maintaining a community is a long-term activity and need some months of good quality content, engagement initiatives, discussions, and awareness building activities; to get results.
A successful community is attainable. All you need to do is, keep basic points in focus throughout the journey of inception, development, management and analyzing a community. We hope, these points help you and if they do, drop a comment telling us about your journey. In addition, do not forget to share this post with your followers so they also learn from what you have learned.
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