03.01.2017

Does your community have a defined business value yet?

In our newest community research report, we found that by measuring measuring metrics, 90% of community builders reported that they saw “increased leadership support”.

93% also reported that they received “increased interest from other departments”. Finding your business value is the first step.

Well, What Is My Community Business Value?

I’m glad you asked. We’ve built a model for categorization of the type of communities that businesses are utilizing. It’s called the Space Modeland it is based on hundreds of community participants.

How To Determine Where You Fit

While it is not necessary that your community drives just one of these values, it’s important to focus on one area if you’re just starting out, and then expand from there. In fact, about two-thirds of communities switch their primary business value at some point during their lifecycle.

But it is important that you start somewhere, so let’s go.

  • Support: If your organization is currently struggling to keep up with volume of support inquiries or keep costs down on support team.
  • Product: If you’re hitting dead ends in product development, new ideas, bug-catching, or product improvements.
  • Acquisition or Advocacy: If you have a proven product or service and you’re ready to galvanize users around what you do.
  • Content & Programming: If your product IS the community and its platform, you’re going to have a supply/demand challenge, so focus here first and foremost. Start with supply.
  • External Engagement: Perhaps the trickiest to get right, but powerful when you do. If you want to galvanize members around a topic or mission of shared interest that you hope to tie back to sales goals, start here.
  • Internal Engagement: Ready to engage employees or take your HR team to the next level? This is your focus.

Again, your community may end up being a combination of these things, but pick one to start with and optimize that first.

To learn more about the challenges community professionals are facing with proving business value, click here.

Communities Have Many Purposes, But Most Popular Is…

Customer Support or Success. In fact, 26% chose it as their most important community value. Check out the breakdown below of the other values.

On the other side, only a few people chose Internal Engagement (e.g. employee engagement) as their community’s primary value.

Pro Tip: This value has the potential for enormous growth as companies recognize community as an opportunity to harness employee engagement and knowledge.

It’s the first step on the journey to proving the business value. Once you determine what the purpose is, you’ll be pointed in the right direction for the metrics to measure (and scale) your success.

But, There’s a Twist: It Can Change

Now that you’ve thought about your business value, let’s throw a wrench in the mix: that purpose for your community can change. We’ve asked 533 community builders in our new community researchif their business value has changed over time.

35% of communities did say their most important value changed over time.

This indicates that you can strategize and plan for what your value will be when you start, but once your program launches, it might evolve. Realization of this potential shift will make you more aware that you might have to change your metrics over the course of your program.

For instance, 21% of Content and Programming companies shifted to the Acquisition value. The most popular metric for Content and Programming was number of active users/members but for Acquisition and Advocacy the most popular metrics was new users/member sign-ups.

As a result, your measurement strategy might have to shift as your community’s business value does. Racked, a brand of Vox Media, changed its measurement strategy due to their community value switch.

“People were carrying our pieces into their own communities and we wanted to look at actual engagements… our audience was in these pockets. But now we can look at revenue per reader.” – Annemarie Dooling, Racked 

Read more on how Annemarie Dooling led her team to measurement victory (and how you can too) in the “The 2017 Community Value and Metrics Report”.

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Xand Griffin

Xand Griffin

Xand is a researcher with CMX.