Online communities are amazing ways to serve people with the power of a network, especially in a crisis. But one of the main weaknesses of communities is that it can be hard to find and understand their value the first time. In general only 5-10% of a potential customer base ever joins a brands community in most industries because of this. We think that number should be higher, and we have been working on the problem.
The problem is one of visibility, and there is a new solution: Community Syndication. Syndication gets your community seen by putting it where people already are gathering online. The easiest way to explain Syndication is to think of it like a shop window for your community - showcasing any digital passerby your best wares on their way to whatever their destination may be.
To help clarify, we are going to be writing a few blogs that outline some of the general ways syndication can be used to gain visibility, provide social validation to a broader audience, and engage more customers. This is the first of those blogs, and we will be addressing how to use syndication to safely and easily add comments to a blogging site.
“Frequently Asked” Questions, or just the easiest to answer?
FAQs are one of the most common parts of a website because they capture search traffic and funnel questions away from contact centers. But the challenge of FAQs is that someone inside the company has to figure out the perfect answer then maintain, edit, and update them as products and information changes. Also, any updates to the website usually have to pass between multiple teams, like marketing and support, before getting approve Speaking from experience, FAQs rarely have the same priority as most other parts of a company website, so they often get the bare minimum of investment.
Cue the infomercial moment where someone trips over a hose. Community Syndication can make FAQs simpler to manage and more relevant to customers by replacing the FAQ section of a website with the most active forums in the community. But wait, there’s more! Using community content in place of internally-owned material is better for a few very good reasons.
Credibility: Answers are more credible because they come from other users who aren’t compensated to answer questions or sell you more products. In communities, the original poster can also verify that their question was actually answered.
Speed: Since the community decides what becomes important through their engagement, it can rapidly produce new FAQs and improve the way questions are answered. This can be huge in times of crisis when a new issue suddenly has top priority.
Engagement: The customers views, votes, and comments determine what makes questions important in a community. And customers are free to add their own details and further questions to an FAQ if they need more help - further expanding the value for the next person who visits.
How easy is it?
Embedding top community questions into an FAQ site is actually pretty simple - here is what the query looks like in the new Syndication tool in Khoros Communities for this task.
All that is left is a little styling work to make it look like the rest of your site or add various options. We recommend making the syndication a “window” rather than an interface, meaning that people should be able to see they can add comments or likes, but they have to go to the community page to do so. You can also choose to add features like “was this helpful?” so that the content can be improved over time.
Proving the Value of an FAQ
Not only does this get more value out of community posts by increasing the visibility, it also attracts more people to the community to continue expanding this valuable base of knowledge and growing your network of advocates. But can you measure it?
The answer is yes! Community forum posts come with built in ways to measure engagement and efficacy - likes (or Kudos), views, and you can even Verify solutions from among the customer submissions to help increase the search ranking. Verified solutions show up with special tags in relevant search results - making it more likely to earn those coveted organic clicks!
Finally, the community-sourced FAQs save your team a bunch of time and effort - because the majority of answers come from other customers. Therefore my quick calculation for community FAQs reveals 3 main financial impacts.
Hourly time saved from employees creating and maintaining FAQs. This affects multiple departments
Search traffic from organic results that can drive new business. In general, user-generated content like community answers is ranked higher by algorithms than brand-generated content.