For my Rosieland efforts, I feel it is part of my duty to question the status quo. Just because something is accepted and done in a certain way, it doesn't mean it is right or can't be improved. Today I'm applying my scepticism to the idea of scaling community.
Are you even a community builder if you haven't been pressured or expected to scale your community? 🤪
Reframing the request of scaling community
When leaders of a business request the community should scale, I believe they do it from a position of good intention yet with a lack of understanding. No business wants to waste money nor do things that they think won't work. It is our job as community professionals to educate them and guide them along a better path.
We can reframe the request of scaling community to something like:
There is no logic in scaling a community if we can't show how it benefits the company funding it. The community will likely be the first to get cut if there is no culture of proving that the community is helping the business grow.
It doesn't matter if the community has loads of members, inbound traffic and a ton of engagement. Problems will always happen when the business lacks real understanding of how community is contributing to business survival or growth.
I don't believe that a community can truly thrive in isolation. To scale, it has to aim to integrate with the business.
Community is the Business
The reality is that community is the business—community needs to be embedded as a way of life. Community can't sit in the corner. It's not something we add on. It's not a place. It's not even tangible. It needs to be in everything we do. It is everywhere. It's how we think and communicate. It's where we choose to invest money. It's how we choose to care. It's what we believe in. It's what we do and don't do.
In fact, this Tweet is something I often refer back to, and the comment from George fits so perfectly into this theme too.
Community is everything. It reaches across the business. This makes so much more sense when we understand the origin of the word 'company' is meant to be all about community. 👌
Community scales the business
So, when leadership requests that we scale community, I believe we can!
But the scale does not come from that community in the corner with its own measurements, metrics and community activities that have little meaning or impact.
The community scales through every part of the business. It is the community that can create impact, collaborate, support and give feedback to all parts of the business.
The community that scales is the one that truly helps the business grow and is proving it every step of the way.
It is one that looks at and maps out the organisation to create a plan of action of how it can embed itself everywhere.
Community will also consider the three categories of people that it needs to connect with intentionally:
- Customers / Audience
Community will go to each category and:
- be open minded
- ask questions
- build relationships
- focus on helping
- gather the people
- curate information
- share insights
- find ways to collaborate
- become an expert on the entire organisation
- become a guide
- be a connector of knowledge, ideas and people
- (etc, this is not a comprehensive list, etc)
The magic is that community will talk to these people every-single-day. (Who else does this? Hint: No one). The most amazing community people have their finger on the pulse. They know what's going on. They can make predictions. They'll know who is who. They are an encyclopedia. They'll help the business make better decisions when given the opportunity to share what they know.
A community scales by helping each department make better decisions. Sometimes this results in growth. Sometimes it is efficiencies and cost savings. Other times it is simply avoiding making bad decisions.
Some examples of how community provides value:
- Community shares stories in the wild with Customer Success
- Community spots talent to help with recruitment (HR).
- Community shares trends with Research & Development.
- Community filters conversations to support Marketing content.
- Community creates Community Qualified Leads to support Sales.
- Community observes customer pains to educate Product
- Community shares customer challenges to prepare Support
Community contributes everywhere
When we see that community can make so many contributions to all parts of the business then we can start to understand how important it is that leadership understands this—they need to understand that this is how community scales.
With this understanding comes the ability to find creative ways to support, communicate, demonstrate and prove the work we do. Community is here and happy to help and how that happens will look different for every organisation.
Tweets that inspired this posts: