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