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The biggest WHY question for online communities - answered

Posted by Ayanda Khuzwayo on 23 January 2019 1:45 PM CAT
Ayanda Khuzwayo photo

Like me, from time to time, you possibly feel that the pace of innovation is pretty insane and sometimes even overwhelming. In just a few years we’ve probably changed over 50% of the way in which we consume stuff. The Collaborative Era thinking, that ‘access’ triumphs over ‘ownership’, coupled with the management of excess, has driven disruption in many areas including, transport and accommodation, among others. With access to a world of talent, acquisition of skills and services in business today is so radically different and would have been unimaginable just 10 years ago. Creative destruction caused by technology is rampant. Are you still asking WHY you need a community? 

It’s not even a matter of the competition being fierce, it’s more about waiting to be disrupted. This is also why so many organisations are investing in online communities. It’s critical to find a way to grow customer lifetime value and relationship. The business case for these adopters of online communities will show the potential increase in revenue from retention, upsell, and cross-sell opportunities. Communities are becoming important revenue drivers.

What about learning and insights? Well don’t always get caught up in Big Data thinking. For the average medium enterprise, small data is what counts and small data is exactly what your community can deliver. Think of small data as a smart marketing tool that feeds into segmentation. It will constantly provide insights into feeding relevance back into the community in more personalised ways.

Communities provide insights into customer needs through a combination of ‘stated needs’ and ‘observed needs’. With good community management, you can guide customers to have specific conversations about your products, but you can position them to feel more like organic discussions.

69% of marketing and community leaders – close to seven in ten – use their customer community to listen to member needs so they can market better. They also use the community as a research channel to identify customer champions and or detractors (55%), surface trends for potential future development (52%), and spot and resolve product or service issues (52%).

From The Business Impact of Online Communities

So WHY build a community? Relationships, retention, innovation, co-creation and revenue.

Added trivia discovered during research for this article

What is Creative Destruction

Creative destruction, a term coined by Joseph Schumpeter in "Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy" in 1942, describes the "process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one." This occurs when innovation deconstructs long-standing arrangements and frees resources to be deployed elsewhere. Since Schumpeter, the term has been adopted into many other contexts outside of economic theory.




Higher Logic

Janice Scheckter is MD of Indigo New Media, a company building connected communities.  One of the most recent communities we’re building focuses of universal access for Africans with disabilities.


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