On Tuesday, my good friends from the Community Roundtable, Rachel Happe and Jim Storer, released the 2014 State of Community Management Report. The report is in its 5th year and it continues to prove the strategic value of community management for both large and small brands. Here is a quick recap of the last 5 reports in case you are interested. I highly recommend you give each one a read as it provides context to this year’s data, insights and recommendations.
- In 2010 the report compiled and documented what TheCR Network members were learning together.
- In 2011 the report consolidated and organized even more common practices, creating a reference guide for community managers.
- In 2012 the report documented a different look at communities and covered the initiatives and milestones that they go through as they mature.
- In 2013, the report evolved the research to a quantitative platform about communities, community managers and community programs that delivered data about engagement rates, standardized programs and community manager characteristics.
The key findings from this year’s study pretty much validate what many have been advocating for years. If you are or have been a community manager … high five to you. This report’s for you.
Community Maturity Delivers Business Value.
Two things were compelling and significantly different about the most mature (best-in-class) communities – they were almost twice as likely to be able to measure their business value, and they were significantly more likely to match their strategy with a fully resourced roadmap in order to execute on their ambitions. Of those with the most mature processes – the best-in-class (the top 20%) in this report, 85% can measure the value of their communities vs. 48% for the average community.
The lesson. Well this is easy. Building community is important and critical to your brand’s success. So what are you waiting for? Go do it. There are several software platforms that can help – IBM, Jive and Lithium to name a few. But you need a strategy first.
Advocacy Programs Increase Engagement.
Community advocacy and leadership programs can have a significant impact on engagement rates. Those with multi-tiered programs see some of the highest engagement rates, with 46% of members contributing in some capacity and a significantly higher percent of community members collaborating with each other to create value.
Only 33% of communities without any leadership opportunities are able to measure value – that rate more than doubles to 71% for those with formal advocacy programs.
The lesson. If you don’t have a formal advocacy program, create one. Not only does it increase engagement, but content generated from your community is more trusted and highly credible – more so than branded content. Believe it. There are several software platform that can help you formalize brand advocacy programs as well – Social Chorus, Dynamic Signal and Branderati to name a few. Again, you need a strategy first.
Executive Participation Impacts Success.
While it is not surprising that communities with CXO participation are more likely to have a fully funded community roadmap, it was surprising how much executive participation increased general engagement, particularly when the CIO participated. This data suggests the critical role executives play in both supporting the community and in modeling behavior.
This validates the need for both sponsorship and behavior modeling on the part of executives. In best-in-class communities, 58% include CEO participation vs. average CEO participation rates of 36% – those are the same communities that are most likely to be able to measure value, have a fully-funded roadmap and have advanced community leadership programs.
The lesson. Find executive support. If you are having trouble finding support and/or budget, position the community as a test case in order to uncover customer insight about a product, service or the brand itself. It’ll cost about the same as a traditional focus group but with better results.
There are several other nuggets you will find in the study. Like the fact that community managers do, in fact, matter; and they make a huge difference in engagement, maturity and the ability to measure value. You will also find some excellent data highlighting the similarities and differences of internal and external communities.
The study is categorized by the following 8 competencies, which allow for a quick and easy reference followed by very strategic recommendations:
- Strategy: This competency measures how community objectives are created, deﬁned and translated into plans.
- Leadership: This competency measures how both emergent leaders (community advocates) and formal leaders (executives) influence community performance.
- Culture: This competency articulates the norms of a community and explores their impact on participation and engagement.
- Community Management: This competency measures the resources dedicated to managing a productive community.
- Content & Programming: This competency measures a community’s formal activities and content.
- Policies & Governance: This competency measures how organizations are structured to support community efforts.
- Tools: This competency measures the infrastructure and features that give members access to content, activity and each other.
- Metrics & Measurement: This competency measures the tracking and reporting of the community’s performance.
Enjoy the report.