Published on

Published in: Business
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide


  1. 1. World Class CommunitiesThe Characteristics of Community ExcellenceRob Howard & Cecilia Edwards, Telligent 2011
  2. 2. Table of ContentsBuilding World Class Communities 1 Executive Summary 1 What is a community? 2 Social is the new normal 2 Social technology doesn’t equal community 5 The definition of community is regular interaction, a common objective, and relationships 6 Social media facilitates relationships; community has an objective 7 Online communities are part of the social ecosystem 7 Criteria for World Class Communities 10 Company-owned communities 10 Relationship-oriented 10 Active membership 10 Planned sustainability 10 Characteristics of World Class Communities 11 Identifiable business objectives 11 An emphasis on being personal 12 A culture of belonging 13 Major source of relevant content 14 Leverage the wisdom of the crowd 15 Influential members are highlighted 16 Reward with pixels 16 Establish and enforce guidelines 17 Membership has its privileges 18 How to Become a World Class Community 19 Back to basics 19 Think big, start small 19 Performance-based metrics 20 Be visible and engaged 20 Constantly evolve 21 Conclusion 22
  3. 3. Building World Class Communities Executive Summary There is a revolution happening right now. It’s name is social networking. Not since the emergence of email has the business world experienced such a dramatic shift. To stay on top of the trend, organizations are investing aggressively in tools, people, and processes. This includes social software that will help these organizations share and manage information socially with customers, partners and employees. Gartner predicts, “The worldwide market for enterprise social software will top $769 million in 2011, up 15.7 percent from the $664 million spent in 2010.”1 Businesses are building and launching a myriad of online communities. These community investments span from launching proprietary corporate communities to investing in consumer social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. All of this is in an effort to reach new audiences and sell more products and services. “Our end goal is to have However, littered along this changing landscape are numerous ghost towns — a world class commu- communities that have failed due to lack of participation, too much control, or lack of nity filled with passion- response to users’ changing needs. ate and engaged users. Users willing to discuss Why is it that some communities prosper while others wither and die? Is the creation not just the positives, of a great online community simply luck? Should businesses simply throw money at community technology, features and functionality, and then simply sit back and watch but the areas we need to it grow? Or is there a more precise and predictable process that any organization can improve and then help us be guided through? collaboratively make those improvements. Much research and analysis has been done to identify leading communities; these Once we have that type leading communities are widely agreed upon. However, little research has yet been of user base, our performed to identify what causes one community to succeed and another to fail — opportunities with the and more importantly, what makes a community “world class”. community expand immensely.” Telligent World Class Communities Survey Participant 1. Predicts 2011: CRM Enters a Three-Year Shake-Up, Gartner, November, 2010 Building World Class Communities 111-07-01
  4. 4. World class communities are those which harness the knowledge and passion of their audiences to improve customers’ brand perception, and create measurable business results. The purpose of this white paper is to breakdown what makes a community world class and how those attributes can be duplicated. What is a community? An online community is a website or part of a website that is typically owned by a business or organization. It makes use of social software technologies — blogs, forums, user profiles — to enable interaction between people who have a shared interest in the objective. The community has a specific purpose or objective that the organization and the audience together desire to accomplish. Social is the new normal Social has become the new “normal” for day-to-day communication. More importantly, it is the new measure for how important decisions are made. Harvard Business Review called social, “the most significant business development of 2010” that is “enabling business leaders to regain trust and credibility lost over the last 10 years.”2 Social networks like Facebook have become part of our daily routine. Its more than 500 million users spend approximately 700 billion minutes on the site every month.3 Telligent conducted a World Class Communities survey and found that 63 percent of the participants had a corporate Facebook account and 78 percent had a corporate Twitter account. 2. How Social Networking Has Changed Business, Bill George, Harvard Business Review, December 23, 2010 3. Facebook worldwide usage statistics, December, 2010 Building World Class Communities 211-07-01
