How can you build a really engaged online community around your business and what challenges are online communities going to face in 2016? We caught up with Richard Millington who is founder of FeverBee to get some advice on developing a more engaged community.
Listen to the interview on iTunes, SoundCloud or keep reading for a summary. And here are the Best UK Digital Agencies on Instagram and Messenger’s 800 million users as mentioned at the start of the show.
What challenges do communities face in 2016?
We’ve been tracking this space for a long, long time, and I think what we’ve seen for the last, maybe 10 years or so, is that for a lot of communities, the level of growth and the level of activity has gone up and up and up, and there are many reasons why that has happened. One of them is that there have been more people online than ever. The Internet speeds are getting higher and higher. People are spending more time on the Internet, which has been fantastic, but now we’re seeing a couple of things beginning to occur. One is that this endless supply of new people to join communities is coming to an end, and unless you’re willing to increase your audience to different languages or different sectors entirely, we’re dealing with a plateau there.
Two, is that there’s more competition for limited attention. There simply aren’t enough people to participate in all these communities that we create today, and the failure rate, especially by communities that are created by brands, by organisations, is getting so amazingly high. You can search for this. You can search for organisations that have announced they’re launching an online community. You can use those exact words. And then you can do what we did, start clicking on every one of these results and seeing does that community still exist? And what you’ll find, overwhelmingly, is that these communities either don’t exist or the level of activity is pretty much nil. So that’s a big challenge that we have to face.
— Sotrender (@sotrender) November 12, 2015
And I think the third one is the value of the work that we do. Whether you work in social media or online communities, and I think I’m preaching to the choir here, one of the biggest challenges, and we’re not the only ones; people that work in PR and other sectors as well have the same challenge, but how do we prove the value? I think part of it is that online communities as an industry, I don’t think it really exists. I think we need to figure out what industry are we really in. Because I think if we focus just on online communities, it’s a very tiny, narrow approach to achieve our goal. What we need to look at is how it integrates with everything else that also achieves that goal.
Does up-skilling your community members lead to more valuable engagement?
Yes, we do want people in a community, and it depends on the kind of community: if you’re building a community around fitness, for example, then the competence and the level of skill makes sense. Most B2B communities, they’re usually about increasing someone’s level of skill. So, if you look at the communities of say Wistia, Moz, or maybe on Unbounce as well, you join them and they are entirely focused upon increasing your level of skill. All the conversations that take place are about increasing your level of skill. That tends to be what B2B communities do. But that’s not the only one. If you look at say Mumsnet in the UK, that’s all about relatedness and belonging. It’s about finding a group of people just like you and being like, “This is for me, this is where I belong.” And then you have content and discussion that orientate around that.
How can you spot valuable engagement? What does it look like?
What valuable engagement looks like is whatever your end result is. So it’s the hardest thing in the world. This is one of the reasons why we go for visible engagement instead of valuable engagement, because valuable engagement is much harder to see, because it’s mental. It takes place in the human mind. You have internalised new ideas, you’ve been persuaded, your habits have changed.
So we tend to measure the end result here, and it’s a very complicated thing to do, and I can share a document in the show notes if that helps, but what we try to do is that if the end goal is to increase customer retention, then we measure that. If the end goal is to get your customers buying more, you can measure that. If your end goal is to improve collaboration, then there are ways of measuring that by reduced duplication of work, productivity ratios. If the end goal is knowledge sharing, then you can measure, not just the quantity, but the quality of the knowledge that’s shared. Did you achieve your goals more than what you used to? There are ways that you can measure this, and sometimes it’s tempting to use correlation, and you can do tests.
Read the full article: How to Increase Community Engagement, with Richard Millington of FeverBee.
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