Calling all, community builders! Ready for some inspiration? We're exploring the concept of community engagement with two engaging case studies that'll spark your creativity and leave you itching to level up your community game.
In this article we're covering:
- A case study from a group initiative, PMA book club
- A case study from Community Manager, Samraj Attwal
- Other examples of strategies that encourage community engagement and customer collaboration, like CABs and Ambassadors.
Case study: PMA Book Club
Here’s another real-world example of facilitating engagement from within one of our very own sister communities, Product Marketing Alliance (PMA).
PMA’s free Slack community is home to over 40,000+ Product Marketing Managers worldwide who come together to share questions, feedback, ideas, and all-around support for product marketing.
Within that, members have created a number of micro-communities or subject-specific channels designed to reflect their more specific interests within the realm of product marketing and to connect more closely with like-minded individuals in the space.
A great example of this is the PMA Book Club.
Each month, members who have joined the community connect to vote for that month’s book of choice. Of course, the books look at different areas within or relevant to product marketing.
Then, when the book’s been voted for and everyone’s had a chance to read it, they all meet up virtually to discuss what they’ve learned, and the general experience they each had reading it.
This is led by the original member who created the micro-community, and guided by a Community Manager to help make sure everything runs smoothly.
Through the use of this micro-community, the avid readers of the PMA group come together to help each other find books they’ll enjoy, hold each other more accountable to actually do the readings as they’ll all be meeting to discuss them, and can grow together in a smaller space with individuals who enjoy the same things they do.
Case study: Community moderation in action
To help us explain how community moderation can work we asked Samraj Attwal, Community Manager at The Alliance, to tell us about a time they had to step in to moderate community activity.
We’ll look at how this anonymized situation arose, the steps Samraj took to resolve it, what they learned from it, and how things changed.
Here’s what Samraj had to say:
“On this occasion, we had a community member - let’s call him Gary - popping up in our Slack community with the same kind of messaging each time.
“His messages would always include promotions of his company, and oftentimes he’d post about events with links to lead-gen forms. These are things we don’t want to see.
“My first step was to review our guidelines. I needed to determine if Gary would have been able to know what we expected, from the guidelines we’d provided.
“After reviewing the guidelines, I knew that they weren’t clear enough. So a problem had been identified, but it was on us for not illustrating our expectations as well as we should have.
“My second step was to delete the post. As a community manager, it’s my responsibility to ensure that we encourage the kind of content we want to see, and leaving that kind of post in might suggest to other members that they can post the same.
“After that, my third step was to message Gary right away to let him know his post had been deleted and why. It’s important that these actions don’t happen quietly, but that we alert our members of our actions and open up a dialogue about community expectations.
“As expected, Gary was disappointed to have had his post removed. But, after an honest conversation in which I admitted that we messed up by not providing a clear enough set of guidelines, he could see where I was coming from.
“Then, my fourth step was to hear Gary out and let him know that I was there to help. I asked for his input on the guidelines, to understand if there was anything else he thought should change. I also told him I was happy to check any of his future posts before he shares them, to make sure they align with our expectations.
“Finally, my fifth step was to make changes based on what I’d learned from this experience. The guidelines didn’t state our expectations as explicitly as they needed to, so I adjusted them to add some clarity and kept in mind the suggestions from Gary as I did so.
“Now - Gary doesn’t need to ask for my approval on his posts. And, the guidelines let everyone know what we hope to see, so we’ve seen a significant reduction in this kind of occurrence.”
Imagine how this situation could have gone if Samraj wasn’t there to moderate as needed. Gary would have continued posting the same things, the topic and
the focus of the community would likely have strayed, and other members may have begun posting the same sort of thing - not knowing they shouldn’t.
With Samraj’s moderation here, they were able to quickly step in on a minor issue and bring the community focus back to where it should be. Not only that, but they were able to foster a relationship with a community member - encouraging them to continue posting and letting them know that their input is valued.
