How to launch a community that fuels growth

In order to establish a community that contributes to revenue growth, you must provide the systems to facilitate conversation (e.g., forums, Slack, Twitch, etc.) and create regular programs that seed relevant content to spark new ideas among participants. Here is a 4-step roadmap to help you get started.

1) Define your community persona
Clearly define the target end user segments and the unique value proposition to establish your community persona. The persona should be consistent with the core value your product delivers and adjacent topics. To that end, I recommend that you start with the product use cases that have the highest adoption within your core group of customers. It will be much easier to build a vibrant community with the people who have the highest affinity for your products.

Focus on end users first. Generally, you want people who are subject matter experts and are highly engaged in their field to contribute to the conversation. Finally, you will want to evaluate where there are potential gaps in the knowledge base and broader market trends where your core end users will be qualified to and want to contribute. These topics must be product agnostic to attract observers who are interested in learning and engaging about the core subject matter but will not know your brand.

2) Establish your technology foundation
Once you have defined your community persona, it is critical to establish foundational community infrastructure including documentation, forums, and technology to facilitate community interactions. As your community matures, you may need more sophisticated technology, but we recommend starting with a community platform. The community platform becomes the forum on your website where end users and your organization collaborate,

3) Recruit internal and external influencers
While you are getting your infrastructure in place, establish an inner circle of influencers who are both subject matter experts and well known within the broader ecosystem of your target persona. A deep bench of both internal and external influencers will attract new members, create content, and engage in conversation.

Start with your internal influencers: Identify both the key product experts and the personalities in the company who are most comfortable and capable of engaging with your community. In addition to assembling the internal squad, create a strategy to identify, prioritize, and recruit external thought leaders, based on their reputation, credibility, and the size and quality of their audience. Building relationships with thought leaders with smaller reach, but who will regularly go to bat for the community, will help grow organic adoption, rather than recruiting rock stars in the space who are more superficially involved.