Heather Alter led her team as they launched their community and grew its membership to about seven times its original size for a current total of 12,560+ members. But Heather doesn’t work for a B2C company (which is what we often picture for community building). Heather works at Gigamon, a B2B network monitoring company. So even if your organization might not seem made for community building…
Here are three steps to get you started.
Capitalize on what your audience values.
We remind you of this repeated concept because we know it isn’t necessarily easy to do. Heather noticed site visitors going to both Gigamon’s pre-sales pages and their support pages. This data and much more led her to conclude, “Prospects are checking out how you’re treating your customers.” Or in other words, “Service is the new marketing.”
Take inventory of what’s already working.
Gigamon originally had an internal support portal for their customers which housed robust knowledge-base content. Their team decided to take that great content, build community features around it, and make it available to anyone who created a community profile.
Their community solution combined something already working for them (robust knowledge-base content) with an audience need (proof of service quality).
Shape an environment for members to communicate with each other.
A community is not a group of people all interacting with the company, that’s what’s happening in many other places (like your site). Your community should give members the ideal environment for interacting with each other. For instance, Heather told us that they encourage other members to answer questions posed in the community, and members can create groups to discuss more specific topics.
When you nail those three steps, benefits start flying around.
What Gigamon gets from having a community:
- Generating leads and opportunities (last year they generated 70 sales qualified opportunities).
- Support is easier to handle because their customers often answer each others’ questions.
- Their brand awareness has grown.
- They have access to new audience insights.
What members get out of the community:
- Organized, knowledge-base content
- Quick support from Gigamon and other customers
- The ability to vet customer service (for prospects)
- Insights and networking with industry peers
- Feeling valued for sharing their solutions and insight
This feels like a win-win-win, right? Your audience wins, your company wins, and you win (because now your company will shower you with praise and money, we hope). So even if community building seems like a less-obvious avenue for your company, don’t ignore its possibilities.