Creating Advocates & Sharing Knowledge

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This article is about Jive closing the doors of its Portland office.  End of an era.  Jive-X was part of my daily life and taught me so much.

Companies preach about the importance of collaboration, synergy, knowledge management, customer advocacy and communities can help with all of it.  No matter internal or external, a great community requires time build, nurture and gain adoption.

Internally, a community allows employees to collaborate and share solutions, but unlike instant messenger, the knowledge can be saved and cataloged. Externally, a community allows you to build external trust, increase customer communication, and best of all; build a self-service, cost saving, knowledge base of information.

Tell me about your community (internal or external), how are you using it?

community

Cheers,

Toby

 

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Essential Tools For Community Managers

Sproutchat

Good day community managers and social pros, this is my recap and answers I provided for the 11/29/2017 #SproutChat hosted by Vera Flores @sproutvera  Join the conversation every Wednesday at 3pm EST.

Q1: What is the difference between a Social Media Marketer and a Community Manager?

  • A Social Media Marketer works with multiple platforms, a Community Manager focuses on the community
  • A Community Manager establishes deep relationships with customers & is their internal advocate
  • Typically a Social Manager is about getting the word out – the Community Manager develops trust & relationships

Q2: What are some differences between the types of communities that brands operate?

  • Peer to peer support
  • A company hosted tweetchat
  • A community for customers to share their experiences: could be utilized by a hotel, resort, or restaurant
  • A Community around product development and ideas: focus groups to test and improve products
  • Communities are the ultimate in social listening and survey: your customers are all there – listen/talk to them

Q3: Have you used paid tools for building communities like support forums or private portals? What are the pros and cons between them?

Q4: How do you track metrics in a community?

  • Paid community platform have reporting and analytics built in
  • I use Google Analytics to track tweets that drive people to my community
  • has some excellent analytics and reporting built-in

Q5: What are some ways that you can tap into conversations with influential voices within your community? Do you use any tools?

  • I utilize private groups by invite
  • People feel special getting invited into private conversations – vet them, white glove onboard, converse
  • I use @TweetChat to participate in tweetchats

Q6: Share three skills sets that are essential for any Community Manager

  • Personable and friendly
  • Analytics driven
  • Customer focused

If you work in social media, #SproutChat is a must attend.  I hope to see you there and welcome your comments.

Cheers,

Toby

 

 

 

 

Twitter is a Community

Illustration of social people network community

Online communities are still misunderstood: people narrowly define them by network or platform in which they live rather than the conversations themselves.  A company’s support community, a LinkedIn or Facebook group, are obvious communities, but Community is more than location: communities are places where people meet to discuss common interests, share knowledge, and help others with their problems.

Twitter is my favorite social network and is teeming with communities.

  1. Lists help me organize people by what I learn from them.   For example, I can open my list of Community Mangers to see what they are taking about – within this community, I can search for answers, ask a question to a specific person, and answer a question someone else may have asked.  This link will take you to my Twitter lists by topic: https://twitter.com/Toby_Metcalf/lists
  2. Tweetchats are weekly discussions that focus on specific topics.  I join these to listen to and network with thought leaders and judge the success of the chat by the amount of side conversations I have going.  I have made some of my strongest and most helpful networks through tweetchats.  Some of my favorites are: #Custserv #Bufferchat #Sproutchat #Twittersmarter #Hootchat – I hope to see you there.

No matter the platform, it is the people and the conversations within the platform that makes the community.  Please let me know if you have questions about Twitter or Tweetchats.

Best,

Toby

The Power of an Engaged & Organic Social Audience

Engagement

Follower / membership count is a misunderstood and deceptive social media metric.  It is possible to purchase thousands of followers, but these will certainly be bots or fake accounts and will not return business value . Your online community may have 200,000 members, but how many are actually participating and contributing?  If followers are not organically grown through engagement, you do not have an audience; you have a list.

One of my social mentors, Martin Lieberman (@martinlieberman), and I regularly discuss this phenomenon: it’s called “social media,” why do so many only push content and ignore discussion?  Ask a question, provide an answer, share personal insights; social media is about conversations.  In addition to thought leadership blogs and company announcements, genuinely respond to your customer’s questions and actually engage them.  Engagement will positively impact your business.

Customers turn to social media to research a company’s culture as well as for trusted peer opinions and product insight.  What is the tone of your Twitter feed, what types of content are you sharing?  Does your company have an online community: what is the activity level, do members interact with one another, are employees participating?  No matter the platform, an engaging social strategy builds customer trust, differentiates your brand, and most importantly, creates advocates.

Engaging customers and cultivating them into advocates should be a priority.  Advocates are loyal consumers who help you meet revenue goals.  Advocates talk about your brand, increase awareness, and provide trusted reviews to potential customers. Advocates share your content with their networks which improves your SEO.  Advocates answer the majority of the questions within your community which lowers customer service costs.  Simply creating an account or community and pushing content will not yield advocates, advocates are nurtured through honest engagement.

It’s called “social” media.

Cheers,

Toby

 

 

Do You Have The Right (Support) Bucket?

Capture

Customer service and support is continuously evolving and great service differentiates brands and turns customers into advocates.  This blog will discuss three service buckets and how an online community can benefit your company while providing your customers an outstanding service experience.

