Digital Community Trends That Matter

April 2, 2020 by Andrea Williams
Read in 4 Minutes

In the era of experience, how you treat your audience matters. Here are the trends that will help you make the most of it.

Welcome to the era of experience. In this epoch, the way we treat our constituents more than anything else. The experiences you deliver to your audience should please everyone including customers, users, employees, partners and stakeholders. It’s the most vital “product” of the modern age.

The challenge is not just providing a positive and desirable experience, but continuing to optimize it more and more through routine updates and revisions. That ensures new audiences will not just take notice, but also join in, ultimately creating a brand community. 

Each community is comprised of many different personas, which allows businesses to truly hone in on what their audience wants. Also, the personas always want the latest and greatest information regarding the companies they support, mainly concerning the facets they care about — whether that’s product or service-oriented.

That is precisely why ‘communities’ will never go away. We must begin to equate the idea of experiences with our communities. Only then can we start delivering optimized services and products for all.

Delivering Community Experiences Online

Most of the services and features that communities revere are related to always-on and mobile-friendly communications. From a business perspective, it couldn’t be any better because those types of features also help generate perpetual engagement.

Despite how apparent it is that communities want better and more robust experiences, there’s no direct answer about how and what you need to do to get there. As a business, what is it that you need to provide your internal and external communities? What is your X factor?

In short, the X factor in business is basically what you’re offering clients, customers and supporters that your competitors don’t. By understanding what it is, and honing access to it, you create intangible value for your business and products. What the X factor looks like for a digital community is remarkably different than what it’s been in the past.

Because we need to incorporate more of the X factor into our digital and online communities — don’t forget in-person groups too — there are a handful of trends that will have the most significant impact:

  1. Scalability: Above all, new and maturing communities are looking for ways to scale. Often, it means the tools and platforms they use have to be scalable, too. The tools must also provide the opportunity to increase reach, maximize programming, and iterate faster. More accessible tools always rank higher, because they foster continuous content delivery without the need to sacrifice price or overhead.
  2. Messaging: Facebook, Twitter and other social programs are great mechanisms, but a robust community software they do not make. Messaging tools have to be factored into your digital community to facilitate meaningful conversations. The delivery of how and when we communicate is extremely important. So, when it comes to messaging, the entire communication lifecycle has to be factored in. That includes SMS notifications, in-app alerts, top of the feed algorithms and more.
  3. Seamless Online and In-Person experiences: Live events are a way to engage community members and provide additional value throughout the year. Multiple events can bring people together at a location. But what happens when they leave? Is the experience over? It shouldn’t be. Consistent operations, communications, and channels across all types of interactions keep the experience top-notch. The tools you use at an event should mirror the tools you use all year long.
  4. Audio: Thanks to the rising popularity of podcasts all over the world, communities are gearing up for more audio content and in-app media experiences. When resources are available, offering up content in soundbites or a podcast format helps to increase content engagement, especially since people are on-the-go now more than ever. 
  5. Metrics, Metrics and More Metrics: There is no better way than to learn about your community than through gathering and analyzing data. You can discern likes, dislikes, usage, needs and more. But it doesn’t stop there, because you have to use that data to enable positive change in your community. By starting a new initiative, reprogramming your content, adding new features, and updating usability you can continue to grow the experience through perpetual improvement.

Widespread collaboration, to create an always-on omni-channel experience is the surface solution. To genuinely achieve perpetual engagement from a community — any community — the brand experience must be seamless and more accessible than ever. What is your X factor and how are you delivering it to your community members?

Andrea is the Director of Marketing. She is passionate about hand-crafted brand messaging, marketing, and product stories at the intersection of market trends, development, and go-to-market strategies.