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Leader Networks Big List of B2B Online Community Trends 2016

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The Big List of B2B Online Customer Communities is the most comprehensive list of online B2B customer communities in the world.
It includes big companies, small companies, foundations, and non-profits. We first created The Big List in 2011, featuring 94 communities …and the findings went viral. In 2014, we initiated the process again and the list grew to 126. For the 2016 edition, we are pleased to note that identifying new communities is no longer a challenge! In fact, online communities are now a mainstay of competitive advantage for many B2B firms. So, rather than create a database this year, we analyzed the list of 126 to see how they have changed over time.

Published in: Internet

Leader Networks Big List of B2B Online Community Trends 2016

  1. 1. www.leadernetworks.com ©2016 Leader Networks. All rights reserved.www.leadernetworks.com THE BIG LIST 2016 Your Comprehensive Guide to B2B Community Trends
  2. 2. www.leadernetworks.com ©2016 Leader Networks. All rights reserved. About This Study In the early to mid 2000’s B2B online communities were just starting to emerge. They were vibrant exciting places where customers and partners came together to learn from each other and better understand complex purchase decisions and get support. And, most of them were Leader Network’s clients! • Fast forward to 2011 when our team created a list of the largest, most robust B2B online communities. We named it The Big List of B2B Online Communities. 94 communities were featured…and the findings went viral. • In 2014, we initiated the process again and the list grew to 126 -retaining those that continued to thrive and adding new communities that were dynamic, reputable and engaging. The result was the largest go-to list available anywhere. • For the 2016 edition, we are pleased to note that identifying new communities is no longer a challenge! Instead, they are a mainstay of competitive advantage for many B2B firms. So, rather than create a database this year we analyzed the list of 126 to see how they have changed over time. These are our findings…
  3. 3. www.leadernetworks.com ©2016 Leader Networks. All rights reserved. Key Trends • Communities are driving competitive advantage for many B2B firms. The fact that more than 40% of the communities that made the Big List 2016 are thriving supports our long held observation that a solid foundational strategy well executed is a winning combination. • Successful communities spawn more communities. 11% of communities from The Big List have proliferated into multiple communities under the same brand in the past two years. What was once a single, stand-alone community has become a portfolio of multiple, connected communities that are featured on the organization’s web site. – This suggests that the company’s initial foray into communities was so successful they were inspired to create more, and differentiate them. Federated communities were mainly found in large enterprises. – Many are operated under a single online community Center Of Excellence with shared success measured, standardized best practices, consistent content and professional facilitation teams.
  4. 4. www.leadernetworks.com ©2016 Leader Networks. All rights reserved. Key Trends II • Many of the less successful communities are shifting to focus on content creation and publication. Notably, the communities with member-generated content had greater engagement than those that used it as a marketing channel. • A new B2B community business model is emerging. Among the independently run communities (not branded by a single organization) many include corporate sponsors for specific forums. • Inconsistent care makes for an incomplete customer journey. Our research shows that 35% of communities are supported, but unevenly. • Abandoned communities are a big liability. Nearly 10% of the online communities from the Big List are no longer carefully managed or visibly updated. • Gating may promote customer intimacy. 5% of the B2B communities on The Big List have changed their community model from open to the public to private – creating members’ only communities that require approval to join.
  5. 5. www.leadernetworks.com ©2016 Leader Networks. All rights reserved. The Big List of B2B Online Communities 2016 Benchmark How the communities on The Big List have evolved…. Alive & Thriving Supported but uneven Rolled into federated model Abandoned or gone 41% 35% 11% 8% Newly gated 5% 52% of the Big List Communities are excelling (active & thriving plus rolled into federated. N= 126
  6. 6. www.leadernetworks.com ©2016 Leader Networks. All rights reserved. Active & Thriving – 41% • These communities have experienced meaningful growth. • They have active, visible facilitation by professional community managers. • Content is updated regularly and the members in the directory (when present) often shared bios and photos. • Members seem to be familiar with each other and consistently offered peer-peer support. • Take Action: These communities should seek additional opportunities to deepen their strategic alignment to impact core operations for competitive advantage.