The First Bucket: Phone Queue

Something we are all familiar with, but often hate using.  Because there such a high staffing cost to companies, customers are often burdened with lengthy menus or unhelpful automated responses.  To add further irritation, it is often difficult to reach the rep with the right level of knowledge leading to transferred calls, the need for a customer to start over; a horrible experience.

The Second Bucket: Self Service

Convenience and speed are appreciated by customers and allowing them to help themselves is very popular.  YouTube videos,  or a knowledge base created from solved customer problems are very helpful to customers and will free up support rep time, but what if a customer has a question?  If there is no way to ask a question or if comments are not monitored, the problem still exists and the customer remains frustrated.

The Third Bucket: Online Community

An online community offers customers many things they are seeking: speed of answers, access to a knowledge base, and most importantly, the ability to ask questions about their unique issue.  Like a knowledge base, a community cuts costs by documenting solutions and providing self service; both reduce demand on support reps.  Furthermore, most community solutions are provided by customers: a cost savings for the company, and trusted by peers.

An online community will deliver trusted and targeted support to your customers in a timely manner while reducing costs for your company.  If you have not done so, it is time for your community!  I look forward to your questions and comments.

Best,

Toby

#SproutChat: Managing Online Communities

SproutChat

Good day Community Managers, this is my recap and answers I provided for the 10/4/2017 #SproutChat hosted by Vera Flores  and guest Meagan DeMenna @SocialMeagan Join the conversation every Wednesday at 3pm EST.

Q1: What is a digital community? How do you define this?

  • Digital community: an online place where ppl can gather & trade knowledge & interests
  • The community is online and ppl share common interests and answer each other’s questions
  • A tweetchat is a great example of a digital community

Q2: What are some first steps to building a digital community? Where can these communities live?

  • Determine what your community will do: peer to peer support, marketing, internal, external, product development
  • Communities can live on Facebook or LinkedIn (free) – or (paid)
  • Determine what features you want – analytics you need – what is the customer experience?
  • What resources do you have: financial and personnel
  • Determine if your community and its content will be open or private
  • I believe community content should be open (for SEO), but you must register to participate

Q3: How do you identify community goals? And how do you measure the success of your community?

  • If for peer to peer support: Question volume (increasing or decreasing), Engagement Rate, Answer Rate
  • Rather than overall membership, focus on activity: members creating content, reacting to it (and each other)

Q4: How can you use content to fuel your community?

  • Content IS the fuel
  • Content: Answers, Best Practices, How-To’s, Blogs, Videos – these are why ppl come
  • Along with content, it is important for your to respond to and engage with your members

Q5: What are some tips for engaging and encouraging conversation with a community?

  • If you put out a blog or video, ask for questions AND respond to them
  • If there is an unanswered question, ask a Power User to chime in and answer
  • Acknowledge members by thank them for their answers and contributions
  • Identify your power users / MVPs, acknowledge them and recognize them in front of the community

Q6: Share some of the communities you belong to

This was a fantastic chat about Community and I thank you  @SproutSocial  @sproutvera ‏  @SocialMeagan for hosting.  Please let me know if you have any questions about building and managing online communities as well as Community platforms.  See you at the next #SproutChat.

Best,

Toby

 

#ContentChat: Designing Exceptional Community Experiences

ContentChat

Good day Community Managers, this is my recap and answers I provided for the 10/2/2017 #ContentChat chat hosted by Erika Heald  and guest Arielle Tannenbaum @ariellemargot  Join the conversation every Monday at 3pm EST.

Q1: How do you define an exceptional community experience?

  • An exceptional community experience is all about engagement: members need to get answers
  • An exceptional community experience means interacting with & learning from ppl with shared interests / goals
  • Where everyone knows your name – and glad you came 🙂
  • A place were members feel welcomed and are not afraid to ask questions

Q2: What do you do differently as a community builder when you are focused on experience?

  • Rather than trying to give answers, I stimulate conversations and encourage others to answers
  • Focus on interaction and conversation – always say thank you
  • Train members on the features and layout of the community: help them use the tools & organize content
  • Ask members about their interests and what they want to learn
  • Focus on interesting content rather than pushing yours
  • Learn about your membership, identify your power users, and engage them

Q3: Why should community builders be focused on community experience?

  • Communities are like restaurants: the experience is as important as the meal
  • Members don’t only want answers, but friendly interaction and relationships as well
  • Like where you work, the environment is everything

Q4: What are the essential elements of an exceptional community experience?

  • Shared experiences, engagement, answers, relationships
  • Supportive environment where everyone can learn from each other

Q5: What are the primary issues or challenges holding many community builders back from taking an experience approach?

  • Management that doesn’t understand community
  • A community needs to have an environment & conversations before focusing on metrics
  • Not taking the time to build trust and relationships with members
  • Fear of companies, the CMGR, moderators of real engagement – show your personality

Q6: What is an exceptional community experience you’ve had? What made it special to you?

  • It’s all about being recognized by the CMGR and the membership
  • Having a community where you can always get answers – a knowledge base that talks to you

Thanks for reading, I would love your comments.  Please stop by #ContentChat and join the conversation.

Cheers,

Toby