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External Communities

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Every marketer from Boston to Bejing seems to be focused on something called the “customer journey.” A Google search on this two-word phrase returns over 627,000 results. It’s one of those “Eureka!” moments – organizations realize buyers start researching a firm’s products and services long before they reach the point of purchase. These firms are now scrambling to find and engage with those customers while they are still on the move and before they arrive at a sales destination decision. But I gotta tell you, this is not news to those of us in the online community world.


In fact, the customer journey has long been an integral part of the online community experience. Many – dare I say most? – online communities make “the journey” a key part of their mission, aiding the customer before, during and after the point of purchase or other key decision. Communities are dedicated to helping customers and other stakeholders understand, explore, question and learn about products and services.


This “Ah-Ha!” moment for the customer journey highlights two different but parallel approaches – let’s call them tracks – for understanding this process: one is mapping the customer experience; the other is building customer engagement. In our ever-more-connected world, these two tracks are now merging to become one.

Making the Connection: Online communities and the Customer Journey

In our new world of customer-focused and customer-driven interactions, many firms struggle to engage and communicate with prospective and existing customers at appropriate times and places along the customer’s journey.


For example, when a sales person reaches out to a prospective customer, often the sales person has no way of knowing where this prospect is in their purchase cycle. Another example: anyone who has worked in customer service knows that customers typically wait to reach out to a company for assistance only after they have reached a high degree of frustration with their purchase.


Now imagine if a firm were able to build a relationship with a prospect during their research phase, or engage with a customer before their purchase problem reaches the breaking point? This is what online communities offer: a way to break the cycle of mis-timed outreach and catch-up customer care. Community offers a powerful way to move the buyer’s experience from episodic chaos to a more consistent, confidence-inspiring and customer satisfaction-building trip.

As the two tracks of customer experience mapping and engagement come together, let’s identify the four phases of the customer’s journey: Awareness, Evaluation, Purchase and Retention.



This is the initial phase, when the prospective customer hasn’t fully defined what she is looking for. She may not have a clear understanding of problem she is trying to solve, so identifying a possible solution is difficult. A community is especially well suited to supporting customers in this awareness phase. A vibrant and engaged community signals there is strong customer support for prospective buyers. User-contributed content – questions asked and answered – plus sponsor-contributed content speeds up the problem and solutions identification process, which might include specific product and service recommendations. All this occurs while the prospective customer is building relationships with community members.



During the evaluation phase the prospective buyer winnows the options and examines product and service offerings in detail. It is comparison shopping. One advantage a community can offer is creating a single point of reference and collaboration for a buyer’s team. Online communities bring together a wide range of content and conversations within a single environment. It becomes the place for a single buyer or a team to share information and compare options. The community supports information-gathering from many sources but places all this content in a collaborative framework which supports comparisons and discussions about needs, preferences and decision factors.


Consider this situation: our buyer posts a question directly into an online forum and receives a range of responses from other community members. Some of those members will have been through the evaluation phase and made a decision. Some will be in the same state of uncertainty as our buyer. Still others will have long-term experience with the outcomes of a purchase decision. Many voices, many shared opinions. Where is the voice of the firm?

Some advanced-thinking organizations have created specific discussion areas to talk with prospective buyers — dedicated forums staffed with knowledgeable sales people who can respond open way to a buyer’s questions. These skilled sales people must have incentives to participate and training in the techniques of consultative selling to interact successfully with customers in a community environment.


First Purchase

At last! The buyer makes a decision and becomes a first-time customer. The psychology is similar to other kinds of journeys; by turns exhilarating, exhausting and complicated. And once the traveler gets to the destination, the party can begin.


But this is also a delicate time for the company, because – as with a first-time traveler – the new buyer’s expectations are exceedingly high. Every new customer’s interaction with the firm is memorable. With a complex services purchase, for example, once the papers are signed and the buyer’s team dives into the project, the selling firm had better be ready. The new customers will begin making connections inside the company and with other customers outside. They become voracious learners. They are eager to prove this was the perfect decision — no pressure on the seller there!


