One way is to pull together plenty of facts and hope people are persuaded.
Another way is to understand what different departments perceived as valuable and highlight how the community creates that value.
Here are a few options:
- Showing marketing and management teams which questions/discussions get the most visits (use trendlines, not absolute metrics for context). This shows which problems or issues people care most about. If you know a rising number of people are asking a question about integration with your software and another, you might want to work on that.
- Ensure customer service teams know the most common questions. Anyone working in customer support should be aware of the most common questions being asked and any novel solutions identified by community members. Continually add community questions to the FAQ and user manuals. Update existing questions with answers too.
- Highlight new popular questions to product teams. Highlight questions which haven’t appeared before but are gaining popularity. This might reveal possible future problems to tackle early on. This is especially useful for fixing bugs early.
- Show marketing teams terminology members use. Highlight unique terms and phrases community members use to describe problems. Encourage them to use this terminology in their web and marketing copy. This is also useful for product teams working on documentation.
- Gather demographic data on most active users. This reveals the most likely sneezers you want to work with who will spread your messages. For example, you might want to filter women, 24 to 30 using Mozilla into a unique mailing list to contact and build relationships with.
- Put together focus groups for product teams. Imagine the ability to test ideas and see which proves most popular in a controlled, safe, environment. Make sure the product teams know they can ask questions and get support.
- Onboarding new staff members. Embed community interactions within the training of new staff members. Highlight how they can ask questions, get feedback, and use real life case studies to figure out how best to work with the community.
- Highlight potential recruits to HR. Ensure HR know the community is a recruiting tool. Perhaps even give them a list of possible recruits to reach out to when a job becomes available. They can even post it in the community too.
The more value you offer, the more different departments will support the community. Take the time to build the bridges and prove the value.
Only then will you get the support.