Community building has become an essential aspect of long-term growth and prosperity for businesses. But finding the right space to foster interaction and engagement can prove to be a challenge, and organizations can often fall at the first hurdle.
Whether you’re starting a community from scratch or looking to take your existing community to the next level, we’ve got you covered.
In this article, I’ll provide some strategies for finding the ideal space for a community, how to keep that community continuously engaged, and some additional tips on how to get your community started on the right track.
Together, we’ll cover:
- Community-led growth and its impact on the market
- How to find room for a new community
- Community engagement strategies from The Alliance
- Essential tips for kickstarting a community
Community-led growth and its impact on the market
At its core, community-led growth revolves around building and maintaining an active and engaged community. However, it's crucial to acknowledge that community-led growth is also customer-led. This means that the interests and needs of the community or customer base should be prioritized, and business activities should align with those desires.
Community-led growth impacts the market by ensuring that the voice of the community or customer base is consistently integrated into every aspect of the business. This valuable resource should never be wasted. There isn't a single department in a company that doesn't benefit from the insights gleaned from an active community.
For instance, when planning events, we consider the topics that people are discussing and struggling with and include relevant presentations on the agenda.
When developing content plans, we address unanswered questions and fulfill requests for specific topics through blogs, podcasts, and reports.
Sales teams can also benefit from community-led growth by understanding what potential customers want to know and how to communicate with them effectively.
Community-led growth is unique because it provides easy access to the voice of the customer, something that many companies strive for but don't always achieve.
Finding room for a new community
Throughout my time at The Alliance, I've had the opportunity to witness and participate in the establishment of various communities.
Identifying space for a new community starts with recognizing gaps in the market and understanding the demand.
For example, when Product Marketing Alliance was launched, the market had a significant void, and the rapid growth of the community and demand for education and events validated that need.
When considering the creation of a new community, listening to ongoing conversations is crucial. In the case of our customer success community, discussions within our product marketing community indicated a need for a space dedicated to customer success professionals.
We also examine the availability of resources and support for these professionals and estimate the potential size of the community based on market data, such as the number of people working in a specific role.
Before investing time, resources, and money into establishing a new community, we test the demand and validity of the initial concept. We often do this by hosting events with an existing community and gauging interest and feedback.
For example, we hosted a customer success event with our Future of SaaS community, which generated a significant amount of interest and positive feedback, confirming the need for a dedicated customer success community.
We don't create a community without having some idea of the demand. Instead, we utilize our portfolio of existing communities to test new concepts, and events play a significant role in this process.
Once we've run a few events and validated the demand for a new community, we commit the necessary time, resources, and money to create a fully-fledged community tailored to the needs and interests of the target audience. This approach ensures that we're addressing real needs and demands within the market while minimizing the risk of investing in a community that might not find traction.
Community engagement strategies that work: Lessons from The Alliance
During my time at The Alliance, several community engagement strategies have proven effective. Here are some key takeaways that could be helpful for your own community-building efforts:
Content is crucial
High-quality content, such as blogs, reports, podcasts, whitepapers, and webinars, helps establish trust and credibility within the community. By offering valuable free content, we built a strong foundation that made it easier to introduce paid-for products later on. Content also serves as a magnet to attract new community members and keep them engaged.
Small things make a big difference
Attention to detail and a focus on the community's needs are essential. By putting the community first and developing offerings based on their preferences, we create a more personalized experience that resonates with members.
Involve the community in decision-making
When planning courses, content, or events, it's important to seek input from the community. By asking for their opinions and preferences, we make them feel valued and ensure that we're creating products and services that truly cater to their needs.
When community members feel valued and included, they’re more likely to become advocates for the community, promoting it to their networks and helping it grow.
Be transparent about future projects
Share information about upcoming initiatives with the community, inviting their input and feedback. This transparency demonstrates that the community's needs are central to your decision-making process and helps foster a sense of ownership among members.
Maintain ongoing communication
Establish regular communication channels, such as Slack channels or other forums, to gather feedback and insights from community members. Consistent dialogue helps keep the community engaged and ensures that their input is considered in decision-making processes.
In terms of accessibility, keep your community free and open to join, ensuring that everyone who wishes to participate has the opportunity to do so.
Successful community engagement requires open dialogue, inclusivity, and a genuine focus on the needs and preferences of community members. By involving them in the decision-making process, maintaining regular communication, and being transparent about your initiatives, you create an environment where members feel valued and engaged.
Essential tips for kickstarting a community
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the same applies to building successful communities. It takes time and effort, and it certainly won't happen overnight. I’ll be honest, you may feel like you're speaking into a void at first, but persevere. Once you get through the initial challenges, you’llreach a point where your community becomes self-sufficient and engaged.
Focus on providing valuable content to your community members, even if it's not directly tied to revenue generation. High-quality content can build trust, foster engagement, and attract new members. Ensure that your content is relevant, informative, and genuinely helpful to your target audience.
Foster a sense of belonging
Create an inclusive and welcoming environment that encourages members to participate, connect, and collaborate. Be transparent in your communication and involve community members in decision-making processes.
Keep your community involved
As your community grows, don't lose sight of the importance of involving your members in your plans and decision-making processes. Use your community as a sounding board, and ensure that you’re taking their needs and preferences into account.
By incorporating these additional tips into your community-building efforts, you can create a thriving, engaged, and successful community that benefits both its members and your organization.
Let’s sum up
Building and maintaining an engaged community is vital for businesses seeking to achieve long-term growth. To achieve this, organizations need to prioritize the interests and needs of their community and align their business activities with those desires. It's crucial to find the ideal space to foster interaction and engagement, which starts by identifying gaps in the market and understanding the demand.
Effective community engagement strategies include offering high-quality content, paying attention to small details, involving the community in decision-making, being transparent about future projects, maintaining ongoing communication, and keeping the community free and open to join. Creating an inclusive and welcoming environment that fosters a sense of belonging is also crucial.
While building a successful community takes time and effort, incorporating these essential tips into community-building efforts can lead to a thriving, engaged, and successful community that benefits both its members and the organization.
By prioritizing community-led growth and continuously engaging with the community, organizations can ensure that the voice of the customer is consistently integrated into every aspect of the business, leading to improved business outcomes and long-term success.