Posts Tagged ‘community manager’

Top 5 Tips on Redesigning Your Community #socialmedia

Vienna Service Design Jam 2012

Raise your hand if you have been thru a redesign project? Does it stress you out just thinking about it? Or do you envision the beer bash afterwards where you celebrating a 25% increase in conversions? Either way I’ve been there with you!  It is a long, hard process with lots of opinions however over the years I’ve learned the following tips when it comes to redesigning a community:

1. Always think of your customers

Sounds obvious but sometimes forgotten. You’ve been working on the site for 5 years and you think you know your customers – but wait! You haven’t surveyed them or done any focus groups. I’d highly recommend that and it doesn’t need to cost you an arm and a leg. Look up who your active contributors are in your community now and give them a call or even better meet in-person.  Ask them what they want to see in a community and why they would engage with it. That can help shape your site, the engagement methods and even your internal community business process.

2. Use Activity Data within Your Design

The worst thing about going to a party is there is no one there that you know or just no one there at all – the same can be said in a community. If it doesn’t look like there is anybody to answer your questions then you might as well just leave the site and go to the competitors. Activity can be shown in many different ways either by latest conversations, # of registered users, # of users online, # of active conversations or perhaps your Twitter conversations, Try and incorporate one of those data points within your design.

3. Feature contributors/active community members

Reach out to the users that are providing great content in the form of answering questions in your boards, active on Twitter or even in the offline world (yes it exists) like conferences/meet-ups/events. This will allow visitors to the community to see who the other members are and at the same time allow your featured members to bring to their networks that they were featured on your site. That last part will hopefully bring you more traffic.

4. Empower your community to share

In 10+ years fundraising for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, one of the biggest mistakes that I learned is people don’t donate because they aren’t asked!  Don’t assume that people won’t donate and just ask them. Who knows they might be the big $1000 check and will find the next cure for cancer. How does this relate to empowering your community?  Of course, sharing content is all about creating content that is visual, engaging and sparks an emotional connection. If you do all of that you still need the sharing functionality on your blog, discussion boards and wherever on your site to allow community members to share to their favorite network (email or social network).  Look into sharing platforms like addthis or sharethis.  Use the analytics to determine how your content resonates with your community and their community.

5.  Scale your community content throughout your website and emails

The future of community design in my opinion is that it is going to weave into your main website. Most sites now they have a community tab in their main navigation and the sales process is totally separate.  The future (in 1 to 2 years) will change the design of communities and they will be treated as product features within your website. For example, you go to your product page to learn about the product but want would happen if you are given the opportunity to sign-up for the site to get notified when the product comes out (people do this now) but join in a conversation about how excited they are about the product, share it with their friends, find other friends who are else interested in buying or a local meet-up that will be giving a demo in the next month.    This is a fundamental change in philosophy for the web designers and marketers who are usually separate from the community or social media function.  Here are a few simple ideas without breaking the budget (this assumes you have a community now):

  • incorporate RSS feeds of your blog or featured conversations in your product pages or homepage
  • highlight members of the community in your e-newsletter and website
  • add reviews and ratings functionality (ping me if you need vendor recommendations)

Hope this has helped you think about community in a whole different way and make you think how your members or potential ones react to your content. Let me know if you are redesigning your community by taking the poll below and as always ping me if you need help for your specific community.

Randy Ksar
For community strategy consulting, call me at 408.409.9033.

Image courtesy of Flickr user _dChris’

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Real Customer Conversation: Getsatisfaction.com & Suggestionbox.com

I can’t stand getting a customer support ticket # and an automated response these days. The new way of support is get me in direct contact with the product manager of the the product I am using. If the product manager wants to build a better product and actually hear first-hand impressions on a daily/weekly basis then they must engage in conversation with their users. Two new customer communication sites have received lots of press recently that allow an employee to represent themselves within the company forum on steroids: getsatisfaction.com and suggestionbox.com. Both are hosted solutions with getsatisfaction having an API that you can get your web developers on to hook into your systems.

getsatisfaction.com

  • getsatisfaction.com is used by companies like Microsoft, Yahoo!, Twitter, and Paypal.
  • Users can submit questions, share ideas for new features, report issues, or just talk within the discussion board.
  • Moderators of each company’s getsatisfaction web site are noted as employees so you know who you are talking to.
  • They have a feature called overheard which will scour Twitter for any mention of your brand and bring back the conversations for you (the employee managing the site) to respond to.
  • You can have different boards for different products and services
  • Free service right now for companies. I signed up for a Ribbit account a few months ago when I was consulting for them in under 10 minutes.

Suggestionbox.com

  • suggestionbox.com is used by companies such as zappos.com, McDonalds, and Apple.
  • It’s designed more for suggestions (duh) rather than reporting errors. For example, if you are an avid fan of a particular product and you are dying for a new feature that will save you tons of time – suggestionbox.com is the place to find your company’s page and suggest it.
  • Ability to follow discussions so every time you login you can see if anybody has responded to the suggestion.
  • For users to suggest it is free and you can create a profile to manage the suggestions you are following.
  • For companies to have their own suggestion box the price is the following: $49/month, $495/year (2 months free), or for a non-profit $49/year. 30-day free trial is available.

With any of these two services, it is a complete change in communication for your customer support team as well as how your product managers would interact with customers. Training folks on how to respond to customer complaints, suggestions, or issues in a public forum (yes all the data is public) will need to be done. Dealing with a public forum where customers can reporting issues with your products is different and the old school way was to have a password-protected support site. Times have changed in the support world and you the company need to be open with any issues and respond to them efficiently. Getsatisfaction.com or Suggestionbox.com can help you with that but it is a culture change and job responsibility change for the product manager to really engage with.

Have you tried out either services? How do you converse with your customers in a public forum? Add a comment to this blog entry.
-Randy Ksar