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Building Communities That Drive Real Value

By Ginny McSwine July 1, 2013

Maria OgnevaDid you know that there are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created every day – so much that 90% of all the world’s data was created in the last 2 years? Did you know that 17 terabytes of that data are on Twitter and Facebook? This means that your constituents have access to more information than ever before – information about you, your competitors and your product category in general.

They can support you without ever talking to you, and can be swayed by messaging if their experience with you is not worth hanging onto. Information is becoming more and more of a commodity. The Deloitte Shift Index tells us that competitive intensity has more than doubled over the past 40 years. All in all, it’t getting harder and harder to stand out and get your cause and brand out.

Communities are the differentiator

What isn’t a commodity? Relationships are that sauce that encourage supporter loyalty and keep them engaged. When someone has a stronger relationship with you, he/she is also more open to messages from you and will prioritize information coming from you over the other 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. But relationship building in traditional channels is hard – it takes time and it doesn’t scale very well. Communities drastically help you scale your relationship building – between you and your supporters and partners, as well as peer relationships between your supporters – without losing intimacy and authenticity.

Benefits of Communities 

Direct access to their peers helps your supporters engage in new and interesting ways, access to organizational support shortens service times, and communicating a message at scale becomes a breeze. Doing everything in the open dramatically accelerates your mission. Having an open and honest relationship with you and their peers creates a differentiator that helps them choose to continue to support your mission.

Build it, and they will come? While selecting the right technology platform for your community is of critical importance, it’s not the only thing to consider. Successful communities create the conditions where members choose to spend time with each other, and work together. There are three main elements to this: shared values (what your members value), shared purpose (what they’re working on) and shared ownership (having built the community together).  A good community manager designs the community space to ensure that all three elements are present, and that members are incentivized to contribute, while deriving the right amount of value.

5 steps to community success Building a community is like building a garden: it doesn’t happen overnight, it needs careful planning, and daily nurturing to build trust and create shared ownership and purpose. While this can seem overwhelming, it doesn’t need to be. Community building is a process of evolution; you’ll discover what you need to do along the way. But to help you get started, we boiled down the fundamentals into 5 broad steps:

  1. Map out goals
  2. Invest in community
  3. Build community with community
  4. Engage hearts and minds
  5. Measure, learn, repeat

Join our free webinar on July 10th at 11 a.m. PDT to learn more about how Salesforce Communities can help you better engage with your supporters and how Health Leads is using Communities to connect patients with the basic resources they need to be healthy. We will also discuss best practices for building a thriving healthy community.

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Maria Ogneva serves as the Product Marketing Director for the Salesforce Chatter Community. She works at to help customers be successful with their business communities.