  7. 7. www.leadernetworks.com ©2016 Leader Networks. All rights reserved. • These B2B communities still exist since last we reviewed them and it is clear they are run by their sponsor organization. • However, the level of care is not consistently present to convey a positive customer journey. • While the right elements are in place – content, information and discussions, there is evidence to suggest that they are not being nurtured and run the risk of member abandonment and reputational harm for the organization. • Take Action: They are not without hope! With a strategic intervention, they can become productive, and once again be an asset to the members and the company that launched them. Unevenly Supported – 35%
  8. 8. www.leadernetworks.com ©2016 Leader Networks. All rights reserved.©2016 Leader Networks. All rights reserved. …would your community find itself in the unevenly supported category? If yes, here are some key questions to ask yourself: Do member questions go unanswered on the community? When was the last time an editorial calendar was followed to refresh content? Is the community adequately staffed and respected internally? How long would it take your organization to notice the community had a technical problem?
  9. 9. www.leadernetworks.com ©2016 Leader Networks. All rights reserved. • Federated communities are usually found in larger organizations and are characterized by a variety of topical communities under a single umbrella. • These communities from the Big List experienced meaningful growth over time because they possess the scale and efficiencies to fuel best practices. • They have active, visible facilitation by professional community managers. • Content is updated regularly and the members in the directory (when present) often share bios and photos. • Members seemed to be familiar with each other and consistently offer peer-peer support. • Take Action: A Center of Excellence is recommended to ensure consistent governance, success measure and best practices are shared across all communities. Federated Model – 11%
  10. 10. www.leadernetworks.com ©2016 Leader Networks. All rights reserved. • Nearly 10% of the online communities from the Big List are no longer carefully managed or visibly updated. • Many of the communities in this category have numerous unanswered questions, spam in the forums, aged content and, in some cases, members voicing concern about their lack of support. • Unfortunately, abandoned communities are a significant liability for the brand and reputation of the organizations they are a part of. • Take Action: As customer communities are a front line experience for prospective and current customers, it is strongly recommended that brands invest in reinvigorating these communities or develop a strategic take-down plan. Abandoned – 8%
  11. 11. www.leadernetworks.com ©2016 Leader Networks. All rights reserved. • 5% of the B2B communities on the Big List have changed their community model from open to the public to private, members’- only communities that require approval to join. • Notably, many of these communities have created splash pages that actively market the business value of joining and provide information about the membership but keep the discussions and interactions behind the firewall. • This shift suggests a small but growing trend for B2B firms to seek greater customer intimacy by creating gated spaces for deeper knowledge exchange on a peer-peer and peer-company level. • Take Action: Due to this recent shift, the business and operational model should be reevaluated to ensure the community is high value to members and the sponsoring organization. Newly gated – 5%
  12. 12. www.leadernetworks.com ©2016 Leader Networks. All rights reserved. B2B Community Scorecard Would your community belong in the Active and Thriving category of this report? Is it supporting your strategic agenda? Could you be getting more value? Yes? Our Online Community Scorecard is a research-based, 70-point diagnostic that evaluates your online community’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. In just three weeks, we benchmark where you are today – and uncover opportunities to strengthen your community, ratchet up engagement, and complement your critical operational processes. TM
  13. 13. www.leadernetworks.com ©2016 Leader Networks. All rights reserved.©2016 Leader Networks. All rights reserved. ABOUT LEADER NETWORKS Leader Networks is a research and consulting firm that helps companies use digital and social technologies to gain competitive advantage. We work alongside our clients to develop digital business strategies, launch new digital products and business models, create and grow online communities, and craft social selling campaigns and operations. Our efforts pay off – by enabling organizations to better engage their customers, drive new product and service innovations, reduce costs, and boost shareholder value. Whether you’re a CMO or line-of-business-executive, you need a dedicated partner who can guide your team to make smart, data-driven decisions that lead to digital business success. That’s who we are. That’s what we do. Learn more about how we help you reach your goals.
  14. 14. www.leadernetworks.com ©2016 Leader Networks. All rights reserved. Social Business Research, Strategy & Operations Vanessa DiMauro CEO 92 Richmond Road Belmont, MA 02478 617.484.0778 vdimauro@leadernetworks.com www.leadernetworks.com ©2016 Leader Networks. All rights reserved. Digital and Social Intelligence for Competitive Advantage Connect with us! 617.484.0778 http://www.leadernetworks.com Partners@leadernetworks.com

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