Learn the foundational elements of community growth, how it can benefit your business, best practices and metrics for getting started, and how an intelligent community growth platform can help.
Community has proven to be one of the defining elements of the 21st-century digital experience. Through social media, forums, messaging apps, online events, and more, people want to connect with each other to share information to develop their passions and interests or evaluate products. Research shows that more than three-quarters of global internet users participate in an online community.
In a time when digital citizens crave openness and authenticity in all of their interactions, community presents a win-win situation for businesses and buyers alike. Community members get to learn and grow on their terms while community organizers gain greater insight into their members’ wants and needs. When effort is put toward community growth, the value goes up for everyone involved.
For businesses, key reasons why community growth is important include a deeper understanding of your audience, member-driven knowledge sharing and support, trustworthy feedback for developing a stronger product, and amplification of marketing and sales efforts.
To help you digest the underlying concepts of community growth and put them into effect for your organization, we’ve created this guide to help you answer questions such as:
If you're ready to jump right into the conversation on community growth, join us in the Uncommon Community Slack where 1,500+ community and DevRel professionals exchange learnings and best practices.
“Community growth” refers to all of the efforts an organization puts toward building, nurturing, and strengthening its community. Communities can take many different forms but are typically either communities of practice or product and comprised of users, customers, contributors, champions, and influencers. These members converse and collaborate wherever they prefer to hang out online, which can include a variety of channels like Slack, Twitter, LinkedIn, Discord, Reddit, and more.
When learning about current and future community growth strategies you will inevitably come across mentions of “community-led growth” and may wonder if these two terms mean the same thing. While they are closely related, each is a unique concept. Community growth fuels community-led growth, which occurs when a community is strategically activated for business results (e.g., boosting customer acquisition and retention, increasing product adoption, and driving revenue).
You are also likely to hear about how organizations are taking advantage of “intelligent community growth,” the practice of using AI and machine learning technology to strategically accelerate community growth to scale the work of community managers and DevRel pros. Some of the key benefits of intelligent community growth include:
Read this article to learn more about community growth and how it can be enhanced with an intelligence layer to collect, analyze, and act on community data.
To develop an effective community growth strategy, knowing where you fall on the community maturity curve is helpful. Perhaps you’re just getting started picking a channel to focus on and recruiting members, or maybe you’re already hosting spaces across a few channels and trying to report on business impact. Let’s take a look at the three core stages of community growth and what defines each.
This first stage is for companies that are just embarking on their community growth journey. Remember, every business has a community whether or not they are aware of it or investing in it. If this is where you are now, take comfort in the fact that you aren’t literally starting from square one. Your ideal community members are out there, you just have to find them.
The focal point of the seed phase is selecting one or two channels to create a space where members can connect while the community team provides support, facilitates engagement, and weaves in organic conversations about the product and its benefits. A communication app like Slack and/or a social media platform like LinkedIn are popular choices for B2B companies because it’s likely your target audience already uses these channels on a regular basis.
Other foundational activities that should be part of the seed phase include setting guidelines and establishing a code of conduct. Since your community will likely be made up of people with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, it’s important to set clear standards and expectations around participation.
In the growth cultivation phase, also known as the scaling phase, the focus lies on increasing membership while keeping the community engaged. It typically entails expanding your community tech stack to a few additional channels such as a forum, knowledge base, learning management system, or customer engagement platform.
To maximize growth during this pivotal phase, it’s important to identify and amplify key voices in the community such as frequent contributors, champions, and advocates. That’s exactly what Asana did when they adopted an intelligent community growth platform to help build out an ambassador program and measure its impact on both community health metrics and business impact metrics.
Continuing to gather data during the growth phase allows the community team to analyze the reach and effectiveness of the community. For example, determining if peer-to-peer knowledge sharing correlates to increased bandwidth for internal support resources.
Once your community program has proven successful at facilitating growth and sustained engagement, you will be ready to focus on measuring the positive impact it has on the business such as increasing product adoption and influencing revenue. This phase focuses on answering questions such as:
Intelligent community growth platforms such as Common Room are driving innovation at the forefront of this phase, helping businesses answer these questions and making end-to-end community attribution a reality. For example, one organization found that engagement in their community significantly accelerated the sales cycles with 72% of deals that began in community closing within 90 days. For sales and marketing-led deals, only 42% of those deals closed within the same time frame.
For more details on the community maturity curve, head over here for a deep dive on the core phases of community growth.
No matter what phase you’re in, you can benefit from tried-and-true best practices for community growth. Using these tactics will help your community mature from stage to stage and achieve the growth and business goals you desire.
If you’re seeding your community, take these foundational steps:
As you move into the cultivating growth phase, you’ll want to focus on these next set of tactics:
In the most mature stage, demonstrating community impact, you’ll track and analyze the outcomes of your efforts.
Using these tactics will help you define and achieve your community growth goals more quickly. Dive deeper into best practices for growing your community in this article.
Selecting KPIs and setting measurable goals enables you to track, report on, and achieve more efficient community growth. Here are a few of the core categories of metrics to keep in mind as you progress along the community maturity curve.
Membership metrics measure how quickly your community is growing and can be referenced against your desired growth trajectory. These can include:
Engagement metrics measure how frequently members interact with each other and participate in community conversations, events, and programs. These can include:
Business impact metrics tie community growth to company goals and bottom-line growth. These can include:
Check out this article for additional information on using metrics to understand community growth and business impact.
An intelligent community growth platform (sometimes called an intelligent community-led growth platform) supercharges your growth efforts with AI, natural language processing (NLP), and automation, allowing you and your team to do more with your community. Integrating these technologies into your community-building efforts creates efficiencies and surfaces valuable insights which can then be used to fuel community-led growth efforts.
Still looking for more evidence as to why a community growth platform is a worthwhile investment? When thinking about ROI, consider the fact that a community growth platform enables you to:
Take a look at this article to learn more about what you need to invest in a community growth platform, what you can expect to gain in return, and how to get started.
Now that you understand the benefits of investing in an intelligent community growth platform, let’s examine some of the key steps and considerations you should use to evaluate and select a platform that’s right for you.
Some best practices for evaluating a community growth platform include:
Read this article for more tips on evaluating a community growth platform and choosing one that’s the right fit for your needs.
If you’re considering a tool for activating your user community, Common Room is the leading intelligent community growth platform.
Common Room brings together community engagement, product usage, and customer data into a single place, and uses AI and ML to surface insights that let you take action with context and accelerate the customer journey.