Partner relationships are a vital element for every business. How you engage with your partners and present your business offerings to them has a direct impact on your company’s growth.
Today, almost every B2B organization relies on dynamic partner ecosystems to improve their products and services, and boost revenue. And to consistently engage and interact with partners, online communities have emerged as a key medium.
Through online communities, organizations can offer partners an incentive to participate in a variety of community programs. But to soak up on all the benefits of a partner program, you must choose the right partners.
How, you ask?
Let’s dive into the 101 of choosing the right partner for your online community. But before we get started, let’s understand what an online community is.
What is an Online Community?
You must be aware of various online communities on social media channels like Quora, Reddit, Facebook, etc. But there is a lot more to communities. By definition, a platform that enables meaningful interaction between an organization and its customers is an online community. An online community establishes engagement with the purpose of the shared success of the brand and its customers. Online communities go beyond catering to customers only. These can foster engagement with partners and employees, all in one place.
Online communities are versatile with infinite features. These spaces include open forums, closed discussions, reviews, ideation events, Q&A sessions, webinars, contests, surveys, subgroups, and more. They are a well-organized, safe space for brands to initiate conversations with customers and maintain engagement to nurture customer relationships.
Reasons for Having a Community Partner
The benefits of entering into strategic partnerships are immense. Especially if you work with dealers, vendors, or resellers. By working with a community partner, brands can seek direct benefits from communities. Following are the reasons to build community partnership programs –
- Devise strategies to engage the community on a broader level in alignment with your mission.
- Contribute to your online community by bridging the gap between expertise and knowledge.
- Acquire new members through the partner’s contacts and resources.
- Enable networking with industry experts.
3 Things to Consider While Choosing a Community Partner
Choosing the right community partner is crucial for the success of your online community and the growth of your business. While it takes time and effort to foster a meaningful partnership, picking the right one is the most crucial part. Thus, you need to know how to choose the right community partner.
Following are three proven tips to choose the right community partner –
1. Identify Opportunities for Shared Growth
Many B2B communities look for collaboration opportunities. Start by identifying what you expect from community partnership. For instance, if you are looking for a co-branding opportunity or perhaps a lead-sharing arrangement.
Next, put effort into networking with other communities and find one that compliments your community. Be it a community that targets the same audience as yours or offers related services. Propose a bi-directional partnership program and reap mutual benefits.
2. Explore Your Community’s Goals and Evaluate if Your Partner(s) Agree With Them
For your community to do better, you need to focus on the bigger picture. Remember that building and managing your online community is a marathon, not a sprint. When you are focused on the larger purpose, finding a clearer path to reach the ultimate goal becomes easier.
Every community has one goal – nurturing relationships with its members. But the specific goal of communities can vary depending upon the business values. Being a community manager, recognize your distinctive goal to build a community and see if it aligns with your community partner. Your partnership can only work if the vision and goals are shared and agreed upon by involved parties (brands/partners/members).
3. Create Personas for Each Partner Along With Their Expected Roles
It is important to establish partner personas beforehand as it helps you measure to what extent they will engage. While some may curate content and add knowledge to your community, others may only be there to learn and consume the content. When you define personas and roles in advance, you can identify the gaps in communication and knowledge. For instance, you expect a partner to curate knowledgeable content to help others learn. But they do not post because they are unaware of their roles. It will widen the knowledge gap in your community. Therefore, having their personas defined is essential for bridging the knowledge and communication gaps and setting the right expectations.
Partners can be an integral part of your community. Leverage your relationship with them to create growth opportunities for your business and enable your community to make a significant contribution towards its purpose. The more your values and goals are shared, the more easily will you be able to achieve your end goals and grow.
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