  5. 5. Current deployments of social media or communities Response Percent Twitter Account 78.0% Facebook Account 63.4% YouTube Account 58.5% Business-to-business Community 43.9% Customer Support Community 43.9% Association Member-to-member Community 36.6% Interactive Marketing Community 24.4% Social networks are part of our daily routine. This commitment to social is further validated by research conducted with Forrester which analyzed spending patterns for social investments. “Social media spending is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 34% over the next four years.“4 Organizations that ignore Forrester found that “86% of interactive marketers plan to increase their spending social technology as part on social media over the next four years…engaging and managing a community of of the new normal risk consumers is a top priority.”5 missing out on a major market opportunity and U.S. drug manufacturers, for example, realize the importance of social as a channel will have to spend sig- to their customers. They have been excluded from full engagement because of the requirement to communicate the fine print of the risks associated with particular drugs. nificantly to catch up to They have recently, however, been pressing the U.S.F.D.A. for legislation to enable the competition. them to advertise in social networks and thus more fully engage with their customers the way the other industries can.6 4. Midyear Planning, Forrester Research, July 29, 2010 5. Community Management Checklist, Forrester Research, June 29, 2010 6. As Drug Marketers Embrace Social Media, FDA Mulls New Rules, National Public Radio, August 12, 2010 Building World Class Communities 311-07-01
  6. 6. Social forms of communication are also present inside of companies. Businesses recognize the value of creating communities within their organization. Andrew McAfee coined the term “enterprise 2.0” to describe how businesses use social technologies to more efficiently manage the collaboration that takes place day-to-day within the business. Why do businesses care about bringing social technologies into the enterprise? IDC estimates that upwards of 30 percent of employees’ time is focused on finding the data they need to accomplish a task, and that another 15-25 percent is spent on non-productive information-related activities instead of asking colleagues for help.7 Social technologies are aimed at significantly reducing this non-productive time. In Telligent’s World Class Communities survey, respondents who deployed enterprise 2.0 communities confirms this observation: Greatest Benefit of Enterprise 2.0 (Employee Communities) 2.4% 2.4% Solving business problems through collaboration Connecting employees to strengthen the companys culture 19.5% Engaging employees to drive innovation Understanding the needs and 56.1% 14.6% wants of employees Identifying experts within the organization 2.4% Communicating corporate messages quickly and effectively There are numerous business benefits to internal communities. 7. The High Cost of Not Finding Information, IDC, 2001 Building World Class Communities 411-07-01
  7. 7. Social technology doesn’t equal community Businesses have not hesitated in responding to the new social wave as evidenced by the current and predicted budgets allocated to social spending. Technology plays a very important role in facilitating a community, but solely as an enabler. A clear set of technology norms are emerging for everyone due to the widespread adoption of social networks – predominately Facebook. For example, they expect modern and robust forums for support, blogs for learning about new insights directly from the business, and comments, ratings, and reviews. In Telligent’s World Class Communities survey, 45 percent of the participants indicated that technology was very important in terms of capabilities and ranked it third after ease of use and search tools. Importance of Community Capabilities 163 Search tools “Engagement is what 123 Ease of use makes a community Richness of community great, but the tools/ 121 technologies (wikis, blogs, forums, etc.) platform need to at least 80 Rich user profiles not be a hindrance, but at best, facilitate, and Branding/look-and-feel expand users’ participa- 74 of the community tion.” 50 75 100 125 150 175 Relevance Points Telligent World Class Communities The most important community capability is usability. Survey Participant Building World Class Communities 511-07-01
  8. 8. The definition of community is regular interaction, a common objective, and relationships Online communities form when the technology facilitates regular interaction around a common cause. For example, today people expect and desire to troubleshoot problems themselves rather than contact a help center via the phone. Most consumers regularly — often daily — use Google or other search engines to seek out information for particular problems they encounter. “Where is a good place to eat near here?” “What kind of hybrid car should I buy?” “What do people similar to me recommend that I read?” It is the dialog that occurs within the pages found by Google that matters most to our While search technology decision making process. People trust search engines to narrow the information they is great, the simple ques- need to look at, but decisions are made based on what peers say. tion of, “What is the best Consumers want to interact with peers and friends to learn what recommendations laptop?” yields nearly they have. Research from the Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey shows that 500,000 results in Google. 