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've 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 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 community managers should ask themselves:
1. How can I strengthen the relationships I have with active community members?
As a community manager, you 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 need 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, is 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's important to gather feedback from your target audience.
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.
As a community manager, it's your responsibility to not only collect feedback, but use ideas and suggestions to improve where necessary or add new features to the community.
3. What is the definition of success?
Research shows that communities can increase the average amount of customer spend, attract new customers, and reduce support costs. As a community manager, you need to define what success looks like to you, as well what it means to your organization.
Evaluate metrics related to engagement, community growth and actions tied to revenue - such insight will enable you to prove the community's return on investment and allow you to more effectively promote and nurture engagement, and create a more satisfactory user experience.
Just as the needs and wants of your community will change, so too will the definition of a great community. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity for community managers - to maintain momentum and achieve success, community managers need to continuously evaluate their efforts, build valuable connections, incorporate feedback into the community experience, and analyze key metrics.
There is nothing more important to a community manager 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.
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