‘Community’ has become a buzzy term in online business over the last decade, but the value and actual function of the word is still often misunderstood across industries despite the emphasis and trend.
Common questions about community range from “what is an online community?” to “where does community live?” and “what exactly does a community manager do?”
The value of community can seem even more unclear when thinking about brands that offer a product or service that doesn’t appear to naturally lend itself to user <> user interaction. A good example is those within the financial technology or ‘fintech’ sector, which counts well-known companies like Paypal, Wealthfront, Mint, Square and countless others. This post will address and answer common questions to lend a better understanding to why fintech companies need a community manager and how dedicated work can contribute to the bottom line.
What does a branded online community look like at a financial tech company? Where does it live?
As defined by CMX, a leading online source dedicated fully to community and what it can do for companies, community is:
A community is a group of more than two people with a common sense of identity, who participate in ongoing, shared experiences to meet their needs.
CMX distinguishes branded community as a group with “...a specific business objective lead by an executive sponsor, where a company creates a space for people with a common sense of identity to participate in ongoing, shared experiences.”
Not unlike companies that vary across industries, fintech communities can live in a multitude of different places --- all of which meet the criteria for branded community. Financial tech enterprises may build and engage communities on platforms that include support forums, user discussion boards, and more. Paypal is a good example of a larger fintech company using community forums as a place for customers to ask and answer each other’s questions.
More people-centric financial companies or startups may watch and grow communities within the product itself. A good example of this is Venmo, where users actually engage with one another with a flurry of messages and funny emoji when sharing funds. Tilt, a college-focused group payments startup, sees tons of engagement on Tilt pages, which users (“tilters”) use to communicate with others who have also chipped in funds toward a common goal.
Community can live in the social sphere too, like on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or elsewhere depending on the company’s goals. All of these social channels are ripe for the company and users to share content, people to talk to/engage with one another, and even to try promotional tactics like running contests. These channels can also act as a vehicle for support requests, which can be routed through social media directly to customer support as Square does.
What does a community manager at a financial tech company do?
Because community can thrive in so many places for fintech companies, a community manager can do a variety of things to drive cross-functional goals. For a company focused on heavy user support like Paypal, a community manager might moderate discussion, respond to inquiries or even brainstorm to create new channels and resources that boost engagement and retention.
Community managers and coordinators at companies also play an integral and invaluable role by collaborating closely with product teams to reduce churn rate. This kind of work typically involves relaying feedback, gathering community data about new features or even proposing enhancements based on the community manager’s pulse on the group of customers or users that they’re responsible for. Even more, a community manager at a financial tech company can work with marketing to help convey key points about the product or service in a way that will best resonate with community members. Knowing the community’s interests, motivations and demographic info can help in a host of ways, from refining value propositions to crafting copy.
When it comes to social media, a community manager at an early-stage fintech startup might man public channels until the company has grown enough to bring on dedicated social hire. They might also work closely with a full-time social media manager to create contests, curate community content or set the strategy that keeps current users engaged in dedicated, off-product social channels.
What’s the value of community for a fintech company?
Like in any industry, the value of a community for a fintech company is business growth. This comes from two things: retaining current users and customers long-term and using community-focused efforts to help acquire new users.
Because it’s said to statistically cost at least 5x more to acquire a new customer than keep a current one, a community manager’s work to engage customers that a fintech company already has contributes directly to the bottom line. When churn rate is reduced because people have a great experience, are loyal to the brand and service and stick around for an extended period of time, the company saves money. In fact, according to Bain & Co., a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by a whopping 75%.
Community-focused acquisition efforts that take place at financial tech companies are much like those in other industries and stem from tried and true basics. These include delighting community members so they’ll share the product or service with their network through word of mouth marketing, as well as by using community insight and knowledge to guide acquisition strategies and devise clever tactics that inspire people to try whatever the company has to offer.
Do you work in community at a financial tech company? Tell us where your community lives and what you do in your role in the comments below.