- Sr Community Manager at GoDaddy, looking after our community platforms
- Like many of you, it started as a hobby, early 2000s, building forums and fansites
- In 2009, I started organizing local meetups and events
- Joined GoDaddy in 2015 as the Community Manager for GoDaddy Pro
- Prior to GoDaddy, I worked in various technical roles with teams building and managing websites, intranets and custom web apps
- Learned a lot about gathering requirements, defining scope and timelines, thinking about how pieces come together, and packaging everything in written proposals
- What I’m sharing today follows that approach
- You’re going to pull everything together in a single working document
- Everything I cover in this presentation will be a section
- Collaborate on it with your team to define your requirements and craft your proposal
- Community of customers, coming together around your product or service
- Community of purpose or interest, coming together around a shared cause or passion
- Community of employees, coming together
- It’s an online destination, living on a website or app
- It supports membership; users have a persistent identity
- It’s participatory; users connect with each other
Alright, small rant here, warning! Community often gets silo’d under Support. The org gets tunnel vision about what “community” is for. Anything outside of the “support” mandate isn’t seen as a fit.
That does a disservice to the platform, members and the organization. The org duplicates their efforts, creating new sites for similar purposes. PR, engineering, marketing, events, product - they all have their own destination.
Information gets lost, people don’t know where to look, it’s confusing and complicated. They waste time and money on building these redundant sites that all have a common purpose: keeping their community informed.
Instead, in a community-led business, we treat the community platform as the central destination; it’s a shared asset for the entire organization.
We invest in improving the platform, extending it to serve new purposes and objectives for other parts of the organization.
By having a central destination, we create more opportunities for discovery, participation, and getting a return on the investment we’ve made into the platform.
Let’s consider a typical customer community. What purposes can it serve?
- Awareness & acquisition, aligning with marketing and sales
- Activation & support, aligning with customer care
- Retention & referrals, aligning with product, and closing the loop back to marketing
Choosing a platform is like going shopping, it comes down to three questions:
- What do you need?
- What are your options?
- What’s your recommendation?
- We go through these questions whenever we’re hungry or run out of toilet paper
- We’ll go through these same questions when choosing our platform
- Who are your stakeholders? The people whose buy-in matters
- What are their goals and challenges? What do they want?
- How can you help? What could the community platform do to support them?
- I’m going to deviate from the premise of this talk a little bit
- Chances are you’re not going to find a single platform to do everything you want
- More likely you’ll need to pull together a collection of tools and platforms
- What you choose will depend on what your specific needs are
- Communication: Email, social, video, SMS
- Discussions: Public, private, real time and async
- Content: Blog posts, guides, documentation, video, audio
- Events: Online and offline, discovery & registration, webinars & video calls
- Management: Analytics, reporting, tracking, moderation, governance
- Based on your research, what’s your preferred solution?
- Build a business case. Why are you making this recommendation?
- Remember, you’re the expert! Leadership is looking to you for guidance.
Let’s go through each of these in more detail.
- This will give you a sense of what’s possible and what your potential hurdles are
- You’re creating relationships across the organization
- In large organizations, you’ll likely need their help to launch and maintain your platform
Common teams to start with:
- Sales & Marketing, helping with marketing comms and promotions
- Product, helping by gathering customer feedback and insights
- Customer Care, helping by providing a place for peer support
- Procurement, to ensure you’re following their process
- Finance, to ensure you have the budget cleared
- Legal, to ensure all the agreements, policies, etc are in place
- Security, to ensure the platform adheres to their requirements
- IT & engineering, to ensure they’re ready to assist with implementation
Your community platforms have to serve the needs of your members. These are the people outside your organization who will use the platforms
Using a customer community as an example:
- What do your customers need? What are their wants and expectations?
- What do your strategic partners need? Think biz dev, affiliates, channel partners
- What does your market need?
- Your potential members are going to come from somewhere else.
- Look at their existing habits, the platforms where they already spend their time, and what the baseline experience is.
- Where are your potential members gathering now?
- What are your direct competitors doing?
- What are your indirect competitors doing?
- As I mentioned before, you won’t find one tool or platform that does everything
- I won’t go into the weeds on each type of tool here
- In general, this is what I look for, regardless of what type of tool or platform it is
- Does the platform pass the sniff test? Do you fit within their intended use case?
- Feature fit vs your needs: Does it hit on your major requirements?
- Case studies, testimonials, peer reviews: How has it worked for others?
- Trials, demos (community has a community): Can you try before you buy?
- What’s involved in getting the tool up and running? How complex is it?
- Is it a hosted service, or do you need to find hosting separately?
- Can you do it yourself, or will you need an implementation partner?
- User experience: How easy is it to use?
- Manager experience: How easy is it to manage?
- Administrator experience: How easy is it to configure & maintain?
- Is there self-service documentation available?
- Do they have a professional services team, or service partners?
- Is there peer support available through the platform’s own user community?
- How is licensing priced?
- How is support priced?
- How are services priced?
- You’re not asking for a favour; you’re proposing a solution
- Focus on the benefits to the overall organization
- Remember, you’re the expert; lean on your knowledge and experience
- Why do you need to build this? What problem are you solving?
- What’s ROI?
- Who will do the work? Who will manage the platform? (DACI)
- What are the costs? What’s one-time up-front vs recurring?
- Three major factors: Speed, scale, and investment
- How quickly can you get up and running?
- How big will the implementation be?
- Offer a range of recommendations at difference price points: low, medium, high
- List the pros and cons of each approach