According to a recent Forrester Research study of business buyers, 91% use social business communities and 69% use them for professional purposes. With the social web expanding into the workforce, marketing managers are discovering the potential of online communities for on-going engagement with their users and partners. For B2B users, an online community is not just a networking platform but a place to collaborate, gather and share knowledge of latest developments in the industry.
For example,the user community for Marketo was launched on December 2010 and within 1 year of launch, Marketo had over 10,800 users, 65 community-generated ideas and an incredible content database of discussions and documentation that helps thousands with their questions each day.
To see the latest statistics – check out their Groundswell awards submission and if you like them please vote for them!
So, if you are planning to launch a B2B community, here are simple 7 tips to follow:
Map out the community goals When you chalk out the plan for your business community, it is good to define your goals for the community and prioritize.By answering simple questions like:
Invite participation- Building a community from scratch is like building a garden. To reach out to your potential audience, you have to create a narrative for your community, which clearly mentions different activities your potential members can involve in. With a simple sign up form and a well-targeted campaign, you can easily kick start your business community. Some of the key channels adopted by B2B marketers include:
Establish Guidelines The truth about rules is that no one likes to be told how to behave, but after a while, every community member realize that it is good to have a clear set of guidelines.Keeping your guidelines conversational and brief makes it easier for community members to follow. Some common guidelines include:
Outline roles For managing communities successfully, it is necessary to structure a participant’s role. You may like to empower most active users, by allowing them to become moderators or take on an advisory role. A community generally comes with four roles that includes:
Have a community leader- Have a visible person as your community manager, who can interact with people, respond to their questions and encourage users to share content. Remember, people don’t have conversations with company, they have conversations with people. By incorporating a human feel on the community, you can easily build a strong bond between users and your organizations. For successful functioning of community, a community manager need to fulfill some roles and responsibilities which include:
Increase User Engagement Getting your users to interact with other community members and keep them active in a community-driven site requires time and hard work. To increase user engagement on community following features can be included:
Enable Sharing Encourage members to share their success stories publicly and interview them in your newsletter and feature them on your site. Enable easy sharing on various social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn with just one click. Your community members should be able to share items like:
Community management is an organic process that needs constant effort and nurturing. The key to community management is identifying and understanding the audience, and giving audience a platform to share their insights about best practices in their professional field. With clear goals for your community and well established guidelines, you ensure that your users participate in it as well as stay active.
Full disclosure: We have been developing, maintaining the Marketo Community since Feb 2011!