An online community strategy can really pay off here. There are so many ways community interactions can accelerate projects and delight the new customer’s team. If there is a formal account management team in place, their presence in the community can help speed the pace of information sharing, support and relationship-building.


Another way to look at this is to consider the alternative: what if new customers were unable (no place to go) or unwilling (who are the people who sold us this?) to interact with your firm? They will take their questions and concerns to other online venues, such as: a community operated by enthusiasts or experts with no connection to your firm; an outside standards organization; a competing firm.

If your firm is not part of the conversation, it can’t answer questions; verify the accuracy of information shared or follow-up with customers. A community is your company’s opportunity to respond with accurate and authentic information.


Customer retention

Customer retention is the outcome of the three prior phases. It’s the desired end state for customer relationships — Gartner Group states 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers. What firm doesn’t want to create customers for life as part of their overall strategy?

But how many companies make building and sustaining that “customer for life” a goal? In a world of fickle buyers, loyalty is hard to come by. Switching costs are at record lows. The choice to remain a customer is critical for both the customer and the company. How does the customer feel? How did the interactions and support go? Were they listened to? Did they feel whole in the end? An online community attuned to these concerns is very powerful instrument for keeping customers.


Online communities don’t always replace traditional support models, especially with complex purchases. But well-executed communities can help the customer when they experience “The Middle Of the Night Problem,” when there is no one to call. And feeling heard and experiencing ultimate responsiveness goes a really long way with customer retention and how they feel about your firm.


This post originally appeared on Leader Networks

To the leadership and employees of Jive Software,


Have you ever heard that small is the new big? Well, I'm here to tell you it's true.


A year ago I embarked upon an unknown journey to find a solution.  You see, the local media broke the story before I had the chance to think through how I was going to make it happen.   A few cocktails later, a prayer my husband wouldn't divorce me, and 2 nods from industry giants, Shell and Halliburton and Pink Petro was born.  It took me 6 weeks to find, vet and sign a contract (albeit Billy Volpone and Todd Didier not letting me say no) to become a JiveX customer and to get a private paid platform built to connect talent in my industry.


And in 8 weeks we launched Pink Petro with community and UX expertise from Amara Mastronardi and Ben Zweig at Social Edge.  Since March, we're in 21 countries nearing 600 members and just past our 6 month mark.  To add to this "crazy"....I've had 30 city requests across the world to forum "hubs" - local groups that can meet up while members can use the platform to stay connected.  We're launching all over the place.  Check it out:








Next month we launch in Alaska and in London and begin interest formation in the Middle East.  Who knows where we will be in March 2016?


Oh yes... my email is jammed, I get very little sleep... but I get up every day (not knowing what day it is), with an extreme sense of purpose.   For once I can say my industry is not just a commodity, but creating real community.  And I have you to thank for it.  Thank you for believing in this and helping me bring together women across the world to help them succeed in their careers.


Has this been a slam dunk?  No.


Pink Petro was a use case that took us  all some time to understand.  But we're on the cloud and we're making the JiveX cloud version do things it's not done before...we're innovating.

Having relevant products and customers who love them means you must push the limits and understand where innovation can drive more value.  And my members wants more...so it's important you continue to think about what the customer wants before he/she knows they need it.  Many social networks are going private, and in my industry, one that has a hard time communicating and collaborating, it's been game changing.  Using Pink Petro gives energy leaders and influencers a taste of Jive in the cloud.  (I know...The cloud is this scary place for big companies but I'm proving it's the only way to get to your value quicker... while exposing tools to a new user base that lives on old stuff: Ahem, Yammer.  I digress.)


But the use case for private communities is actually more common than you think. I'm not the only one on the JiveX cloud.   I've been innovating with another small business customer, C-Suite Network and its CEO, Thomas White. Together we're creating a vision that brings Jive to a new user base.  And those influencers can mean more Jive customers in industries and verticals where Jive can make "working better together", a reality.


