In earlier blog posts, we’ve covered what community is, strategies for building community, and how to measure a community’s success. Here, we’ll explore what companies with successful community strategies have in common and the community management tools that they use.
Creating a community around your brand may seem contrived, even daunting. However, building a brand community starts with exemplifying company values through actions and letting the company culture speak for itself. However, solid values are only part of what makes a community successful. It also requires dedicated tracking, managing, and improvement over time with the help of community management tools.
Community management tools and platforms are software solutions that assist companies in fostering a thriving community around their brand. Community management tools help in a range of areas, such as:
- Content management
- Data analytics
- Event management
- Learning and professional development
Some but not all software solutions mentioned here are designed specifically as community management tools.
In this article...
Consistent, relevant content to keep the audience interested
For newcomers to a community, it’s important to produce content for them to consume as they become more interested and invested in a particular community. Producing content via podcasts, blogs, even native streaming service, is a low-stakes way to draw people in as passive community members.
Podcasts are an effective way to reach an audience and keep them coming back to consume more of your content because they’re easy to consume on the go.
TechnologyAdvice’s very own B2B Nation podcast regularly broadcasts episodes on B2B tech topics and provides a platform for thought leaders to speak to topics that matter for tech marketers. The podcast also helps TechnologyAdvice promote its DemandFest conference and delivers key takeaways for those who missed it. That way, even if you didn’t attend, you can still benefit from some of the insights attendees received and discover solutions to your business problems.
Podcast performance tools to check out
Chartable is a useful tool designed specifically for podcasts. It examines listener demographics, measures cohort retention, and tracks listener churn rate.
To track how well your podcast is performing, set up RSS aggregators wherever your podcast appears, such as Spotify or Soundcloud, and pull all the insights together into a data tool like Tableau to aggregate, visualize, and act on data.
Some community members prefer to consume blog content. This medium has the advantage of employing visuals, plus blogs are easier to rank for in search than podcasts are.
To hook community readers and keep them coming back for more, consistently publish relevant content. A good way to know what community members’ interests and search intent are is by optimizing content using tools like SEMRush, Ahrefs, or Moz.
How to keep serving up good blog content to your community
After generating content topics, organization is the next step. Organization tools, such as monday, Asana, Trello, or help set up a consistent production schedule and workflow within a content team. HubSpot and Sprout provide a lot of customization for content management as well.
For instance, HubSpot allows users to align content with their particular buyer’s journey as well as with marketing and sales objectives. And Sprout enables users to customize rules for updating the same content that exists across various pages and profiles.
As content gets published, track it over time to see what’s performing well and what isn’t. Google Analytics is a good place to start. It track metrics, such as:
- Number of new and return visitors
- Length of time spent on a page or site
- Number of pages visited per session
- Source of traffic
- Bounce rate
With this data, you’ll be able to optimize content production over time, knowing what topics to cover and which content is worth updating. Additionally, this data informs your monetization strategy. It helps determine which kind of content attracts visitors and thus also paid advertising.
Read more about analytics tools: Top Marketing Dashboards for Visualizing Performance
Companies with an established and large community may want to consider a streaming service, as video content performs extremely well. According to Wyzowl’s most recent survey, 86% of businesses use video as a marketing tool, and 88% of survey respondents say they are convinced to buy a product or service after watching a video.
To be sure, using video does not mean sales pitches or infomercial-type videos. Rather, as part of a content marketing strategy, video, whether live or recorded, attracts and retains community members who like a particular brand.
How Salesforce is leveraging video for its community
Salesforce launched its own free streaming service, Salesforce+, in August 2021. Salesforce+ gives access to select episodes of its annual Dreamforce conference and unlimited access to Salesforce’s original series that features:
- Customer success stories
- Innovative solutions happening in Salesforce
- Luminary speakers
The streaming service is one of the many ways that Salesforce opens up a no-barrier entry into the Trailblazer community.
Video content tools
To go live with video in an impactful way, Switcher Studio is a livestreaming software that integrates with top livestreaming platforms to create branded, engaging videos for your audience. Since Switcher Studio only operates with iOS, we also recommend Dejero Live Plus.
For video content analytics, check out TubeBuddy, Vidyard, or DivvyHQ.
Ways to interact online and in person
A community thrives on the social nature of its members. It’s therefore important to curate ample ways for members to interact in order to accommodate different personalities, styles, and levels of knowledge and experience. Events also reinforce the community’s purpose and mission.
Conferences are a great way to bring in professionals of a given field, collect their contact info, and maintain a relationship with them long after the final conference session. In turn, those who attend get to learn from and network with others. Attendees who are also speakers get the added benefit of promoting their own brand.
The Trailblazer community hosts an annual Dreamforce conference to gather all members of the Trailblazer community to learn, connect, give back, and have fun. Its smaller subconference, TrailblazerDX, is designed for Salesforce administrators and architects but also draws in marketing and customer service professionals.
As a B2B technology marketing company, TechnologyAdvice hosts its annual DemandFest to bring together tech vendors, tech buyers, and tech marketers.
Meetups bring members together on a smaller scale, often providing a more intimate experience that appeals to community members.
