My name is Becca Piastrelli and I’m the Generation Demandforce community manager. I started at Demandforce in April 2012 right before we were acquired by Intuit. I was brought in specifically to oversee the rollout of the Lithium community. I had a series of community manager roles prior to this on the social and marketing side, so this was my first time getting involved in building out a support community.
Can you describe Demandforce’s business and customer base?
We provide a SAAS product for service-based small businesses in over 30 industries ranging from dentist offices, auto shops, veterinarians, and salons and spas. With the small business market, there’s a variety of tech fluency. Often times our end users are office managers or receptionists so they require a lot of product education and best practices. We are well over 20,000 customers and growing even more rapidly now that we’re part of Intuit.
Tell us about your role as Community Manager and where it fits inside the organization at Demandforce.
The community falls under Client Services, but it’s incredibly cross-functional with Retention and Marketing. The role of the community is seen as a retention function but is highly integrated with our marketing and product teams.
What business objectives motivated your investment in an online community?
Our short-term objective is to lower cost for support and educate our customers from the start. We knew we had to scale quickly and the community was the best strategy to do so. Our long-term strategy is to connect users to each other for best practice sharing - to foster genuine partnerships amongst these small business marketers. We wished we launched our community a year ago!
In what way has social media changed the way Demandforce does business in the last year you’ve been here?
We have refined our social voice and our product is inherently social as well. We are focused on leveraging social channels to add value for our customers and their customers. With our strategy focusing on publishing shareable content in the 2nd half of 2012, we doubled our reach across the community, blog, Facebook, and Twitter. We also continue to host 4 webinars a month with all roads pointing to the Generation Demandforce community.
Tell us more about Generation Demandforce and some of your initial experiences.
We are 115 days old as of today! Our focus has been purely building awareness because we had to shift our customers’ mindset from traditional self-help to a complete engagement ecosystem. I’m proud to say that registration and customer awareness have completely exceeded our expectations - 53% of our customer base is registered on Generation Demandforce and we are seeing week over week records for post views and searches.
We initially started out with 1 moderator and the goal was to position the community as a destination where our customers can explore and engage with their peers who also use Demandforce solutions. Employee participation is highly orchestrated at this point. Because our community is private, we have to be very structured in how we designate who responds from Clients Services, Product, and Sales.
How do you spark conversations within your community?
I can tell you about some methods that worked and didn’t work for us. What didn’t work was simply posting a question/topic like “What do you think about X?”
What has worked for us is creating an end-to-end experience that integrates the product, email marketing, and training into the community. We post a lot of product tutorials videos and recorded webinars with thought leadership content which has sparked good discussions. We currently promote our webinars to community members but down the road I would love to have the community be the event center.
Denise Jack is Lithium's Director of Customer Programs and is primarily responsible for showcasing Lithium customers’ success in social customer experience. She has more than 12 years of experience in customer marketing, technical sales and management consulting. Denise is a regular blogger for Lithium and in the Lithosphere you'll see her as DeniseJ. You can follow her on Twitter at @lithiumtech or @denisejack.