Finally, contrary to politics and popular belief, people in energy care about our planet and want to find sustainable ways to fuel it.  I want to change that perception and believe women in my industry will be a part of that.  And it's Pink Petro that's going to be the catalyst for that change. 


So just know that sometimes you may feel like you're small when really you're a part of something bigger.  I think I am Jive's smallest customer but the impact we're making together is big.


Thank you for being a part of this.  You're all great people who build great things.


Katie Mehnert

Founder and CEO, Pink Petro



PINK PETRO STATS - (From Member Survey - Collected Oct 2015)


A huge thanks to everyone who was able to join us for Wedneday's hybrid Jive Live / Talking with Product webinar led by our VP of Global Support, Kevin Williams, on the topic of "How to Create an Award-Winning Support Community." We discussed how to create a world-class support experience using Jive-x and covered several best practices for ensuring that case volume doesn't increase along with your customer count. If you weren't able to make the live 45-minute presentation, please check out the recording below! And as always, if you have any questions for Kevin, feel free to add them here.



In case you missed our awesome webinar yesterday— Victor Soares and Deepti Patibandla led a presentation on our best practices for combatting the most recent round of Korean spam attacks and the new product features coming this year that will make it even easier to protect your community. We encourage you to check out the recording below! It's only 30 minutes long, but packed with tons of great information. If you have additional questions for either Victor or Deepti, feel free to add them here!



Join me and Deepti Patibandla on Tuesday, Sept 1 at 9 AM PDT for a webinar on external community spam. We're going to talk about the recent spam attacks that have been impacting communities and how to configure your community to prevent spam. Deepti will present the roadmap for spam prevention which includes a major change in how Jive will prevent spam on Jive-x communities. Put together your list of questions and see you Tuesday!


Register for the webinar here: Webinar: How to Stop Spam in Your External Community


Jive Customers, Spam Management Ideas - come join us!

You've experienced how Jive helps you support and engage your customers. Don't your employees and peers deserve the same? If you're a Jive-x customer and you refer us to your internal communications team, HR leadership, or your peers at other companies, you'll receive a Jive jacket when we land a meeting! If your referral becomes a customer, you're going to JiveWorld16 on us! Interested in participating, or have questions? Contact Katie Herd at theteam@jivesoftware.com or visit http://jive.to/JW16.


Good day everyone,

I recently participated in a CM discussion about managing a community team as well as social efforts.  After responding, I thought some within this community would find them helpful; so here they are.


I have 10 engineers who assist within our community. Their prime responsibility is to help increase communication and interaction levels within the community as well as promote and confirm knowledge so answers can be provided to customers in a timely manner.  It is important they concentrate on engagement and asking questions rather than providing answers for two reasons.

1.  Communities work becuase people want to help others and share their knowledge; if we simply rushed to provide answers, members and power users who wish to contribute would stop coming.

2.  Athought they are not providing answers, being part of conversations shows we have a company presence within and care about what our members have to say.


I hold weekly meetings with the team to discuss:

1.  Traffic

2.  Their activity: log-in, comments made, comments they made marked helpful by community members

3.  Training and best practices with examples from within the community


Best practices for online behavior are:

  • Read twice, post once.
  • Write in the first person.
  • Stay on point; keep discussions relevant and germane.
  • Some conversations need to be moved outside of our Community.
  • Remember that you represent the company / brand as well as yourself when you engage.
  • Allow Community members to answer first, then confirm the solution.
  • Offer value, avoid redundancy, and be sure to read the other comments first.
  • Keep discussions professional; never resort to insults, slurs, or obscene language.
  • Protect your credibility. Correct your mistakes, and don't alter previous posts without indicating that you have done so. Transparency is key, and expected.


Regarding Social: I use twitter and LinkedIn to drive traffic to specific discussion within my community and track progress with Hootsuite, utm codes, and Google Analytics.