90 percent of consumers trust peer recommendations.8 Modern consumer search engines recognize this. Google includes information about discussions within search results to help you quickly see how many people have responded on a given topic. In an interesting side note, Facebook has taken an increasing portion of this search market space from Google in the last few years. Your customers are talk- Interactions can be both positive and negative ing about you. Ignore In 1983, TARP Worldwide, a customer experience agency, famously published a them at your own peril. study which stated that one disgruntled client speaks with an average of 10 clients.9 Today in the United States, there are upwards of 3.5 billion brand-related conversations happening every day, and social media enables people to move these conversations online. According to more recent research by TARP Worldwide, one unhappy client who escalates their issue to management represents 50 clients, on average, who either complain locally or don’t complain at all. And taken further, one escalated complaint is spread to over 1,300 people via word-of-mouth.10 1 unhappy customer ex- perience = 50 customers and 1,300 conversations 8. Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey, 2009 9. The Bottom Line Benefits of Consumer Education, Atlanta, GA: Coca Cola. Inc., TARP, 1983 10. TARP Worldwide Research, 2008 Building World Class Communities 611-07-01
  9. 9. Social Network Online Community Primary Purpose Business Relationships Objectives Primary Enabler The purposes of social networks and online communities are different. Social media facilitates relationships; community has an objective As stated earlier, social networks and communities are very different. In the illustration above the primary purposes and enablers of both social networks and communities are shown. A social network’s primary purpose is creating and fostering relationships, and the primary enabler is common activities. For example, Facebook enables people to connect with one another, but the relationships that are created typically have commonality between activities: school, work, sports, etc. Contrast this with a community, whose primary purpose is a business objective (e.g., product support.) The enabler for a community is the relationships that form to meet business goals. For example, a community like Psion Teklogix’s provides support to customers, but the enabler is the relationships that form between customers, prospects, partners, and experts as they ask and answer questions. Online communities are part of the social ecosystem Does this mean that a business should not have a social network, but instead only have a community? No. World class communities recognize that social media is a new channel for engaging customers; and that social networks complement communities via sourcing members, providing a holistic view of social interaction in one central place. The primary purpose of a social network is social — to facilitate relationships between people who share common interests — while a community exists to solve a specific business problem through relationships. Building World Class Communities 711-07-01
  10. 10. Businesses must understand that their audiences need a social ecosystem that is Social fans are an asset comprised of both consumer-facing social networks as well as company-owned that you can build with a communities. campaign and then tap Social media is providing marketers greater reach for less money. According to a into again in the future 2010 survey sponsored by the AMA, within one year, social media is expected to be as long as they remain 10 percent of all marketing budgets and 18 percent in five years.11 engaged with your brand. The Social Ecosystem Forums Participating Wikis Blogs Listening, establishing reputation Managed Listening, supporting, building reputation, marketing External Communities Owned Closed Network Listening, supporting, building relationships, collaborating Example: customer communities Internal Communities Example: channels, members Example: Intranets, communities of practice World Class Communities Understand what your strategy is at each layer of the Social Ecosystem. Your online community is only one aspect. 11. The CMO Survey Highlights and Insights, Christine Moorman and T. Austin Finch,, August 2010 Building World Class Communities 811-07-01
  11. 11. Telligent’s early research, documented in Mashable, identifies three types of communities in the social universe that work together for businesses as an ecosystem.12 Participating These are communities started and managed by individuals or groups of users, typically on consumer-facing social networking sites, but sometimes also with proprietary software. Participating communities include Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. An example here would be a fan site for Microsoft’s Xbox or an independent Porsche enthusiast group. Typically, the organization whose products or services are the topic of discussion can participate, but has no authority over or access to the data created within the community. Managed These are communities started and managed by the organization, but run on consumer-facing social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Examples here include the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s Facebook page, Starbucks’ Flickr group pool, or Dell’s presence on Twitter. The organization is responsible for running and managing the community, but does not necessarily benefit from the rich data and user profiles created within the community. Typically, the facilitator of the community (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) benefits the most from the underlying data. Company-Owned These are communities owned and managed by a company typically running commercial or open source community and enterprise collaboration software. Examples include the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s community website, Starbucks’ blog, or Dell’s support community. The organization is responsible for running and managing the community and benefits from rich data and user profiles created within that community. These include private B2B and internal employee- targeted communities. 12. How Businesses can Harness the Power of Online Communities, Rob Howard, Mashable, April 2010 Building World Class Communities 911-07-01
