You need a community because… really?

In German there’s a great expression: “Die Sau durch’s Dorf jagen”.

It translates to “chasing the pig through the village” and it refers to the wavering nature of hypes. Once a hype has started, everyone and their dog will talk about the figurative pig until it’s been through the entire village and eventually collapses.

If there has been such a Sau in the Customer Success world over the last year, it must have been the customer community. 

So today, let’s break down which questions you need to answer before you think about setting up a customer community.

Proponents of communities claim that they increase customer happiness and retention. On the other hand, they are a great source for marketing and the rest of the business to connect with your audience.

Sounds great, right? Yes – but only under specific circumstances. There are 5 hurdles you need to cross in order to make a community work for your business.

1. How many daily users do you have?

A key aspect of a community is activity. If there is no regular activity in form of interaction and new content, your community will die immediately. And regular activity can only happen with a regular influx of new and existing users. If your product has less than 500 daily users, don’t bother setting up a customer community.

2. How much time do they spend in your solution?

It’s very possible that your users only rarely interact with your solution, or if they do, they only spend 10-15 minutes in it on a regular basis. This is not enough to base a community upon. If they only spend little time with your solution, why would they bother spending time in your community? On the other hand, if they live inside of your CRM and spend hours every day in it – it might be a good fit.

3. How deep can they go in your solution?

The most intriguing user segment for communities? Developers. Developers and technical target groups love to go deep on technical implementation and details – just check out Stack Overflow or Hacker News. But chances are that your solution doesn’t share the same depth. If your users can’t perform technically advanced tasks in your solution, it might not be a great fit for a user community.

4. Does your brand connect to a “bigger” topic?

You’ve ticked all these boxes with a big fat NO? Don’t despair. You might still get your shot at a community. But instead of a product-based community, you need to go one step higher. Have an email marketing solution? Why not start an email marketing community? You have a payments service? Why not start a community for finance personnel in eCommerce? The choices are endless. But that takes us to the next and most important part on our checklist…

5. Can you sustainably (>1.5 years) spend time on fueling the community?

The sad truth: Communities don’t just skyrocket by themselves. Every community you use online has been build through hard work, sweat, and persistence. If you cannot spend time in your community daily to spark content and interactivity – this isn’t for you.

Don’t get me wrong – the goal of a community to create a regular exchange with your customers is absolutely right. But if you don’t tick all the boxes that I mentioned, you’re better of trying out user groups or regular invite-only webinars, where you can create similar benefits in a smaller format.

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