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July 18, 2021

When you hear the title “CMO” these days, it may not refer to the “Chief Marketing Officer” of a company, but rather its “Chief Community Officer.” The emergence of this new CMO role was inevitable, as more and more brands have begun to understand the difference between building a community versus simply building/buying social media followers. And today some communities are so powerful that they can influence a company to change its product design as well its overall business marketing strategy.

Whether you’re building your community on a free community platform, such as Facebook, or on a private community platform that users must log in to, there are many benefits of community building for your business.

9 Benefits of Community Building

1. Closely monitor market trends, customer wants and needs

Want to know what features your users want? Want to know what your users think about your products and services? Who is dissatisfied and is going to churn? Instead of (or in addition to) subscribing to expensive churn prediction tools or sending email surveys that won’t get opened, you can track everything by observing and interacting with your community.

Communities increase engagement, make your customers feel valued, and help you make decisions your users care about.

2. Support your customers beyond emails, live chat, or phone call

All these communication methods—email, live chat, phone—are perfect, with only one exception. They allow only one-on-one conversations, not one-to-many and many-to-many.

When you start hosting regular live Q&As, webinars, or interviews, you stop being just another vendor. You can make your live events more engaging by:

  • Answering FAQs
  • Receiving questions from users in a live mode
  • Interviewing industry leaders
  • Sharing members-only content
  • Previewing new features

In addition, you can repurpose your live videos into on-demand webinars, YouTube videos, social media posts, and whatever else that comes to your mind.

3. Get a ton of ideas for your content (directly from your consumers!)

Working on a new blog post? Writing a book? Organizing a public event? You may be unsure about what title to choose or what topics to focus on.

I was unsure about what to title my upcoming book about community building, so I posted a question in my Facebook group. My community members voted for “Community-Led Growth” and I went with this title, though I was almost convinced by the publisher to go with a different one.

Ask questions such as this isn’t just for creating engagement and picking people’s brains; it also helps build anticipation among your community members and make them excited for the final product. People tend to support what they helped create.

4. Get testimonials in no time

It’s hard to get customers to write reviews, and businesses are constantly looking for new tips and tricks to solicit testimonials from customers. When you’re connecting with your users on a daily basis, the review-request process becomes much easier.

Publish an engaging post that asks customers to record video testimonials, or ask them to provide feedback on a review website. As long as your users are satisfied with your product and are connected with you, getting testimonials shouldn’t be a problem. And there’s no need for “high-level, secret strategies” to increase your feedback request response rate.

5. Make life easier for your customer support team

According to SuperOffice, the average response time to customer service requests is 12 hours and 10 minutes. Yet customers want answers within a few minutes, if not instantly.

An online community can help make your users happier and lessen the workload of your support reps. Once a member posts a question in the community and your support rep answers it, the response not only helps the original poster, but other members who may have the same question. Also, it’s very likely that other community members will answer the question before your support reps do.

The best part of all this is that the “customer community” you’ve cultivated feels like a true community, one in which people know and help each other.

6. Grow your audience of fans and partners

Not surprisingly, your community members will likely be your most active blog readers, podcast listeners, and YouTube channel viewers. They will also be among the first to register for your public events, such as summits and webinars, or read the new book that you just published.

You may also find yourself doing some partnerships with your community members. From exchanging links and publishing guest posts to launching bigger co-marketing opportunities, your community is the perfect place not only to support and engage but also to connect. You might also consider interviewing community members on your podcast or publishing quotes from them in your next blog post.

7. See your users upselling your products and services

What often happens in these types of communities is that members will pose questions about features of products or services some customers might not be aware of. This often happens in communities built around SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) companies, in which higher-tier plan users will post a question about a certain feature that is not available in the lower-tier plans. When other members read the comments and see the discussion, they may become interested in those feature, and may check out the benefits and upgrade their existing plan.

No series of emails and no push notifications are needed. Your community members will do the upsell for you.

8. Fight Facebook’s declining organic reach

When you post something new on your Facebook company page, chances are that only 5.5% of your followers will actually see it, and only 3.6% of them will engage. This is because Facebook’s organic reach is declining and the company wants you to run ads on its platform instead.

But with an online community on Facebook, group members have a greater chance of seeing your posts from other members in their feeds—for free. And the more members who write comments and engage with the new post, the more visible it becomes.

9. Get referrals and grow your community

Some companies have strict rules that only paying customers are allowed to join their groups. However, many companies are also motivated to let outsiders in, as it’s a way to nurture new members and turn them into paying customers. According to one study, 68% of branded communities say that the community has helped them generate new leads.

The rules of your community depend on the type of community you want to build. If your community is mainly for supporting your users and helping them feel special, then you probably shouldn’t let outsiders in. However, if you want to position yourself as a thought leader and gather people who share the same passion, then your community should be open to everyone.

As you build your community

You will realize the benefits of having a community once you have built it and are in the growth stage. In the end, growth is more about customer retention, partnerships, and connections than it is about ads and sales pitches.

Source: All Business
Image Source: Getty Images