This content was provided by Chris Detzel. This originally appeared at Chris’ website.
If you’re like me, support communities are probably your bread and butter. They are not always the sexy thing, but they can save a lot of money and bring in big time advocates. Over the years, I’ve built a few of them, each in a different industry but all focused on helping users with different products. Through my experience, I’ve learned that there are three critical components to building a successful support community: connecting your community strategy to the business strategy, creating a robust content strategy, and developing an engagement strategy.
It’s essential to connect your community strategy to the business strategy. As a Community Leader, a big component of your role is cost savings. By deflecting and reducing customer support cases, your organization can save significant amounts of money. But it’s also important to keep in mind the overall goals of the business, such as increasing sales or expanding into new markets. By aligning your community strategy with the business strategy, you can ensure that you’re delivering value to the organization as a whole.
Connecting your community strategy to the business strategy is a critical component of building a successful support community. It is essential to understand the organization’s overall goals and how your community can help achieve them.
One of the most significant benefits of a support community is cost savings. By deflecting and reducing support cases, your organization can save significant amounts of money. For example, if users can find answers to their questions in the community, they won’t need to contact support agents for help. This can reduce the workload for support agents and ultimately save the organization money.
One big, but hard strategy to think about is connecting your business systems together. No, not int an all in one platform, but things like search. At Reltio, we have a documentation site, an online community, a support site and an academy. Today what we did is was integrate search into each self-service digital site. This allows the users to get information they need quickly whether they are on community, docs or our support digital sites.
But it’s not just about cost savings. A support community can also help the organization achieve other goals, such as increasing sales, improving customer satisfaction, or expanding into new markets. By connecting your community strategy to the business strategy, you can ensure that you’re delivering value to the organization as a whole.
For example, let’s say the organization’s goal is to increase sales of a particular product. As a support community manager, you could create content that highlights the benefits of the product and addresses common questions or concerns. You could also create a user group for customers who use the product, allowing them to share tips and best practices with each other. By doing so, you’re not only providing helpful information to users but also driving sales of the product.
In my experience, connecting the community strategy to the business strategy is not always straightforward. It requires a deep understanding of the organization’s goals and how your community can help achieve them. But once you have that understanding, you can create a support community that delivers real value to the organization and its customers.
A robust content strategy is also crucial to building a successful support community. Users will only engage with a community if they find the content valuable and informative. That’s why I always make sure to create high-quality, helpful content that addresses common customer questions and concerns. And let’s not forget about SEO! Creating a robust content strategy is a critical component of building a successful support community. You want to ensure that there is good content that users are interested in ready to go, and that it is being shared in a variety of formats.
One way to deliver content is through webinars. Hosting webinars on topics related to your product or service can help educate your users and address common questions or concerns. It also provides an opportunity to engage with your audience in real-time and answer questions on the spot.
Blogs are another great way to deliver content to your users. Blog posts can address specific questions or issues that users are experiencing and provide helpful tips and best practices. They also serve as a great way to drive traffic to your support community by optimizing them for search engines.
Seeding content that is relevant to users is another effective strategy. Sharing content from other sources, such as industry publications or thought leaders in your space, can help establish your support community as a go-to resource for your users. This also provides a way to curate content that is relevant to your audience without creating everything from scratch.
When developing your content strategy, it’s essential to have a good mix of content types and formats. Webinars, blogs, and seeded content can all work together to create a comprehensive content library that caters to your users’ needs.
One best practice is to create a content calendar to ensure that you are delivering a regular cadence of content. This also helps you to stay organized and avoid content gaps. Additionally, you can use metrics such as page views, engagement, and user feedback to optimize your content strategy over time.
Overall, a robust content strategy is key to the success of a support community. By delivering high-quality, relevant content to your users in a variety of formats, you can establish your community as a valuable resource and drive engagement.
Finally, developing an engagement strategy is key to building a thriving community. Engaging with users means responding to questions and comments, fostering conversations, and creating a sense of community among users. There are many ways to engage with users, such as hosting webinars, creating user groups, and holding events. Personally, I like to create a quarterly roadmap to show what I plan to get done each quarter. This helps me stay organized and ensure that my workload doesn’t get out of hand. Having a robust engagement strategy is crucial for building a thriving support community. Engaging your users is not only a way to keep them coming back, but it’s also an excellent way to collect feedback and understand their needs. Here are a few tactics to help you drive engagement in your support community:
- When users first visit your support community, you want to make them feel welcome. Be sure to greet new users, offer assistance, and provide clear instructions on how to navigate the community. You can also create a dedicated “Welcome” thread where users can introduce themselves and get to know each other.
- One of the best ways to drive engagement is to encourage users to contribute to the community. This can include asking them to share their experiences or tips, or even inviting them to participate in a community challenge or contest. By doing so, you’re not only getting valuable user-generated content, but you’re also building a sense of community among your users.
- When users ask questions or provide feedback, it’s essential to respond in a timely and personal manner. Make sure to address users by name, and be sure to thank them for their contributions. This personal touch can go a long way in building relationships with your users and encouraging them to stay engaged.
- Hosting live events, such as Q&A sessions or webinars, can help drive engagement by providing users with real-time interaction with your team. These events can also be a great way to get user feedback and ideas for improving your product or service.
Gamification is a powerful engagement tool that can help keep users coming back. This can include adding badges or rewards for user contributions, or even creating a points system that incentivizes users to participate.
In addition to these tactics, it’s important to create a roadmap that outlines your engagement strategy. This should include goals, milestones, and key performance indicators that you can track over time. By doing so, you can ensure that you’re continually improving and delivering value to your users.
Overall, a strong engagement strategy is crucial for building a successful support community. By creating a welcoming environment, encouraging user contributions, being responsive and personal, hosting live events, and gamifying the experience, you can drive engagement and build a strong community that delivers real value to your users.
It’s essential to make the community easy to use and navigate. Users should be able to find the information they need quickly and easily. Additionally, it’s important to create a safe space for users by establishing clear rules and guidelines for behavior and moderation.
Building a successful support community takes time and effort, but it’s worth it in the end. By focusing on the critical components of connecting the community strategy to the business strategy, creating a robust content strategy, and developing an engagement strategy, you can build a thriving support community that delivers real value to your customers.