Like fine wine, Communities get better with age. And the best is yet to come for most Organisations!
What did you envisage for your Community at the beginning? When it was a few months old? When members weren’t very active and you felt like engagement could be better?
Every Community has a unique set of milestones and goals, no matter its age. All hope that engagement growth happens with time – the older the community, the better chance for highly engaged members. And we know that higher engagement means higher retention and a greater spend per member.
Regardless of age, measuring and analysing your KPIs will always be integral to community success. Knowing where exactly you are at, what value you provide to your members is challenging but vital to succeed.
According to 2017 State of Community Management Report by the Community Roundtable “only 32% of Communities say they can measure value, and only about 9% can measure ROI (Return On Investment), too.”
A model has been developed by The Community Roundtable to help assess the maturity of a Community. It defines four stages - Hierarchical (Stage 1), Emergent (Stage 2), Community (Stage 3) or Networked (Stage 4) – and spells out eight different areas in which attention needs to be focused to drive maturity.
Although it is true that every Community has a lifecycle, not every Community makes it to the next developmental stage.
Different stages in the Community Maturity Model require different approaches at different times. You can’t simply jump over the stage - you need to do the work in order to demonstrate the readiness to move to the next level.
Moving from Stage 1 to Stage 2, in many ways, is about introducing the very basic elements, such as drafting a strategy, recruiting staff and identifying key members. Communities in Stage 3 are more interested in integrating their platform with a business system, developing engagement strategies, advocacy, governance structures, understanding shared values and empowering their members. Stage 4 is where the organization has become fully networked; there is an infrastructure that supports an integrated approach to customers and a shared value approach that generates more value for every stakeholder group.
According to the findings from the 2017 State of Community Management Report, most Organisations are in Stage 2, or are developing their way towards Stage 2. Only a small number moves into Stage 3 or 4 each year where the majority of benefits can be found.
No matter what stage your community is in, you need some tactics to apply. Here are my three favorites from the 2017 State of Community Management Report:
Define or review your strategy
- You can’t just “wing it” these days. The most successful Communities rely on a strong strategy to guide decision-making, resources and initiatives.
- Do a health check on your community – how mature is it?
- Try finding where your community lies on the Community Maturity Model and choose some best practices from there.
If your Community doesn’t already have a business strategy—one that aligns Community and Business goals—your Team should start working on one!
Quality over Quantity
- Focus on member-generated content and discussion threads providing substantive answers. It’s not just how many members join in that matters but how much time, energy and expertise members can commit.
Think back to your Community’s strategy—how are incentives used to encourage members to contribute meaningfully?
Community can demonstrate ROI (but you need to capture the data!)
- Proving current Community ROI will help create targeted engagement goals.
Think about how would you define and measure the value of your Organisation and then translate that into a financial return on investment (ROI) How could the Executives and Stakeholders benefit from having this information?
Platform Village can help you mature your Community to the next stage! As a Business Partner of AuSAE, we specialise in enabling Communities to succeed. Contact Austin Wilson for further information on 0408 39 28 50, firstname.lastname@example.org