‘The 5 Elements’​ one year on…Is our theory working in practice?

By Rob Fawkes on 21 Oct 2021

One year ago we published the 5 Elements System for Community Success. I was confident the theory was sound, but what about in practice? Would it work? Would clients be able to take it on board? 

The biggest thing I’ve learned about the 5 Elements System for Community Success (or 5E) in the last year is it’s more immediately usable than I ever imagined. Wherever you are at in your community journey there is something in the 5E system you can use today.

In my mind the 5E system needed deep thought and planning before an organisation could implement anything. In reality, it’s far easier to get results . Working with clients and witnessing how they took the system on board and made use of it in their day-to-day operations really brought this home to me.

Our clients have taught me two main ways the 5E system works faster and more broadly than I ever expected.

1 – Any Community, anywhere. 

More types of companies are forming more types of communities than ever before. The 5E system was born in the environment of B2C forums, but its principles are proving themselves way beyond those boundaries. 

A Community for Cyber Security?

A good example is a recent partnership with a client in the luxury goods industry with 35,000+ staff. It was not the customer experience team, nor the marketing team, but the cyber-security team who came to us wanting to improve internal engagement with their work. They have embraced the 5E system to elevate their internal community using Microsoft’s Yammer platform. They’ve used the 5E system to create a scalable content and engagement plan. I look forward to seeing the results as it’s implemented. 

2 – Start small – you don’t need to do it all at once.

Organisations are getting stuck in with quick wins. Often they will spot something they can use from the 5E system, as early as our first training session. Typically they won’t wait to understand everything about the system before acting, and they won’t feel the need to act on all 5 Elements at once, as that can mean internal delays and bureaucracy.

 To give a few examples..

A platform migration yields huge organic search benefits

One of our clients implemented only one Element – the platform. They replaced their out of date technology with the Standing on Giants platform. Doing so has seen huge improvements in SEO in line with Google’s latest page experience update:

  • Organic impressions increased from <10,000pm to 60,000 per month
  • Organic clicks increased from <500pm to 3,000+ per month

A 5 Elements Audit empowers a Community Manager

One of our community managers (Emilie) was inspired by  a ‘5 Elements Audit’ on their community. The audit revealed that very few members were introducing themselves.  

“When we did the 5E audit we realised that members weren’t introducing themselves at the desired rate. It’s a key action we encourage new members to take in all communities, so it was important to work on. I started tagging all new members in a dedicated ‘Welcome’ thread to encourage them to say hello. I’m pleased to say there was a 733% increase in members introducing themselves!

Training CS agents to use a more engaging and supportive tone of voice. 

The Community Owner of this community had deployed customer service agents into during the pandemic to help deal with a huge surge in traffic. He noticed that these agents were not responding to members in the same way as the Community Managers, so decided to engage us to train them in community management basics. 

The agents were shown their posts (anonymised) and asked to guess which of them had written them. They couldn’t tell because they were all the same! After giving them some training and focussing on the Community Management element, their posts are much more appropriate and stimulate conversation and engagement. 

Looking ahead…

I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved this year using our 5 Element System but we are just getting started. Community is still the word on everyone’s lips and I’m excited to see new and innovative applications of our community knowledge over the next year and beyond.

If you’d like to see what our clients and partners have been saying about the 5 Elements System for Community Success, take a look here.

Thanks for reading,


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