What do you think of when you hear the words community engagement? For many, likes and comments immediately come to mind; however, community engagement is so much more. It’s about inspiring people with a common bond, driving the launch and evolution of ideas, and building relationships through collaboration and knowledge sharing.
As the Knowledge Senior Consultant for SAP Hybris, I take pride in our highly engaged community, hybris Experts. Last year, we had over 7,000 questions asked, a 56% answer rate, and 1,200 "best answers" – answers deemed the most relevant and helpful by subject matter experts.
However, community engagement doesn’t happen overnight. It’s challenging and requires passion, dedication, and imagination. Here are five tips to help you succeed in increasing engagement and creating a community experience that keeps your users coming back.
To build sustainable engagement, content must be of high quality. Before launch, I encouraged every department at SAP Hybris to invest in our community initiative and pre-populate content showcasing their expertise. Each department allocated individuals to participate in the community, contribute product-related knowledge, and moderate content. This level of participation from internal stakeholders is critical to community success. Without them, we would not be able to deliver strong content that engages users, answers their questions, and invites them to return.
As a community advocate, it is my responsibility to encourage users to regularly share their knowledge and expertise in the community. When attending the SAP Hybris Summit, I promote hybris Experts to customers and partners and present the advantages of joining the community. When addressing questions, I always explain two primary benefits of community adoption: saved time and increased productivity.
We can all relate to the nuisance of answering the same question multiple times. Not only does this negatively impact our productivity, but it also leaves us frustrated. The problem is a lack of knowledge documentation. However, with an online community, users can capture and share their knowledge in a way that makes it accessible to others, anytime, anywhere. This creates a situation where everyone wins – colleagues can easily find answers and you can focus on your work without constant interruption.
Beyond the advantages of saved time and increased productivity, I also promote our community as an opportunity to have fun. Recently, when presenting at the SAP Hybris office in Munich, I explained the similarities between our experts and Batman. Just like Batman, experts are heroes; they are the individuals that others look to for help and to “save the day” with answers to critical questions. This was the perfect opportunity to highlight our community’s gamification elements and announce that we will be awarding an exclusive Hero of the Month badge to our most active monthly contributors starting in 2017.
I strive to deliver an experience that keeps community members coming back. I created a space in hybris Experts where members share feedback and ideas on community improvements. I also created a dedicated email address that I use to contact Administrators directly for feedback and site recommendations. The feedback from internal contributors is extremely valuable. For example, one request I have received is to take away the penalty for downvoting. Now, I can create an action plan to deliver a more beneficial and enjoyable user experience.
To create a successful community, Community Managers must regularly assess community development and health status. I closely monitor engagement metrics such as response time, the number of questions, the number of answers, and the number of upvotes and downvotes. If I notice a trend in downvotes, this is an indicator that content quality isn’t meeting expectations and I need to look closer at the problem.
To keep my users informed on community health, I publish a report every three months sharing the current state of hybris Experts. The purpose of the report it to promote the community as a strong resource and encourage users to visit the site.
Members will return to your community if they are thanked and rewarded. In 2014, I asked internal experts to help me seed the community with great content. I also requested that they reply to customer and partner questions after launch. To thank my colleagues for their help, I designed a special T-shirt for the top 10 internal contributors. This competition was a great success and those who were awarded T-shirts continue to regularly engage in the community.
Today, I continue to recognize external users for contributions but also extend my thanks to the internal stakeholders who moderate and provide community content. A successful community takes a village – it’s not my success, but theirs. Our users, whether customers, partners, or employees, make the community possible by sharing their knowledge.