In a previous blog post, I talked about the need for a real purpose for your community, with a set of goals attached to it. This ensures you understand what it is you want to achieve with your community. It enables you to give your members a clear direction and clarity around what they can do, how to get involved and you have some idea of how you will support their efforts.
In order to ensure your community will achieve your purpose, you’ll need to start thinking more practically on how your community will function within your business. You’ll need to have considered a range of questions that clarify how you will support this thinking – what processes need to be set up, how you interact and how you integrate the output from the community into the business.
Below, I’ve arranged a list of questions to consider when launching a community into 7 key areas. The following considerations are in order of importance, as we see them:
- How will you manage your community?
- What is the type of behaviour you want to see in your members?
- What processes and techniques have you got at the ready to support the purpose and goals of this community?
- Is the business clear about what can and cannot be discussed in your community?
- Do you know who to go to for answers on a variety of topics?
- Will the business be feeding back regularly to your community?
- Will other people outside of the community team be participating?
- Do you have a set of rules for participating staff?
- If so, are they prepped?
Integrations with different departments
- Are any lines of communication set up with other departments in your business?
- Are there any escalation processes in place?
- Are these people aware you might call on them for clarifications and are they able to make time for the community?
- Is it part of their role?
- Has the community got support from the department heads?
- Have any processes been set up to ensure involvement in the community?
- Are changes to the business and product subject to discussion within the community?
- Can feedback be relayed and reacted on?
- Are ideas discussed and sometimes accepted?
- Are you feeding your community with content?
- If so, where does this content come from?
- Is there a schedule of content created?
- Does the content support the purpose and goals?
- Are there processes in place to ensure timely delivery of content from a variety of areas within the business?
- Are there processes in place to enable the use of User Generated Content (UGC) within the product and service?
- Do you actively encourage the creation of UGC to support your purpose and goals?
- Are there any processes set up to support the community creating anything?
Awareness & growth
- Is there a budget and are there resources available to help the community gain traction?
- How will you create awareness around your community?
- How will you be pointing people in the right direction of your existing assets?
- What will your channel strategy to drive traffic to your community be like?
- What campaigns would need to be set up to support continued growth of your community?
- What support will you be getting from other parts of the business?
- Will the community be integrated into parts of the product or service?
- Closely related to the size of your customer base, expected traffic, as well as your purpose and goals.
- Outside of organic growth of the community management team, additional resources or a higher level of resource may be needed in the following cases:
- If there is a lot of integration with other departments.
- If there is a lot of customer service escalation that is likely to happen.
- If ideas and feedback are a large part of your strategy.
- If a member created/maintained knowledge base is part of your strategy.
- If a lot of content is part of your strategy.
- If a lot of online/offline events are part of your strategy.
- What will you measure to build a solid ROI model, to ensure continued support of your community?
- What help can the business provide to enable you to measure this?
- What integrations are needed to measure ROI?
- Will you use hold-out groups?
Please see below for a quick overview of the types of activity we see members engaging in, the business functions this can support, example measurements, and the high-level metric it can support:
And finally, a platform needs to be chosen to host your Community. Depending on your budget and the feature set you need (which will be in line with the purpose and goals you’ve set for you community), there are a variety of platforms out there which could suit your needs. Our own platform not least among them.
So, if you’d like to talk to us about any of the above, or have any thoughts you’d like to add, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
With a background building communities at Sony PlayStation and creating the multiple award-winning giffgaff community, I specialise in creating and running branded online communities that bring a touch of magic to the interaction between customer and brand. The result works both ways, with happier customers that feel honestly treated, and more insightful companies that waste less time and money on stuff no one wants.