In its 2011 edition of the State of Community Management, a report compiled from conversations with member companies, The Community Roundtable covers several areas of interest for organizations that are looking to add or improve their community outreach within and beyond their marketing and communications efforts.
It was interesting to note how the majority of respondents are now using social approaches across a wide variety of functional goals, for marketing, and beyond it, for support, innovation, and collaboration.
A few nuggets that will interest marketers looking to improve the relevance of their content strategy are:
- Marrying strategy to both audience and business goals. Customer-centric content highlighting a company’s top 20 problems and offering tutorials to overcome those problems may have a very small audience. However, it could also prove to reduce support tickets or customer service issues by 10 - 20%.
- Creating unique content. Highlight a problem and how other customers solved it with your company product or service helps you profile your product through your customers, without resorting to a sales pitch.
- Creating a content ecosystem centered on the company's community allows organizations to form a solid hub, with spokes reaching out to the relevant social networks for its audience(s).
- Asking great questions supports engagement. Questions should be very specific and intentional, so your audience knows how to answer.
- Helping users find relevant content. Categorizing your content in multiple ways through automated semantic tools or tagging is critical to maximizing its value. If you require users to categorize something they’ve posted, ask them to do so after they post their content – otherwise this extra step is likely to create a roadblock.
Creating a contend-driven community is done on purpose, and the net effect of building a customer community can be a gain in loyalty. Yet, many companies are still strapped for resources when it comes to customer retention activities -- and content creation.
Other key findings from The 2011 State of Community Management Report:
- Social business is realized through a combination of social software, process change and a change in general management approaches to a more community-centric perspective.
- Community management is evolving to include more variations and has become both an explicit role and a discipline of general management.
- Community management excellence requires the understanding of human behavior and psychology, the community management discipline, business and the organizational context.
- Community approaches to marketing, support, innovation, and collaboration have gone mainstream. If you are just starting out now, you will find you have some catching up to do.
- Executives are overwhelmingly positive about social approaches, with 59% perceived as either ‘cautiously optimistic’ or ‘enthusiastic’ about it.
- 67% of surveyed organizations have community managers.
- Organizations with community managers have cultures that are less resistant to information sharing and more likely to have enterprise-wide governance structures.
- Education and cultural change are critical to success in social business.
- Frameworks, toolkits, and governance are being used by successful organizations to scale social initiatives effectively.
- Community approaches are forcing organizations to become more porous to external thinking and activities.
- Storytelling is becoming a key enterprise skill, because it is the most effective way to influence with content.
- Organizations are still working through how to measure the effectiveness of social and community initiatives.
Download and read the full report, including survey methodology and data.