  12. 12. Criteria for World Class Communities In the evaluation of world class communities, Telligent considered only those communities that met the following criteria: “...many communities that I find valuable (even Company-owned communities the communities that There are many great communities that have been started and grown to world class appear on discussions/ status through grass root efforts, such as Wikipedia. Some open-source software communities, such as Linux, are great examples of well-disciplined, engaged, comments in blogs), but cohesive communities. In fact, many of these communities are the pioneers in this none are outstanding. space since widespread enterprise communities are less than a decade old. While None make me stop and there is much to learn from these communities, their challenges and objectives are say, this is the way to do different from those of businesses, so we chose to focus only on company-owned communities — external and internal. things.” Telligent World Class Communities Relationship-oriented Survey Participant As described earlier, community is not synonymous with engagement. While community cannot take place without engagement, engagement can certainly take place without community. Many support forums fall into this category. Engagement is taking place in the form of asking questions and getting answers. There is even a bit of reputation that can be developed by the most frequent answerers. But that tends to be where the engagement ends (i.e. once a problem is solved, the engagement is over). Thus, no relationship is formed. World class communities must go beyond limited engagement to create a sense of belonging and relationship. “ class goals Active membership are still further out than While great design is important, people and engagement are imperative to all most have accomplished communities. There are many aspiring communities full of cool features, impressive bells and whistles, and award worthy design, but lacking an audience. So while ease to date.” of use and user interface can certainly enable communities, they were not a major Telligent World Class Communities focus for this report. Visitors, members, and engagement are what matter most. Survey Participant Planned sustainability Many communities are formed around specific campaigns — e.g. political campaigns or product launches — and are very successful. For Telligent, the real test of whether these communities are world class is their staying power. Is there a way to keep the visitors coming and keep the members engaged when the original campaigns end? While tactics used for communities around campaigns are interesting and worthy of being leveraged in world class communities, we looked more broadly at what it takes to remain sustainable. Building World Class Communities 1011-07-01
  13. 13. Characteristics of World Class Communities In the survey conducted for this research, Dell, Starbucks, Intuit, and Apple were identified by a few respondents as leaders to be emulated. Most respondents, however, could not provide an example of a world class community. Telligent believes that while true leaders exist, it may be too early to declare that anyone has reached world class status on all fronts. Though no current communities have achieved a world class standard, Telligent has identified nine characteristics that if met would merit “world class” status. 1. Identifiable business objectives World class communities have balanced objectives: the company is meeting their business goals and the members are using the community to address their needs (support, product information, word-of-mouth recommendations, employee networking, etc.). As stated earlier, one of the distinguishing characteristics of a community versus a social network is that the community has a business objective enabled through the member-to-member relationships. Examples of business objectives include: World class communi- Support - This is the most common use case for external-facing communities. The ties can execute multiple community is used to enable crowdsourced support for a company’s product or strategies simultane- service. Example communities: Dell, Microsoft XBox, American Express ously, but must start with a clear focus. Interactive marketing - Branded communities are not new. What is new is the use of communities to capture the new consumer behavior: socializing the buying process using the voice of the customers to help sell and recommend products. Example communities: Electronic Arts, Starbucks, Cadbury Networking - Networking communities are most often used for B2B or employee- driven communities. The objective within a networking community is to tap into the unstructured people-driven knowledge streams that were previously inaccessible. Example communities: US Department of Defense (APAN), Psion Teklogix, Procter & Gamble Employee collaboration - Research conducted by IDC identified that for an enterprise to “gain the greatest leverage from its ‘information assets,’ knowledge workers must be able to share and reuse information regardless of format or location.”13 Employee collaboration through social technologies is based on the new normal behavior pattern of how consumers locate, use, and manage information. Example communities: Procter & Gamble, Texas Instruments, Intel 13. The High Cost of Not Finding Information, IDC, 2001 Building World Class Communities 1111-07-01
