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Assembling a strategy for community-led growth
Jan 11th, 2023

Assembling a strategy for community-led growth

So, you’ve been digging into community-led growth (CLG) and are interested in learning how to implement it at your organization. You’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’re providing a closer look at the components of community-led growth and how they work together, plus best practices for assembling a CLG strategy that really works.

To understand community-led growth, we first must look at the difference between an “audience” and a “community.”

What is an audience?

An audience is a passive population that receives content and other marketing collateral from a business.

Likely, the target audiences for your organization are prospects and customers who you’d like to engage, acquire, and retain. The key to doing this successfully is creating a community so that your audiences become interactive members and in doing so, drive your community-led growth motion.

What is a community?

A community is group of people who come together to actively engage and collaborate with each other about a topic, product, or service.

Communities are commonly categorized in two ways: a community of practice or a community of product.

  • Community of practice: A group of people who gather to improve a skill, advance their knowledge base, or work towards a common goal.
  • Community of product: A group of people who center conversations around a particular product or service, and discuss how to use or improve it.

What is a community-led growth strategy?

Intentionally and strategically evolving your audience into a robust community will, in turn, benefit your business. This effort can be described as a community-led growth strategy, which focuses on building, nurturing, and strengthening a community of users to improve customer acquisition, retention, and satisfaction.

Let’s look at Asana as a great example of a company embodying community-led growth.

Asana’s community program, Asana Together, was created to facilitate interactions between community members, Asana employees, and the product. It’s intended to create and deepen relationships between members and the company, collect valuable feedback, and provide users with the education they need to succeed in using Asana.

The company offers multiple ways members can participate including:

  • An ambassador program for Asana enthusiasts.
  • The Asana Community Forum where members can converse with each other.
  • Hundreds of events each year (live and virtual), which bring people together for hands-on workshops, AMAs, networking, and more.

Asana’s strategy in developing and nurturing its community program is to make people more knowledgeable and excited about using Asana. Those users can then go out and evangelize the product (positive word-of-mouth), which brings in new customers, while also deepening relationships with existing customers to create a virtuous cycle of community and business growth.

Why building community into your business strategy works

Organizations are increasingly turning to community-led go-to-market models as traditional sales and marketing strategies are becoming less effective.

The deterioration of traditional sales channels is coming at a time when the power of community is growing. Product discovery, adoption, and support are happening across community channels where users engage including Twitter, GitHub, Slack, Discord, and Discourse. For these reasons, developing a community-led growth strategy is beneficial in achieving effective and efficient growth while older methods are lagging behind.

Building a community-led growth motion

Start by cultivating your community

If you’re implementing a CLG approach from scratch (or refreshing your current strategy), you’ll want to start first by focusing on your community to ensure their needs are being met.

Here are some tactics for growing your community, which, when deployed, lay the strong foundation needed to execute on a community-led growth strategy.

  • Identify your ideal community participants. You should have a clear vision as to who you want in your community in order to build a space that attracts them. Members could be a mix of customers, prospects, current employees, and even relevant industry influencers.
  • Determine your conversation channels. While community conversations will certainly occur on an ad hoc basis on sites like Reddit and Twitter, you can steer members to specific channels like Discord, Slack, and Discourse which are conversation platforms you can use to host, manage, organize, and grow your community.
  • Listen to your members. As members start engaging in the community, they want to know someone is on the other side of their screen, and they’re not just speaking into a void. Be sure you’re actively listening and responding to members when they post or reach out. Additionally, use their feedback to inform the future direction of the community as it grows.
  • Facilitate member-to-member interactions. Go beyond just your company responding to community comments. In a healthy community, members will be engaged and answer each other’s questions too. Early on, this could require members of your team to pose questions or discussion prompts to get conversations going, or tagging specific members you know have expertise. You may also put on live events or conferences where members can meet face to face, enhance their learnings, and demo new product features.
  • Define and track your metrics for success. For your CLG strategy to work, you need to define specific metrics to determine whether your community is successful and having the impact you want. Start with community health metrics that track growth, like membership and engagement numbers, then evolve into reporting on metrics that reflect how community is benefiting the business, like customer acquisition, conversions, and community-attributed revenue.

Once you’ve set your community on the right path for member success, you’re ready to shift your strategic thinking to focus on deploying a community-led growth strategy.

The components of a community-led growth strategy

How will you know if you’re building a sustainable community-led growth strategy? To help you figure it out, here are the key components that come together to form a CLG approach that will tie community to business results and help your organization grow faster and more efficiently.

An active online community

As discussed above, a thriving online community represents an environment where members feel welcome to engage with one another and company representatives. It’s the foundational component of a CLG strategy.

Members must feel like they are deriving value from their participation—whether it’s getting questions answered, access to exclusive perks, increasing their understanding, or even sharing their knowledge around a particular product or domain.

While an active community is a foundational element of your community-led growth strategy, keep in mind that the community must not feel to members like a marketing tool of an organization. You can do this by always centering the needs of the community and its members.