I look forward to your comments, additions, and suggestions.







Constellation ResearchJive Software

Alan Lepofsky.jpg

Alan Lepofsky

Vice President & Principal Analyst

Elizabeth Brigham.jpg

Elizabeth Brigham

Director, Product Marketing

Communicating important and relevant information across multiple departments is a challenge many companies face today. There are many ways to deliver information, but in the technology driven world we’ve all become accustomed to, mobile is a key piece of the tools utilized.


Constellation Research has deemed that in 2015, mobile will become a standard way of working and real-time communication will become simpler.


Join this fireside chat with Jive and Constellation Research to learn:

  • How employee mobile communications is the missing link to get companies thinking more strategically.
  • How mobile communication tools can align departments on the company goals and objectives.

Main_Page_Pink Petro copy.jpeg


Hey Jive community, and especially those of you focused on External Communities, please give our friends at Pink Petro a warm welcome!

Pink Petro is a new community for women in the energy industry to help female leaders seize career opportunities and work together to solve today’s energy challenges.  Katie Mehnert congrats to you and your team in leveraging Jive-x to drive such positive change!

I always love seeing all of the different use cases that get implemented, but I must admit I really love seeing the Jive-x implementations that focus on specific target audiences like this community.  And I know Jive-x will help Pink Petro achieve its goals to unite, connect, develop and grow the number of women working across the energy industry.


I thought I'd also share this video about Pink Petro as well to give anyone interested just a bit more context on its mission and maybe some of our own Jive customers from Cameron, Schneider Electric, BG Group, Sun Edison and other companies want to get involved!


Also, here's a link to the actual press release New Social Collaboration Channel Aims To Advance Women In The Energy Industry (NASDAQ:JIVE).


Heads up to everyone in the Texas User Group as well!

CMSF.pngIt’s a great time to be a community manager! Organizations big and small are beginning to recognize that managed communities can help transform organizations, making them more resilient in a digitally connected world.


Yet, while the discipline of community management is becoming better understood, the specific roles within the discipline are still often poorly defined, measured and rewarded. We know from our work with community practitioners that there is a huge range in experience, responsibilities and compensation among community managers – it is not a one size fits all discipline. We also know that many people still believe community management is mostly about updating Facebook and Twitter. 


Quite to the contrary, we see community professionals playing a unique, strategic and under-valued role in evolving their organizations - helping them become more responsive, adaptive and innovative. Community professionals can be front line engagement specialists, and they can also play a critical strategic role in organizational transformation. At the same time, many community managers are frustrated by a lack of recognition, compensation and advancement opportunities - often epitomized by completely unrealistic job descriptions.


Our mission at The Community Roundtable is to advance the business of community and research has always played an integral part of that – helping people understand the dynamics and management approaches that build successful communities. We’ve made great strides at the macro level with our State of Community Management research and our Community Maturity Model framework, but we needed to apply the same research approach to the role of the individual community professional. With that in mind, we undertook our inaugural Community Manager Salary Survey, made possible with support from Jive.


This research documents the roles, skills, responsibilities, compensation, evaluation and professional development opportunities of over 350 individuals in the community space today.


What we found was enlightening:


  • Community professionals on average have 13 years of work experience, suggesting that while entry level jobs exist, they by no means represent the average community professional
  • Community job descriptions are poorly rationalized between experience required, responsibilities and compensation - making it challenging for organizations to hire and hard for community professionals to find challenging and exciting roles that won’t burn them out.
  • Less than one-third of community professionals find jobs through traditional job postings, making the career path opaque and hard to navigate.
  • Community executive roles are increasing, suggesting that community programs are growing in strategic importance as organizations understand the value they generate


Most notably, along with the research findings, we developed the Community Management Skills Framework, included here. This framework helps individuals, managers and organizations understand the scope of community management roles and the specific priorities of each through the four skill families found within community management:


  • People and engagement skills
  • Content development skills
  • Strategic and business skills
  • Technical skills


The full report helps answer the following questions:

  • What is the role of a community manager, community strategist or director of community?
  • How to define or refine the role to be more realistic for one person?
  • How to bring compensation in line with responsibilities?
  • What is a good starting point for building a job description?
  • How to help the HR team define standard job categories and descriptions?


