Building a thriving online community is an invaluable asset for any business. Within these communities, you'll often find passionate individuals who not only engage actively but also become brand advocates, or what we like to call "champions." These champions possess the potential to transform into long-term, paying customers, making them a crucial target for nurturing.
Having a handful of ardent supporters that you’ve nurtured through constant support and problem-solving is one of the most exciting parts of community building. Numbers don’t matter here, you don’t need to have a hundred community members who barely engage, just a handful of extremely active evangelists who keep your motivation to keep doing what you’re doing afloat.
These supporters or internal stakeholders are most likely to become long-term paying customers who not only trust but also help build the product.
Back when we didn't have a community for Threado, we created a website and a waitlist to communicate what were we planning to build for community builders. The idea was to strike a chord with community builders by identifying their pain points and positioning ourselves as solution providers. We garnered enough attention from folks to start turning their heads. And then we did a few Product Hunt launches that truly got people talking about Threado as an up-and-coming community-building tool. This worked up our waitlist, to begin with.
From this waitlist, we identified some of the biggest names in community building and folks that we can start building relationships with. We started connecting with them through 1-on-1 calls, understanding their pain points and in a way, also shaping our own product the whole purpose of which was to help them be better at what they do. This is how we identified our potential champions early on, even when we didn’t have a community
On the other hand, if you’re already building a community, keep a look out for the most active members in the community and nurture them accordingly. Threado gives you a pre-built report of “Potential Champions” that you can leverage to identify your most engaged members.
Towering over your competition isn’t just about having a better product but more so about how you interact with potential customers or clients. It’s through constant reinforcements and reassurance; listening to folks talk, and hearing their concerns gives insights into real-world problems that plague community building. When you genuinely want to help people in what they do, you make them feel valued and heard. This is one of the primary ways to start building better relations.
To gain their trust, show that they’re being heard by solving their problems or inculcating their suggestions in your product. Building relationships is a two-way street and it has to be nurtured through constant personal conversations. There’s no way around it, which means it takes time.
Give them a platform, give them a voice. Acknowledge their achievements, contributions, and suggestions. Publicly recognize their efforts through shoutouts, spotlight features, or exclusive perks. This recognition not only boosts their morale but also inspires others to actively engage and strive for similar recognition. Recognition is a tool that shows belief. When you publicly take a stand and talk about these internal stakeholders, it ingrains in them the idea that you truly care about them. This initiates an organic reciprocation of trust when they start to talk about you as well in public.
This could start with something as small as them retweeting or reposting something you put on social media. And gradually escalating into them making their own posts about you and what you’re building. As an organization or a community builder, nothing speaks louder than organic shoutouts, and are also the most influential sources of being discovered.
We recently did a Product Hunt launch that puts together 10,000 hours of community-building into one comprehensive resource. This resource also included wisdom from expert community builders like Rosie Sherry, Christina Garnett, Nick Frost, and KP via 10+ masterclass chapters. We’ve collaborated with these community leaders and now put all that learning into one powerful resource that can be a game-changer for all community builders out there. We received quite a lot of love from folks including those internal stakeholders we collaborated with.
Organize events that are beneficial to folks. We use to host Threado Community Hour which was an hour-long event featuring some of the most well-known community builders in the space that anyone could get to interact with for free, followed by a networking session for participants to grow their connections. We also host Community Demo Days where we feature a community builder who walks through how they use Threado for their community.
In the process of getting your internal stakeholders to become long-term trusted partners, they also become your super users after falling in love with the product. When we were building Threado, a lot of the roadmap was influenced by folks who we identified as our internal stakeholders early on. We paid close to them on our calls and spend time trying to figure out what their major pain points were. We connected the dots to see what are some of the most common problems and built that into our product as a “must-have” feature. These little nuances have convinced these users into investing time into the product.
Over time as we opened up beta access, we invited our waitlisted members to try out the product. It wasn’t perfect and we listened to the concerns still. Before the official launch, the product changed quite a bit and the credit for that goes deeply to those community builders who helped shape it. Today, some of our really close stakeholders have Threado as an indispensable part of their community-building process.
Having been a part of the product almost since inception, they also have a detailed understanding of the product. Having in-depth product knowledge is a strong enough reason for them to be considered as your super users. For them to become super users, nurturing them has to be a part of your core strategy, which includes empowering them to be more vocal about the product and helping other community builders discover the value that can be unlocked using Threado.
Another great strategy is to send exclusive Swag to these internal stakeholders or what’s even better is to hand it to them personally which adds a personal touch that can go a long way. Our Co-founder, Pramod Rao, personally handed out Swag to some of our closest supporters and they felt valued enough to post about it on social media and advocate for Threado as a brand. This feeling of being closely attached to the brand invokes a certain gratitude and personal connection which encourages them to talk more about the brand which is very rare.
A very important thing to take note of when you’re trying to get buy-in from your internal stakeholders is premium support. Not only do you have to give them premium support but also make them realize that they’re valued and because of that given priority support. Regularly seek feedback from them to understand their needs, preferences, and pain points. Conduct surveys, host focus groups, or create dedicated feedback channels. Show that their opinions matter by actively implementing their suggestions whenever feasible. This feedback loop creates a collaborative environment and strengthens the bond between your super users and your brand.
Eventually, when you’ve done all the right things and have successfully nurtured your internal stakeholders, the buy-in almost happens naturally. And at this point, all the little nudges along with a great product have contributed towards them making the decision of becoming a paid customer. But it’s not just about getting an initial buy-in, maintaining a long-term relationship involves proper customer success and consistent check-ins that keep them just as engaged as they were before. Through these little but effective efforts, you can ensure long-term relations with your internal stakeholders.