Month: October 2017
Maisie is starting a new community role and asks a few common questions:
“How do I get people from different countries, different departments, and different backgrounds to start communicating and sharing with each other?
What platform do I use?
How do I make my message relevant and interesting among the bombardment of emails we get every day?”
These are good questions, but they’re superseded by a far bigger question; what are the results your colleagues expect to see from the community?
Before you even consider any tactical or technical questions, you need to get the goals properly established.
- Identifying who is heavily interested in, and has influence over, the success of the community
- Interviewing this group and understanding what these people deeply care about (hopes and fears)
- Which of these goals can a community best achieve?
- Does everyone understand and support the goals of the community?
The very best goals are specific (e.g. generating leads for the sales team, nurturing advocates to drive awareness, increasing search traffic, reducing time spent searching for documents, building a database of experts people can use for support, keeping our members at the cutting edge of technology etc….).
They don’t need to specify a financial return, but they do need to be something your senior colleagues truly value. If you want more support for your goals, begin with goals your colleagues already support.
These goals will answer most of the other questions you have (if your goal is innovation or collaboration you would use innovation or collaboration platforms)
Don’t think about how to get people to engage, what platform to use, or what messages to send, until you have clear, established, goals.
Spend 80% of your time in that first month, identifying stakeholders, building relationships, understanding what people care about and setting specific targets.
It becomes a lot easier to answer every other question once you really understand what the goals are.
p.s. Last day to sign up for our Strategic Community Management course.
Two ways to grow:
1) Broaden your audience focus. Facebook is the best example. Facebook jumped from Harvard to ivy-league schools, to all almost all educational institutions to just over everyone in just over two years.
2) Double down on your existing audience. StackOverflow and Kaggle are good examples. Begin with one functional purpose you can help your audience with and gradually find more and more ways to be useful.
For most of us, I’d go with the latter.
Let’s imagine you manage a community for marketers.
Your interviews might reveal that using the right technology remains a big challenge.
You might develop a community dedicated to marketing tech. This might mean a reviews platform, latest news about platforms, comparison guides, and listed rates. You win by becoming the best source of quality information about which tech platforms to use.
If that succeeds you might expand to implementation of tech platforms, migrations between platforms, setting up an approved list of vendors, and how to get the most out of each technology marketers use.
If that succeeds you might move to processes. This might mean having the best list of case studies, tips, building up the best experts to participate and share information.
If that goes well you might move into recruitment etc…etc…
The ultimate goal is to be the destination where your audience can get all the help they could possibly need. But you can’t rush it. You have to ferociously commit to tackling each stage in turn. Target the specific focus at each stage and make sure you put an overwhelming amount of resources into making it work.
We’ve been fortunate to consult with organizations whose communities we would define as runaway successes (Facebook, SAP, Oracle etc…). One major difference between these companies and those communities that are ‘doing ok’, is the former’s incredible commitment to constant improvement. The runaway successes are constantly benchmarking, testing, and refining what they do.
The organizations that aren’t doing so well will ask questions like “What should I measure?” or “What are some good benchmarks for [x]?”
In this post, I’m going to explain how we approach community measurement with these kinds of clients and some of the processes we put in place.
Remember, this is the final week you can sign up for our strategic community management course. We won’t be running this course again for a while, so I hope you can join us.
The Measurement Fallacy
Almost everyone we’ve worked with is measuring something.
But when we ask what they do with those measurements, the answers are either really vague “well, it tells us what’s working or not working” or redundant “I send them to my boss and colleagues”
Our clients (and course participants) will have an answer like:
“If the number of useful tips created by our top experts rises by 10% as expected next month, we’ll spend more time building relationships with the insider group and less time on our newsletters. If it rises by less than 10%, we’ll try pushing the leaderboard system as the core tactic instead”
This is the difference between having something you measure for fun and actually having a system to drive ongoing improvement. You should only measure the things you want to improve.
If you don’t know what to do with the data, why waste time collecting it? If you don’t know what will happen if a metric rises or falls, why measure it at all?
The Interpreting Problem
But interpreting data is a huge problem, even if you have benchmarks, to begin with.
Let’s imagine your goal is to increase customer satisfaction. You randomly survey a large group of active members each quarter and track results. You discover that customer satisfaction has stayed the same in the last three months. What would you do differently with this data?
Actually, take a second and think about it….
Some of you might conclude that the community isn’t working and may need to be scrapped. But what if customer satisfaction fell everywhere else except in the community? That could be a game-changing win.
You can’t make any decent analysis unless you have the right context. This means working on four levels; execution, tactics, strategy, and objectives.
Analyzing The Four Levels For Context
If customer satisfaction scores aren’t rising, is community the wrong approach? Or is it because you had the wrong objectives, strategy, and tactics?
