Far from being a discipline thrust on the most junior member of the marketing team, I believe community management is the future of all management. The ability to inspire and generate value from networks is what will enable organizations to truly take advantage of a digitally connected, global population. More than anything, community management transforms our organizations from entities primary constructed to control and limit risk to ones constructed to inspire and realize potential. It is THE work of the 21st century.
The challenge for those of us who understand the transformational impact of community management and its impact on social business or digital transformation strategies is how to effectively demonstrate the results. The impact a community can have on reducing costs is relatively clear – whether the cost of sales, the cost of support, or the cost of new hire on-boarding. It is much more difficult to show the impact on top-line performance – how many new innovations were identified, how much additional revenue was brought in or the impact of employee retention. However, that top-line potential is where community management approaches can have the most value. Members of TheCR Network see that value creation every day at the tactical level, but communicating its strategic impact is an ongoing challenge.
This year at The Community Roundtable, we launched a strategic benchmarking service that tracks objective markers of community management maturity and found that those communities with the most mature processes were also the most likely to be able to measure value – 85% of them could. This made us wonder if our best-in-class segment could be used to see more strategically-significant markers of value, so we created a stock portfolio of the public companies in our best-in-class segment.
The results were fascinating - the 'My Portfolio' line are those companies in our best-in-class segment (except for those companies in the segment that are privately held):
This is only a correlation and in no way indicates that community management is the driver of stock value. One could also hypothesize that companies which prioritize the customer and employee experience, and are therefore more likely to invest in community management, are generating more overall value.
The difference IS significant enough to suggest a relationship worth exploring further, though – and that the c-suite should take note. Organizations that are advanced in their use of communities are far outpacing the market.