Whether your community members are casual users or loyal fans, they likely all have one thing in common — before they were in your community, they were part of your wider audience.
Your Marketing team is the voice of your company to this audience, and it needs to speak in a way that’ll make them sit up and listen. Working together, Community and Marketing can tap into insights from your community to ensure you’re sharing the same message across all your communication channels and create content that speaks to your ideal customer, shares thought leadership, and elevates and champions your community members.
Many companies fall into a trap of creating personas they think represent their customers, without doing adequate market research or interviewing current or potential users. Community-Led companies have a distinct advantage — your community consists of your most passionate customers!
Community Managers (CMs) can connect your Marketing team with active members who can help with survey responses or even 1-1 interviews. As current customers, they’re a good representation of your target audience and can help your Marketing team create accurate personas to tailor your company’s product and messaging to.
Referrals and social proof help build brand awareness, and treating your customers well helps build brand affinity (and, more importantly, it’s the right thing to do). While CMs always have a pulse on conversations on your platform, Marketing teams can also be involved and engaged with members.
Celebrate community wins, hear what members are saying, create and share content that matters to them, and build relationships that last even if members leave the company that they use your product with.
It’s no longer just about what an organization says, it’s also about how to say it to your target audience. “Understanding your community members' values gives you the knowledge to tailor your brand voice around these pillars,” says Philipp Schmid, Marketing and Partnerships Manager at Commsor. “This ensures you talk to and not at your audience, members, and customers.”
From the conversations and relationships they build with community members, CMs know what matters to them and can help Marketing teams create a brand voice that resonates with your audience.
But your work doesn’t stop at establishing brand voice. Keeping an updated, unambiguous style guide will help your entire company communicate — whether through blog posts, emails, support tickets, change logs, social media, community platform — in your brand voice.
Publish high-quality content that brings value to current and future members and customers to build trust in your expertise and your product. Members often ask the community for help or resources when they’re stuck, and these discussions are a great place for Marketing teams to find content inspiration — your community is literally telling you what they want to know more about!
You can also create content with well-established community members — who are big fans of your brand — to show you understand customer needs and are willing to collaborate to improve your product and knowledge-sharing activities. “Insights from such collaborations let you notice trends early, act on them before your competition does, and place yourself as a thought leader for the content you produce from these interactions,” says Philipp.
Sharing UGC builds your brand’s credibility by showing an active and passionate community or customer base, and it gives your community the chance to be part of your brand’s communications and reach other members (or potential members). You can post photos or video taken by community members, ask them to write blog posts, share testimonials or reviews, or simply retweet a community member. Balance your company-created content that shows expertise and thought-leadership with UGC that serves as a form of social proof.
You can measure conversion rate across many different customer touch points: newsletter signups on your blog or social posts, new user signups for your product on your landing page, downloads of your gated content, completed purchases on your e-commerce store. Measuring how users got to this point, and what percentage completed the action you wanted them to take, will help you understand whether you need to refine your messaging to drive more conversions.
Your Marketing team will be talking to your audience on social media, whether that’s posting blog content, starting conversations, celebrating community wins, or sharing product news. Keep track of how many (and what type of) posts your audience engages with — brand mentions, replies, and shares — to see what they’re interested in. Your social media strategy can evolve as you learn more to help increase engagement and reach more potential customers.
What’s better than telling potential customers how amazing you are? When your community does that for you. Champion your community members so that they champion you. You can keep track of acquisitions on your signup page by asking new users how they heard about you. To give community members a little more incentive, you can also start a referral program with rewards (merch? discounts? extend their subscription for free?) when they hit certain milestones.
Customer relationship management software HubSpot is no stranger to community. The company has a dedicated community forum where members — customers, partners, employees, and enthusiasts — can discuss everything from the HubSpot platform to HubSpot Academy to its Solutions Partner Program. The company’s Marketing and Community teams make sure they stay in sync when it comes to sharing content with a large community across a wide array of topics.
“Our teams work very closely so nothing during the process of creating content is a surprise to anyone,” says Jenny Sowyrda, Community Program Manager at HubSpot. “We sit across many departments, which requires us to look less along department lines and focus more on creating a unified approach to benefit our customers and community members. Tactically this looks like sharing Google Docs, content calendars, and chatting over Slack.
“On a higher level, we’re working together to ensure we’re creating valuable content for our community members, and we’re fortunate to have subject matter experts in marketing, community, and beyond to make that happen. We’re also fortunate that the community is something the broader company is behind and we’re all on the same team at the end of the day.”
This Community-Led approach is visible not just in the content the HubSpot team shares, but also in how the community contributes to this content. “Beyond the obvious that they’re creating content by asking questions and starting conversations within our community daily,” says Jenny, “we have blogs that spotlight community members, and we encourage all community members to share strategy and best practice content in the forums as well. The less barriers to entry for good content, the better we’re serving our community. We share this content through our community newsletter, as well as promote it in our community, and, when appropriate, through other channels as well.”
These other channels include HubSpot’s social media accounts, with hundreds of thousands of followers on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. “The main goal is to make sure that we're greeting our customers where they are and encouraging conversations where they are,” says Jenny. “If you're doing community correctly, members don't realize the difference between your social channels and your community platform channel. Having options to host conversations and connections in both areas is important. Internally, communicating to make sure we're meeting our customers in their preferred platform (whether social media or not), and ensuring they're getting value from the conversations they are having is key.”
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