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A Clubhouse Conversation: Your Customer Community Is NOT Yours

Updated: Oct 1, 2022

Statistics are straight-forward: a 5% improvement in customer retention can increase profits anywhere between 25% to 95%.

In a Clubhouse “Tuesday Tiger Talk” event hosted by LARVOL, a leader in healthcare and life sciences intelligence reports and SaaS solutions, Virginie Glaenzer, Co-founder of AcornOak, shared her cutting-edge thinking on how to build successful customer communities.

Virginie believes that strong brands of the future will be community-driven: “The brands that will survive and thrive in our new disrupted economy will be the ones nurturing a community.”

Having a community means, above all, creating relationships between members and the brand and co-creating value for both. And, that’s when it gets tricky. Many online articles provide the fundamental steps to building a community, however, no one writes about the real challenges of creating a customer community.

The Most Common Challenges

Define your business objectives

A community is not a marketing tactic. It is a business strategy that needs clear objectives. For care teams, one objective can be to enable customers to learn tips and have their questions answered by other customers. For marketing teams, business objectives can include encouraging event attendance, driving website traffic, or identifying brand advocates.

Design your community

Meet your customers where they are and choose a platform that fits their needs:

Telegram, Discord, LinkedIn Group, Facebook groups, Zoom, Substack or a full-fledged community platform such as Mighty Networks or Tribe. Asking your customers what they think is part of the design. Engineer your community around how you will ask questions and how your customers will respond: forms, surveys, group discussions, moderator one-on-one, peer interactions....

Define values and guidelines

Figure out the rewards to create the behaviors you want by first defining your brand community guidelines and values. Human behavior comes from values, which lead to processes, which create behaviors.

The Hidden Challenges

Accept the idea that your customer community is not yours

This is a challenging perspective to adopt. Your customer community is not yours, it’s theirs. For customers to feel a sense of belonging, you need a space for them to voice their own truth. When people feel a sense of belonging, it creates agency which makes a community thrive and engage.

Let go of the idea of control

We all know how our brain is programmed to find a solution and rush to answers, but it’s important to take time to dig deeper into your personal motivations and those of your team and your filters of perception.

Once you’ve accepted the idea that the community belongs to your customers, you can let go of your control by identifying your intentions: What is the story you are bringing in? What are your fears? How do you perceive the world of community? and What are your emotions around it?

Measure what matters

If you want a thriving customer community where people feel a sense of belonging, then measure their agency: How engaged are they? and How far are they willing to go to showcase their trust and belonging to your brand?

Second, measure their creativity: How much content are they creating? How many people are they inviting? What are they asking for? And finally, how responsive are they?

Inspiring Communities to Watch

If you are trying to create the kind of brand loyalty that makes people tattoo your logo on their arms, take a closer look at the Harley Davidson community and how they are evolving.

Clubhouse is also managing its community well. They gave people space to create their own content, they embraced the heat of critics and early pushbacks in open discussions, and they are hosting sessions on how to engage after learning members were confused and overwhelmed.

Another interesting case study is M.M. LaFleur, a clothing retailer focusing on easy-to-wear clothing for women in executive roles. The brand recently launched an initiative to support women running for office with complimentary clothing loans. Using emails, online forms and Instagram, they are a good example of a brand with a strong customer community.

Final Thoughts

  1. Communities are strongest when everyone plays a role: Don’t let the rule 20/80 happen with 20% of the members taking 80% of the air space. Give those who are introverted more attention. Diversity leads to innovation.

  2. We have to remember that a brand community exists to serve the people in it. The brand is just the sherpa, a sort of guide to their customers. In successful customer communities, the brand becomes the supportive character in its customers’ stories.

  3. Smart companies embrace the conflicts that make communities thrive. Don’t run away from tough conversations. Transparent and honest conversations are “la raison d'être” for communities.

A Special Thank You

AcornOak wants to thank LARVOL for the opportunity to share our insights and expertise.

Over the past year, LARVOL’s community has grown steadily on social media and specifically on Clubhouse, where they host “Tuesday Tiger Talk” and “Friday Medical Affairs Chat.” LARVOL's weekly commitment on Clubhouse has created a sense of familiarity and invites its community to rely on them, as the LARVOL team shows up week after week. Their team is extremely transparent and active on social media – creating an environment where the medical affairs community engages with LARVOL’s team personally.

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