Month: October 2016
You could mumble something about engagement, try to wing it, and hope you survive the spotlight from a senior exec.
That’s not very fun though. And it’s certainly not great for your career.
Or you could pretend to be a caged tiger just waiting for the slightest question of value to arise so you can jump all over it.
Your attitude will determine your career altitude here. If you try to avoid it, slink away from it, hope it doesn’t come…you won’t rise very far. If you become determined to definitively prove value at every opportunity, your career outlook will look very different. You don’t hide from the question, you sit in meetings hoping it will come up.
Measuring your community’s ROI is only one small part of this challenge. The numbers are useful, essential even. But they’re useless unless you know the process of communicating and establishing value with stakeholders.
Ever wondered how to get your boss on board? What to communicate to whom? And why some people are so resistant to clear value? You can begin solving that today.
Jump straight to communicating value here and take the 10 to 15 minutes to read this chapter. Not every idea will work for you but you might pick up the exact skills you need to establish value and get the support you need to do truly amazing work.
How do you have high-level, expert-quality, discussions with a large, open, audience?
You can’t. You have to choose.
Do you want expert-quality discussions or the large audience?
People don’t like to feel dumb (or like frauds).
Most people participate in discussions where they can add their experience. If they don’t have that experience, they usually won’t participate. They might ask a question or two, but they won’t participate for the long-term.
If you want to be the biggest, you might have to be the dumbest. Which is a crude way to say you might want to focus on the beginner-level discussions that everyone can participate in. You might not advance the field, but you can help a lot of people progress through it.
There is plenty of value there. Just be clear about what you’re creating.
Alternatively, you can create a tribal knowledge base featuring the contributions of top experts that might define your field. You can build key relationships. Far fewer people will help create the material, but many might read it.
Just decide which you want.
Spend a few minutes today looking at what people search for on your site (not the phrases that brought them to the site, but what they enter into the search box on your site).
Pretty much every platform lets you see questions members have asked.
- How many of these questions do you answer?
- Do you use the same terms and phrases as they do?
- Are there any trends that surprised you?
- Could you improve your resources around the most common questions?
- Are there small long-tail niches you could solve?
- Do unique groups of users ask specific questions?
You might be surprised how much useful information resides here.
You can spend your community career trapped in day to day minutia without making any progress towards your big wins.
I don’t want that to happen. Below you can find two free videos outlining the concept of big wins and what big might look like. If you need a jolt out of your daily routine, these might help.
I’m also happy to be speaking about ‘Community Big Wins’ at the 2016 HigherLogic Super Forum event in Washington DC (Nov 14-15).
Want to know what big wins look like? Watch the free videos below.
If you want to rethink what you’re working on each day, you should join Rachel Happe (The Community Roundtable), David Spinks (CMX), myself and many others.
See you there.
If you don’t have time to develop complex formulas to calculate the value of your community, we’ve created a free spreadsheet package to do this for you.
It’s accessible to each of you for free today.
This simplifies the process of calculating return, profit, and ROI into a much easier process of collecting and dropping in relevant metrics.
You can download it, duplicate it, adapt it, rip it apart and customize it entirely to your community. Have fun.
We’re nervous, excited, and proud to launch this free resource today.
This is a 40k+ word guide to help you:
- Understand the value your community creates.
- Guide you through the process of creating and calculating that value.
- Identify the specific steps to measure that value.
- Communicate that value to your stakeholders.
Establishing and proving value is the most pressing challenge we have to tackle every single day.
This guide will hopefully equip you with some tools and techniques to face down that challenge.
Not every method will work for you. But you should be able to make real progress in understanding the multitude of ways your community creates value and how to communicate that value to others.
The fate of our industry hangs upon the ability of each one of you to prove that the work we do creates a lot of value.
I hope you like it. Please share it if you can.
p.p.s. A huge thank you to SAP for their sponsorship, support, and expertise on this project.
Communication (between members) is the most important part of a community, but it’s not the only part. Don’t stop at a simple forum. Push your technology further.
There are many directions you can go in.
1) Add a blog or main news page. Write about what members are doing. Feature contributions from members. Do roundups of the sector. Highlight what’s going on. This is your local newspaper.
2) Reviews and ratings. Add ratings and reviews of the top product vendors. Let members add their reviews. Host awards for the highest rated.
3) Document / wiki. Document the collective wisdom of the group. Create the definitive database for the sector. Have guides for newcomers, experts, and people tackling the most common problems. This works really well if the community is based around a product.
4) Organize events. Online or offline. Create your own events. Host interviews with experts. Better, let members organize their own events. Let them host their own interviews too.
5) Ratings. Create a reputation system. Make it easier for the top members to stand out.
6) Add courses. Develop learning or training modules people can progress through. This raises the quality of discussion.
Most community platforms enable you to do all of the above. If you are on an open source platform, you can add features when you need them at little cost.
Two common mistakes here. The first is stopping once the forum is going. This leaves a pile of potential on the table. The second is trying to implement all of the above at once (especially from the beginning). You need a lively hub of activity before you can add the above.
Once the forum is going, start pushing your technology a little further.
Our visitor numbers have risen by about 25% in the last month.
This wasn’t too much of a surprise. We hired an SEO consultant last month to analyze and fix some tech issues. Most were relatively minor, but the combined impact is satisfying. The cost was low and the value was high.
If 70% of your traffic comes via search (as it does for most communities), what would a 20% increase in search traffic mean to you? What happens if you can increase your visitor numbers by 14% in a month? That’s 14% more value.
Too often we engage in endless rounds of yak-shaving activities when there are simpler solutions to achieving our goals.If you want more newcomers, improve your search ranking. Skip the referral scheme, competitions, and adword campaigns for now.
If you want more activity, focus on your most successful activities. If you don’t have any, find out what people like to do and test those activities.
If you want more value, find more ways people can add value. Members don’t just buy from you, they can help you recruit staff, create better product knowledge, promote you to friends (if you provide an incentive).
Tackle the biggest wins first.