The world of online community management can be as simple or as extravagant as you want to make it…or for what your budget will allow. There is no one tool to rule them all, but with the right combination of solutions you can create a pretty incredible community management stack. The research for which platform is right for you and your organization will be up to you, but would be ideal to set up a committee to help you decide what would be ideal for how your company runs. You don’t need much to get up and running but consider a few areas before diving in.
Email’s death has been greatly exaggerated, and is still an important tool when starting a community. Most communities will not be the #1 destination online for your members and the occasional email may help bring them back in or remind them that they should take action on something when needed. The trick is not to overdo the amount of emails a member receives, and to think carefully about the communication journey a member is on. The onboarding email with all of the necessary links and a few suggestions being an important first step. Any other touchpoint you may want to bake into your roadmap such as when they have a new connection or if they want to receive communications regarding specific topics should be options in the settings of your community platform.
Community Platform or Forum Software
The home of your community should be either built in house or provided by a trusted third party vendor (Like Honeycommb 🙂 Getting to the stage to select a third-party platform starts with gathering your requirements and building a list of what you find most important to your brand and your community.
Choose a platform that has a vested interest, and a flexible roadmap for features! Your community product should be an extension of your brand and be easy to find for any prospective community users. You may also choose to have forum software or knowledge base on your site if you have a customer service heavy community.
Depending on the type of community you have, you may need to keep a vault of up to date resources and information that makes it easy for people to reference. Materials made in-house, product guides, industry thought leadership, or even a directory of people may be of use to your community and something that not only needs to be easy to use, but is managed, timely, and relevant.
A CRM System
A customer relationship management tool (or CRM for short), usually is not up to the community manager; but this is an extremely important layer in your community stack. Typically this is something big like Salesforce or HubSpot, but could be any number of companies. This tool is where you will keep all of the information you have on your members from your community platform such as name, birthday, email address, location, and anything else you collect from their profiles in your community platform. It’s critical that your community platform and your CRM system are compatible if your organization utilizes one. Work with your IT team to manage this.
If you’re using a community platform that leverages Custom Fields as part of the user profile, ensure that the data from those custom fields can be shared and sent to your CRM of choice.
Survey & Poll Tools
From time to time you’ll want to bake in surveying your members into your roadmap. The cadence will be up to you but it should be consistent (a question when they log in vs. a 10 question survey once per year) in order to measure results over time. This will be helpful to you to make sure you’re achieving your goals and that your community is happy. When you notice a dip in results you can review and course correct as needed. Your organization may already have one, but if they don’t here’s a list of the most popular ones.
Social Media Management System
Much like a CRM system, this may not be directly up to the Community Manager if your organization also has a Social Media Manager. If your marketing team has access to a social media management system like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, or Social Studio you may want to get access in order to post community related topics, or work with that team to manage messaging through them. If you’re also in charge of social, Buffer has an excellent list of the Top 25 Management Tools.
Signing up for Google Alerts or Factiva may help you stay on top of any news about your organization that you can share with the community, but also any VIP member or customer company. Keeping an eye on daily or weekly alerts will help you build out the content on your site and keep you and your members in the know.
Project Management Software
You have already built out your strategy and roadmap and you will need something to keep you and your team on track. Also, you want your executive sponsors to have as much visibility into where you are and who’s tasked with what as possible. Trello has a great overview of how to keep your managers informed, but there are many options out there for keeping all of your community projects organized.
As you’re getting started you may not need all of these tools all at once, but as you scale you may need to add them into your roadmap. Managing a small community of a few hundred can be managed out of a google sheet, but once you get into the thousands or even millions you’ll have to scale up your community stack. Best to bake these thoughts into your plan early on!
Reach out to Honeycommb today to get started and chat with our team about effectively build your community stack and make sure you’re set up for success from Day 1: Book a Demo to see what we can build together for your people!