Brands and businesses are beginning to realize the power of the customer’s voice. Whether it’s online reviews, word-of-mouth recommendations, or support forums, word-of-mouth is an incredibly effective tool for building your brand. Building a community-led community is about empowering your members to be a part of something larger than themselves. Instead of speaking to members, community-led brands and programs empower their members to speak to each other. They realize the importance of taking the corporation out of the conversation and giving the torch to the customers. These companies are harnessing the power of human interaction and using it as their most effective marketing, customer success, and market education tool.
Read on for our guide to building a community-led community program!
What are Community-Led Events?
Community-led events, distributed events, user group programs, chapter programs… There are many names for this kind of program, but no matter what you call them, these programs are an incredible way to drive business impact, add member value, increase your brand’s reach, and drive customer and community member engagement.
This kind of program is often led by a small community team (sometimes a team of one!), but the events are hosted by members of the community themselves. These “chapter leaders” are often vetted, and approved, then provided with a platform to host their events, event guidelines and a range of resources to help them succeed. Because it’s community-run, the potential scale of these programs are incredible. With this kind of program, one community manager has the opportunity to reach hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of members around the world.
This is the ultimate value and opportunity of community programs. By giving control (within guide rails), you can scale meaningful engagement with, and between, your customers. You can do this in a way that would be cost and time prohibitive using traditional marketing. Beyond that, you’re providing real value for your customers by giving them spaces to connect and support each other. And you’re giving your brand advocates an opportunity to become leaders by starting their chapters, organizing events, and connecting their local networks.
How to Build a Community-Led Community
The most powerful interaction someone can have is face-to-face with another person. This forms a much more significant connection than a newsletter or social post, and that’s why companies are opting to bring their communities together in real time.
A distributed event program is the best way to implement customer-to-customer marketing into your business. Connecting your customers directly to one another (in-person or virtually) is a low-cost, revenue-efficient way to generate demand and build your brand. CMX has its own Community-Led program: CMX Connect, powered by Bevy!
Community-Led brands harness the power of human interaction and use it as their most effective marketing tool. Not sure where to start? We’ve rounded up come examples of incredible Community-Led community programs. These communities are grouped by the different value they provide to a business, based on the SPACES model.
S: Customer Support/Success
Community-Led communities can be used as an extension of a customer success team that builds a stronger relationship between members and the company.
Community events give users a chance to showcase their expertise on the product. This means super-users have a chance to share their knowledge, and they’re able to answer questions about the product. Users are excited to teach each other about products they love, and create content to help others fall in love too.
- The Asana Together Community brings users together at events both on- and offline focused on moving work forward.
- Zendesk uses its community for customer support. They have forums, blogs, Q&As, and events!
P: Product Ideation, Innovation, Feedback
By bringing users or customers together, companies can leverage the collective insight of their community to get ideas for innovative features and identify the most important changes that will improve their products. Some companies take this even further and bring their community into every step of the product development process, from design to development, to ensure that the voice of the community is present in everything they create.
- The Salesforce Trailblazer community helps users connect with their peers, build their network, and find mentors in the space.
- The Atlassian Community hosts user groups where people can come together to network, share ideas, solve problems, and get expert tips on their favorite Atlassian products.
A: Acquisition and Advocacy
Community-Led communities can increase customer loyalty and brand advocacy. When a company invests in the development of its community members, their relationship with the company is ten times stronger. Nobody knows the product better than the people who use it everyday, and nobody markets a product better than its users.
- PulseLocal is the global network of community groups for the Customer Success profession. This community is hosted by Gainsight, but welcomes all industry professionals to share best practices and connect with peers.
- The Mobile Growth Community is for app marketers, product managers, and developers. Mobile Growth is powered by Branch.
C: Content and Programming
Community-Led communities give customers an opportunity to share their knowledge with each other, to learn new things, and improve their skills together. Sometimes, the best way to learn new things is to teach and practice. A community gives users an opportunity to meet and connect with other people in their local community who may have the same questions or have answers to those questions.
- Duolingo Events give Duolingo users the opportunity to practice their language skills in real time!
- CreativeMornings is the world’s largest face-to-face creative community, bringing creatives together in 214 cities around the world.
Some companies just get that if they identify the common interests and needs of their target customers and build a community around that passion, it will lead to increased loyalty, advocacy and—ultimately—sales.
This can be a hard sell internally, but it’s working for a number of large brands today. Community is powerful because it gives people a common sense of identity and belonging. If the brand is the leader that gives them that sense of identity, it doesn’t matter if the community is focused on their product or not. Members will feel a stronger connection to the brand.
- Startup Grind is the community for the world’s entrepreneurs. Their events are hosted by volunteers in over 600 cities around the world.
- The Global Shapers Community is a network of young people driving dialogue, action and change. It is an initiative of the World Economic Forum.
Not sure where to start?
We’ve collected advice from seven incredible community professionals, from seven different companies, with very different business models and goals, and compiled it into one very (hopefully) helpful blog post. The purpose of this post is to help you learn from the experiences (and mistakes) of others. Our hope is to help you avoid making the same mistakes, and provide you with the resources you need for a seamless and smooth launch.