Communities have been around since the beginning of time and online communities sprung up very soon after the Internet was developed. Humans have a visceral need to seek out commonality and connect around shared interests - and it is so instinctive that most people cannot articulate how communities come together and thrive. Because of this community management - and prior to that community development - has been seen largely as an art, learned through experience.
One of my goals with The Community Roundtable was to observe and consolidate the practices of community management - and in doing so, make them more explicit and understood. After five years of learning together with our members, and documenting practices in hundreds of reports, we know what the core practices of successful communities are. This is not to say that good community mangers don’t also bring a magical element to the practice, enabling them to connect and orchestrate amazing experiences, but we do know from an operational perspective what kind of management elements are key to successful communities.
Our State of Community Management research this year showed us that of those communities that have the best management practices, 85% of them can measure their value. That suggests that taking a community approach is no longer a gamble and much closer to a sure thing.
Some of the markers of successful community management programs are:
- A multi-tiered advocacy program
- A community management playbook that documents how the organization engages with different constituent groups
- An owned community space and infrastructure
- Metrics that track not just activity but changes in member behavior
Now that our research has matured, we can assess the effectiveness of an organization’s community management system and are rolling out a Community Performance Benchmark. We think that by focusing on the performance of the system, it will enable organizations to produce reliable, scalable business results from a community.
This is the culmination of one of my primary goals when starting The Community Roundtable and I couldn’t be more excited to share it because I believe that a co-creation is the future of organizations - identifying shared goals and then building solutions together. Because of this, the future of all management is community management and it’s a critical strategic competency for organizations to develop.