A community strategy is not a campaign or a single dialogue; it is a shift in the way you communicate with your customers, and the way they communicate with you.
Three key points to think about as you pursue a community strategy for your business:
- Tools are good but they don’t make the community. The strategy does.
- Community is just one element of an overall, integrated shift in business communication.
- Communication is great, but it means nothing without measurement and actions.
An online community platform is the tip of the iceberg. The community must have multiple points of connection back to the business. Here are some tips as you begin to build your community strategy:
- Create a specific community plan and answer the following questions about your strategy: What’s the goal of the community? What’s the ideal outcome? How does it bring value directly to the business?
- Your company has to be ready to receive ideas from the community members. What’s the funnel for processing member ideas and information? It is easy to have a fire hose of information to send to the business, but there has to be a planned way of determining what is actionable and what will provide the most value to the business.
- Measuring is what keeps the lights on. Senior management may think it’s great to experiment with community, but unless you can prove value, the shiny new object will soon be pushed to the back burner. Create your plan for measuring ROI when you’re creating your community plan and, most importantly, communicate and deliver.
Why community matters
A legitimate long-term community ties directly back to the business:
- Improved communication will benefit the value your company can provide to your customers.
- More with less. Community building is not free but once the community hits a steady state, the returns can be exponential.
- Customer experience. Your customers want to communicate with you. By creating an easy and clearly valuable way for them to do that, you’re creating loyal customers.
Want to learn more about building your community and how your community can tie to your overall marketing and business plan? Register for the Farland Group webinar, October 13 at 1:00 PM: Using Communities to Elevate Marketing.
Photo used under Creative Commons from winkyintheuk.