In today’s connected world where people are always in touch with each other via different tools and websites, companies have realized the value of building online communities. Businesses are using these communities to keep the members connected under their brand and offering a platform to help them learn, share, and collaborate.

These communities focus on improving the overall customer experience (CX) by improving engagement and value delivery via strong networks, self-service, and quick issue resolution. Focusing on CX in tandem with an online community is incredibly valuable in terms of driving loyalty and inspiring their audience.

Coming to the type of communities, organizations create online communities that are either public, private or a mix of both in terms of accessibility. Online communities help organizations target different goals which can be related to content creation and marketing intelligence or support and product insights. These communities can also be integrated with other third-party solutions to automate workflows and improve the process. For example, certain customer issues posted in the community can be converted to support tickets or lead scoring in CRM can be changed based on community activity.

Some businesses select platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn as they have low-friction set up and suitable for the short term. When the community grows, data ownership, content organization, engagement, message reachability becomes an issue organizations move to a platform that they own. It can be either hosted (cloud-based) or self-hosted.

Benefits of choosing dedicated community platforms

  • It provides better engagement with the customers/members. A community platform creates a two-way conversation between you and your customer, partner, or members. Also, it should be noted that engagement rates are actually much higher in online communities than social media sites as social media creates a lot of distractions.
  • Through dedicated online communities, there is dedicated space for a customer’s growth, investment, problem-solving and arranging partnerships. Ergo, the interaction is more between the organization and the customer which is, however, not possible on social media.
  • In online communities, the data presented by the organization and the customer can be kept private and remain exportable at all times.
  • Since online communities are the hub for user-generated content and search engines prefer fresh and unique content, it helps boost the SEO score. This ultimately brings in new leads for the company.
  • Online communities allow the owners to structure and organize different social elements exactly the way the need and provide powerful moderation tools to keep the community a safe place.
  • Software provided by the online communities consists of advanced analytical tools that can even be customized to match up to different business needs. The data produced can depict organizational goals ranging from retention and loyalty to revenue.
  • Community helps the organization achieve higher brand leadership as they are the ones who are congregating people and providing a platform to facilitate discussions around the industry they serve.

In this post, we will cover various statistics on online communities sourced from multiple reports published by companies such as CMX, IDC, Forrester, and Community Roundtable.

1. According to CMX research from 2016, 85% of marketers and community builders believed that having a branded online community would improve the customer journey and increase trust.

2. In the “2017 Community Value and Metrics Report”, 66% of brand communities claim that they define their brand community in their organization as relationship building. This implies that members of these communities are developing relationships and networking with each other, online or offline.

3. During the buying decision-making process, 27.3% of customers use an online community dedicated to the product or service. 

4. According to a study by CMX out of 533 community builders, 44% of brand community builders do not define a brand community in their organization as having measurable goals and objectives.

5. People spend most of their time online with colleagues in professional networks (41%), followed by friends, family, and experts.

6. The same research also revealed that 80% of respondents participate in online groups to help others by sharing information and experiences, and 66% participate in a professional community to belong to a group of colleagues and peers. 

Sector Intelligence surveyed brand managers at 16 Fortune 500 brands that are utilizing private online communities to communicate more consistently with their customers. The four subsequent stats are from the results they have published.

7. In many cases, communities give brands an opportunity to test the use of branded community in a more controlled, private environment, with 54% of respondents indicating that the company’s experience with private online communities has “changed the way we think about collaboration in general”.

8. 46% felt that the branded communities changed the way companies think about customers.

9. Furthermore, 86% report they have experienced “deeper/richer insight into customer needs” and 82% say they have gained the “ability to listen/uncover new questions.”

10. On the more tangible front, 33% reported that their community changed product design and another 33% said that it changed the company’s marketing strategy.

11. 96% of companies see the value that customer collaboration presents for the marketing department according to Oracle’s “Socially Driven Collaboration” report.

12. 58% of Marketing and IT executives say social processes have improved collaboration.

13. According to Forrester, in the US, the use of community almost doubled in 2015 in comparison to 2012 (from 31% to 56%).

14. According to research by Community Roundtable, in 2018 52% of communities were internal (e.g., employee communities), 29% were external (e.g, customer communities), and 19% both. In 2019, this ratio of internal to external community has reversed which indicates the renewed focus on customer engagement.

15. Community Roundtable table report also says that 63% of communities empower members frequently or all of the time, in the following ways:

Posting questions: (76%)

Delivering solutions: (68%)

Networking: (65%)

Voicing thoughts: (61%)

Getting noticed: (60%)

Leading: (35%)

16. According to Forrester Research’s Customer Lifecycle Journey report 81% of companies have a consumer community or similar support channel.

17. The Forrester report also found that 60% of businesses own a branded online community and 15% are planning on launching one within the next year.

18. According to Inversofts’s research, 77% of companies believe that an online community significantly improves brand exposure, awareness, and credibility.

19. According to Leader Networks and CMX media study, 86 percent of marketers believe that having a branded online community benefits core business operations.

20. According to a Michigan University study, customers spend 19% more after joining a company’s online community in comparison to third party sites like Facebook.

21. IDC projects that the worldwide enterprise social networks market revenue would grow from $1.46 billion in 2014 to $3.5 billion by 2019, representing a compound annual growth rate of 19.1%.

22. IDC expects the worldwide online communities market revenue to grow from $392.95 million in 2014 to $1.2 billion by 2019, representing a CAGR of 24.3%.

23. Coming to the enterprise social networks revenue by region, the EMEA region is supposed to have the highest growth from 2014 to 2019.

24. The social business market, which runs largely on community platforms, is expected to reach $23 billion by 2019, with compound annual growth of 26%.

25. According to Keys to community readiness and growth report, published by CMX Hub 23% of companies admit that their branded communities have grown 100% or more in the last year.

26. 61% of research companies are already using online communities according to the Q1-Q2 2016 Greenbook Industry Trends (GRIT) report. 

27. The Community Roundtable reports show that for those who work on social media, engagement rates average between .05-5% of their total followers, but comparatively, almost 50% of online community members are actively engaged.

28. According to a study done by Forrester for SAP, 40% of the organizations use online communities to collect feedback and customer data.

29. In online communities that influence 16% or more of a company’s revenue, 64% have strong community engagement. In contrast, communities that influence less than 15% of a company’s revenue, only 26% report strong engagement.

30. 18% of participants in a study on online communities revealed that over 30% of their organization’s revenue is influenced by their branded online community.


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