Recently, YEC spoke with Luigi about his experiences building a community for customers and stakeholders in his business, and what others interested could learn about the process. His best advice is below.
Support Your Fellow Entrepreneurs
Those who work to support entrepreneurs will almost always attract top-quality members, thus leading to the formation of a strong and successful community. The value proposition is that entrepreneurs bring opportunity and prosperity through their successful ventures, and will invariably use that success to boost the community that nurtured them.
Promote an Environment of Shared Goals
Within a community, there is no formal chairman or board of directors, but instead, various volunteers who have a passion for helping support entrepreneurs. Also, everyone involved is willing to collaborate with each other, which promotes an environment of shared goals. On the other hand, customers or subscribers do not have the same level of connection, nor do they share an affinity to assist or contribute to a collective purpose.
Create a Tribe
The main aim of any community should be to become a place where like-minded people will engage with each other. If customers aren’t genuinely interested in your company, then starting a community could become a very lonely experience. Note that creating a community isn’t about the size of your company or its annual revenue or even the number of its customers, but rather about the customers’ passion for your products.
Identify Key Performance Indicators
An essential part of managing a community is to create key performance indicators. This will enable you to examine your initiatives and projects and determine which are more successful so that you can plan on doing more of the same. A vibrant community will help you attract new users, keep current users engaged, and provide valuable feedback to help improve, thus ultimately growing your community.
Build Greater Engagement
If I could have, I would have encouraged greater engagement between community members in the beginning of my company. I only realized much later that communication does not happen organically and will only occur when members are referred to one another. Once you have them communicating with each other directly, you are well on the way to developing a thriving community.
Put Your Data to Work
Data has been so important to my business, and we ask members of our community to provide us with feedback via periodic surveys. We view this similarly to having a focus group set up and will often gauge user interest in a potential new product we are developing, to improve it before going to market.
Add Value to Your Members
Never forget the golden rule in building a community, and that is to continually add value. Think of it as creating a resource or place where they can go to bounce ideas off each other, meet new people, solve problems and find information. One of the best examples online is the company SAP. Its community success is largely due to its engaged members, who receive recognition for their expert contributions.
Set Some Rules (and Stick to Them)
Create a set of rules for all members to abide by. I believe this has been instrumental to managing expectations and quality of our members. It encourages members to focus, which leads to more valuable engagement and therefore happier communities.