By Ted McEnroe, Director of Research and Training
Who is the person you most need involved to create a successful online community (other than a full-time community manager)?
It’s not your CEO. Or anyone else in the C-suite.
Our State of Community Management research finds that while getting C-level leaders involved is a worthy goal, the biggest difference between best-in-class communities and the average is in their ability to get those a little farther down the org chart engaged – functional leaders and subject matter experts.
In other words, it’s the not the people who call the shots who help make the community hum. It’s the people who know the answers.
So, are we saying CEO involvement doesn’t matter? Definitely not. Getting your C-suite engaged in community efforts helps you get budget, sell the community to the organization, and drives investment. C-level executives need to understand community growth and ROI patterns to understand present conditions and the future potential and scale of a community approach. Oh, and communities can give executives unparalleled value and insight into and organization and its members and customers.
But when you think about it, the value of subject-matter experts relative to C-suite makes a lot of sense in a number of contexts. Words from top executives define an organization’s culture, highlight beliefs and goals, and provide a guiding vision. Those are perfect to be shared in a community context. But subject matter experts and VPs are relevant to the daily work of the organization. In the 2016 SOCM we talk about how answered questions are at the core of community ROI for an organization – and we’ll talk more about that in other posts. In most organizations, the answers to the daily questions at the heart of the organization’s operations are far more likely to be generated by subject matter experts than C-level executives.
Communities with subject-matter expert involvement may not be more engaged from a volume standpoint (at least the 2016 data didn’t find that), but there’s value generated in their interactions, and it’s that value that helps communities move forward.
We can’t wait to hear what you think – tag your thoughts with #SOCM2016 to join the conversation!
Are you a member of TheCR Network? Download the research inside the Network here.