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Great Community Value Requires Strong Internal Alliances

Richard Millington
Richard Millington

Founder of FeverBee

A thesis…

Your community probably isn’t generating the value it could because you’re spending too much time building engagement and too little time building internal alliances.

One community manager last week mentioned their frustration at constantly seeing product feedback from the community ignored by the engineering team.

They began to attend meetings of the engineering team and discovered a crucial detail. They were sending the feedback at the wrong time. Once they began sending feedback at the beginning of an engineering sprint (period of intense development), it could be used and incorporated quickly.

The community quickly became a valuable resource. Seeing the value, the engineering team began soliciting feedback from the community through requests and trials. This real-time feedback channel proved invaluable to identifying errors early, iterating faster, and developing a better product. The community is now infinitely more valuable to the organization.

Another community manager mentioned reaching out to marketing teams around the world to test web copy in the community first to see which ideas work. Again, this helped them write more successful promotions which generated exponentially more value.

Another talked about feeding quotes from the community into material the sales team uses to capture new business.

Past a decent level, more engagement drives diminishing returns in value. But building more internal alliances exponentially increases that value.

For established communities, you don’t generate more value by driving more engagement. You drive more value by doing a better job at capturing that value. That ‘capturing’ means working internally.

Too few community professionals ask to attend meetings of the product, marketing, sales, support, and customer success teams. Too few try to first build relationships and understand what each department values. Too few spend anywhere enough time designing reports (which will be read) and sharing information internally.

In one interview recently, a community manager noted a senior colleague shot down the idea of a community moments before being told they already had one.

You have to take a huge chunk of your time and invest it in building and maintaining these alliances. That might be 30% (we’ve seen as high as 80%). Stakeholders leave, opinions change, priorities shift.

Consistently, the biggest problem we notice is internal support, yet so few community professionals devote the majority of their time to earning it.

And if it’s your biggest problem, why wouldn’t you devote your time to solving it?

Your community and your career depend upon it.

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