6 Stupid-Taxes to Avoid in Your Online Customer Community


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In life and in business, we try to avoid as many stupid-taxes as possible.

A stupid-tax is imposed when you make a seemingly avoidable mistake that has financial implications or you miss an opportunity because you weren’t aware or didn’t understand something. For instance, if you don’t understand how to set up and manage a PPC advertising campaign on Google Adwords, you could easily cost your company a stupid-tax in the form of wasted budget.

Online Customer Community Stupid-Taxes

Business is full of traps like that. You can even find stupid-taxes in social business strategies. When engaging customers, employees, and partners, there are little things that your organization can do to avoid missteps that can quantified in real dollars.

Here are 6 stupid-taxes that your organization can easily avoid.

Stupid-Tax #1) Not Having a Community Manager

In an online community, the community manager is the person or team that wakes up each morning with the responsibility to make sure that the online community is successful. Without a dedicated community manager, who is visible to employees, customers, and partners, deadlines slips, deliverables are ignored, and the internal blame game goes into overdrive.

Make sure that your online community managers are empowered with the title, access, and authority to work across your organization and customer groups to get stuff done. Here are some tips for selecting the right community manager to get you started.

Stupid-Tax #2) Letting Questions Go Stale

In J.M. Barrie’s story about Peter Pan, it is said that every time someone says that they don’t believe in fairies, one drops dead somewhere in the world. In a less dramatic way, every time a question, comment, or discussion goes unanswered in your online community, the reputation and reliability of your customer community dies a little bit in the eyes of that customer.

Next time they might wait another half day before engaging your community to find an answer. Then, the next time they need help, they may put your community even further down on their list of places to look. Before long, your online customer or member community is a forgotten resource.

Don’t let this happen to you and your customers. Following the “24-Hour Rule” is a simple way to increase engagement and momentum in your online community.

Stupid-Tax #3) Turning On All Forum/Listserv Subscriptions for All Customers

Check your inbox. How many emails did you get yesterday? Your customers or members probably received a similar amount. Now imagine that you join a work-related online community today. Then tomorrow, you receive email notifications and digests from ever group, forum, and listserv in that you have access to.

The manager of that online community has lost you before you even got started. They not only risk being blacklisted by major email providers, but are also training their customers or members to ignore email communication from them.

Instead, online community providers must sparingly auto-subscribe members to only those lists that are relevant to specific customer types, as well as make it clear to members how to manage their subscriptions.

Stupid-Tax #4) Overtly Selling In Your Community

Great! Your customers are engaged! They are talking to you and you have even found many of them willing to cut through the noise and listen to you. Now you can ready your cannons with all of the marketing language that you have been stockpiling so that your customers will go forth and generate buzz, advocate for your company, and build your brand. This is how it works, right? Not so fast “Captain Disengagement!”

You customers or members engage in your online community to support others and get help with their jobs and careers. All marketing and selling should be done with an eye toward providing educational advice and insightful information. Once you have shaped your messages around helping your community become more successful, go through your communication again and make sure it doesn’t have too much of a company or product focus. Your customers will thank you…and stick around in your community.

Stupid-Tax #5) Posting Information for Community Members Outside of the Community

One of the primary reasons that customers or members return to your online community is to find, share, and interact around content that is exclusive to community members. If your target audience can get the same information in the public domain, the social density and activity level in your online customer community will quickly drop. While you should publisher teasers on your public website and on social networks, you must consciously drive members back to your private customer community to get details.

Stupid-Tax #6) Spamming Customers

Due to the credibility of your organization, your customers or members are going to give your online community a chance. You online customer community is provisional for even your most tenured members. Don’t blow it by sending irrelevant information via email.

Use the targeted email communication tools in your online community software to send applicable helpful information to specific customer segments. Studies show that if you can nail this value equation, you can send multiple emails per week without risking being unsubscribed or ignored by community members.

Online Community Takeaway

All settings, strategies, and tools are not created equal. There are things your company, association or user groups needs to know about creating a thriving online community that will help save money, minimize rework, and avoid brand-damage down the road.

Avoiding many of these stupid-taxes takes that same amount of effort as running head first into them. So, take some time and discuss the ideas in the article with your teams to avoid needless engagement, financial, and reputation hits to your online community.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joshua Paul
Joshua Paul is the Director of Marketing and Strategy at Socious, a provider of enterprise customer community software that helps large and mid-sized companies bring together customers, employees, and partners to increase customer retention, sales, and customer satisfaction. With over 13 years of experience running product management and marketing for SaaS companies, Joshua Paul is a popular blogger and speaker on customer management, inbound marketing, and social technology. He blogs at http://blog.socious.com.


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