In this time of crisis with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, digital engagement has become the primary channel for interactions. This represents a huge shift for many businesses while most employees are also under a tremendous amount of personal stress. At the same time, however, there has been an outpouring of people going out of their way to help their fellow humans n online communities. A brand community is the best way to help your people help each other, and can substantially ease the load on other digital channels.
There are three 3 main reasons why now is the best time to focus on your online community.
A community is an easy way to quickly communicate relevant, accurate information across a wide variety of audiences. In addition, it is notoriously difficult to moderate misinformation on public, non-owned channels. With more granular permissions than public social networks, moderation tools for large scale conversations, and a focus towards collaboration-first, it is much easier to both produce more accurate communication AND control inaccurate information in a brand community. Finally, communities are a better way to get your information found by customers who are searching for answers: about 62% of traffic in an established community comes from SEO.
Community content is built around collaboration. This means people can ask questions, contribute information, and live updates can occur. As an added benefit, the more activity a community thread has - the higher the search ranking is! Instead of fragmenting your information, focusing on your community actually does the opposite.
With content syndication, APIs, and mobile SDKs, you can link all your various audiences together to collaborate in the community easily by embedding community content wherever you want. Communities are a well-documented way to reduce inbound calls, and that is especially true in times of crisis when the vast majority of people have the same question - and need it answered right now.
There are many things you can do right away to start interactive discussions that have all the outlined benefits. Here are a few practical examples.
First, find out if anyone else in your company, like Marketing or Corporate Communications (PR), is creating a blog or news release. You will want to cross-link with this in your key community post, and probably leverage a lot of the same text (but not an exact copy). The best solution is to agree on a single blog on the Community because of the way community posts generate better search results.
Khoros internal group hub for the current crisis.
With many employees distributed to work from home, now is the time to invest in an internal community, or renew the focus on one.
Here are some of the top tactics we have gathered (and implemented) to populate the space and organize content.
Once you have your crisis space, promote it prominently on your Contact Us page, the global home page, banners on digital properties, social campaigns to highlight community as a channel, and/or put community as an option in your inbound call automated responses (IVR).
Email once and allow optional updates via subscription (avoid spamming your audience). People may have subscribed to your blog, but they didn’t subscribe to the daily coronavirus updates of 250 companies - which is what we are all getting right now. It makes finding important information harder, and that adds stress that nobody needs.
The community is often relegated to a single word under the Support or Resources section in the footer of the site. Now is the time to change that. You can galvanize customers AND your internal resources by making the community front and center in your own space.
This is a popular feature in forums for when solutions are verified, and it can work the same way in a crisis to make the best content also the most visible.
Conversations always seem to go better when you give them a little format and control. It is also easier to limit misinformation by using sophisticated Roles. Here are a few examples of flexible discussions you can have on Communities that can make it easier to disseminate information to large groups of people and still enable interactive discussion:
What I love about communities are how they are built by people who love to help. You should be tapping into these people and looking at them as an extension of your team early on.
AND MAKE SURE TO RECOGNIZE THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS! We have an extensive set of content about this if you want to read more.
Provide them a scripted post with instructions to customers and link to the COVID19 blog and then have them tag all conversations with the same tags.
People are stressed, and sometimes that leads to bad behavior. It’s ok to let it slide a bit for the circumstances. This thread discusses it pretty well.
My name may be on this blog, but a ton of people across Khoros have added insights here @ a bunch of people. For me, it has been a practical application of nearly everything I wrote here. We also expect this content to grow rapidly, so stay tuned and subscribe to this group hub.
Other interesting links I found along the way.
Adobe is giving Creative Cloud free access to students and virtual classrooms:
LVMH to produce free hand sanitizer for French health authorities
This is uncharted territory for all of us, and we are still learning. Do you have anything you want to add? Please comment
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