How does your private online community of customer or members effect how you reach your business goals? Do you retain more customers? Do you close more sales? Do you increase event attendance or generate more revenue per customer?
Now, what would happen if you could increase those benefits by 5 or 10 percent?
Here are 5 areas to work on to get more business-level benefits from your private social community:
Strategy #1: Increase the Number of People in Your Online Community
By expanding the reach of your online community, you can scale the benefits that your organization is already seeing. Consider opening the community up to new customer segments or audiences to increase the social density of your online community.
Tip: Keep in mind that you need to evolve your community management practices as your online community grows (see this post from Richard Millington).
Strategy #2: Increase Value Members Get from Your Online Community
Customers are very busy. With work, family, and other commitments, they often don’t have time for things that don’t add value to their lives. Improve participation and increase the sense of community by find ways to make your private social community more helpful and central to their workdays and careers.
Strategy #3: Get Community Members to Come Back More Often
Imagine the following:
- On average, your online community members visit the community 3 times per week.
- You have a visit-to-contribution ratio of 1 contribution (create content, start a discussion, or comment on a document or video) per 3 visits.
- That’s one contribution each week per member.
What would happen if that ratio remains the same, but you were able to double the number of times per week that members visited your online community? You would double the contributions and increase the value of your online community to your target audiences.
Strategically use tools like the built-in email engine (e.g. newsletters & segmented emails highlighting relevant content) and personalized content notifications to increase the frequency that customers return to your private social community.
Strategy #4: Get Members to Respond to Content, Comments, and Discussions More Frequently
Why is this important? Member activity drives member activity. Building on the last point, what would happen if you change that visit-to-contribution ratio to 2:1, where member contributions averaged 1 for every 2 visits? Create processes to consistently make your online community members aware of the engagement opportunities that are relevant to them and show them how they can easily participate.
Strategy #5: Include Prospects in Your Private Online Customer Community
Online customer communities aren’t just a place for customer, employees, and partner to come together. By giving leads and prospects limited access to your community and producing targeted content, companies can increase their close rate and shorten your sales cycle significantly.
Social Community Takeaway
Every initiative eventually hits a plateau. You and your team work diligently for months to launch a new online community and everything is going according to your strategy to this point – customer engagement is up, your product management team is getting good data from your market, and you have seen an uptick in your brand advocates talking about your product or service.
However, the day that you take your foot of the gas, the momentum begins to slow. You’ve seen some success, but what can do to increase the private social community’s impact of your organization’s bottom line?
Every organization goes through this. Apple’s success would become commonplace and eventually dwindle if they did not find ways to increase their products’ impact on the company by enhancing products and releasing new products.
The key to your profitability over the long term is how you handle these plateaus and find ways to build on your existing success to improve the little ratios in your online community that can make a big different.