July 18th, 2021
Community is at the heart of sustained success, and people in community-driven organizations are best poised for building the most valuable and enduring products and experiences. Community means more than users. Depending on your organization and industry, it can also be evangelists, educators, partners, prospects, and more. And within your user base, there are different personas and levels of passion- for example, those that contribute most regularly, influencers with broad reach who can connect with people far beyond your organization’s network, and pioneering members first in their organization to publicly engage with your brand and other members.
With the rise of community-driven organizations, we’re seeing increased investment in community teams and community managers. We connected with leaders at LinkedIn to put quantitative numbers behind the qualitative anecdotes of community growth. And indeed, there’s substantial growth in the community-led space - both the “Community Manager” and “Head of Community” roles have increased over the last year globally, and they’re continuing to move up and to the right:
More than most industries to date, it’s in the technology space that organizations are becoming increasingly community-driven (and they should be). It reduces the time between member needs and organizational response and engagement, moving the end-users even closer to the products they’re building with and educating others about. When looking at the same LinkedIn stats for technology, the growth is even more rapid:
We’re also beginning to see representation in the C-Suite, with Chief Community Officers (CCO) like Mary O'Carroll at Ironclad. She’s one of only a few right now, but based on the data and the increasing growth of community-centric roles, we’re likely to also see this C-Suite role boom over time.
These community leaders need new tools to build and grow their communities and more meaningfully engage with their members. It's our mission at Common Room to build the technology to enable every organization to help their community feel supported, heard, and connected. And provide the ability to uncover insights and connect community to business impact. As a people-first and data-driven company, we aim to empower community leaders to excel at both the art (building authentic relationships and a sense of building together) and science (finding insights, measuring impact) of community building.
People, content, and the ability to measure impact are key inputs to an organization’s ability to understand the health of their community, and the health of their community efforts. But until now, tools have only empowered teams to look at one, maybe two of them at a time.
Enterprises are starved for a solution. Many of today’s tools are built for yesterday’s ideas. We may have had some quantitative data and disjointed customer support calls, but little, if any, direct interaction. Customers have been numbers, not people. Legacy customer data platforms deliver leads that aren’t necessarily driven from the right signals for bottoms-up product adoption. What’s more valuable - an email signup for an ebook, or someone regularly contributing answers to questions posed by other members, extending the reach beyond that of your own team?
This leaves most community teams forced to hack together solutions for building, managing, and measuring their communities. We’ve heard almost all of our customers say they have some form of an unwieldy spreadsheet - most often referred to as “the spreadsheet of doom”. While impressive feats, they’re all time-consuming and manual efforts that don't scale. And ultimately, these spreadsheets (of death, doom, and from hell) still can’t give community teams and leaders complete, real-time visibility into what’s happening across their communities, and they certainly don’t enable community teams to quantify the impact of their outreach, evangelism, and support. They’re reactive and after the fact, rather than proactive and future shaping. Customers aren’t heard, and enterprises aren’t empowered.
Community teams (often composed of role types like community leads, managers, and support) and Chief Community Officers (CCO) like Erik Martin at Teal, are likely to be the first adopters of the technology. But, community touches every team. We are seeing use cases for product insights, customer success and account based management, or even enabling sales to have a more contextual conversation with an inbound lead.
We’re building Common Room to enable an entirely new and untapped customer acquisition, engagement, and collaboration paradigm. We’re removing boundaries to enable multiple teams (not just Community teams) to get closer to the end-user, to grow, share, learn, and build better together. What better way to know what educational content to build than by seeing what community members are asking questions about daily? Or, what better way for product and engineering teams to build and iterate than by talking directly to the people who are or will be using it?
Shahed Khan, Co-Founder of Loom, recently told us, “It’s pretty simple. Your users are the foundation of your product. The value they can provide on your product roadmap, marketing, word of mouth growth is honestly priceless. We saw our community as horsepower for building our product faster.”
The technology will open up the ability to more proactively address use cases across the organization. Here's a sampling of what it can enable:
You can no longer rely only on product features and pricing to stand out. Simply put, with the technology we’re building at Common Room, community becomes a competitive advantage. When you build more authentic relationships with customers via community programs, it leads to more authentic, sustainable growth. To reference Shahed one more time, he sees the impact of the community at Loom every day, noting, “Once you start to invest in community, both time and capital, you start to see the benefits everlasting. It’s just this strong network effect that keeps you and your community stronger [when] your competitors come out and build competing products.”
We’re excited to support a broad, vibrant set of customers with technology purpose-built for the current and future needs of community. We want to enable every organization to lead with a new kind of relationship, based on authenticity, collaboration, and community. The best way to strengthen your product and your organization is to build with the people who matter most.
Interested in trying Common Room? Learn more and sign up for our product waitlist.
And join our community, Uncommon, to engage with other innovative community leaders.