This is an entry in the B2B - Social Relationship category of the Forrester Research Groundswell Awards 2013.
There's a distinct difference between a 'Support Forum' and a 'Community.' One is simply a bulletin board, a place to go when you need help from other users while the other fosters a sense of belonging and develops relationships between users. In collaboration with Lithium, we are proud to have developed an engaged AdWords Community.
AdWords is one of Google's main products, generating 93% of the company's revenue . The program itself is comprised of a wide variety of users, from multi-million dollar companies to tiny mom-and-pop businesses.
With such a vast group of members, a scalable support solution is particularly important to address any program-related questions that arise and provide strategic guidance to users. Enter the Top Contributors and Rising Stars.
By tapping into the Lithium Community platform, Google Community Managers are able to not only keep track of which members of the community are doing the work of a Top Contributor to bring them into the program, but also encourage those users who are "Rising Stars," and are track towards becoming Top Contributors in the near future.
These two groups of AdWords users are highly experienced marketing professionals who frequent the community, answering questions that range from high-tech troubleshooting to beginning strategy. With more than 120 users spanning 21 countries and languages, the AdWords Top Contributors and Rising Stars are responsible for addressing 41% of community posts, an astonishing feat when you consider that they comprise just 1% of the entire community user base. Their contributions allow for speedy and scalable support to be provided to the wide variety of users.
By handling 41% of community posts, these customer issues are deflected from having to contact the AdWords 1:1 support team. Additionally, the majority of these posts are answered within 6 hours, 33% in less than 30 minutes.
Beyond providing support to other users, the Top Contributors and Rising Stars work with each other and partner with Googlers to foster a sense of unity and belonging in the program. They frequently discuss strategy and collaborate on both reactive solutions to questions posed by users and authoring proactive articles to highlight new or little-known AdWords features. "I found that in researching the answers to questions on the forum, my learning curve on AdWords was accelerated. It was a surprise, and an honor, to be invited to the Top Contributors group," said Pete Bardo, AdWords Top Contributor.
Google hosts an annual global Summit to recognize and support our AdWords Top Contributors. This event enables our Top Contributors and Google Community Managers to engage in person, share knowledge and strengthen the partnerships that originated online.
Fun is also part of the equation for these Google partners. They have a sense of familiarity with one another that often transcends just AdWords to build strong personal relationships both with one another and with Googlers. Don't take it from us, listen to the Top Contributors tell this story themselves:
The success and impact that the Top Contributors and Rising Stars have had on the AdWords support organization is so profound and sweeping that it has given rise to a cross-platform social media branch of the program, currently in development with the Lithium Social Web team for launch in early 2014.
 As of Q2, 2013: http://investor.google.com/earnings/2013/Q2_google_earnings.html
Denise Jack is Lithium's Director of Customer Programs and is primarily responsible for showcasing Lithium customers’ success in social customer experience. She has more than 12 years of experience in customer marketing, technical sales and management consulting. Denise is a regular blogger for Lithium and in the Lithosphere you'll see her as DeniseJ. You can follow her on Twitter at @lithiumtech or @denisejack.
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