Community ROI: Embracing Humanity’s Desire to Help

Khoros Alumni (Retired)



In today’s digital ecosystem, it’s a requirement to have a community page. No matter what industry you find your brand or company in, having a place for your customers to talk about your business, find support, or ask questions is necessary. Long before Khoros was Khoros, the founders deeply understood the importance of digital communities. It’s easy to hark about how much value you can pull from having an award-winning community. However, few articles and resources are diving deep into exactly why brands are finding these high levels of value and success with their digital communities. This article aims to change that. 


Of course, it would be a misstep not to recognize some essential realities of running a digital community. The initial bottom line is that running a community costs money. There is no escaping or not paying the hosting, designing, security, and general staffing costs. It could cost anywhere from the low tens of thousands to millions of dollars a year. 

As the intrepid new community, you might find yourself needing to garner more executive support. You have to consider not only why people use community pages but also how you will find value in all aspects of the customer experience by having a highly successful community. 


Care and Community Utilizes Human Desire to Help one Another 

Khoros and several of our customers have proven that customers in need of support rarely care where they receive that support. In regard to digital communities, one of the most engaging types of posts is a support question. Even Google’s algorithm will point customers toward a digital community to answer product or service-related questions. 

This system is adventitious for whichever brand or company owns the community page, but why would any customer spend their valuable time and resources answering strangers' questions on an online forum? 

ParkerH_2-1666026432390.pngFor some community managers, this question isn’t of massive importance. It’s extra work and research to understand why customers answer strangers’ questions in digital communities. However, if your community page starts slipping towards inactivity, you find yourself struggling to understand why your page isn’t being used as much anymore. 

People tend to help one another for various reasons, but it generally breaks down to our evolutionary hardwiring. This will defer slightly from intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, but the rewards are generally the same. One of the most significant motivating factors is that humans are generally socially ousted for being a “freeloader” or “lurker” in communities or social settings. 

In Sebastian Junger’s sociology exploration book Tribe., this isn't a new concept. He explores how helping your fellow human was quite literally law in most of ancient society, saying -


This [helping in social setting] is clearly an ancient and adaptive behavior that tends to keep groups together and equitably cared for. In his survey of ancestral-type societies, Boehm [Anthropologist Christopher Boehm] found that - in addition to murder and theft - one of the most commonly punished infractions was “failure to share.” Freeloading on the hard work of others and bullying were also high up on the list.” 


This concept is the gateway to explaining why humans and, by extension, your customers are beyond willing to help one another. In a digital community, customers are rewarded with likes, shares, and comments when they go out of their way to help their fellow customers. On the flip side, several online communities will punish “lurkers” or people who contribute nothing to the community by deactivating their accounts, ending specific permissions or abilities, or even straight bans for inactivity. 

Now, as a cunning community manager, you could greatly reward certain users for being the most active or providing the most support in the community. This was best seen at Khoros through the Powerschool community

Powerschool needed to implement several new processes and chatbots in the support side of their community. The most effective way for Powerschool to test and implement their new community processes was to invite the Community super-users or ‘mentors’ to test alongside their development team and make suggestions in real-time. 

Using Boehm’s theory of ancient humans punishing one another for non-sharing, your community could promote an event to invite the most active user’s to a new digital event or beta test. 

Powerschool showed that you would most likely see a surge of sign-ups and community engagement by rewarding the users who engage the most with your audience. 


By the Numbers

A healthy, well-used community is almost certainly good for business. In qualitative terms, your new fancy community will improve your NPS scores; your general customer sentiment will improve, and if you do everything right, you might receive some free marketing across the social media ecosystem. 

In terms of quantitative results, let's look at a care instance. A care instance in the North American region receives, on average, 100 contacts a day. This care team just linked the brand’s community page to their self-service suite. Because the community users and community articles simply solve at least 40% of the care team’s daily questions, your care team’s volume will be greatly reduced, plain and simple. 

The bottom line is that by simply using a Khoros-crafted community, you should be able to link both your community and care teams together in one unified system to improve almost all aspects of your customer’s experience. 


For more resources and to expand your knowledge, please visit the links below!