Sep 27th, 2023

Communication is everything: community best practices from Mike Rizzo

Communication can make or break your community.

Whether it’s conversations with community members or discussions with internal teams, open and honest dialogue is essential to long-term success.

We talked about that and much more with founder and CEO Mike Rizzo in our recent event: Revolutionizing marketing ops: CRM, community & beyond.

Here are three of the top takeaways from that conversation, including:

  • What community and product builders have in common
  • How to showcase the value of community to other teams
  • Why you should map out performance measurement in advance

1. Build community like you build a product

First rule of product development: Build something people actually want.

It’s valuable advice for engineers and community leaders alike.

When you’re building something, you have a hypothesis about a problem or pain point you’re trying to solve. But you have to validate it by talking to potential end users.

“I think the one thing that brands get wrong when they're doing this … is that they hypothesize in their own brains and their own teams, and then they never actually reach out and say, ‘Hey, would this matter to you?’” Mike said. “Go talk to the people that you want to build this for and validate it.”
What it means for community teams: You should have a vision for your community, but don’t overlook the people who will comprise it. If you focus on things people don’t actually want or need, it’s a waste of time. Let your ideal members help shape your community strategy.

Once you know which type of community you should build, you’ll have a better understanding of which team it naturally aligns with—as well as which KPIs make the most sense for performance measurement.

“If you're trying to solve for knowledge and support, you may want to have that under customer success or the support team,” Mike said. “But if it's about innovation and trying to come up with new features … maybe it lives under product. So, it just really depends on what your needs are and why you're building it.”

2. Prioritize internal information exchange

Community can (and should) touch every part of a company.

But you can’t get everyone on the same page—or effectively demonstrate the impact of community—if you don’t share information.

Community teams often have access to valuable customer insights that can help other teams inform their strategies, from marketing to sales to product.

“[Community] is no different than getting on a call with a whole bunch of your customers, recording those with Gong, and then passing that product feedback to your team so it can make improvements to your product,” Mike said. “Communities need to be doing the same thing.”
What it means for community teams: Every company wants to get to the voice of the customer. Communities naturally do this by surfacing and centralizing valuable customer insights. Community leaders should synthesize and share this information with internal teams.

Different teams will be interested in different data. For example, marketers may want to know about recurring themes within the community that can be applied to top-of-funnel strategy.

“We should have some sort of a feedback loop, where it's like, ‘Okay, thematically, here's what we're seeing,’” Mike said. “These are the things that are happening. And therefore, if you move some of those themes up the funnel, you might be able to start pulling people down the funnel a little bit easier because you're touching on the things that matter to them.”

3. Get your attribution in order

Fighting for credit is nothing new among marketing and sales teams.

But unlike their colleagues, community practitioners don’t have specialized tech stacks dedicated to attribution.

Connecting community to bottom-line business metrics is a perennial challenge, which makes it tempting to automate the process wherever possible. But community teams should tread carefully.

Not many technologies are purpose-built for the way communities function and it’s easy for a record in a CRM to discount the role community played in creating an opportunity.

If you don’t have a tool that will help you connect community activity to your CRM, consider including self-reported attribution on lead generation forms in order to capture community sourcing.

“I think self-reported attribution is probably the most low-hanging fruit opportunity,” Mike said. “You may get pushback from your marketing team on adding another field to your form, but you still need it.”
What it means for community teams: Every team has to prove its business impact. There are lots of ways to do that depending on your business goals and the type of community you have, but first you have to make sure you have the tools necessary to track, analyze, and report on the numbers.

Community metrics come in all shapes and sizes. No matter how you’re measuring performance, just make sure your organization isn’t the only one seeing return on investment.

“I think it's perfectly fine to let your business benefit from [community], but do it in a way that makes sense,” Mike said. “Enable everybody. Ask yourself the question, is this a rising tide? Does everybody come up with it? If not, then maybe think about doing a different program.”

Communication is key to community: how you communicate with members, how you communicate with internal teams, and how you communicate your performance.

But you can only get the conversation going when you have the right tools and insights.

Magnify and measure community impact with Common Room

Ready to see how Common Room helps you find and follow up on actionable insights in your community?