Community & Crowd
Successful ExOs leverage community & crowd for many business functions, including idea generation, funding, design, distribution, marketing and sales.
The Importance of Community Engagement for Exponential Organizations
When you harness the power of community & crowds, you don’t have to find the right people—they find you.
The success of your business relies on one thing: An established and reliable customer base. Without customers, you won’t turn a profit. So what’s the best way to find customers?
The short answer: Build a community.
An engaged community is critical for any organization’s long-term health and success. This is why community & crowd is one of the core attributes of Exponential Organizations (ExOs). The most successful ExOs leverage community & crowd for many functions traditionally handled inside the enterprise. These include idea generation, funding, design, distribution, marketing and sales.
Who do we refer to when we say ‘community’?
Community, in the ExO context, is made up of a large global group of individuals who are passionate about your massive transformative purpose (MTP) and are directly involved in the main functions of your organization. They are loyal to a shared goal and devoted to solving your organization’s challenges.
Community involvement in business can come from customers, fans, vendors, partners, suppliers and alumni. They are people who have a special bond with your company and are willing to donate time, expertise and even money to make and keep the company successful.
The relationship between the business and the community is based on an alignment of purpose and shared work to advance the ExO’s cause. Authentic community only happens when peer-to-peer engagement occurs. The ExO must regularly interact with the community, solicit its advice, and recognize its contribution to create trust.
The importance of community engagement for ExO’s
There are various ways in which an engaged community is beneficial for a business, including:
- Increasing loyalty to your organization
- Creating new intellectual property and content to engage other members
- Generating data to help increase value and develop more effective solutions
- Encouraging interactions that help build your product or services
- Marketing support when your community promotes your company to their friends and family
- Creating a strong connection between the community and business that keeps them coming back
- Increasing your value for acquisition
Overall, building a community is a powerful means of gathering, curating and storing knowledge for the betterment of your organization.
The Challenges of Maintaining a Community
While the benefits are numerous, there are a few challenges that come with creating and managing a community, including:
Managing a diverse group of people is always challenging and requires a specific type of leadership skill
Cultural and linguistic misunderstandings can cause stress and confusion
Navigating multiple time zones is tricky
Keeping your community for your entire journey requires an incredibly strong MTP
Encouraging continuous engagement involves a lot of work from the organization
How to build a community around an ExO
There are three key steps to building a community around an ExO:
- Create an MTP: Your MTP is there to attract potential community members who share a common purpose. An MTP allows you to create an emotional connection within your community.
- Nurture the community: Spend time listening and giving back to your community. You need to make your community feel a part of something by creating a two-way relationship.
- Create a platform for peer-to-peer engagement: This can be any online/digital channel where your community members can meet and interact with each other and with your organization. Use the tools available to you, including websites, blogs, bulletin boards, and social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Reddit).
There are three key steps to building a community around an ExO:
1. Create an MTP:
Your MTP is there to attract potential community members who share a common purpose. An MTP allows you to create an emotional connection within your community.
2. Nurture the community:
Spend time listening and giving back to your community. You need to make your community feel a part of something by creating a two-way relationship.
3. Create a platform for peer-to-peer engagement:
This can be any online/digital channel where your community members can meet and interact with each other and with your organization. Use the tools available to you, including websites, blogs, bulletin boards, and social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Reddit).
Prerequisites of the community & crowd attribute:
Authentic and transparent leadership
Low threshold to participate
P2P value creation
What about the ‘crowd’?
In the context of ExOs, the crowd makes up a wider group of people who have some potential interest with the ExO (from customers to partners, communities and staff) but just haven’t found out about them yet. While the crowd is much harder to reach, its numbers are much more significant, making it worth pursuing.
While similar, there is a distinct difference between crowd and staff on demand. Staff on demand are hired for a particular task and are directly managed by your organization. The crowd is pull-based, meaning you let the people find you.
ExOs can leverage the crowd by harnessing creativity, innovation, validation and even funding:
- Generate, develop and communicate new ideas through the use of tools and platforms.
- Validate your ideas through measurable experiments.
- Crowdfund to help fund your ideas using the crowdfunding platforms to assemble huge numbers of comparatively small investors—thus raising capital and reflecting the market's interest. Some of the best-known examples of crowdfunding companies include Kickstarter and Indiegogo, FundRazr, Patreon, Wefunder, GoFundMe, and Chuffed for social causes.
The crowd is the feedstock for building your community.
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Building diverse, community-led organizations
Harnessing the power of community and crowd makes your organization more agile and makes you better at learning and unlearning due to the diversity and volume of people involved. The importance of community engagement lies in the abundant opportunities for idea generation, market validation and trust-building. By engaging with your community, you’ll build a life-long loyal following.