Cole: I'd love to hear what you believe to be essential components of a community strategy
Great question. Personally what I’d like to see in a community strategy is:
1. What are we trying to achieve with this community? The answer should cover: (a) why the organization wants/needs a community and (b) how it adds value to our customers. The answers need to be detailed and tangible!
2. Define the values of your community making sure they align with those of your company
3. Define the community behaviours and activities that you want to see and that will your community to success.
4. Based on the above, a description of how our community looks like in 5 years time and how it’s adding value to both company and customers.
5. A high level roadmap showing community evolution during those 5 years. You can use McKinsey’s Three Horizons Model to show how focus will change over time.
6. A detailed roadmap of what needs to happen within the next 12 months (including programs, tech, resources, etc). This should explain where we focus now vs the future.
7. Define KPIs and a reporting system to measure success of your community.
Kirsti: Hey Gabriel, so looking forward to hearing from you! I’d love to know more about how you handle conflict in your community. Do you have an approach that generally works for most situations, or are issues best tackled on a case-by-case basis?
I think there’re formulas to ‘defuse’ difficult situations. Generally this approach has always worked for me:
- Have clear, visible and friendly guidelines.
- Take a step back. Don’t respond ‘in the heat of the moment’.
- Don’t side with anybody, try to be as neutral as you can.
- Avoid naming and shaming.
- If someone is deliberately breaking the guidelines be firm and assertive.
- You can give members a second chance, people can change. However if someone keeps breaking the guidelines it’s better to ‘show them the door’.
- Banning temporarily doesn’t really work - It’s like having a kid standing on the corner.
- Make sure there is a clear and easy way to report abuse/conflict.
- DM those involved. DMing people tends to defuse situations pretty quickly.
- Always protect your most active users (super users) and don’t let them get involved in conflict. The community team should act as a buffer for them, otherwise the will burn out.
- Train your community team to handle conflict and abuse online, otherwise they will also burn out!
- If conflict is a reoccurring issue, feel free to write frequent posts about community values and how can everyone can help making the community a safe space.
- Lead with empathy!
Hope this helps!
Katelyn: If you were to give one piece of advice to someone building an ambassador/rewards program from scratch, what would it be? This has been a topic of conversation in Club recently, so would love to hear your thoughts!
Thanks for asking, Katelyn. When it comes to rewards my advice is always to avoid fancy/expensive things, and focus instead on symbolic and intrinsic rewards. Those rewards should be about creating a strong sense of belonging, rather than giving people cash or vouchers. Don’t get me wrong, in some instances members deserve discounts, but it shouldn’t be something they expect.Also, digital rewards are much better if you want to have scalable and sustainable program. In my experience Swag isn’t scalable, it’s nice to receive a T-Shit and a baseball cap once, but how many of those can you fit in your wardrobe?
One last thing. It’s better to rewards as many as you can with ‘smallish’ rewards than spending all your budget in five super active members.
Mary: Curious to know - when switching from B2C / B2B into a SaaS community, how did your community strategies change?
Nice to meet you Mary Ann. I feel like on B2B communities there are more opportunities to partner and collaborate with your community. In the Typeform community we run a lot of webinars and workshops with community members, this is something I didn’t see/do during my B2C years. Maybe this has also to do with Covid and the explosion of online events, but generally I see B2B companies more willing to speak to their customers on a regular basis.
Another difference is the ‘creator’ element of some B2B communities. One of the main reasons why we created the Typeform community was to discover and amplify our community ‘creations’. This can happen in some B2C communities but I believe is less frequent - I run for some time the Sony Photography community and although it was B2C there was also a ‘creator’ element to it.Hope this makes sense !
Jon: Hey Gabriel, do you have any best tips or tricks for engaging your non-core community members? We have a core group of community members who have been using our product for years and they're very vocal, but we also want to give a voice to, empower, and connect with other groups of users.
Hey Jon! Great question. Let me share something that has worked for me in the past.
I like to use a point system to determine who is and isn’t a super user so I can keep track of them. Then I make sure we look after these super users because as you know there are vital for the health of your community.
Now, and here’s the trick, on a monthly basis I keep record of all those members who border the super user status (based on my point system). I write down their names, use cases, what problem they faced, and any other information I deem interesting. While my super user group doesn’t change so much, these group of ‘potential’ super users keeps changing on a monthly basis so the list keeps growing on month after month.
This database is what I call my ‘user skill map’ and it includes super users and those who at some point had activity levels bordering the super user status. Generally when it comes to re-engaging users I don’t need to worry much about super users (they are very committed already) but I purposefully get in touch with everyone else on that list. These are the kinds of things I share with them on a monthly basis: product updates, fixes, opportunities to test new features, webinars, etc. Anything that I believe can add value to them based on the information I have. I cannot emphasise enough the power of sending 1:1 DMs, it has the highest engagement return in all communities I’ve run.
I wish there was a less manual way to do the above, but none of the community platforms I have used can automate the above. Perhaps something Commsor can/will solve for us :P
Also, if you run an ambassador or rewards program make sure it takes into account less active members. As I said on another question, make sure your ambassador program budget and initiatives also take into account non-core members.
Last but not least, something we currently do at Typeform is sending a monthly email to re-engage dormant members - those who haven’t visited the community within the last 30 days but were once active. This is less manual and also brings back some engagement.
Hope these spark some ideas for you!
Alex: I feel like it's obligatory for people doing AMAs here to answer a question about metrics. How do metrics factor into your strategy/reporting/etc, and which one or two are the ones you find to be most important for your current community?
Building a strategy without a ‘how to measure success’ section is like jumping into a pool without water. So I highly recommend everyone to translate their community into metrics that someone who doesn’t know anything about communities can understand.I currently track two types of metrics: community performance metrics and business metrics. I share these with the leadership team during our MBR sessions:
- Community performance metrics: any metrics showing community growth: sign ups, active members, activity by community vs team, etc.
-Community business metrics: any metrics proving the ROI of community: deflection rate (support), product engagement, retention, etc.
In terms of community performance metrics I’m looking mainly at sign-ups (growth) and engagement rate (% of active members). I track a million more things but at the moment I’m paying special attention to these two.Regarding community business metrics I’m crafting a ‘community retention rate’. My hypothesis is that customers who are part of the community and exposed to community initiatives will stay with us longer, so Im working with the Data team to design a ‘community retention dashboard’. This is still work in progress, wish me luck!