  14. 14. Examples of member needs include: Find answers to questions - The most common landing page for users of the community is the page they were directed to by a search system — either internal or external. The majority of people within the community will always be consumers: those looking for solutions to problems or answers to questions. Make decisions based on the experience of peers - Amazon is the showcase for enabling people within the community to learn and make buying decisions based on the shared experience of peers. Other examples include popular weight-loss sites that enable community members to discuss their results with one another. Find people that have knowledge needed to complete a task - This is a common use case internally. Employees want to leverage the power of the community to understand who within the organization has the information needed to complete a given task. Many organizations realize that the new competitive advantage is how quickly employees can use information to make decisions. Procter & Gamble (P&G) is a multinational company with 138,000 employees in 160- plus countries that faces “...countless opportunities — and as many hurdles — for P&G to connect ideas and expertise.”14 According to Michael Fulton, P&G’s enterprise architecture capability manager, “Until now, wikis, blogs, podcasts — they felt like the place for the techno-elite. This [social] platform makes it easy for everyone to participate.” Using a new internal community named PeopleConnect, a 150-person, geographically disbursed work group came together in two months rather than in six to 12. “This platform drove speed, transparency and a desire to engage with the change previously unseen at P&G,” Fulton said. 2. An emphasis on being personal World class communities are personal and emphasize connecting members with real Businesses must realize people within the business. that social is a revolution in both how World class communities foster real dialog and are authentic. It is critically important customers are serviced that the business does not attempt to falsify activity to inflate what appears to be active participation (i.e., impersonating members and asking questions or impersonating and how they experience customers and answering questions). Authenticity is critical. the brand. In 2009, a global computer hardware manufacturer was caught paying for positive reviews of its products on Amazon. Not only were good reviews being paid for, these same reviewers — many of whom never used the products — were also asked to classify negative reviews as “not helpful”. 14. How Procter & Gamble Got Employees to Use Social Networking at Work, Rick Swanborg, CIO, August 24, 2009 Building World Class Communities 1211-07-01
  15. 15. Part of being personal and real is encouraging community participants to fully complete their profiles with photos and additional profile details that enable the community to learn about them. This is especially important for the community manager. Members want to get to know (and befriend) the community manager. Within world class communities, members will see the community manager as the face of the brand. Communities thrive on personal connections. Lionel Menchaca, Dell’s Chief Blogger Rather than presenting filtered information through a PR agency, businesses such as Dell enable passionate individuals who are intimately familiar with the company’s products and services to directly represent the brand. When you encourage and foster participation from the company, you strengthen the brand with the customers. In fact, over time you’ll see customers become brand champions. 3. A culture of belonging World class communities foster a culture of collaboration and engagement. New members are welcomed into the community with clear and concise directions for how to participate, how to set up their profile, where to ask questions, and how to find information. Relationships are a key ingredient to success. Communities should enable automatic friending, where new members are automatically connected with a designated person within the community, such as the community manager. This way, new members immediately have a starting point for forming relationships. Building World Class Communities 1311-07-01
