Ask internal and external stakeholders how they want to grow the organization, and what a successful community could help it do or be.
Examples of common challenges that community building can address include:
- Revising stagnant product and services growth.
- Innovating content for the marketplace and field.
- Connecting new developments with customers.
- Predicting market demand.
- Attracting talented and effective teams.
- Inspiring collaboration among team members with customers and colleagues.
- Reducing customer turnover in dynamic and competitive marketplaces.
- Getting the attention of the marketplace and cutting through the noise.
- Connecting important messages to the customers who need to hear them.
- Shifting industries and markets, sparking a movement.
Common issues that community building won’t help with include:
- A product that doesn’t function properly.
- Customers who are not enthusiastic about your organization’s offerings; a lack of customer love.
- No organic advocacy for your offerings or mission.
- Internal resources that are inadequate to complete projects as envisioned.
- A shortage of customer support professionals to address customer needs.
- A desire for cheaper labor.
- Poor formal leadership within the organization: manifesting as low direction, sense of safety, quality, commitment, or motivation.
- A lack of governance, roles, and responsibilities across the organization.
You can use the Identify a Brand Community’s Purpose worksheet.
Use a prioritization technique like the ABCDE method or the Eisenhower Matrix.
Categorize your highest-ranked stakeholder answers as either innovation, talent recruitment and retention, member retention, marketing, customer service, advancing movements, or brand community and organization.
- Innovation: Creating new value for stakeholders through new products, customer experience design, or internal collaboration. For example, the Salesforce IdeaExchange and Lego Ideas.
- Talent recruitment and retention: Efforts made by the organization to bring in people crucial for meeting organizational goals. This can include employees, investors, vendors, volunteers, or collaborators. For example, REI Anderson Awards, Coca-Cola Alumni Community, and any internal community efforts.
- Member retention: Keeping customers or supply-side members who get value from the brand through active engagement, keeping the brand top of mind, and using shared experiences to grow trust. For example, Etsy sellers’ community, Airbnb Superhosts, and Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters community.
- Marketing: Building on efforts to inform the marketplace about the value offered by your brand. For example, Lululemon’s ambassador program and the Harley Davidson Harley Owners Group.
- Customer service: Supporting existing customers with current services or products, including customer service portals where users can connect and help each other. For example, Apple, Asana, and Mural.
- Advancing movements: When brands create a fundamental shift in our culture, political policies, or ways of doing business. For example, political campaigns, advocacy campaigns, and civic organizations.
- Community forums: When the primary purpose of the brand is to serve as a community forum. For example, conferences, summer camps, sports leagues, associations, and tech platforms like Reddit and Stack Overflow.