We hope you’ll download this research and use it as a springboard for discussing these issues in your organization, and in the broader field of community.


Additionally, if you are looking to enhance your own skills in community management, Jive and The Community Roundtable have partnered to offer both internally- and externally-focused professionals training on community management fundamentals. This is a fantastic resource that provides short video tutorials combined with actionable worksheets  - you can access both courses here Jive User & Community Manager Training.

screenshot-www.htcchampions.com 2015-01-26 13-19-22.png



I feel a bit foolish as I know this is past the due date, but good intentions are just that - intentions unless acted on.


Regardless, I still want to take a minute to share our community. Our community is a brand advocacy and training motion where retail store associates in wireless carriers can come and learn about HTC products and interact with the company. We have a shop where users can spend points they've earned for doing things like trainings and other productive actions we incentivize them for. We also run sales incentives on a fairly regular basis for them to participate on.



I've received a lot of great feedback over the past year on how HTC Champions is a great place to interact with others in the industry and learn about HTC products, but this is some of the only feedback I've got on file. The comment is on a riddle I did for Champions around Christmas time to give them a boost in points for their 'Christmas' spend in the shop. The riddle had actions hidden within it that they had to do to complete the mission. Here's a handful of some of the couple hundred comments we received:


Positive Feedback.PNG

Hi guys, this is my baby!


screenshot-nimbus-screenshot.everhelper.me 2015-01-21 14-31-26.png


Suporte Online is a support community for BETA's, TIM's clients of an specif pre-paid plan called TIM BETA. They are mostly young people, heavy users of social media and always connected (just a little note here: in Brazil, not everyone has a smartphone because of our network structure).


The community is 100% moderated, but we've created seed content so they only create discussions when is really needed. The pilot has 3k users, but everyone can see the content, and we've had a lot of daily activity from these non-registered users. Even though the project is recent, we've seen some decrease on clients calls, because they've found what they needed on our community.


It's been a great work, I'm really loving it!




Jive Community managers, you've poured your heart and soul into helping transform the way your company connects, collaborates, and communicates.  Sometimes this transformation is focused on customers, sometimes its focused on partners, sometimes on employees, and for the truly heroic social and digital strategist it's all three.


Starbucks coffee.jpgAs a small token of appreciation for all this hard work, we want you to go to Starbucks, on Jive!  But of course, this community stuff is about SOCIAL and SHARING right!!

So all you need to do to get a $10 Starbucks gift card is make a post in this group on or before January 26, Community Manager Appreciation Day, that contains two things:

  1. A screenshot (or more than one if you like) that highlights your community and gives your peers an idea and look into what you've been spending your time on.  Feel free to add any context as well about the screenshot (e.g., "we're focused on support community" or "this is how we use Jive to augment our in-person events" or "we enable our partners like this with Jive").
  2. Some quote, thoughtful note, or nice thing that somebody has said to you or on your community about how your community has made life better for them.  Maybe it's finding an answer faster than before, maybe it's connecting more easily with peers or giving product feedback.

We want to hear that appreciation you so deserve for all that hard work, so share away!  And hopefully this facilitates more connections with your peers at the same time.

A couple notes:

  • Whatever screen grab tool you use (Nimbus Screenshot, Jing, etc.) for the screenshot, just make sure it's set to capture at the highest resolution.
  • Try to grab screenshots that are of the whole screen to help give people as much context as possible.
  • Also, remember that of course this is a public community, so best case scenario is to not share a screenshot that highlights some top secret plans.
  • Moving forward, we want to better highlight all the hawtness of our customer's communities, so you never know maybe you'll see your screenshot in some future iteration of our customer section on our website or we may share a link to your post via one of our social channels.


