I’m often asked about how I treat an online Community: is that a technical platform, a Product, a Program?
First and foremost, a Community is a set of people. People who have a shared purpose, and who care about each other.
The Community is healthy if people (Community Members) care about each other, and help each other to succeed, in a scalable manner.
When translating that in a pragmatic manner, it definitely includes logistics (online, with Digital tools, or in real life). But let’s focus on the Product/Program relationship.
Too often, communities are treated in silos, and there is no leverage or cross-pollination between these niche communities. The proliferation of Social Networks illustrates this very well.
In such model, each Community is “owned” by a team, who uses one “niche” tool and indeed fundamentally prevents synergies between these communities. It just doesn’t scale up:
- Slower adoption of each toolset,
- Customer Experience is cumbersome (need to get trained on each platform)
More and more mature Communities have learnt from that, and are now embracing several sub-communities. Thus fostering focused synergies when it makes sense.
A Community is a Product, with several Programs
OK, let’s begin with the assumption that the Community is a set of sub-communities, allowing (fostering? 😉) scalable cross-polination.
At a very high level, it makes sense to consider a Community as a Program (with assigned resources, delivering coordinated, thoughtfully designed set of activities that help achieve objectives).
I’d argue that a Community needs to be considered at an even higher level, as a Product.
What’s a Product anyway?
Product: a thing or person that is the result of an action or process.
That’s definitely a great definition for an online Community. A Community is:
- created for Members (Customers, Partners, Employees), it needs to provide value to them
- run by Members, the Community is fuelled by engagement from Members
And as such high-value Product, Strategic design is important. And several Programs (ran by various resources) are essential to allow long-term value.
Hope is not a strategy, a Community deserves focused resources and several Programs
I quickly sketched what I consider a healthy set of Programs for a high-tech company, with B2B Products here): (not exhaustive, just some thoughts)
A very important rationale of having several Programs is to make sure to address the whole customer journey, to create value for newcomers all the way to experts.
Let’s keep this post short, and now design next steps.
I’m considering a couple of posts:
- Minimum Viable Product perspective: what to begin with, when to iterate
- Focus on Knowledge Base Article: why exposing the KB from a system of Control to a Community (System of Engagement) is a critical CSAT and Digital Transformation move
- When to re-launch (or dump?) a Program?
- Where are the obvious and exciting synergies between these Programs?
- Are there other Programs? Some in stealth mode?
What post should I prioritize? Any other topic that make sense?
UPDATE: based on feedback I’ve received on various channels, I’ve posted since the following Articles:
- why are Knowledge Base Articles no-brainer Communities content
- a Crawl/Walk/Run/Fly journey into Communities Analytics
Do you like this article? Give a couple of 👏