Only a fraction of the people with a relevant question will turn to your community for help.
The vast majority go elsewhere.
They turn to their nearest colleague, Facebook friends, or their favourite search engine.
If they don’t find an answer there, they go to the website and look for an email address, a place to file a ticket, or (god forbid) a contact number.
The problem today is we spend far more time optimising what people do once they visit the community instead of getting more people to visit the community by default.
I cringe a little whenever I see someone asking for help fixing their iPhone from Facebook friends instead of Apple’s fantastic community of experts.
The biggest opportunity for growth today isn’t better optimising what people do when they visit your community, but driving more people to visit.
The biggest opportunity for growth today is to persuade your audience, customers, or followers that asking a community of people like themselves is the smart approach for every problem and frustration they have.
This requires more than just a single email announcing the launch of a community.
It requires a clear, ongoing, and persuasive campaign. We’re talking outreach and key messages on every possible channel.
It requires answering the question; how does your community help your members do something they’re already doing even better?
It requires creating a sense of identity about being the kind of person who knows it’s smarter to ask for help from expert peers instead of filing a ticket.
It requires making members feel a sense of duty to highlight questions they have so the person after them can learn as well.
It requires making members feel confident and encouraged to challenge experts with their questions – even if those questions have been asked before or might be relatively simple to answer.
This isn’t a launch campaign, it’s a maturity campaign. This isn’t something you do when you launch, it’s something you keep doing several times a year. The bigger your community is, the more evidence you can use to support your campaign.
The vast majority of your customer base doesn’t know your community exists. What are you going to do to change that?