My Notes: 2015 State of Community Management Research by Community Roundtable

A couple of notes on the excellent 2015 State of Community Management research results by the good folks of the Community Roundtable. They collected input earlier this year from 206 of their member company communities. If you are running a community external or internal and want to have the finger on the pulse of the latest community management developments you owe it to yourself to join them.

For starter I love their community maturity model. Some of the labeling I would do differently, but it gives you a great overview on the different angles that you should check when you think about the status of your community.

Community Maturity Model

They have a really concise description to every level and  what you need to do to get to the next one.

Reading their results, it gets clear, that still not enough people see the amazing potential their communities can have for their success:

Community Strategy to generate lasting competitive advantage. 

My gut feeling is that from a Hype Cycle perspective we are slowly climbing up the Slope of Enlightenment regarding the strategic difference communities can make within a corporation.

Some notes from reading the report:

  • Overarching goal should be with your community building:
    Creating cultures of shared value and shared responsibility.
    That shared culture is what connects beyond the company boundaries and leads to deeper engagement.
  • Interesting that the external communities sampled are twice as old as the internal ones, 6 years versus 3 years.
  • No correlation between age of a community and their maturity. If you don’t put effort into, aka manage your community you will not mature further.
  • Advocacy programs! My home turf ;-)
    • Yes, dedicated resources are needed for its success
    • I am surprised how many communities have advocacy programs now. Clearly I must have lived under the SAP Mentors rock, that I didn’t notice until now.
    • Interesting that most of the advocacy programs have different levels. Yes, not all size fits all, but depending on the situation the different advocates can fill different roles and, by creating different levels, you are loosing the fluidity. I remember Microsoft MVPs, that were Excel focused, but moved on to Access and had a tough time to transition.
    • Advocacy Groups are the biggest differentiator between early stage and mature communities 8%/35% versus 80%.
    • Yes, provide a formal feedback process for your advocates, or even better give their feedback extra weight in your current feedback process.
  • “In-person events and conferences” budget share percentage goes down in mature communities.
    This one really surprised me. You get such a boost in the deep connectedness from face to face meetings, that it would make sense to increase that budget. May be it is because un-conference style local get together can be done on a shoestring as the SAP Inside Tracks have proven, you may not need to expand the budget to have the benefit. I strongly recommend to put focus and good resources on face to face meetings.
  • Forums are twice as important than any other community feature. Still they are often treated as the read-headed step child of the community. Improving forums gives you the biggest bang for your community buck.
  • Love the differentiation of inactive members to lurkers. Gives much better insight.

The companies that see and act on the strategic advantage that a deeply engaged community brings, will have a long term advantage to their competitors. The 2015 State of Community Management research gives you an excellent status of where most communities are and guides you in the right direction.

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