What’s the next big thing in online communities?
Well, every community professional is looking for an answer to this question.
Online communities have certainly transitioned from a mere channel of online chat to an ROI-generating engine for organizations.
From brands leveraging communities to maintain connections with their customers, to communities becoming an avenue for offering incentives like NFTs, DAOs, blockchain, and more – communities have indeed come a long way.
These are no longer a medium to communicate with customers. Communities have become an avenue for brands to ace customer success by gaining deep insights into their behavior, offering a robust support channel, and innovating by cross-collaborating.
And with the recession hitting, online communities are proving to be pivotal to holding the fort and staying connected with customers. We might also witness innovations such as automated community messaging tools, community reporting systems, and VR in communities.
Insights and Predictions From Community Leaders
As we transition from communities 2.0 to communities 3.0, we will see a huge change in how brands leverage communities to do more than just engage with their customers.
Web 3 will bring a wave of change in how brands do commerce and garner user attention. AI will play a significant role in automating support delivery and gamifying community conversations. Many new technologies that emerged during the pandemic will also mature, taking community engagement to the next level.
With that said, let’s take a look at some trends & predictions stated by community experts.
Tirza Austin, Senior Manager, Online Community, American Society of Civil Engineers
‘Communities are a goldmine of data, thus, data collection and AI personalization will prevail. Brands will leverage user data to explore more about member psychology and offer a stellar community experience.’
Tirza suggested that brands will focus more on community operations. She mentioned that communities will play a key role in helping brands grow their business. But for that, it is important for brands to make their communities more cutting-edge and advanced. And that is possible only when they divert their focus from ROI to enhancing community operations.
She also stated that communities that aren’t able to prove their worth during the recession will face layoffs and budget cuts. They will be the first “to go” in 2023.
Todd Nilson, Online Community Strategist, Clocktower Advisors
‘We will see a rise in community operations and the tools that support this role. We will also witness the Great Reshuffle which will be about the impact of Community Pro downsizing and resignations.’
Todd stated that today, almost every organization has an active online community. This has led to the creation of multiple platforms on which an online community can be hosted. Because of the emergence of numerous community platforms, competition will rise which will ultimately lead to acquisitions and consolidations in 2023.
He also mentioned that there would be hybridization between Web2 and Web3. Brands will extract the best out of Web3 to build cutting-edge, advanced online communities.
Kt McBratney, CCO & Co-Founder, OwnTrail
‘Online communities will witness an increased focus on KPIs and performance measurement metrics. Community Management as a Service will also rise with enhanced community practices.’
Kt stated that the community space is evolving. And as a result of this evolution, various community-facing roles will emerge at the leadership level. Brands will invest more in micro-communities to grow their user base and reach.
She also mentioned that brands will now focus more on key KPIs such as engagement levels, ROI generated, churn rate, and more with online communities. As communities continue to evolve, brands will have to make their community management practices more robust.
Scott K. Wilder, VP of Customer, Partner, and Community Engagement, Base.ai
‘Online communities have become an ever-evolving avenue for brands to multiply revenue and boost business growth. One trend that I believe will continue to prevail is the use of video content in communities.’
Scott suggested that he sees the rise of video content in communities in the future. Brands will increase the use of video content in their communities to garner user attention and keep them hooked. Users are hungry for information, and delivering that information to them in bite-sized snippets is the best possible way to keep them engaged within the community.
Adding to this, he also mentioned that member advocacy in communities will play a significant role in growing the customer base. Businesses will have to invest time and effort in inventing impactful advocacy strategies.
Jephtah Abu, Product Community Manager, AhoyConnect
‘The use of automated tools for customer onboarding will prevail in 2023. Brands will shift their focus towards conducting cultural community events in a more closed and personalized way.’
Jephtah stated that AI & ML will play a key role in increasing community engagement. The application of AI & ML in communities will empower businesses to personalize user journeys, deliver prompt assistance, and increase engagement.
User-generated content will continue to take the center stage and brands will leverage this opportunity to capitalize on all the benefits, he added.
Varun Luthra, Country Manager, ANZ Region, Grazitti Interactive
“AI in communities will prevail. With brands striving to stand out and adopting a customer-first approach, AI will prove to be their best bet in keeping the customers hooked to their communities. Brands will also be able to witness better ROI from communities by monetizing their gamification efforts.”
Talking about the predictions for 2023, Varun suggested that community professionals will witness the rise of dedicated B2B platforms for online communities. Brands will start investing in dedicated community platforms and curtail operations from Slack/Facebook groups. With this shift, they will be able to deliver more embedded, personalized experiences to the customers with multiple touchpoints in the Org.
We believe that as the community landscape continues to become more advanced, the number of entities involved in handling an online community will increase. There will be more stakeholders who will be responsible for executing numerous community tasks efficiently across the organization. Additionally, many brands will migrate to newer community platforms that support advanced features like dynamic gamification, AI, chatbots, and more.
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