Community-centric channels and platforms

People talk about their interests and the products they’re using on all corners of the internet. Sites like Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn all serve as channels where people can engage in discussions or collaborate, albeit in a fragmented way.

While you may have a hosted community on Slack or Discord, be sure you’re listening to your members across all of these channels. Build a community technology stack that continually addresses your needs as your community grows and evolves. An intelligent community growth platform can help you bring together insights from across these channels to better serve your members and your business.

Consistent high-value content

People join a community with the expectation they will gain some benefit or satisfaction from it. It’s an opportunity to engage and collaborate with like-minded individuals to share information or advance an innovation. To that end, they must be provided with consistent, high-value content so they remain actively engaged.

This content will take a variety of forms, and be sure you’re creating and distributing this content across the platforms and channels discussed above. It could include:

  • Best practice blogs and thought leadership posts shared across channels including Twitter and LinkedIn
  • Answers to member questions in forums like Discourse and Reddit
  • Conversation starters and discussion prompts in Slack and Discord
  • Community events (virtual or in-person) hosted through MeetUp or Bevy
  • Other exclusive perks: access to key personnel, product demos, swag, product discounts and more

Consistently providing this content helps a community to remain active and provides fuel for continuous growth.

A strong CLG team

Your community-led growth team will be the ones implementing the vision you lay out for the community—and stoking the flywheel that drives results for the business. These teams typically include:

  • Community managers are the primary individuals interfacing between your company and the community, which means they are the cornerstone of a community-led growth team. They’ll be in charge of the day-to-day operations for the community, including monitoring and responding to members, cultivating relationships, developing or amplifying community content, and much more.
  • Developer advocates or other DevRel pros will support similar efforts for more technical communities, while also building and delivering product demos, creating documentation, and collecting and distributing product feedback. They have deep insight into what drives user adoption, which is highly valuable for a community-led growth team.
  • Marketing leaders are key in generating content and events that engage members. They also know the messages that should be amplified through the community to help drive adoption.
  • Sales can provide insight into the nuances and timing of nurturing a prospect down the community-led growth funnel.
  • Customer success managers are at the front lines getting feedback about what customers want and need. Their participation in the community is critical for user support and retention.
  • Product leaders will take community insights and feedback and use them to build a stronger product that is at the heart of a PLG + CLG strategy.

A community flywheel

When done right, fostering a community creates an organic flywheel that delivers continual benefit to community members and the business.

A community flywheel the continuous loop of interest, action, value, and user loyalty driven by a set of interconnected activities and strategies. These activities, performed by the community-led growth team, will include a combination of community conversations, content marketing, events, customer support, and other activities that drive engagement, adoption, and retention.

At the user level, this virtuous circle sees members join the community, engage, enjoy their interactions, and then become champions or product evangelists whose positive word of mouth invites even more people to join the community—and the cycle begins again. Here we can also see how community is an effective growth lever as prospects are likely to give more weight to the testimonials/experiences of customers than to a company’s marketing materials.

Getting to this flywheel and keeping it running is the ultimate goal of your community-led growth strategy.

KPIs and north star metrics

As previously mentioned, you must set metrics to measure the success of your community and gauge its impact on the business. These metrics will fall into two categories:

  • Program health metrics look at the success and growth of the community program—are new people joining and are members active and engaged? These metrics are key to track to ensure your community is thriving. They ensure your community is providing a strong and healthy foundation for your CLG motion.
  • Business impact metrics more directly address what the organization cares about, like impact on product usage or revenue. They report on the success of your CLG strategy in driving business results.

These latter metrics are critical to a community-led growth strategy. If you can’t tie the impact of community to overarching business goals, you won’t be able to measure—or successfully augment—your CLG efforts.

Some valuable business impact metrics include:

  • Customer acquisition and expansion from community-engaged organizations
  • Retention of customers with active community members
  • Community-attributed revenue or when an organization appeared in the community before a CRM system

CxOs and stakeholders will be most interested in these kinds of metrics as well, and brandishing them will be one of the most effective ways to get more resources to support and grow the community—another flywheel!

For many organizations, gathering both community health and business impact metrics is a messy and manual process. An intelligent community growth platform like Common Room can significantly simplify community measurement with pre-built and custom reporting.

Common Room can help you get the most out of your community-led growth strategy

With all of the different competents, executing a CLG strategy can be challenging, but Common Room makes it easy to unlock community as a new growth engine. The community-led growth platform provides the tools needed to gain visibility into user engagement happening across all your digital channels and take action to deliver personalized interactions across the entire customer journey.

Common Room can help accelerate community-led growth by:

  • Sourcing new leads and improving qualification through insights from community activity
  • Improve account-based marketing performance by identifying and cultivating product champions
  • Measure community-attributed revenue by bringing community and business data together

To intelligently engage and grow your community, try Common Room for free or request a demo.

Looking for more info on building a community-led growth strategy?  Connect with 1,000+ community and DevRel leaders to share expertise and ask questions in the Uncommon community.