“The Business Impact of Online Communities” study
By Peter Ward and Vanessa DiMauro There’s a cringe-worthy trend emerging around how online community ROI is being articulated which…
Online community management has (finally) risen to the rank of a being a respected and understood profession. Practitioners now have official titles, proper job descriptions, and sometimes even a bit of budget to allocate. And, due to that well-earned honor, we carry a recognized responsibility to be the voice of the customer, partner or employee for the organization. As the champions of human interaction, enabling a vibrant exchange of ideas and shepherding member-created insights to the forefront of the business so they can be acted on in tangible ways is an essential part of the role. And it doesn’t stop here. Due to the elevation of the profession, community managers are experiencing unprecedented levels of visibility within the organization.
True online community successes are cause for both celebration and examination. For that reason, it is with great pleasure that I am focusing this month’s blog on outstanding case studies and interviews with the best of the best. My hope is that through these examples, ideas, and best practices, online community leaders can gain actionable inspiration. Today we have with us Nick Howe, Vice President of Learning and Collaboration at Hitachi Data Systems (HDS).
Nick and his team recently launched HDS’ first global online community for customers, partners and developers and it is causing quite a stir due to its’ innovative approach to collaboration. The HDS online community has already been widely recognized by the media and a candidate for a number of industry awards in less than 6 month’s time post-launch. (Disclosure – HDS is a client). However, magic didn’t happen overnight, as many months of strategic planning and development were dedicated to the formation of this online community. It is likely that the online community’s solid foundation may be one of the main reasons why it is experiencing such rapid and ongoing success.
What happens behind the scenes of major B2B online communities? How do traditional businesses like manufacturing use online community to advance? As part of our ongoing series of interviews with outstanding B2B online community leadership, we spoke with Jennifer Mitchell, the Lead, Community & Social Business Center of Excellence at Analog Devices, Inc.
Analog Devices, Inc., (ADI: NASDQ), is an American, multinational semiconductor company specializing in data conversion and signal conditioning technology, headquartered in Norwood, Massachusetts. Their revenues top $2.6B.
Just last week, EngineerZone won not one but two premier awards for B2B online community. EngineerZone was awarded the winning entry for the 2013 Forrester Groundswell Award in the category of Social Relationship, Business to Business AND The Society of New Communications Research (SNCR) 2013 Commendation of Excellence in the Online Community Category Corporate Division.
Online communities come in many shapes and sizes, and serve a wide range of needs. Not surprisingly, the performance of an online community will also vary widely. One reason some organizations do not achieve the results they would like from their online community is a mismatch between the style or focus of the community, and the type of interactions between the members and the organization. There are four styles of online communities: Marketing Megaphones, Lead Generators, Customer Hugs and the coveted but often elusive Innovation Center.
Spend time with your C-level clients so you can understand their desired outcomes. What are they hoping to achieve from participating in the community? How would they measure success? The path to value from participation will be much clearer for them if you answer these questions together. Take the time to develop a strategy before engaging a C-level audience; they are well worth the investment of time up front to get it right.
The world of social business continues to evolve. No one considers it a fad anymore.
A customer shares an insight within your company’s online community. He somehow found the time in between meetings, phone calls and lunch to share a suggestion, idea or complaint in a discussion thread. “It would be great if the XYZ product would … ,” he writes. What does your company do with that customer input? This is the $1,000,000 dollar question — literally.