That’s a pretty good resolution in our eyes! Following the same style of resolution as Samraj is definitely a good way to start in your community moderation.
Just follow these steps:
“Consistently offer value to your customers and they will be willing to help you. Don’t overlook engagement strategies and jump straight to asks and sells!”
Customer Advisory Boards (CABs)
Customer Advisory Boards (CAB) is a case of the name ‘doing what it says on the tin’.
A CAB is a group of existing customers that helps brief your company on the experience with your product, offers information on what it’s like to be a customer, and advises you on other areas where customer interaction is typical.
Customer Advisory Boards usually benefit companies that already have a good customer-to-business connection, as to be effective, it has to begin with a good foundation. That way, CABs can be used to the best of their effectiveness.
Here are some of the perks:
• It offers a direct link to your customers, in a way that is personal and guarantees a more solid and tangible connection to them.
• Helps provide direction, both in where to take your company and your products to better align with your customers’ priorities.
• Creates champions for your brand. Customer Advisory Boards work well when connected to an advocacy program.
• CABs evolve customer engagement. Customer Advisory Boards are essentially an evolution of other customer engagement programs. Customer marketing responsibilities are all about improving customer engagement and customer retention.
So, CABs are right up that alley. CABs inform your techniques. CABs ensure a close customer relationship by involving these customers in how you run your marketing campaigns.
Their insights into your customer journey are the key to improving customer acquisition and retaining customers in a relatively cost-effective manner. Understanding why they became loyal customers can give you hints into the techniques that work for your target audience and increasing both the number of new customers and customers that make a repeat purchase.
Set specific goals
Knowing you want to connect better with your customers is all well and good, but without a tangible direction, a CAB is going to be more of a hindrance than a help.
Like with any board, discussing important topics in a large group can quickly go wrong if there’s confusion and miscommunication behind the goal you’re working towards.
So, make sure everyone knows why they’re there, and the goal the CAB is working towards. The aim should be specific and achievable within a specific time period.
That way, the CAB will have achievable milestones to prove its success.
Choose ideal candidates
Picking the right people for this kind of board is vital. Intentions must align and, most importantly, there should be a universal desire for your company to succeed.
This is why it can be a good idea to set up a CAB that’s connected to your advocacy program. You already know these customers well and their loyalty is near-guaranteed, so you know they have the same passion as you for improving your company’s policies and direction.
Create an agenda
This goes in hand with the first point, but knowing what you want to complete within each meeting will help things from going too off the rails, especially when feelings are involved.
A time limit can go a long way to make sure any bigger personalities and issues don’t delay the other points you have planned for discussion.
Brand ambassadors are individuals that promote your brand or product to their network or community. They’re typically passionate about your brand and are well-versed in its offerings, values, and benefits.
Brand ambassadors aren’t only responsible for promoting your brand but also for creating an emotional and human connection between you and your customers.
Brand ambassadors can have a significant impact on customer and community engagement as they’re able to speak to customers on a more personal level. These ambassadors will usually be customers themselves, which provides a much deeper connection with your other customers.
It’s an age-old fact, but it bears repeating again: Customers are always more likely to trust other customers first, before your brand. In fact, about 88% of consumers said that they trusted recommendations from people they know, above all other forms of
Ambassadors become that trusted person for your other customers. By sharing their experiences and knowledge of your brand, your ambassadors can help customers feel more connected to your company. This, in turn, can lead to increased customer loyalty and advocacy.
Ambassadors can be used to engage with customers in a variety of
- Through social media
- Networking at events
- Beginning conversations using word-of-mouth marketing
They can also provide valuable feedback to your brand about customer needs and preferences, which can help improve the overall customer experience.
Engaged customers are more likely to share their positive experiences with others and become loyal to your brand. By nurturing these relationships, brand ambassadors can cultivate a sense of authenticity and trust within the community, leading to increased customer retention, advocacy, and brand awareness.