3 Ways Tech Companies Can Build Communities The time has come to take community building as seriously as product development, sales and other areas of marketing.
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Tech companies, especially those in their early stages, tend to go all-out when it comes to product development, but end up skimping on marketing elements — particularly community building. There are plenty of reasons why this may be the case, from budgeting concerns to the idea that, "If you build it, they will come."
Admittedly, community building is far simpler in theory than in practice, mainly because of the consistent nurturing required. But there's plenty of value that comes from making the effort. Per TractionWise, "86% of Fortune 500 companies report communities provide insight into customer needs." These insights provide tremendous value to product, sales and marketing teams alike.
It is worth noting that an engaged community of brand ambassadors won't appear out of thin air, no matter how superior the product may be. There's a great deal of strategy (and diligence) that comes into play.
Here are three ways tech companies can get started building a community for their brand.
Hire a designated community manager
It may be tempting to delegate community-management tasks to content writers or even interns. Instead, it would be wiser to hire a designated community manager who will be focused entirely on their role. They'll have to wear many hats as they map out realistic ways to support business goals through community building, while also setting and tracking engagement metrics along the way.
Additionally, community managers need to masterfully work with a variety of tools and platforms to engage with an audience across numerous touchpoints. They will keep an eye on metrics, such as the number of active vs. inactive members, as well as the project's reach and overall impressions. This will make it easier to run focus groups and help plan creative and optimized growth campaigns.
Related: What 500 Community Managers Can Teach About Building a Community
Incorporate a "growth loop' into your strategy
The concept of growth loops typically apply to sales and product-development teams, but can also be applicable to marketing teams with respect to community building. Per a recent Voyantis blog post, "Unlike the traditional funnel approach, the growth loop is more of a closed system where the input (through a series of steps), leads to an output that is naturally re-invested as the input of the next cycle of the loop." It is essentially a formula that helps increase the chances for virality by making steps come back full circle.
There is a four-part process that community managers can easily incorporate into their strategy in an effort to incorporate the growth loop, as I recently heard from Michael Gasiorek of TrustToken in a recent podcast interview. Gasiorek states that this process begins by focusing on building a community by word-of-mouth. Over time, that should lead to educating people on how the product works. This naturally transitions to gaining traction by encouraging adoption, followed by a credentialing phase which refers to press and influencer outreach. This approach will help make things come back full circle, as a growth loop, on a larger scale each time as new users are influenced to get on board and learn more.
Make messaging more about the user, less about the brand
The best way to keep warm sentiments flowing between community members is by respecting them for who they are as individuals. It may sound obvious, but far too many brands continue sending out frequent, impersonal emails on blast. Some even send out auto-replies instead of replying to emails personally. This is why it is important for tech brands to demonstrate care to the community by treating people as individuals across all community channels.
Bonus points go to brands that lift community members by shining the spotlight on them. This can be done easily through retweets and sharing their ideas (with their permission and credit) in newsletters or even on the website. The most active community members can also be part of an exclusive circle that receives exciting company news and updates before it is made public.
Related: How Apple and Uber Create Messages That Don't Feel Phony-Baloney
All in all, it is important for the executives of tech companies to understand that community building plays a crucial role in each element of the marketing funnel. The initiatives that branch out of community building are carried out in an effort to ensure the most relevant and valuable people are targeted for the sake of brand awareness, sentiments and advocacy.
It is through community building efforts that users, friends and supporters of the brand build loyalty. This in turn has an impact on sustainability, which covers multiple fronts, from engagement to profitability. And that's why now is the time for all tech companies to take community building more seriously in the post-pandemic world. At this point, they can't afford not to.