A Community Strategy

Extracted 09SEP2011 from http://socialmediatoday.com/leighdow/353138/want-evangelists-get-community-st...

Sometimes we get calls from clients looking for "buzz'" via social channels. Social is great for generating viral "buzz", but for many companies what they really want is a highly engaged audience for an extended period of time... More and more I'm finding websites take one of two directions:

  1. Website as community: Groups of like-minded people gather and focus on a particular brand, product or service
  2. Website as forum: Individuals gather to ask and answer questions

...While there are several models for great communities, my favorite model for company owned communities is Community As Educator... In this model, the community management team is focused on teaching people how to optimize their use of the platform.  The entire ecosystem is built around Q&A, educational materials and active participation from the product experts. The result is a super user customer and often a product evangelist.

A great example of this model is the Radian6 Community Management Team... Front and center they tell you their dedicated community team which: "acts as a bridge - from the outside to inside from you to us, and even among ourselves. We’re there to help, answer questions, participate in conversations, and make a human connection from our company to the people we serve."

The Community Manager as Educator model delivers on many strategic marketing objectives:
  • Establishes your company as an industry thought leader, a group of ready to respond experts;
  • Elevates brand loyalty, by teaching your customers how to best use the platform so they see the entire value stream of the product;
  • Teaches your customers how to become experts in their field, their success means more business for you;
  • Generates word of mouth marketing, people are wired to share what they learn generating brand awareness;
  • Brings new ideas to the table, gives your product developers insight into the features your customers want next and the challenges they are already talking about elsewhere;
  • Creates a fresh spin for customer service, a direct line to the troubleshooting experts can differentiate you from competitors; and
  • Identifies and engages product evangelists, the people who are fans and actively encourage others to use your product.