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7 Tips to Get Started With Business Communities

According to a recent Forrester Research study of business buyers, 91% use social business communities and 69% use them for professional purposes. With the social web expanding into the workforce, marketing managers are discovering the potential of online communities for on-going engagement with their users and partners. For B2B users, an online community is not just a networking platform but a place to collaborate, gather and share knowledge of latest developments in the industry.

For example,the user community for Marketo was launched on December 2010 and within 1 year of launch, Marketo had over 10,800 users, 65 community-generated ideas and an incredible content database of discussions and documentation that helps thousands with their questions each day.

7 Tips to Get Started With Business Communities image marketo community4

To see the latest statistics – check out their Groundswell awards submission and if you like them please vote for them!

So, if you are planning to launch a B2B community, here are simple 7 tips to follow:

Related Resources from B2C
» Free Webcast: Build Better Products by Identifying and Validating Your Riskiest Assumptions

Map out the community goals When you chalk out the plan for your business community, it is good to define your goals for the community and prioritize.By answering simple questions like:

  • How will this community support your company’s mission and brand promise?
  • How can this video add to your core value proposition?
  • How will this community complement and expand your customer experience?

With clearly identified goals in mind, you can easily identify people who may join your community and play an active role in it.

Invite participation- Building a community from scratch is like building a garden. To reach out to your potential audience, you have to create a narrative for your community, which clearly mentions different activities your potential members can involve in. With a simple sign up form and a well-targeted campaign, you can easily kick start your business community. Some of the key channels adopted by B2B marketers include:

  • Email Newsletters
  • Trade shows and Events
  • Social Media
  • Website
  • Communication by Support Staff

Establish Guidelines The truth about rules is that no one likes to be told how to behave, but after a while, every community member realize that it is good to have a clear set of guidelines.Keeping your guidelines conversational and brief makes it easier for community members to follow. Some common guidelines include:

  • Content posted by users should be legal, clean, relevant and respectful
  • You reserve the right to remove the post if they are likely to disrupt, provoke, attack or offend or seen to impersonate someone else
  • Community dos and don’ts
  • Defined Procedure for Reporting Abuse
  • Copyright need to be respected

Outline roles For managing communities successfully, it is necessary to structure a participant’s role. You may like to empower most active users, by allowing them to become moderators or take on an advisory role. A community generally comes with four roles that includes:

  • Anonymous user: does not have an account
  • Authenticated user: any user that has an account
  • Manager: able to manage several areas including enabling & disabling features, managing users.
  • Admin: able to do everything that the manager can, plus access administration pages and use more powerful tools to manage users and features

Have a community leader- Have a visible person as your community manager, who can interact with people, respond to their questions and encourage users to share content. Remember, people don’t have conversations with company, they have conversations with people. By incorporating a human feel on the community, you can easily build a strong bond between users and your organizations. For successful functioning of community, a community manager need to fulfill some roles and responsibilities which include:

  • Ensuring community customer service
  • Monitoring and mediating discussions
  • Driving engagement
  • Ensuring value for community members and the organization

Increase User Engagement Getting your users to interact with other community members and keep them active in a community-driven site requires time and hard work. To increase user engagement on community following features can be included:

  • Make it easy to participate
  • Welcome newbies
  • Identify and nurture power users
  • Showcase and cross promote user generated content
  • Allow profile creations
  • Reward Contributors

Enable Sharing Encourage members to share their success stories publicly and interview them in your newsletter and feature them on your site. Enable easy sharing on various social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn with just one click. Your community members should be able to share items like:

  • Discussions
  • Blog Articles
  • Surveys & polls
  • Activity Feeds
  • Media items like videos, images, documents
  • Industry Webinars
  • Case Studies & White papers

Community management is an organic process that needs constant effort and nurturing. The key to community management is identifying and understanding the audience, and giving audience a platform to share their insights about best practices in their professional field. With clear goals for your community and well established guidelines, you ensure that your users participate in it as well as stay active.

Full disclosure: We have been developing, maintaining the Marketo Community since Feb 2011!

About Grazitti Community Development Services

At Grazitti we help companies set up robust communities from scratch. From community strategy to platform selection, design, build and setup, community promotion, and community management, we help brands meet their community objectives with measurable results.

We build communities on all major platforms such as:

  • Salesforce
  • Jive
  • Drupal
  • WordPress
  • Joomla
  • Dot net
  • Liferay

To know more about building your business community, Contact Us Now!

This post was originally posted in blog.grazitti.com

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