Let’s imagine one of your objectives to increase customer satisfaction is to get more experts sharing product tips. Your strategy might be to build a sense of competition among them to generate the best tips (jealousy). One tactic to fulfill that strategy is to build a leaderboard of those that share the best tips ranking everyone with an expert badge.
But if customer satisfaction scores aren’t rising, did you have the wrong objective, strategy, or tactics? Or perhaps the tactics were just badly executed?
We tackle this by using a framework with four levels. At each level, you are constantly learning and refining what you do. It’s a campaign of hard work, but it helps turn a static community into a runaway success.
LEVEL 1: Was The Tactic Well Executed?
It’s impossible to know if you had the wrong objective, strategy, or tactic until you know if the tactic was well executed.
This means three things:
- Did it reach a large percentage of the target audience?
- Did it significantly change the behavior of the audience it did reach?
- Did that behavior change last for a long time?
You might look at how many people visited the leaderboard, how many of those visitors shared more tips and did they keep visiting the leaderboard to track their ranking (for example).
I’m often amazed how many great tactics were abandoned not because they were the wrong tactics but because they were badly executed. With a little refining (often more awareness), you can turn it into a great success.
LEVEL 2: Did You Use The Right Tactic?
If the goal of the leadership was to increase a sense of competition (and jealousy), you need to measure whether the increase in metrics related to the tactic (e.g. views of the leaderboard) tracked with any observable metric relating to jealousy (sentiment, stories captured, survey results, interviews etc…)
You can have a very successful tactic which fails to fulfill the strategy (you can also have an increase in strategy metrics that’s random and not connected to the tactic).
There should be a strong correlation between the two here. An increase in tactical metrics should be reflected by an increase in sentiment metrics that reflects your strategy.
If not, you want to move to a different tactic, e.g. interviewing or giving public prizes to the people who share the best tip each week.
LEVEL 3: Do You Have The Right Strategy?
Now you can move on to the bigger question.
Are you using the right strategy to achieve the objective in the first place?
What if you can survey experts and plenty more mention feeling competitive, but you don’t see any increase in the number of tips they’re sharing? You have the wrong strategy.
You might shift to a strategy based around getting members to feel a sense of satisfaction from helping each other or feeling a sense of pride in their own success and achievements etc…
LEVEL 4: Was It The Right Objective?
Now you need to check whether the objectives (members sharing more tips) does influence the goal (members sense of satisfaction). If the correlation between the two is positive and significant, you are using the right objectives. If the correlation is weak or negative, you might want to consider different objectives.
For example, instead of customers sharing tips, you might try answering product questions as quickly as possible.
Allocating Time To What Works
The entire purpose of the process is to gradually find and allocate time to the areas that work at the expense of those that don’t. It gives you the freedom to test while doubling down on the areas that are working.
You should also find you reach a point of diminishing returns for most efforts, this is the optimum amount of time and resources to spend on each task.
(LEVEL 5: Did You Have The Right Goal?)
We can also add a fifth level here. Did you have the right goal?
Was it a goal that drove useful results for your organization? Was it something a community could and should achieve?
The best method to measure this is to calculate your community ROI, in practice though, we’ve found very few organizations measure the financial return. Instead, it’s about the efficacy of the community compared with other channels to achieve the same goal. This is why you also need some idea of how effective other channels are.
This process works if you commit to it. If you begin randomly making changes or ignoring your data, the framework fails. Work from the execution level upwards. Remember each level you go up means bigger and bigger changes.
You can improve the execution of a tactic a lot easier than you can change the strategic objective. Changing the strategic objective means a new strategy and a set of tactics to execute. That’s why you always work from the execution-level upwards.
Strategic Community Management Course – FINAL WEEK
This is the final post of our FeverBee Explains series. In the series, we tried to go deeper on some of the more complex topics of our work. If you’ve enjoyed it, I hope you will join us.
I can’t overemphasize just how important this is.
Last year, I asked a course participant to keep a diary of every task she worked on. She lasted 2.5 days until she gave up. She was too busy to even write things down, but the results were illuminating.
She spent 80% of her time welcoming every newcomer, searching for stock photos, creating content, helping members with technical issues, collecting and analyzing the latest analytical reports, hosting a hashtag discussion, sitting in internal meetings, responding to discussions in the community etc…
This is the most likely reason you might not be getting the results you want.
It’s impossible to get great results if you’re splitting your time across 30+ tasks.
This reflects a total lack of strategy. We worked with her to identify her goals, objectives, strategy, and tactics. Then we brutally chopped down the number of tactics she was executing from 30+ to 5. Just five.
We used FeverBee’s Target Audience Matrix (below) for help here:
Commit To The Tactics With The Greatest Potential
You can’t afford to let yourself become bogged down in the minutia, you have to focus on tactics which can have the biggest impact.
