In celebration of hitting the 2,000-member milestone in our own community – we wanted to spend some time talking about brand community, what it is & how you can use it to grow your business, as well as what the future plans are for the Atarim Community.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
Our Community Largely Leads Product Development
As an early-stage startup – the closer you can get to your users, the better.
To put it simply, we’re now working with every single member of our community to build the best possible solution out there and they know that doesn’t happen overnight. But if we just shut ourselves off from the people actually using our product and just start working on what we think makes the most sense.
And even back when we first started, we launched as a very simple WordPress plugin that performed a particular task. Our beta all took place in a community, with our users so we didn’t just get feedback emailed in, people were able to leave feedback collectively (as a group) which led to us iterating on the product…
Community Culture – Creating A Sense of Belonging
As a company, our vision for Atarim is a path that no other business has really taken. Our vision is to redefine the way agencies work primarily through how they communicate and manage their workload. This isn’t as simple as being a new helpdesk solution as the way the entire platform operates is in itself a complete rethink of how things should have been in the first place.
And, of course, creating a cultural shift in the way people work away from something that’s been tradition for over a decade or two like this is quite a feat.
This is another big reason the community plays such an incredibly important role for us – instead of trying to educate through one-way channels, we’ve brought everybody into a single place together to collectively learn and share their experiences with our platform and how they’re running their businesses. For a SaaS business that relies on our customers’ businesses thriving and truly benefiting from our software (i.e. as opposed to software that falls into categories like accounting where the bar is notoriously lower because those companies know their users won’t be switching and need their software to operate regardless of how bad support & UX is), being this close to our users and having the ability to be present for them when they have questions about how best to approach something, feature suggestions and more is invaluable.
How Our Community Fueled Our Growth
Beyond that – community – which as we all know is actually a super broad term that’s often used to describe an audience as well, has been at the center of what has led to the majority of our growth over the last (coming up on) 2 years. We launched our product in the WordPress community initially where it eventually went on to land coverage in publications like WP Tavern and WP Engine’s Torque, all of which are a result of us participating in, being, and hosting our own active community of agency owners.
The Future of the Atarim Facebook Group
We’ll no longer be using it as a support forum
Due to the early stage of the platform and us wanting to be wherever our users wanted us to be, we bent our own rules and started providing user support directly in the group. Although this is what users started doing because we let them, this doesn’t let us provide the seamless and fast support experience that we strive to provide for Atarim users. We have a dedicated support team that’s connected to our team of developers available via the live chat widget on our website which you’re welcome to use at any time.
In other words, as a part of our mission to improve the customer experience we want to make sure we’re using the right channels so all of your questions get to the right person faster and get answered even faster.
Weekly Demo Calls, Announcements, and Q&A
We are also proud to announce that we will now be doing weekly demo calls, as well as announcements and Q&A sessions in our Facebook group. This is to help everyone get to know the platform as well as get the help they need to implement it in their business successfully.
Everyone is welcome and we want you to bring all the questions you have about running your agency! Register below:
Summary – Why You Should Build A Brand Community
Looking inwards first, from our own community alone – we already have a few great members (of the ones we know of) that run their own amazing communities:
Looking for even more groups to join?
Lead With A Strategy. Before you launch your community it’s important to center it around one main purpose. Ours, for example, has always been around serving our users and the demographic that Atarim caters to with various resources and discussions.
But, over the past few weeks – as is quite common for software companies that have their own Facebook groups, it slowly started to become more like a support forum which was never really the intention when we created the group. So it’s important to draw the line somewhere, have a code of conduct and guide people to the right places to get in touch when they need something.
Most people really don’t have bad intentions and as long as you’re doing a good job of communicating transparently, they’ll see why they’re being asked to email in about an issue as opposed to posting it publicly (for example, in this scenario – it’s easier to get all the necessary info and debug than if the whole conversations in a public forum).
The lesson in this is really that strategy isn’t a set & forget concept, once you have it – you need to continue guiding your community and members in the direction you want them to go in (noting that in some cases, if a statistical majority of members are leaning in a completely different direction which is also something that should be taken into consideration).
Your community’s goal shouldn’t be to win more business and build authority. While that is the by-product of the initiative as a whole being successful, the initial focus & motive should always be focused around the demographic that you’re targeting – who do you want in your group, and what do they want when they join all the way through to potentially making a purchase from you & then beyond after they’ve already been a customer for years. How do you cater to people at every single one of those stages of your community’s lifecycle?
Beyond that, here are some extra questions to ask yourself when planning the launch or future of your brand community:
- What’s the purpose behind the community?
- Are you trying to help people get answers to their questions about your product or cater to other areas of their business?
- How are you going to keep the community members engaged especially in the early days when you’ll need to put in some more effort to fuel the growth?
- What would define the success of your community?
- Are you going to go as far as to track metrics like the leads you generate and the sales you make as a result of connections in your group?
Next is, be transparent.
Of the few successful group owners that have really created something of significant value, they’ve done so because they opened up and were transparent with their community. They didn’t try to act like they were something they weren’t, they were brutally honest and even share when they make mistakes in running their own web design businesses with their entire community.
And contrary to what you may think, this doesn’t hurt their ability to create authority – actually not in the least. What it does is that it builds trust and when you do share something positive people actually do believe what you have going on because you’ve been transparent with them the entire time.
And as long as you tie everything back to the original reason you’re creating the group and the problem you’re trying to solve, the gap you’re trying to fill – marketing your group and attracting members that are actually interested in participating becomes easier and easier.
So, do you already have or plan to start a community now? Let us know in the comments or in our community here! 💬