This article comes from Jennifer Susinski and Jeni Asaba’s panel talk, Five Tips on How to Show Your Community Respect, at our 2022 Customer Marketing Summit, check out the full version here.

In today's interconnected digital landscape, building a strong and engaged community is paramount for businesses and organizations seeking to cultivate brand loyalty, gather valuable insights, and drive meaningful customer interactions.

However, creating an exceptional community experience goes beyond surface-level interactions. It requires a solid foundation of respect, trust, and personalized engagement.

In this article, our industry experts Jennifer Susinski, Global Customer Advocacy & Experience Manager at Taulia & Jeni Asaba, Senior Manager of Community Engagement & Advocacy at Jamf, will share five actionable tips that can help you create a vibrant and inclusive community.

By implementing these strategies, you will not only enhance customer engagement but also foster a sense of belonging and strengthen the bonds between your organization and its community members.

Our experts will delve into the practical insights and proven techniques that can promote respect, meaningful engagement, and personalization within your community, empowering you to create an environment that thrives on genuine interactions and mutual respect.

As we explore each tip in detail, you will discover how leading with value, meeting community members in their comfort zones, helping them grow and develop, setting clear internal expectations, and infusing fun into community initiatives can transform your community into a vibrant hub of connection and collaboration.

By following these tips, you can create a community experience that resonates with your members on a deeper level, fostering loyalty, and advocacy, and ultimately driving the success of your organization.

So, let's dive into these essential strategies and unlock the full potential of your community 🔑.

  1. Lead with value
  2. Meet advocates in their comfort zones
  3. Help your advocates level up
  4. Set expectations internally
  5. Infuse fun!

1 - Lead with value

Value lies at the core of any successful community and to cater to the diverse needs and wants of your advocates, it’s vital to offer a wide variety of value-driven initiatives.

Our experts Jennifer Susinski and Jeni Asaba, emphasize the significance of this, explaining how leading with value can strengthen relationships, foster trust, and enhance community engagement, highlighting 2 approaches:

🔍 Focus groups

  • Jennifer Susinski highlighted the importance of organizing focus groups within the community. By involving advocates in these groups, community managers can gather open and honest feedback on topics that hold significance for the members.
  • This approach not only demonstrates a commitment to continuous improvement but also ensures that the community's solutions and experiences align with the advocates' expectations.
  • Jeni Asaba adds that they implemented a similar strategy, bringing in their CTO, CEO, and other leaders to virtual meetups. Their customers were impressed that the CEO was willing to dedicate time to answering their questions, as it demonstrated their value to the company.

🧪 Beta programs

  • Beta testing serves as another valuable opportunity to engage advocates. Jennifer Susinski shared her experience of hosting a focus group of roughly 20 customers who agreed to conduct a beta test in their live production environment.
  • This level of trust is earned through an advocacy program that prioritizes building strong relationships over time. Engaging advocates in beta testing allows them to play an active role in testing new offerings or enhancements to existing products, fostering a sense of ownership and collaboration within the community.
  • Jeni Asaba also mentioned that one of their customer heroes secured his current job due to his connection with the community at Jamf. She shared that witnessing customers grow in their careers and knowing they played a part in that success was incredibly rewarding.

2 - Meet advocates in their comfort zones

To foster a sense of belonging and active participation within a community, it is crucial to meet advocates in their comfort zones. Just as individuals have their own preferred ways of engaging with others, community members also have unique preferences.

Here Jennifer Susinski and Jeni Asaba, discussed why meeting advocates in their comfort zones fosters inclusivity and strengthens community engagement, and how best to do this.

🖥️ Respecting different engagement preferences

  • Jennifer Susinski highlighted the importance of understanding that customers have specific ways in which they prefer to engage with organizations. Some advocates may feel most comfortable interacting one-on-one through platforms like Slack, while others may prefer thoughtful emails.
  • Virtual meetups, where hot topics are discussed, may be the preferred choice for some advocates, while others may prefer to participate as silent listeners. Recognizing and embracing these diverse modes of engagement creates an environment where all forms of participation are valued.

⚖️ Personalization and adjustment

  • It’s crucial to take the time to understand each advocate's preferences and adjust your approach accordingly. Jennifer Susinski suggested gathering information about advocates' preferred modes of engagement as soon as they join the community.
  • This personalized approach sets both sides up for success and ensures that the relationship between the community members and the organization is fruitful. Adjusting to advocates' comfort zones not only enhances their experience but also strengthens the relationship overall.

🫱 Supporting reservations

  • Jeni Asaba emphasized the importance of not brushing aside shy advocates but finding ways to help them overcome their reservations. For example, offering Toastmasters sessions as a group activity can help shy advocates build confidence and strengthen bonds within the community.
  • By providing opportunities for personal growth and success, community managers create an environment where advocates feel supported and motivated to contribute their voices.
  • Jennifer Susinski shared a success story of a shy customer who, over the course of three years, became a confident speaker and actively contributed to product development.
  • By involving advocates in discussions with internal stakeholders, community managers empower advocates to speak on behalf of the organization and foster a sense of partnership.