The biggest reason why most communities aren’t indispensable is most community managers aren’t doing any of the work which makes communities indispensable.
If you were to make a list of all the tasks you’re doing today, it would probably include activities like:
- welcoming newcomers
- initiating new discussions
- replying to current discussions
- removing spam
- replying to individual member queries
- creating content etc…
Do these tasks make your community indispensable to your colleagues (or your members)? Or do they simply keep engagement metrics up?
While researching The Indispensable Community, there was a clear difference in the work of the typical community manager and the work of indispensable community manager.
The indispensable community manager spent far less time on the activities above and far more time doing the following:
- Building internal relationships. They spent far more time attending meetings to build stronger internal relationships and understand exactly what colleagues need. They focus on urgent needs (i.e. not “generate more sales” but “collect powerful case studies”). They worked to proactively identify and overcome concerns.
- Plug the community into broader goals. They pulled together all engagement activities (events, social, customer support, etc…) into a single unified community approach. This is far harder than it sounds.
- Develop long-term roadmaps. They built long-term roadmaps which they used to drive discussions. These roadmaps highlighted which goals they would tackle, in which order, and what financial, people, and technological resources they needed to get there.
- Build useful decision-making systems. They didn’t just collect data, but developed dashboards which highlighted where to focus limited time and resources to have the biggest impact. Activities were properly measured and acted upon. Most of this was automated.
- Design unique user segments and journeys. They built unique user segments based upon a member’s time, talent, or motivation to contribute. These were validated into user journeys and for members through the community based upon their time, talent, or motivation to contribute. They validated these user journeys with data too.
- Spend a lot of time talking directly to members. They tended to spend a lot more time in the field talking to members or scheduling calls and discussions with members.
- Set specific activities for members. They didn’t just ask members to participate but identified specific valuable tasks (advocating, leading, learning, innovating, educating, and supporting) instead of just countable participants.
- Establish clear technology goals. They didn’t randomly use whatever features came with their platform, they identified the specific tools they needed (from their roadmap) and went deep into ensuring they supported exactly what the community needed to do. Many even developed their own platform. They tended to spend a lot more time in really specific areas of the platform (notably gamification, integration, and onboarding journeys).
- Develop a pipeline of future recruits. They didn’t wait for a job opening to start prospecting future recruits, they tended to attend events and build a pipeline of prospects they could reach out to when a job became available.
It’s not a comprehensive list. Once you pass a certain (low) level, engagement metrics become largely irrelevant.
Instead, it becomes far more important to make your community indispensable to your colleagues and your members. That requires a different set of skills, knowledge, and resources. It’s about time we adjusted to this work.
Join our private community for indispensables.