You’ve created a great product, released it out into the world, and made a huge splash with your Marketing campaigns. Now it’s time to think about this ‘Community’ thing, right? Well, not if you want to give yourself the best opportunity for success! It has never been more important to consider the holistic experience of those engaging with your brand, from initial product awareness through to lifetime fan. In today’s market, if you’re not laying the foundation for great community engagement as part of your product development roadmap, you’re already falling behind.
HIRE FOR EXPERIENCE
Building healthy, engaged communities is a specialized skillset. While it can be tempting to throw an intern onto ‘that community thing’, you owe it to your customers to give this area the same care and consideration as the rest of your product. Hiring someone already experienced with building and maintaining the engagement you’re looking for can be a huge leap forward. Not able to hire someone experienced internally just yet? Consider hiring an experienced Community consultant!
Identifying how you want to engage with your community, and more importantly how they’ll want to engage with you, is a process that should start months before you ever launch your product into the market. When you’re planning out your development roadmap, set aside time to think about your customer experience goals. Want instant feedback from your customers? Think about the features you’ll need to build in order to enable that engagement.
Special Note: If you’re enabling any user-to-user interaction, however minimal, you need to think critically about how you’ll mitigate and/or handle any abuse or harassment through your platform. When creating spaces in which customers can interact with one another, however minimal, you’ll need to keep in mind the ‘worst person ever’ scenarios and mitigate accordingly.
MAKE IT EASY
Burying your community features under several layers of UI, not introducing them as part of the customer onboarding journey, or otherwise not driving attention to those features means you are missing out on opportunities to drive customer engagement. For example, when asking customers to sign up to your community, do you force them to create a new username & password, or do you allow them to use their existing Facebook account to authenticate? If you’re forcing your customers to create a new account, you’ve already lost more than 50% of your potential engagement. If you want your customers to engage with you, making it as easy as possible is in your best interest.
MEASURE THE RESULTS
Measuring the ROI of community efforts is notoriously difficult… if you don’t plan for it as part of your development process! By building the right data hooks and reporting tools, you can better understand how your customers engage with your community, and the impact of those actions back on your product’s bottom line. Building a system on your website that allows your customers to rate & review your products? If you’ve built the tools that allow you analyze the data and quickly identify key contributors, you now have a golden opportunity to proactively reach out and foster great relationships with those that will go on to be your top brand ambassadors.
The only constant in building great community engagement is change. What works today may be an outdated and ineffective strategy in three months’ time. A healthy community is key to retaining great customers, so continual review and iteration is in your best interest. To be successful, make sure to re-visit your community strategy and feature needs as a critical part of your ongoing product development. Like any great relationship, your connection with your community will always be evolving; make sure your strategy is too!
If you need help building your community or maintaining engagement, drop us a line in the comments below or through our social media channels @5CA_Global on Twitter, our Facebook page, or on LinkedIn!
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