Establishing and nurturing a community for your business can take up valuable resources but companies continue to leverage them to remain competitive. As an experiment, a company hid their community platform for four months to see how it would affect their organization. The results speak for themselves. They discovered that it was 72 percent cheaper to use their community channels to provide support while customer satisfaction scores reached their lowest point in history.
Follow us as we dive deeper into the benefits of community-building, how internal communities are different from external ones, and case studies where organizations built and nurtured communities for business success.
The first online community was born over 30 years ago. Called “Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link” or WELL, it gave readers and writers of the Whole Earth Review magazine a place to connect and exchange ideas and it still exists today!
In the decades that followed, business greats and start-ups continued to use community platforms for brand-building and engagement.
Let’s take a look at how some fledgling businesses mobilized the power of community.
Launched in 2013, Porch wanted to make finding home improvement professionals easier for US homeowners. By introducing a simple and easy-to-use web-based interface, homeowners could enter a few details about what they needed and instantly receive a list of recommended professional contractors from across the country.
Porch’s network has since expanded to include home insurance companies, moving companies, and real estate professionals. They’ve amassed more than 11,000 partners who use the platform for their business.
The company estimates that Porch is part of 2 out of every 3 new home acquisitions in the United States. The company was also featured in Cloudways’ list of startups to watch out for in 2022.
Launched in 2015, Figma is a community platform that allows artists and designers from around the world to work with each other. For the first time, groups of designers could work on a single design file through the internet. It enabled a community that was collaborative, borderless, transparent, community-driven, and open-sourced.
Considered to be design’s hottest startup, Figma was valued at $10 billion as of August 2021. With users working at huge companies like Netflix, AirBNB, Zoom, and Discord, Figma’s success shows how collaboration and community are massive selling points for any platform to be successful.
Ryan Hoover, the founder and CEO of ProductHunt, wasn’t deterred by his lack of technical knowledge when he decided to create a tech-based company. What started as a simple email list where investors and friends could track the latest and coolest tech products soon turned into an established community platform.
Today, ProductHunt is a community where people can engage with their teams and discover new products. It has several thousand monthly users and was sold for $20 million to AngelList!
Communities can do so much more than spark discussions. They can make employees and customers feel heard and valued, and bring people together. This in turn can reduce turnover, increase brand loyalty, improve productivity, encourage collaboration, and produce bottom line results.
Internal and external communities exist for all companies whether or not they’ve learned to leverage them. However, if you’re tight on resources and time, you may have wondered which to prioritize first.
Your internal community will have different needs and will require different information and interactions with your organization.
Here’s how you stand to benefit from each type of community.
In most cases, the bulk of your external community will be your customers. This will be further divided and targeted based on your industry and what you’re selling.
The conversation in an external community is usually aimed at increasing brand awareness and customer reach to ultimately increase revenue.
Cultivating external communities has certain benefits.
From a marketing perspective, external communities can be highly beneficial. However, they fail to provide the same sense of unity or teamwork that internal communities do.
Internal communities are branded communities that a company can self-host or be built as part of a company’s website or mobile app.
Companies, including startups are sitting up and taking notice of the value that internal communities provide. This is because internal communities are extremely helpful in achieving startups’ major goals which are to grow user engagement while increasing retention.
An in-app community platform can provide you with multiple venues for these by:
An internal community platform can provide you with access to the people who can give you instant feedback and can empower you to address any issues early on. This becomes even more important when the issues are related to recent organizational changes and current products or services that have just been introduced to the market.
Don’t underestimate the internal community. If you take the time to cultivate, retain, and engage your users, you’ll find it easier to achieve your goals and develop even further.
If you’re looking for successful examples of internal communities, look no further than the American School Counselor Association (ASCA).
The American School Counselor Association is dedicated to providing school counselors across the United States with help in their work with school children. Their internal community platform known as SCENE is an extension of ASCA’s objectives and provides counselors with online community support.
From initially having 19,000 active members in the free community, the organization’s membership has grown to over 30,000 paying members.
SCENE enables members to share content and files such as lesson plans, school programs, and achievements.
It also provides support by providing a venue for open discussions about the latest teaching methods, best practices, problem-solving, sharing of interesting information such as studies, and exchanging ideas.