The raw definition of community says it is “people living in the same area; together forming a unit, and sharing common interest(s)” (Cambridge dictionary). But there’s more to that: a community means nurturing, providing information and perks to your members and not taking them for granted.
Today, we are discussing if a community is an independent product itself. Seven community managers share their thoughts below:
1. Asha Chaudhry from The Rodin Hoods
Asha believes her community is a product itself. “In my role at therodinhoods.com, I always say we 4 products: content (all of our content is created by our members), community, events and the founder (who is a well known serial entrepreneur/startup mentor/speaker & prolific writer).
Our community relies on a pro-bono system of entrepreneurs. So the community is not only a product, but a brand in itself! We run our community like a startup and though we only promote our content & events (and don’t really market ourselves), a couple of brands have started looking at us as a niche place to reach out to the startup community of India.
Our endeavor is to make the entrepreneur’s journey a little less lonely. We know we are building a unique and valuable product&brand“.
Pretty cool, Asha, keep up the good work! I’m reading about exciting things for the Rodin Hoods.
2. Brian Oblinger from Alteryx
Brian says they have “a multi-year road-map that we drive with regular development cycles and releases. We treat it somewhat like a mobile app with version numbers, a log, and announcements for the major releases on our Alteryx Community. Your users may not be paying for access, but they are consumers of the community product you’re providing.”
[Tweet “If you want them to stick around [referring to users], invest.”]
Hats off for Brian and Alteryx, they seem to know what a community is all about and how to value your community members.
3. Rachel Happe from The Community Roundtable
Rachel is the co-founder of The Community Roundtable, one of my favorite online resources for all-things community related. “It’s helpful to think of anything that produces value as a product, in my honest opinion. The best community programs we work with have community roadmaps, just as you would have for a product.”
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, Rachel. Keep The Community Roundtable spinning (pun intended)!
4. Holly Goldin from Salesforce
Holly runs the MVP and User Group programs at salesforce. She is an absolute believer that a community is a product itself. “I talk about this all of the time. As community professionals, the community is our product, and we are playing all of the roles: creating our roadmap, marketing campaigns, product support, development…everything“.
Many thanks to Holly and congrats for the #bridetobe role, plus for doing such a great job at Salesforce.
5. David Spinks from CMX Hub & Summit
David is the brain behind a terrific place called CMX Hub – a Facebook group for community managers worldwide, which has completely upgraded & changed my life. After launching this debate, he felt like approving the idea: “I always recommend thinking about a community as a product that you have to build, test, adapt and evolve over time. Like any product, a community has to provide value and ultimately, you have to find community-market fit.”
David, you’ve created a force inside a force, and I believe community managers will agree on that. Good luck with your future plans for CMX and beyond!
6. David MacDonals
David says “it depends on the context, I see the community as a new breed of interactive medium of communication. Now that I am reading everyone’s take on it I could see it as a product indeed… but in our case it’s more of a tech support community, a way to boost sale and customer happiness. But in some ways we have to “sell” the community to our customers so they see an added value to use it.”
7. Alexia Johannes
Judging my the enthusiasm shared with 7 other community managers, my question has been answered: community is a product itself, which you can advertise, promote and perhaps even sell, apart from your services or original products.
Image source: Unsplash.com via William White