June 9, 2022
 min read

Community-Led Growth has arrived. Finally.

There's a powerful category that's emerged: Community-Led Growth

In 2008, I joined a NYC-based online community software startup called KickApps. We were advocating that all brands should have their own online community, and provided a kick-ass white label platform to do so. It was your online community out of the box.

It was also the early days of "social media" and unfortunately Facebook opened up their authentication APIs, which allowed organizations to allow users to use their existing Facebook login credentials.

Why force your customers/users to create yet another user name and profile, when they could use their Facebook credentials? And if everyone is on Facebook, why even host your own community and data?

Looking back it was the wild west and admittedly it was exciting to see Facebook's ascension. And in fact, it largely invented the social behavior that all platforms benefit from today.

Today marks a new era, bringing back the very same concepts that we were pitching brands 13 years ago. And even better, there's a powerful new category that's emerged: Community-Led Growth

Community-Led Growth is a Go-To-Market motion unifying your internal teams - marketing, sales, success, product, etc. - with community at the heart of it all.

Community is now an umbrella term that encompasses A) the social media giants such as Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc, and B) micro-communities that now live on platforms such as Discord, Slack.

Another new trend to point out is that the social media giants are now deploying communities that live within their existing platforms. For example, Twitter has now released Twitter Communities, and WhatsApp is hinting at releasing their own community product. Facebook Groups have existed for a very long time however now are proving value as micro-communities and with just under 2 billion daily active users, are not slowing down.

Today's Community-Led Growth strategies fall into 3 categories that might look familiar to you as a marketer:

-“Paid Community” includes sponsorships of 3rd party communities.

-“Earned Community” includes organic engagement and thought leadership within 3rd and 1st party communities.

-“Owned Community” includes hosting your own branded online communities.

Social Selling has also nearly fully emerged as a strategy that requires salespeople to become thought leaders and most importantly influencers on social media. For us in B2B SaaS, Linkedin is by far the most important platform to focus on. However, over the last few years the phenomenon of the micro-community has emerged on platforms such as Slack and Discord.

This create a dynamic whereby a salespeople, evangelist, or community marketer is a member of multiple communities across multiple platforms. As an example, I'm a part of over 20 Slack communities alone. I now must prioritize which communities I will focus on, as It's impossible for me to engage in all of them.

Attribution has been a black box for marketers and still continues to be. This is certainly the case within community-led growth channels, particularly the traditional social media platforms. Organizations are now calling parts of this world the "dark social" and are accepting that attribution will weak to non-existent. In an ideal world, all this community activity will be pushed to our CRMS and marketing automation systems. We're working on it.

If you're a seasoned B2B community marketer, you're probably still fleshing out your strategy, especially given the the macro-environmental challenges we face today. If you're a newbie, I'd recommend kick starting your earned community strategy by signing up to 3rd party communities where your buyer personas live. We are building a directory of B2B communities that we recommend.

Stay tuned for updates from Charla and check out our podcast, The Community-Led Growth Show on YouTube and Spotify for best practices.

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