And if you want yet another $10 Starbucks card:

As I'm posting this in the external communities area, I should also note that for those of you who have internal/employee communities and want to get another $10 Starbucks gift card emailed your way, just post in Internal Communities a screenshot of your customer or partner community on Jive, following the format above.


Anyway, here's to all the great Community Managers driving their companies forward on Jive!

I'd like to invite members of the Jive Community to take part in the annual digital workplace research I conduct each year.  The purpose of the survey and final report is to provide executives and practitioners with data, analysis and firsthand stories to help them see where they are today and what is happening in maturing digital workplaces.

Each survey participant gets a free copy of the final report, "The Workplace in the Digital Age - 2015 edition" as well as their own customized scorecard. The survey link is at the bottom of this post.

Highlights from the previous survey

  • The top two strategic drivers overall for the digital workplace are “increasing organizational intelligence” and “gaining efficiency and cost-savings”. The first is number one for maturing digital workplaces; the second is number one for the majority.
  • Organizations with maturing digital workplaces report a much higher rate of top management acting as a “driving and active” force in their initiatives.
  • Operational management and business support functions are “actively involved in strategic decision-making” and “actively using the digital workplace” in these organizations.
  • Case studies and data show that the digital workplace helps organizations enable their customer-facing workforce, helping them interact with customers in real-time with up-to-date information.
  • Mobile services for the workforce will be deployed in 30 to 40 percent of organizations by the end of 2014.
  • Internal crowdsourcing is now deployed enterprise-wide in over half the organizations with maturing digital workplaces. They report “transformational” or “significant” impact on their organization.
  • Enterprise Q&A is bringing purpose to social networking, letting people who do not know each other share information and solve problems across the organization.
  • Real-time communication combining voice and video is creating “virtual water cooler” moments, bringing people closer and building relationships across silos.
  • Cross-organizational communities are playing a long-term strategic role as custodians of knowledge, thus complementing traditional hierarchical structures.
  • Organizations with maturing digital workplaces have cultures that are more collaborative and based on teamwork. Top managers, as well as Communication, IT and HR managers, are more “open and participatory” in their leadership styles and ways of working.
  • Few organizations report “very confident” when asked if they are able retain knowledge and know-how when baby-boomers retire. The few that do say the digital workplace plays a “definite role” in this capability.
  • Physical workplaces are slowly evolving toward more “non-territorial” workspaces, encouraging the flow of ideas and information among people.

How to get involved in the on-going survey

You can discover how these trends are continuing or changing by joining this year's survey and getting your free copy of the final report. The survey officially closes on December 31st, but if someone here needs a few days in early January, we can make an exception! 

Digital workplace framework used for the scorecard

The digital workplace framework shown below has been developed over the past two years. The Scorecard is based on this framework. Each participant receives a copy of his/her own scorecard. There is a link to participate at the bottom of this post.




Participation link: 2015 Digital Workplace Survey – Open Now | Digital Workplace

Get in touch if you have any questions: jane@netjmc.com


Online Community

Posted by scottwdennis Dec 11, 2014

People are communal by nature.  How different is the act of joining an online community from joining an on-ground club or social network? Is the way people interact in online communities versus on-ground changing the way we teach and learn or are changing in online community participation and in education simply correlative? 


Over the past ten years education in America is begun to change in dramatic ways, with some using a "guide on the side vs sage on the stage" analogy to describe how students increasingly expect to be a part if of the active construction of knowledge and meaning rather than only being passive recipients of distilled wisdom. During the same time interval, online education has grown exponentially while traditional participation rates have remained static or declined?


Is it possible that the dramatic increase in online community activity rather than individuals more often relying on traditional documentation and one to one interaction with support technicians could be a reflect a similar trend in how people want to find information about the products and services they use?

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