August 1, 2013
Your business is full of experts. And people who know a lot about what they do is extremely interesting to others. Some businesses are starting to move towards being an authority in what they do, to get people to buy into their expertise, rather than just telling people they are brilliant. The power of fostering successful communities around a business area, drives awareness and appetite for knowledge about that business. Businesses historically have been protective over as much of their knowledge as possible, however by successfully being able to separate yourself from what is important to you and what is important to others, the rewards can be significant.
Communities can be for peers, customers, prospects and relevant people in your space. Importantly here, volume is not essential, it is the quality of the output of that community that drives the value. It takes time to build relevant communities and not only involves it being strategically developed, but also evaluated alongside the progress. ‘Micro’ communities are growing, conversations that are happening in the wider sphere being harvested into more niche smaller versions to accelerate interest and discussion. Events are an area that is being developed, to ensure that the discussion can be contained locally and optimised so that attendees can be given precise visibility of discussion points. Growing a community from scratch has to start with your business and your customers and then by leveraging technology to understand where similar conversations are occurring, to try and bring them into the community and provide a broader perspective. The community leader has a valuable role to play in this.
Historically peers have been the most influential in business or technology service decisions however research dating back to 2011 (ITSMA The Rise of the Social Buyer), recognised that technology purchasers or budget holders with significant purchase power, required more reinforcement in the decision process than simply a peer recommendation. This is where more and more are searching for topic discussion to reinforce the decision process.
What is important when ‘leading’ or ‘curating’ the content for these communities is understanding what the goals are and what content is relevant to achieve those goals and being successful. When leading these communities in order to drive the relevance and depth within the community, it is crucial that a community, once established is not just expected to exist. It needs consistent support, many businesses view B2B social and content led activity as a lead generation function, it can and will generate interest in your level of expertise, however it has a valuable role to play in nurturing a relationship with a business audience. The Leader is crucial in driving this through, amongst other variables, evaluating the ‘Health of the Community’.
It takes time and resources to create content, but it’s not only about content to maintain the health of communities, it’s about the type of content that is resonating with the community. In order to understand this, it requires detailed analysis of how much value each piece of content is generating. From the expensive, to the open source, Web analytics can help a business understand the content value to the community. From basic metrics of visitors, page views, request for further information, to more advanced engagement metrics:- will help a business to understand Content value, and evaluate the members growth, dwell time, responsiveness, interaction, share rate, influence and so on. A/B testing and MVT testing can also help community leaders understand what triggers the community to engage with the content. Effective analysis will drive the development of new content, through branching existing content and enabling the discussion to continue.
Emergent Leaders or experts
In time through continued analysis it is possible to understand what the value of your community is and importantly ‘emergent leaders’ will arise as the community develops. Data needs to be used to understand, how communities are using the information and what influence they are commanding with it. Community Leaders, although bound to protect their community, the rise of influencers/leaders within that community is endorsement for the way the community is understood, moderated and cultivated.
How content is administered, developed and assessed drives the value. The community Leader has a citical role to play in this.
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