Next up in our blog series on ways to revitalize your community: recruiting and maintaining strong community advocates. (Missed parts 1 and 2? Find out more about optimizing for mobile and improving search.)
Let’s start by defining a community advocate. An advocate is an evangelizer, a super user, and more - all in one. They are incredibly important to have in your community because they're the people who really love collaboration and community. You probably know the type. They’re the “gurus”, the first ones to learn a tool and the folks who really love to tell people how to use it. And they are the ones whom people naturally gravitate to in their peer group to ask questions about the new tool.
Some advocates will emerge naturally, which is great. It’s your job to encourage the naturals and to recruit more people to the team. One advocate can’t carry an entire community, but with an entire advocate network, you can enhance the quality of your community while gaining time back to do more big-picture community manager things, like managing a program and expanding your use cases.
How many Jive customers currently have an advocates network? We asked this question in our recent webinar, six strategies for revitalizing your community, and got the following response.
If you’re part of that 19%, awesome. If not, don’t despair - you’re not alone and it’s easy to get rolling.
How many advocates do you need?
We recommend one advocate for every 100 employees. That may sound like a lot, especially in a large organization, but it’s better to over-recruit than underestimate. Being a community advocate is an informal role, so people tend to move in and out of the ability to help depending on their other job responsibilities. It’s important to have a large group because you never know when you’ll need them.
Your advocate network should ideally be a diverse group as well as a relatively big one. They should come from all over your organization: all levels, roles, and locations. It's important to have people in every nook and cranny that you can think of. The more reach your advocates have, the more reach you have to get people trained, keep them engaged, and get the help that they need.
Recruiting advocates is especially important when you have locations in multiple countries. Local advocates understand the cultural norms in their locations, which makes them more effective at managing people in geo-specific communities.
What’s the best way to recruit advocates?
Start with the obvious enthusiasts. Find your advocates among the people you already see in the community who are helping others, posting and answering questions, wracking up a lot of points, etc. These folks are your low-hanging fruit.
To expand beyond the clear candidates, consider using rewards quests. For example, you can create a quest that has a few advanced tasks, then reach out to anyone who completes that quest and ask them if they'd like to be an advocate. One customer I worked with used that technique once a year to identify people. When someone completed the quest, they would send them a little mug and a little certificate and woo them into being an advocate that way. Another strategy is to make it a “gated society”. If you make it a bit more difficult to attain advocate status, with a particularly involved quest for instance, some employees become even more motivated to achieve that special designation.
Once people become advocates, how do we keep them in the role?
There are a variety of ways to show your appreciation for your community advocates.
- Give them a little role badge that identifies them as an advocate, like how every Aurea employee has a little A in AureaWorks.
- Ask them what tasks they’d like to perform to ensure they’re doing the things that they find fun and rewarding.
- Run an advocate-of-the-month program with a small prize (desk swag!) or special recognition.
- Come up with a fun name for your advocate network that works with your community. I work with one customer whose community is named The Bridge and their advocates are the “bridge builders”.
Advocates improve the community experience in several ways, from increasing engagement to boosting adoption to relieving community managers of doing All The Things. Recruiting and fostering an advocate network is a great way to revitalize your community by tapping into the resources you already have - and creating new ones. For more ways to revitalize your community, check out the other posts in this six-part series:
- Recruiting advocates
- Engaging leaders- coming soon
- Personalizing your communities - coming soon
- Sharing your successes- coming soon