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Managing successful online communities


How To Create Value from an Online Community

This is the March edition of my 2019 Year of Community series to help online communities of all sizes build successful communities. To read more, be sure to follow the Invision Community Blog.


Online communities shine with the brilliance of humanity. Every day, our communities inspire, evoke, inform, motivate and engage in a hundred different ways.  Every member feels a uniquely individual sense of value from your community. 

For too many communities, the strategy revolves around two simple pillars: content and engagement.  You inform. You engage. And you think your job is done.  However, you’ve barely scratched the surface of offering value. 

You need to expand the ways in which you strategically match your community to member value. 

New studies are coming out that show humans feel up to 27 emotions from admiration to triumph, and the best communities unleash a rainbow spectrum of value – functional and emotional, business to social - for their organizations and for their members.  This results in not just deeper and more extensive engagement, but greater financial payoff.

Indeed, research from global management consulting firm Bain & Company shows brands like Apple, Samsung, and Amazon that demonstrate multiple elements of value have x3 greater customer loyalty and x4 faster revenue growth than others.   

The elements of value can be divided into two broad categories.

1164575232_IPSElementsofValueimage.thumb.JPG.dbc6617527ff0338b1a6789c90fe0993.JPG

Specialize in Functional Value

Don’t deliver content.  Deliver time savings, cost savings, risk savings, organization, connection, education, and variety.

What is the utility benefit to your users? 

Functional values are the core reasons why members would visit your community.  It forms the baseline rationale for your community’s existence, and you want to not just be good – you want to be the best in delivering functional value in your field.

  • Improve your Q&A boards for feedback, inquiry, or ideation.  Provide a template in a pinned topic where users fill out a consistent set of questions, so you can answer with the most appropriate and accurate options. 
  • Use moderator tools like Recommended Replies to summarize and spotlight key points in a topic.  This saves time and focuses attention on expert information.   
  • Super-charge the training for your response team.  Empower them to be subject experts by giving them private training, templates, and extra resources in a staff wiki so they can investigate the unique needs of user inquiries and provide the best responses.       
  • Build a set of content resources in the Pages application, which is the most powerful application in the suite.  It can be used to create a set of content resources with unlimited custom fields, filters, and templates enabling you to offer variety, organization, and education that no other competitor can match. 

Spark Emotional Value

Don’t deliver engagement.  Deliver admiration, amusement, awe, empathy,  joy, nostalgia, satisfaction, and triumph.

How does your community make your members feel better? 

Here’s a little secret.  Even though functional value is the foundation of your community’s value proposition, emotional elements are 50% more valuable.  Fortunately, Invision Community comes loaded with ways to recognize, reward, and promote members. 

  • Take the time to explain the purpose of a new group promotion, rank, or title.  Don’t let the reward be the goal in and of itself.  You should connect the feature with its underlying emotion by explaining what steps are required to earn the rank, how many others earned it, and what it’ll take to earn the next one. 
  • Start with the Leaderboard.  Invision Community ships with the Leaderboard, which provides an overview of the most popular users and content.  Scan for up-and-coming members to investigate what triggers their emotional satisfaction; scan for popular content to discover what excites your membership. 
  • Create multiple member journeys.  Most communities follow a pattern of new member to trusted member to moderator.  But members can become superusers in many ways. Members who enjoy nostalgia can organize a Year-in-Review topic. Members who enjoy affiliation should serve as Ambassadors to greet and mentor new members. Members who seek reputation will appreciate new outlets for publishing.  Define multiple pathways that strategically tap into the diverse desires of your members. 

As you implement your initiatives to build a Community of Excellence, take the time to relate the initiative to the Elements of Value (AttachmentIPS Elements of Value Attachment.pdf).  You’ll find new and creative ways of offering value to strengthen the relationship between your community and your members. 

Look deep within your community to unearth the rainbow spectrum of value. 

You’ll discover a wellspring of extraordinary value waiting to help your members shine brightest.


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Love this...

Quote

Don’t deliver content.  Deliver time savings, cost savings, risk savings, organization, connection, education, and variety.

I think I'll share it with my team.

Deep... on point...

Quote

Don’t deliver engagement.  Deliver admiration, amusement, awe, empathy,  joy, nostalgia, satisfaction, and triumph.

 

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mood mind blown GIF

So thats a real life picture of me when I discovered the deeper value of ... Value LOL.  

It's all about finding strategic ways of delivering value.  I think a lot of casual sites (mine included) only talked about engagement like number of members and number of topics because we didn't even know to look for other forms of value like number of questions answered, speed to first response, quality of responses, connection to other members.  And then there's this whole emotional side to value that - even though it's impossible to measure in a lot of cases - provides a sense of community that truly separates the great communities from the mediocre ones.  

And in this post, I didn't even talk about potential business value for the brand or parent organization.  

You don't have to the biggest community.  But you do have to deliver the greatest value to your members, and the rest will follow.  

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