Each of these tactics we selected for her had the potential to be super high-impact.
By recollection, the main three were:
1. Ensure experts had new, interesting, problems. Every time someone visited the community, she would make sure there were interesting problems to solve (if none came from members, she would source them from throughout the web or create hypotheticals). The purpose was to provoke curiosity and excitement from experts about visiting the community.
2. Create and use an ‘add this to the knowledge book’ button and encourage members to submit great advice to a wiki that would be easy to search and last forever. This would give something lurkers and low-active members to do, while giving experts something to take pride in and keep score of.
3. Find and share the best member advice in industry media. This meant creating the perception of the community throughout the industry as a place where people shared unique, new, advice.
Now instead of trying to do everything, she only worked on tactics that could have a big impact. And the results proved the point.
Participation from top experts almost doubled within 2.5 months, posts by regular members rose by 17% (averaged), and the number of first-time visitors rose by 43% (largely through two successful placements).
These are the kinds of successes you can gain relatively quickly if you can properly prioritise what matters and allocate your time.
How Strategic Are You Today?
I want you to really think about how you’re allocating your time today.
What happens if you stop doing most of the low-impact tasks today and only focus on the tactics which are strategy and have the potential to be a huge win?
The real benefit of this isn’t just the motivation it provides you or the possible results, but it lets you do each of these tactics extremely well.
Here’s a slide from one of our lesson’s slide decks (free:full deck here too!).
As you can see, once you have more time to spend on a tactic, you can maximize the reach, depth, and length you get from it. This is what really drives big wins.
The secret is knowing how you allocate your time and resources in the places where it can have the biggest impact.
What Being Strategic About Your Work Really Means
You’re probably doing far more activities than you should be doing today.
Being strategic means cutting out most of these tasks and only working on the few which have the potential to drive results.
During our Strategic Community Management Course, we’re going help you select those core few tactics and teach you how to do them effectively.
More than anything else, this is the most transformative part of the course.
I truly hope you will join us, enrollment closes this week.
We’re all swayed by the allure of activity metrics.
It’s comforting to see discussions with hundreds of responses and thousands of people visiting our communities every day.
But this biases us to select tactics which will generate the most activity instead of the tactics which drive the best results. This is classic engagement-trap thinking.
If you want to sign up for the course, you have until this Friday.
Every Tactic Should Help Tell The Community Strategy Story
The strategy is the emotional story you create and tell to an audience to get them to perform the behaviors that matter. Your tactics are how you create and tell that story.
You don’t pick the tactics which drive the most engagement, you pick the tactics which create and tell the story which will get members to perform the behaviors you want. Here are some examples.
Example 1: Telling The ‘Importance’ Story
Imagine your goal is to use the community to generate fantastic product feedback for your engineers. One of your (three) objectives might be to get your top members to send detailed reports through on how they use and feel about the products.
In your interviews with top members, you might learn that members love feeling a sense of importance and exclusivity about being able to give feedback. This might lead into the tactics we see below:
This is just one of 3 objectives.
Tactics are less about what you say and more about what you do.
It’s not enough to tell top members how important they are. You have to genuinely make them feel important. Above you can see four very specific tactics that tell the story you need to tell.
Example 2: Telling The ‘Satisfaction’ Story
Let’s imagine your goal is to increase loyalty to your product. Your objectives might include getting members to share tips on doing more with the product.
Your interviews might reveal your regular members love the sense of satisfaction from knowing their tips helped others. Now you can create and tell the member satisfaction story as we see below:
We can agree that getting feedback on the usefulness of tips shared, being featured for the impact you’ve made, and seeing your name nominated to win a prize might make you feel pretty satisfied with your contributions to the community.
Now, these members will associate your community with that feeling of satisfaction.
Example 3: Telling The ‘Excitement’ Story
Let’s stick with the same goal (keeping customers for life), but a second objective for a different segment (lurkers and less active participants).
If your interviews revealed this group needs to feel excited about the tips, your tactics might include building up the big tips, creating a sense of scarcity, and making a big deal out of the tips shared.
Again, notice you’re not telling them the tips are exciting, you’re making the tips exciting.
This is a simplified version of a full strategy, but you get the idea.
If you’re taking a strategic community management approach, your mission isn’t to get an endless amount of activity, but to select very specific tactics.
None of the tactics above are the best way to drive activity, but they might be the best way to achieve your goals.
During our Strategic Community Management course we’re going to help you rebuild your community strategy to one that is focused on achieving goals which have widespread support within your organization.
We’ve found this course to be transformative for 100+ students now. I hope you will consider joining us. The fee for the course is $675 (or $1100 combined with Psychology of Community). Enrollment ends on October 9th.
You can sign up here: www.feverbee.com/scm