  16. 16. Forming relationships early is critical, unlike social networks where the primary objective is the relationship. Within a community the relationship is the enabler. Communities that promote relationships and networking within the community see a much higher return rate. Altimeter stated that, “while no one yet has the data to determine direct cause and effect, what we do find is a financial correlation between those who are deeply engaged and those who outperform their peers.”15 4. Major source of relevant content World class communities focus on creating relevant and timely content that cannot be found elsewhere. Telligent’s research into world class communities validated that people who use communities place a high amount of value on the content: finding answers to questions quickly and identifying relevant information were ranked as extremely important. Typical Community Uses Nice To Extremely Rating Not Needed Have Important Important Average Finding answers quickly 0.0% (0) 0.0% (0) 24.4% (10) 75.6% (31) 3.76 Identifying relavent information 0.0% (0) 4.9% (2) 39.0% (16) 56.1% (23) 3.51 Identifying experts and/or influential people 2.5% (1) 7.5% (3) 35.0% (14) 55.0% (22) 3.43 Forming relationships with other 0.0% (0) 12.5% (5) 55.0% (22) 32.5% (13) 3.20 community members Contributing content like FAQs, recommendations, reviews, 2.4% (1) 14.6% (6) 58.5% (24) 24.4% (10) 3.05 and opinions Influencing other 4.9% (2) 22.0% (9) 48.8% (20) 24.4% (10) 2.93 community members Receiving recognition for participation 2.5% (1) 27.5% (11) 47.5% (19) 22.5% (9) 2.90 Sharing content across social media channels (e.g. Facebook, 7.3% (3) 41.5% (17) 31.7% (13) 19.5% (8) 2.63 LinkedIn, Twitter) Content searching is a community driver. 15. The world’s most valuable brands. Who’s most engaged, Altimeter, July 2009 Building World Class Communities 1411-07-01
  17. 17. When creating the first developer community for Microsoft’s ASP.NET product in 2001, the number one emphasis was creating unique content that could not be found elsewhere. Conference materials, special articles, sample code, and even blogs written by the ASP.NET team members provided a plethora of unique content to draw developers into the community. It was only later that forums were added to enable those members to interact with each other. The majority of people who visit a community have a specific need or problem they wish to solve. The unique content found in a community is the starting point for building longer-term engagement between a member and the company. “If you want to make a 5. Leverage the wisdom of the crowd correct decision or solve a problem, large World class communities harness the essence of the wisdom of crowds. The term groups of people are “crowdsourcing” was coined by Jeff Howe in 2006 to describe this.16 smarter than a few Experts don’t know everything, and a company cannot know everything about their experts.” own products and services. The people who join communities have a valuable set James Surowiecki, author, Wisdom of opinions, experiences, ideas, and insight that other members and companies can of Crowds benefit from. When someone asks a question about a product, world class communities will often wait to allow someone from the community a chance to answer before they jump in as a way to encourage “crowd” participation. They even pose product questions themselves that the community would be better equipped to answer than their experts. Ideation is social technology that enables participants to suggest and vote on ideas. It is increasingly more visible in world class communities to enable the product development process. In addition to polls and surveys, communities like My Starbucks Idea are asking for input on ideas, allowing the community to express their collective opinions, and then sharing the results. What takes this practice to a world class level is that Starbucks holds itself accountable to the community and reports on what was done with each idea presented — whether it was adopted or not. Very little guessing needs to be done when a company is able to get the direct input from the community first-hand on how the products are used, issues that arise, resolutions to those issues, and preference for new products. This is the value of crowdsourcing. 16. Crowdsourcing: The Next Big Thing In Social Networking, Robert Bravery, Business Computing World, November 24, 2010 Building World Class Communities 1511-07-01
  18. 18. 6. Influential members are highlighted World class communities know who the influencers for their products are. And once influencers have been identified, businesses reinforce who the influencers are by publicly identifying them within the community. An influencer in the context of online communities is a person within a community that can influence behavior of other members of the community. People read what they write, comment on their contributions, follow their lead on behavior, and generally take their recommendations. This influence can be for purchasing decisions, but it can also be information decisions. And, an important distinction that is often overlooked: influencers can be both positive and negative. Positive influence can motivate a consumer to make a buying decision or use a specific document for decision making. However, negative influence has the opposite effect of influencing a decision not to purchase. Within communities, positive influence and negative influence can be measured. The Why is identifying positive influencers can then be highlighted by the organization. influencers important? People are three times Word-of-mouth is the primary factor behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchase more likely to trust peers decisions.18 When making decisions, people want to know who the experts are and whose opinions they should listen to. over advertising.17 World class communities encourage the formation of influencers, highlight their contributions within the community, and work with them to affect the culture. 7. Reward with “pixels” World class communities showcase members of the community and reward them for participation, even those who are not considered influential. This doesn’t necessarily need to be monetary acknowledgment either. Instead, world class communities adopt the “pixels vs. pennies” approach, using badges and other digital tools to call out different participant levels. 17. Social Networking Sites: Defining Advertising Opportunities in a Competitive Landscape, Jupiter Research, March 2007 18. A new way to measure word-of-mouth marketing, McKinsey Quarterly, April 2010 Building World Class Communities 1611-07-01