Salesforce’s Trailblazer community provides even smaller, informal gatherings in cities in over 90 countries around the world. Some are even more specific to a certain type of interest. For example, London is home to a software development subgroup within the Trailblazer community.
WordPress and Yoast SEO hold regular virtual meetups to discuss new features, plug-ins, and trends in the WordPress platform and search engine optimization scene, respectively.
Duolingo boasts over 40 million active users around the world. To facilitate smaller local communities of people learning the same language, a team of three Duolingo employees runs more than 2,600 events in the US per month! They do this by supporting members of the Duolingo community who host events for fellow language learners in their local area. By letting community members take the lead and establish a local Duolingo meetup group, Duolingo demonstrates how the community scales a company’s internal functions.
A tool to capture connections at conferences and meetups
Goldcast, an event marketing platform, helps B2B marketing companies host events of various sizes and formats in a way that drives revenue by:
- Capturing registered attendees’ contact information
- Tracking who interacts with whom
- Monitoring who attends which sessions
Whichever event management platform you choose, make sure it integrates with your company’s CRM software.
Providing a community forum allows more experienced members to help others with questions. A brand that doesn’t already host its own forum is likely to find one that users started on a public online forum like Reddit. Rather than trying to control what users say about your brand on a forum like Reddit, learn from and contribute to it instead.
Alternatively, hosting a company-owned forum is a great way to bring users together while allowing your company to analyze forum data for insights about user experience and customer service.
Duolingo and TechRepublic have user forums to collect user questions that other members can answer. This sets up an all-around win by:
- Scaling up the host company’s own customer service team from a group of dedicated employees to dozens, if not hundreds, of experienced users who can also help
- Enabling experienced members acquire “leader” status by consistently and effectively helping other users
- Solving the less experienced user’s problem
How to follow the forums
Bevy is an event management platform with community management in mind. It can measure forum conversations according to the following metrics:
- Number of active users
- Which contributions get how many likes and comments
- Percentage of answered questions
A community should have accounts and integrate with major social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram.
A platform like qualtricsXM is an experience management platform that scans popular social media platforms and other public forums for company mentions. It collects the data and integrates into a CRM system to help a company understand its customers and act on insights.
However, it’s better to own your audience through native platforms. That way, you’re in control of the data. Plus, owned engagement platforms foster the special experience of exclusivity for members.
Within Duolingo’s app, for instance, users follow, congratulate, and compete with one another. Users can find and follow their friends on the app, too. Every week a user can track their performance in a leaderboard and compete against others in their league to reach a promotion zone.
These features help to keep community members engaged and coming back for more. It also boosts brand perception and loyalty, while Duolingo measures user activity and leverages it to secure funding through paid ads.
Read more at Small Business Computing about how customer experience and CRM platforms work together: Customer Engagement Software for Small Businesses
Opportunities for Growth
One of the many ways a community provides value to its members is by giving them ways to learn and grow in their careers.
Self-service learning and development platform
Some companies, especially in tech, offer courses through Coursera or Udemy. Consider creating a native learning management system platform for the sake of leveraging data to keep community members motivated and engaged.
Trailblazers have their own Trailhead learning platform where they can take self-paced online courses about Salesforce products, earn certificates, and connect with other learners every step of the way.
Tools that promote learning for your community
Whether building a native LMS or using an LMS vendor, incorporate gamification and social elements to boost engagement further. Thought Industries and Docebo include gamification elements, while Talent LMS and LearnUpon are known for their social learning tools.
Mentoring within a community fosters deeper peer connections in a brand’s community.
Regardless of knowledge or experience level with Salesforce or its products, the Trailblazer community welcomes complete beginners to experienced professionals. It even features a Trailblazer mentorship program. Those who are more experienced have the opportunity to give back by being a mentor or by taking on a leadership role, for example, as a Community group leader in a certain city.
Master mentorship with these tools
Large communities like the Trailblazers will find mentoring software useful to match newer members with more seasoned ones. Together Enterprise Mentoring and mentorcliQ are mentoring software solutions that use algorithms to pair two users together based on the goals, interests, and skills listed in their member profile.
Orbiit.ai is an AI-powered matchmaking engine specifically designed for community management. Once mentors and mentees are matched up, Orbiit takes care of several subsequent steps:
- Finding matches
- Facilitating one-on-one intros at scale
- Collecting data and reporting on who’s connecting with whom
Mentoring boosts community members’ sense of belonging and their loyalty because of the value they’re getting from a peer mentor. Choosing a suitable mentor is therefore key, and mentoring software tools ensure that community managers make fruitful matches.
Considerations When Choosing a Community Software Tool
Successful brand communities deliver consistent, relevant content, set up multiple channels for interaction, and provide opportunities for learning and growth all to boost connection, belonging, and loyalty in the community.
In doing so, communities utilize tools that facilitate the elements of content, connection, and growth, and some of these tools are specifically designed for community management.
While there are free platforms out there, such as Reddit, Facebook, and LinkedIn, that pose virtually no barrier to starting an online community, they do not allow for customization or data collection.
Low-cost and enterprise-grade tools are available, depending on company size and budget, to own and leverage the data generated within the community and keep it flourishing.
Read next: Guide to Membership Management Software