Take Your Community from Good to Great

In the quest to become more effective, here are three questions community managers should ask themselves.

In the bestselling book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t, author Jim Collins says, “Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great.”

As a community manager, you have invested time and effort into making your community a valuable resource for your audience. You drive conversations and deepen the relationships community members have with your brand. You strive to increase membership and activity within the community, engage with new users, respond to questions and comments within the community, post questions, and introduce new topics. Overall, it’s a success – but how can you transform a good community into a great one?

In the quest to become more effective, here are three questions you should ask yourself:

1. How can I strengthen the relationships I have with active community members?
You already make engagement a priority. You understand that the relationships you have with your employees or customers – and the conversations they have with each other – fuel the success of your community. However, when was the last time you acknowledged the top contributors that helped you achieve such high engagement levels?

To go from good to great, you must recognize those participants that are the backbone of your community’s success. These are the community members who initiate quality discussions and share their expertise. To sustain active involvement, you must reward their efforts. This can be done in a variety of ways. For example, an insider group grants active contributors special access, permissions, power, and perks. It also provides them with a sense of ownership in the community. The group enables members to share their insight into the needs and interests of your community.

Or, reward top contributors with badges, reputation points, and expert status. Gamification is not only a fun way to recognize active users, but it can also lead to organic engagement and community growth.

2. How can I make the community more beneficial to my audience?
Companies can have private and public communities. Whether your community consists of employees or customers, it is important to gather feedback from your target audience. Internal and external surveys are a great way to keep up with the pulse of your community. It is imperative for any community to have a two-way relationship with community managers. This open dialogue serves two purposes: It allows the audience to feel appreciated and heard and enables companies to build a more valuable user experience.

It is your responsibility to collect feedback and use the ideas and suggestions to improve where necessary or add new features to the community.

3. What is the definition of success?
Research shows communities can increase the average amount of customer spending, attract new customers, and reduce support costs. You must define what success looks like to you, as well as what it means to your organization. Evaluate metrics related to engagement, community growth, and actions tied to revenue. This insight will enable you to prove the community’s return on investment and allow you to more effectively promote the community, nurture engagement, and create a satisfactory user experience.

Just as the needs and wants of your community will change, so will the definition of a great community. This is a challenge and an opportunity for community managers. To maintain momentum and achieve success, you must continuously evaluate your efforts, build valuable connection, incorporate feedback into the community experience, and analyze key metrics.

There is nothing more important than an open feedback loop. A quality community manager is listening as much as speaking, leveraging the feedback communicated by the users to make informed business decisions and to provide a reason for the users to become repeat-users and promoters.