GDC 2023 was an unreal experience for me and a dream come true. While I was there I got to join the Community Clubhouse event, an insightful gathering that served as a masterclass in community management. The conference showcased seasoned professionals like Christina Camilleri from Netflix Games, Ida-Emilia Kaukonen from Varjo, Petri Lehtinen from Small Giant Games, and Kim Wilke from N3TWORK Studios. Thanks must go to the hosts—Two Hat, Xbox, Helpshift, Keywords Studios, Affogata, and Odin—for orchestrating this invaluable forum.

Community: The Keystone of Modern Business Success

In today’s digital landscape, you might hear the term ‘community’ as often as you hear ‘disruption’ or ‘innovation.’ But don’t let the frequency fool you into thinking it’s just another buzzword in the business lexicon. Community is not just relevant; it’s a core aspect that dictates how modern businesses operate and thrive.

The Digital Shift

Our lives are increasingly played out online—from social interactions to shopping and even learning. This digital shift means that your audience is already congregated in digital spaces. So, if you’re not engaging with your community online, you’re missing out on a golden opportunity to connect, learn, and grow.

The Economics of Attention

In an age where consumers are bombarded with information, earning and keeping their attention is more challenging than ever. Community serves as a sanctuary where like-minded individuals can delve deep into topics, products, or causes they genuinely care about. By fostering a strong community, you’re not just capturing attention—you’re sustaining it.

Beyond the Transactional

Gone are the days when a customer’s relationship with a business was purely transactional. Modern consumers seek an emotional connection. They want to support businesses that represent their values, offer a sense of belonging, and actively engage them in dialogue. And guess where all these can happen? Right, in your community.

A Competitive Edge

Let’s face it, there’s a sea of competitors out there offering products or services similar to yours. Building a vibrant community can be your competitive differentiator. It creates a virtuous cycle where community members not only buy from you but also become your brand advocates, contributing to a sense of trust that no amount of marketing spend can achieve quickly.

So, to sum it up, community is not an auxiliary aspect of your business; it’s a critical driver. It’s where customer loyalty is nurtured, where feedback is harvested for product improvement, and where your most passionate supporters can become your most effective marketers.

Transforming Consumers into Advocates: The VIP & Influencer Angle

Data Point 1: A Nielsen study reveals that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family more than advertising.

Actionable Insight 1: Leverage the advocacy potential of your community members. When they are passionate about your brand, the ripple effect on exposure and revenue can be quite substantial.

Data Point 2: According to the Influencer Marketing Hub, influencer marketing delivers an ROI 11 times higher than traditional forms of digital marketing.

Actionable Insight 2: Influencers and VIP members within your community can be a goldmine for brand amplification. Their endorsement can skyrocket your brand’s reach and credibility. Identifying and collaborating with these individuals turns them into high-impact advocates for your brand.

Learn More: Interested in building a world-class VIP program centered around influencers? Dive deeper into the subject here.

Elevating Corporate Social Responsibility

Often, community engagement is just a tick-box in a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program. This underestimates its transformative power.

Data Point: Research from Cone Communications highlights that 88% of consumers are more loyal to socially responsible companies.

Actionable Insight: Engaging your community isn’t just CSR window dressing; it’s a route to deepening consumer trust and loyalty, which can impact your bottom line.

The Organizational Imperative

Community engagement shouldn’t be siloed as a job for the social media team; it’s an organizational imperative.

Data Point: According to Bain & Company, a 5% boost in customer retention correlates with a profit increase of 25% to 95%.

Actionable Insight: By investing in community engagement, you’re not just nurturing relationships; you’re directly contributing to your organization’s profitability.

Navigating Community Sub-Groups

Communities are often complex, with smaller sub-groups that have their characteristics.

Data Point: Focused marketing campaigns can lead to 20-30% higher conversion rates compared to generic approaches.

Actionable Insight: Understanding the layers within your community allows you to craft targeted strategies, thereby broadening your influence and reach.


Key Metrics for Community Management

Metrics are the compass by which a community manager navigates. But what metrics should one focus on? Here are some of the panelists recommended:

  • Time Spent on Platform: This is an excellent indicator of user engagement and can be an early warning system for potential issues within your community.
  • Player Feedback and Insights: The importance of a structured program for collecting community feedback can’t be overstated. Whether through ambassador programs, periodic surveys, or town halls, gathering and acting on community input is crucial.
  • Sentiment Analysis: Traditional metrics like Daily Active Users or Customer Lifetime Value are fine, but with advancements in machine learning, we now can gauge community sentiment. This could be a game-changer in tailoring your strategies.
  • Feedback Volume: A large volume of feedback on a particular feature or issue can help differentiate between a vocal minority and a legitimate community concern.
  • Mental Health Metrics: Often overlooked, but critical. A healthy team is vital for healthy community management. Burnout metrics, team surveys, and even mental health days can go a long way in ensuring this.

Actionable Strategies for Community Management

  1. Balanced Moderation: The panelists advised a balanced approach to moderation. A combination of machine learning for first-level filtering and human intervention for complex decisions can yield the best results.
  2. Community Diversity: Different strokes for different folks. The engagement strategy for a high-tech community like VR enthusiasts would be very different than a casual mobile gaming community.
  3. Transparency: Community management isn’t a one-way street. Being transparent about what changes can realistically be implemented can go a long way in building trust.

Conclusion

The Community Clubhouse event was a wealth of actionable insights. I am grateful to all the panelists and sponsors who have contributed to this educational experience.

Greg Posner

Avid gamer with a passion for storytelling. My goal is to unpack the narratives of customers, partners and others to better understand how industry-leaders tackle today's challenges.

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