Many tech companies now have their own online communities for providing support to their customers as well as a place for them to hang out and share their ideas and feedback. These communities are valuable marketing assets that foster engagement and build customer loyalty. At the same time, they also help your brand inspire the rise of advocates who will happily spread the good word about your company.
At least, that’s how an online community should function. To really make the most out of this incredibly useful asset, you’ll need to learn to identify your best community members so that you can reward them and, in doing so, encourage others members to participate constructively and consistently. Here are four types of members who can supercharge the effectiveness of your community:
Members Who Help Other Members
B2B customers often face complex challenges that need to be solved as quickly and as effectively as possible in order to improve the operation of their own businesses. To that end, an online community typically serves as their one-stop resource for peer support. It’s a place to turn for help, without having to wait in line on a phone to talk to a customer service representative.
Although community support forums aren’t made overnight, the fact that members are already helping other members is an important trust signal. To maximize the effectiveness of your support community, you’ll want to reward those who help others by giving them recognition. Gamification can automate this process, but you can’t go wrong with a personalized thank-you as well.
Members Who Leave Useful Feedback
Members helping other members also leave something you can use as feedback to help you constantly improve your product. For example, by asking questions and providing answers, you’ll be able to gain insights into issues and areas in need of improvement that you probably hadn’t even thought about. However, the value of feedback certainly doesn’t stop there.
Hopefully, you have customers who really love your product to such an extent that they have developed a vested interest in its continued support and improvement. If that’s the case, chances are these members will turn to their forums not just to help others get more out of the product they love, but also suggest improvements directly. These members are an invaluable asset to your product team, so it pays to recognize them.
Members Who Entertain and Inspire
B2B communities don’t always need to be entirely work-oriented and professional. A little fun can go a long way too, so long as it doesn’t get in the way of productivity. Some of your most valuable members aren’t necessarily the most active or even the most helpful – sometimes, they’re just people with great social skills who can make others laugh and, in doing so, motivate them to become more active themselves.
The ability to inspire, either through humor or by giving highly useful and actionable information, is a sure sign of a valuable community member as well as an advocate for the brand. In fact, they are so valuable when it comes to communicating your brand’s message that it often pays to put them on a pedestal. You might even consider offering them a position as community moderators or more.
Members Who Are Consistently Active
What’s the worst thing that can happen to an online community? Chances are, the first thing that comes to mind is a cesspit of trolls and spammers, in which case you would be correct. Inactive communities that see little, if any, oversight from the brand behind them don’t take long to descend into hopelessness and, when they do, they will start to suck the life out of your brand reputation.
Having Community Managers or official moderators can do a lot to reduce the amount of spam in a forum and, at the same time, encourage activity. They keep the momentum going and the forums alive. They are especially valuable in identifying members who are consistently active also tend to post constructively (although there are plenty of exceptions, which you need to look out for).
By identifying your most valuable members, you’ll be better equipped to define your ideal customer, maximize lifetime value and enjoy your advocate community to its fullest potential.