  19. 19. One company that has demonstrated this in a world class fashion is GameStop. is the digital publication of GameInformer, a monthly magazine published by GameStop. is full of tips, reviews, and most importantly, perspective from the avid gamers who participate there daily. recently won a Webby award for its community. What makes unique is its extensive use of reputation within the community to enable gamers to unlock new capabilities as their reputation and trust level increases. In other words, showcases and acknowledges members by recognizing their contributions and continuously promoting their contributions. 8. Establish and enforce guidelines World class communities publish a set of community participation guidelines (e.g., what is considered acceptable behavior) and enforce them. The guidelines exist to ensure that bullies and trolls — people who simply like to argue for the sake of arguing — are properly moderated within the community. Helpful guidelines for participation should not be overly complicated but address the following: • Represent yourself accurately - no impersonation of other people. • Respect the rights of others, including copyrights, personal information, etc. • No harassment or harmful behavior. • Only include content that is relevant to the community. World class communities also make it clear what will happen if the rules are violated. These guidelines are not used, however, to remove negative feedback or criticism of the company. World class community owners recognize that most people only criticize when they feel compelled to make their experience better. Therefore, they encourage authentic feedback and engage with community members on ways to improve. Highly successful communities will eventually become self-policing. Members, rather than the community manager, will identify content that requires moderation and take appropriate actions. However, it is highly suggested that the software running the community also supports some manner of auditing to ensure there is accountability for all actions. Building World Class Communities 1711-07-01
  20. 20. 9. Membership has its privileges For communities to have long-term sustainability, members must feel a sense of belonging and even exclusivity. Members of a community want to feel as though they have the inside scoop on what is happening at the company and that their membership provides them access to things they cannot get elsewhere. This exclusivity is created in many ways: • Announcements made in the community prior to them being made “publicly” • Product/service pricing specials available only to community members • Reports, articles and other information that is available only in the community • Priority access to key company employees • Participation in member-only beta programs • Ability to provide product feedback • Engagement in ideation for new products and product improvement These are things that make it worth joining a community and remaining an active member. When people can get things in the community they are not able to get elsewhere, their level of commitment and engagement in the community increases. Building World Class Communities 1811-07-01
  21. 21. How to Become a World Class Community Not every community will become world class. It is important to recognize that attaining world class stature requires many reviews of community and community strategy, a clear focus on engagement, and full support of the organization. Back to basics While this document outlines a set of characteristics important to world class communities, it is often in the basics where we see communities fail. First, ensure that there are easy ways to engage that make sense for what you are trying to accomplish in a community. For example, if you are looking to start discussions or allow people to ask and answer questions, make sure forums are prominent on your site. Second, if you have a clear set of experts, either within your company or your community, enable blogging, where longer pieces can be crafted and responses provided by others. Failure most often occurs in executing the basics. Third, media galleries are a must if you want members to share photos and videos. Fourth, easy ways of engagement, such as commenting, rating, and liking are great ways to draw in members. Finally, great profiles and a way for members to engage with each other are a must. These are the enablers in a relationship — a key factor in establishing a sense of community. Think big, start small When launching — or revamping — a community, it is helpful to have an idea of where you might ultimately like to take the community. Therefore, spend some time thinking about what you would really like to get out of your investment of money and time. Establish a vision for how it could impact the way your company does business and interacts with customers, partners, and employees. Some helpful questions to consider are: • Who are your members? • How do they like to engage? • What pains or problems can potentially be addressed in the community? Once you have your initial plan in place, choose a much smaller starting place. This could mean fewer elements, fewer target audiences, or a combination of both. You could start with a question-and-answer forum about your products and add blogs later. You could pick a small group of customers to work with and expand based upon their feedback and experience. You could launch a pilot for one of your products with a sampling of customers. Building World Class Communities 1911-07-01
