Oxpeckers and rhinoceroses. Sea anemones and clownfish. Moray eels and cleaner shrimp. Movies and popcorn.
Just kidding on that last one, but really. Nature is full of symbiotic, interdependent relationships. Some are obligate, requiring each other for survival, while others are simply facultative where their relationship is mutually beneficial but they can live without each other.
Community, while comprised of people, follows a similar symbiotic structure. As community managers, we talk all the time about what we need our community to do for us and how we can get them to do so, but when is the last time you thought about what your community needs from you?
When I worked with our partner community, my main focus was always on how I could help them. Most of the time this rocked their world, but the truth was, if I knew how to make them look good and shared their goals, they had us on their minds constantly and wanted to share our company with their clients.
What does your community want from you? Public recognition? Spotlight them. If it fits with your community structure, feature them in a showcase. Invite them to guest blog. Give them a badge or something to brag about. Attention? Check in with them without any underlying motives. Sincerely ask them how they’re doing, expecting nothing in return. Exclusivity? Create a secret clubhouse for your brand ambassadors where they can discuss high level topics around your product.
If you listen to them, your community will tell you what they need. If you help them with their needs, they’ll likely want to know how to help you with yours.
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