@Nikoletta_Harrold It sounds like you have an eclectic group of individuals with other types of responsibilities to the business. Some may be analytical, others may find inspiration in human stories, and others still might be driven by design or user experience.
One of my main challenges early on was that the individuals I was bringing together to work on the new community initiative at Fitbit didn’t have any professional community management experience and had little experience with moderation or online community in general. They knew the project was exciting and they wanted to contribute, but if each person was asked individually about what community meant to Fitbit as a business or what the purpose of the community was for our customers, they probably wouldn’t have been able to give a solid, well-rounded answer. On top of that, they probably wouldn’t have been able to describe how their participation was moving us closer to our goal of creating a positive space where users could share their personal health and fitness goals, receive motivation, and get any product questions answered.
Something that worked well to bridge this gap was culling together a large body of research, case studies, and examples of how other business are approaching community. Majority of these studies didn’t directly have anything to do with our company or goals, which generated more enthusiasm for the “work” of reading and interpreting the research, allowed individuals to find the type of material that they were most interested in, and helped to create a common foundation of knowledge on what’s happening in the business of community today. This, in combination with encouraging the team to identify challenges, roadblocks, and pursue potential solutions or improvements as a result of that reading has proven to help create a fertile ground for community engagement and management from individuals across all levels of experience and commitment. It has also given the team a deeper sense of understanding and commitment to what they do, and a shared vocabulary for describing their roles.
On another note, if your community has history, and it sounds like it might, the best motivation might be documenting and sharing that history. Show the group what it took to get where you are and how they’re writing the next page together. Take the time to individually recognize contributions and highlight meaningful participation or ideas. As new CMs joined or left, great community content and insights gathered, and other milestones. This will help to show the team that while day-to-day may feel slow, month-to-month big things are happening.
There are a few ways to prove community is “working” to senior management, but you can bet they’ll want to see a combination of data and stories. Best to start again with the story of the community, and then dive deeper into the company CMs contributions. You can also use this time to argue for restructuring or dedicated CM participation if the challenges to unifying a 100+ PT CM team are too great.
To gather data on the shared learning piece for your CM team, you can use shortlinks (like bit.ly) to track clickthroughs to the new research library. Engaging your CM community in discussion around some of those shared articles will help to illustrate the engagement and ideation that comes out of the social learning experience. And, metrics like time on site, first responses, etc., can also help to show how engaged your CM community is over time.
As for the impact the CMs are having on the community, the easiest way to understand that would be through a survey to your community members–ask how you’re doing as a team and what they’d like to see more/less of, how satisfied they are with their experience, etc. You can use those insights to challenge your CMs to solve for the problems. This will bring them together to problem solve and improve the user experience.
Any engagement data you can feed back to your CMs may help to re-engage them as well. People love to see how they’re performing, how they stack up to others, and to track their own contributions over time.
Rambling on, but if there’s a nugget in here you want to expand on, happy to do so.