  22. 22. Where you start should be primarily determined by your company’s experience level, culture, structure, and capacity. There is no right answer for everybody. Performance-based metrics Communities that arrive at world class status will share many of the same characteristics, including having clear measurements for how they define success. Since this will evolve over time with the life of your community and clearer business objectives, the list of metrics does not need to be long or complicated. “What gets measured There are three basic forms of measurement to consider: gets managed.” Peter Drucker • Basic traffic-related measurements such as page views, visits, and time on site. These provide a sense of whether enough people are coming to the site. No matter how well designed, a community still requires visits to exist. • Engagement measures such as number of connections/friends, comments, replies, and posts. These let you know that people are moving from just consuming information — which can be done on a traditional website — to engaging with each other. • Qualitative feedback from polls, surveys, and sentiment analysis. If you are engaged regularly in your community, you will have likely established a culture where your members are more than happy to tell you exactly what they think and to provide suggestions for improvement. Be visible and engaged One of the biggest mistakes of managing communities is called “launched and done.” Businesses will plan, select a strategy, and then successfully launch a community only to leave it under-resourced. There must be a well-known, readily identifiable community manager. The primary areas of focus for your community manager should be demonstrating the desired behaviors you would like to see your community members emulate; putting a face and personality on the community instead of merely a company brand; evangelizing the community needs to the company and the company brand to the community; and enforcing the rules of the community to prevent unwanted conduct. Building World Class Communities 2011-07-01
  23. 23. Constantly evolve World class communities constantly adapt the community to the needs of the members. They provide timely and relevant information, address new and different ideas, adjust to the evolving mix of members, and make room for the influence of leaders. Communities have their own life cycle. The management of the community must match the prevalent need in each phase. Newer communities require guidance, to establish a culture and to help the members to get to know each other. Established communities need to support the contributions of emerging leaders. Mature communities need to be reinvigorated and fresh. Building World Class Communities 2111-07-01
  24. 24. Conclusion While there are numerous impressive and effective communities today, according to our criteria, no single community has yet reached the status of “world class”. Many of the characteristics that define world class communities seem obvious. However, companies deploying communities still put the majority of emphasis on technology and do not make the necessary long-term investments to properly grow their community. The opportunity for a distinct market advantage exists for companies that put community at the core of how they work with their customers and employees. It cannot be a “bolt-on” solution. To truly become world class, leaders will invest not only in the technology to run the community, but the people and resources to support the community. The community must be an integral part of the entire experience and culture of the organization. Businesses that are on the path to world class status have a common characteristic: constantly measuring and improving. Leaders have begun to directly link, in a measureable way, community activities to business behaviors. Whether it’s a change in consumer behavior – one company has reported a link in increased shopping cart size to community participation – or the effectiveness of employees managing information, the measurements need to be readily available. Today’s business is defined by driving down costs and maximizing employee productivity. Companies that integrate social technologies into the DNA of how their businesses operate will write the future. Enabling faster and better decisions, while dealing with more information than ever before, will be the competitive advantage of business 2.0. Rob Howard is the founder and CTO of Telligent. He is the vision behind the company’s product development and innovation and is known throughout the industry as an authority in social community and collaboration software. Cecilia Edwards is the senior director of strategy for Telligent. She uses her vast experience in corporate strategy to help Telligent customers drive the most value out of their online communities. About Telligent Telligent powers social communities for more than 3,000 companies worldwide. World class brands, including Dell, Microsoft, Electronic Arts and Reader’s Digest, trust Telligent’s enterprise-grade social community suite to connect and engage with customers, prospects, partners and employees. For more information, visit Building World Class Communities 2211-07-01