How do organizations track the impact of their online communities? How do they measure expenditures, revenue, and cost savings? How do they link the community to competitive advantage? To get answers to these critical questions, we partnered with Higher Logic and The Conference Board to conduct a survey of nearly 300 marketing and community leaders. Today, we’re pleased to share the results and our analysis in a new Leader Networks study: The Business Impact of Online Communities.
It’s that time of year again – holiday lights, sleigh bells and, of course, predictions for how the year ahead will unfold. Here’s what I see when I look into the snow globe of digital transformation:
There will be a huge shift toward selective customer intimacy.
With the rise of digital solutions, came a proliferation of corporate social engagement activities where all of a company’s customers were welcome to listen and comment online. But not all customers are created equal – and universal access didn’t translate into increased sales. Now, companies realize that hand picking select champions and giving them a differentiated experience has greater yield.
Today, CMOs are squarely at the helm of their companies’ social business initiatives.
Fast forward to 2016. CMOs are now well acquainted with social media’s organizational impact. They’re no longer using it as a mere broadcast marketing mechanism. They’re leveraging social media across the enterprise – to serve customers, inform product and service innovations, reduce costs, and boost shareholder value.
As the market has matured, I have adapted and refined our Social Business Strategy Map to reflect the new insights I’ve gained through helping hundreds of organizations become social businesses.
(Social) business strategy means starting with the end in mind. To bring a firm’s brand story to life means developing a fully integrated and integrative approach. Social business activities are an electronic version of your firms identify, thought leadership, relationship and value drivers. It means looking at social business as more than marketing campaigns or a portfolio of social media accounts. Rather, it needs to offer a digital representation and manifestation of the firm’s mission and vision. To get there, the organization has to stop thinking about “doing” social business as pushing out content, grubbing for followers or searching for sensational images.
The biggest obstacle for women who aspire to business or political leadership continues to be equal access to power and money: access to people with the power; access to people with the money. I am a strong believer in working with both men and women to close this gap. It just won’t go away by itself.
How do these two worlds intersect? Quite easily, it turns out. Four trends have emerged that appear repeatedly in both my worlds.
Designing the right internal objectives within the process perspective of the Balanced Scorecard, leading to market success in the customer perspective, is a key challenge. In this article, we learn from SAP how the use of an online community with customers and partners can improve the feedback loop on product innovation and help close the gap between internal processes and external customer objectives.
In large organizations, even when a Balanced Scorecard has been rolled out properly, silo mentalities and communication breakdowns can also represent significant obstacles. Alignment is a significant challenge facing many organizations. We learn from New Zealand Post how to structure conversations in online employee communities to communicate strategic objectives and overcome impediments to alignment.
Technology, when used properly, can support the strategic objectives of an organization. Infosys, as part of its Strategy Surround initiative, integrated Social tools with its all-encompassing change process. Social has become an integral part of its efforts to achieve superior economic returns from better strategy execution (the Execution Premium).
You’re firm is getting the hang of becoming a socially enabled enterprise. No longer doing isolated skunk works social media projects, your firm got organized – strategic, in fact. You have a clear handle on your social media accounts, tools, metrics, a governance policy and even an escalation path if things go awry. This is quite an accomplishment for your organization and its leadership, as you are well on your way to becoming a socially enabled enterprise. But this is not the end of the journey; in fact it is just the beginning. The next big, exciting step is to create a social business center of excellence (COE).
The finest social business leadership team or community manager can benefit from a little outside guidance, fresh ideas, new perspectives and best practices to keep the social business machinery humming. The good news is that successful communities can perform even better, and laggards can make significant improvements, when the right strategic, tactical, operational, technical and organizational changes are implemented.
That’s the key: identifying and implementing the right changes to keep your community on track. What kind of activities, practices and behaviors should be assessed to ensure it is healthy and operating efficiently to generate the greatest returns? There are well over 120 checkpoints to assess an online community’s strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for growth and greater success.
Online communities are not a new phenomenon, but they are now capturing the hearts and minds of social media users around the globe. There seems to be an online community for every walk of life or group. But the underlying operations of a given community can vary drastically, depending on whether it is consumer-focused or a business-to-business community. If you are building or running an online community, or a member of one or more, it is important to understand the differences to maximize the value of your online home. Some organizations do not realize there are a variety of different online community models to explore – each with its own set of benefits and challenges. Below is a brief overview of the different types of community models: