A unique blend of circumstances have come together over the past couple of years that have played a part in the rise of online communities. A shift towards remote working, and the rise of the passion economy in particular, means more professionals are looking to build closer connections with others in their sector.
Our client, Professional B2B community platform, Guild, has launched The Periodic Table of Community Strategy©, a graphic displaying the fundamental elements of community strategy.
Forgive me for being slightly biased, but it’s a great visual prompt of all the most important considerations of community, either for those getting started with community or as a handy prompt for more experienced community leaders.
But before we explore the table in some more detail, it’s worth understanding a bit of context around online communities and their growing popularity.
What are online B2B communities and why are they gathering momentum?
Online communities are any space where individuals come together to share thoughts around a shared interest, skill, or profession. In the past these may have been more commonly found in online forums for example. Today, social media platforms are a popular home for B2B communities, as are messaging apps, and custom-built platforms like Guild.
Professionals join these communities to build connections, but also as a way to sense check ideas, gain advice, support and feedback.
With that in mind, it’s no wonder they’re growing in popularity. I think many of us underestimated the importance of the social interactions we have in the workplace before the pandemic. It’s been said many times, but it’s those casual conversations at the microwave or across desks that are difficult to recreate in a remote world.
Similarly, we’re seeing a move away from the traditional nine to five, with people working flexible hours, as well as going freelance or starting up their own ventures. All exciting moves, but they’ve left many lacking a sense of togetherness, and online communities can help to fill this void.
Unsurprisingly therefore, organisations, brands and agencies have begun to recognise the opportunities these groups hold, considering them in their marketing, communications, and customer experience mix.
Guild’s Periodic Table of Community Strategy©
As you can see, Guild’s new resource incorporates the key aspects of community strategy, distilled into a quick visual reference, colour coded and grouped into 10 key areas.
Community strategy is a vast topic, and the periodic table covers everything from the higher objectives like customer insights and employee advocacy, to the day-to-day details of running an online community, like member motivations, community roles, and all-important governance considerations.
Guild’s idea was to provide a tool that helps those involved in community at all levels plan, launch and sustain their communities, and a really valuable aspect of the table is the community engagement techniques shared, from AMAs to audios, tokens to top 10s, and polls to podcasts.
The team have also put together a bit of a ‘go-to’ checklist for a successful community. Find 13 easily digestible tips, from defining your community goals, aims and objectives, to choosing the right platform to host it, to creating a measurement framework. See the rest of the checklist here.
As the way we work changes, and so many digital marketing channels become over saturated and ineffective, the potential that well-run B2B online communities offer businesses and brands is not to be ignored. It feels like we’re just on the cusp of something and those that don’t develop a robust community strategy or offer community as a service to their clients risk being left behind.