Although many people today associate digital "community" with a customer-facing space, B2B communities are also an integral part of social media. After all, businesses are comprised of (you guessed it), people. Maria Ogneva, the Head of Community at Yammer, has pulled together the following 10 best practices for managing a B2B community. Has your organization followed all of these tips?
1. Know When to Create Your Own
Before jumping on the wagon, so to speak, you need to ask yourself what your objectives are. If you want to take a prominent role in certain industry discussions, for example, it might be best to join an existing group rather than start a brand new one.
2. Have a Vision
What's your purpose of starting a B2B community? Will it facilitate dialogue between customers, or will it serve as an industry best practices forum? Once you have settled on your objectives, it will be much easier to determine how best to achieve them.
3. Guide Them
Originally posted on Marqui's Web Marketing Blog
Again, depending on your objectives (back to #2), you need to set guidelines for membership in your community. You may opt to have an open community, or a closed, invite-only one.
4. Understand Your Members
Again, it cannot be stressed enough that B2B communities are made up of people, each with their own goals, needs and pain points. People don't buy just products, they buy solutions to problems, so if you can appeal to the basic need for success, belonging and gratification, your community will be that much more engaging.
5. Designate Roles
With the case of a very large community, it can be very productive to empower certain contributors to take on the role of moderators. Not only will it add to the sense of collectivity, it will also make your role less complicated!
6. Publish the "Rules of the Road"
Make it very clear from the get-go what the purpose of the community is, and further, what behaviours are encouraged and discouraged.
7. How to Measure Success? Decide.
Here we go, back to #2. Depending on your goals, there can be different metrics for tracking the success of your community. Growth and the amount of active users are two metrics, but there are more. The better aligned the metrics are to your business, the better. For example, if your business offers a software solution, and the purpose of your community is to better educate your customers via best practices, you would ideally see fewer support tickets and higher renewal rates as a result of the community.
8. Assign a Community Manager
Although you want to be transparent in the "rules of the road", and encourage people to participate, it's always good to have a community manager, even just for the purposes of accountability.
9. Build Internal Process to Support the Community
A thriving community can provide some incredible insight to your business, so be sure to establish a process, among the right departments, to harness that dialogue.
10. Success - Share It!
One of the easiest ways to overcome a business problem is to see how others in similar situations have achieved success. Think of this as a "case study" mentality - not only do people love sharing their wins, they can be very inspiring for others facing similar problems.
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Posted by Sue Ansell at February 23, 2012 5:45 AM
Categories: Sales and marketing