We Need a Little Community, Right This Very Minute!

communities already exist

Your organization is no longer the only game in town.

Unless your business has golden handcuffs like certification, you’re probably having a challenge with retention and attracting new members. Your business needs an effective strategy to increase value and grow loyalty.

The most urgent and critical opportunity for membership organizations to increase value and grow loyalty is to build community. Without it, your members will grow a little leaner, colder, sadder and older…without you!

Community Management Is Tough

Blogger John Jantsch wrote The Community is the Business which inspired this post.

For most businesses, growing community requires a significant culture shift and herculean team effort. Some try to build community by implementing a new member-only technology and hiring a community administrator. That’s a field-of-dreams approach that rarely succeeds.

Jantsch asks: “What if you developed a place in your organization for a person that played the role of community host? That person’s job [would be] to see to all the little things that made your community members feel appreciated, informed special and looked after.”

The Role Of A Community Manager

Jantsch identifies that host as a community manager. A community manager is

“…the one person in the organization focused on moving people logically through the steps of know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat and refer, while also ensuring that all the members of your business ecosystem coevolve their capabilities and roles and align themselves with the direction of your organization. The community manager would in effect be an advocate for the members of your community and act to hold every department in the organization accountable for creating a better community experience.”

This employee needs to be strategic and able to speak on behalf of the organization. It is not a role that can be adequately filled by a low-level administrator.

Similarly, effective community management cannot be limited to a single platform. The strategy needs to include any and all touch points including social networks, telephone, email communications, webinars and face-to-face opportunities.

Ultimately, Community management is about becoming a social organization that is trying to help and connect, not sell programs and services. A community management or social-media strategy is not likely to be optimized if it is a function of your marketing department.

Community Fills The Gap

Nothing builds trust more than your customer touches.

A well-planned and well-executed community strategy is the one thing that can keep that momentum alive. It can help you earn positive word-of-mouth marketing across an individual’s networks.

If you’re viewed as an organization that is caring, sharing and helping, you will be rewarded with long-term loyalty and referrals.

Not Just On Your Turf

Community efforts need to extend beyond your organization platforms to where your stakeholders engage. Sometimes it’s their personal blog or social-media profile.

Community is achieved by people having a relationship with people. Not with your brand. The channel is less important than the engagement.

Adapted from Dave’s People & Processes column in PCMA’s December edition of Convene. Reprinted with permission of Convene, the magazine of the Professional Convention Management Association. © 2011.

What are some resources you recommend for aspiring community managers? How can an employee show the value of community management to his or her superiors?

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