As a company that creates products that bridge the gap between real life and cyberspace, SitePoint is caught in a constant juggling act of trying to balance the importance of the online community as a support mechanism for customers, and an audience to leverage for marketing.
More recently it has become apparent that you can’t just publish a book and expect it to make money. Customers want more than that. The landscape of technology is changing so quickly that a book only serves to deliver the basics. The real value is in the extra support that is provided.
“We are living in the conversation age, where one-way communication is no longer enough. Savvy consumers with infinite choices across the web expect interaction and engagement and those who can’t deliver will find themselves at the end of the line. What that means is the days of broadcasting your message to the masses and reaping huge benefits are fading fast.” (From ‘18 Rules of Community Engagement‘ by Angela Connor.)
In theory we have all of the options that the savvy consumer is looking for, so how do we engage with them in such a way as to get them to interact? Traditionally readers of our books come to the forums to seek answers when they get stuck. They tend to be beginners and if we are lucky they stick around to give something back once they find their feet. These days that seems to be changing. People ask a question, get an answer, and then leave to finish what they were working on.
Finding new ways to add value to the customer experience is an important part of staying competitive and it is something that we have been thinking about a lot of late. An effort to provide extra tools to empower the community has resulted in the creation ofLearnable and spin off sites (to date Design Festival and RubySource). Creating and energising communities around those sites is my current focus.
But just because we provide somewhere for a community to congregate doesn’t mean that it will. Something needs to happen to engage people. They need to know where to come. They need to know what benefits are in it for them. And once those things are established they need to find a passion that keepsthem engaged. It is no secret that a good community thrives on honesty and creativity. Keeping things authentic and interesting is the key. But the real secret is in adding value. People love prizes. They love sneak peeks. And they love innovation. So if there is something you’d like to see from our community that’ll get you engaged, let me know.
Who knows? You just might get it.
If you want to read more from Sarah, subscribe to our monthly community newsletter, The SitePoint Community Crier.