In part one of our recap we learned the many great ways that customer communities can benefit organizations, provided that they add value and allow opportunities for real engagement and include everyone, from employees to stakeholders in the process. In part two, we explore the challenges in growing and engaging communities. Don't be scared, our participants also helped us learn how to overcome them.

Customer Community Challenges

For as many benefits there are for communities, there are also many challenges. The potential for inactivity, customer hijacking and lack of quality relationships are always present. Additionally, the amount of time needed to maintain an engaged customer community can easily overwhelm an organization if they're not wholly invested. Furthermore, the quest for original and engaging content is ongoing.

Being able to put all the pieces together can help sustain and maintain communities, but if any piece is out of place, the risk of losing everything you've built can increase.


The Impact of Social on Community

Believe it or not, customer communities existed before social media. But social media definitely impacted their growth. But do social networks help or hinder the success of growing a community? It's not easy to say -- but it's clear social has definitely provided an opportunity for organizations. By leveraging social media, you can help streamline social channels so they all serve a purpose. You can also see social as a way to engage more people across more channels. Yet, being able to access customer data across channels can be difficult and having customers spread out across platforms can make it harder to build quality relationships.


A Culture of Community

What comes next? Customer communities aren't new, but they have certainly evolved and will continue to adapt to new environments. Communities will continue to become more powerful and provide companies with more opportunities and challenges. The future of the customer community will depend on how well companies are able to integrate experiences into their CRMs and marketing campaigns.

Social media may come and go, but your customer community must be able to withstand these changes. It's not about being on Facebook -- rather, it's about making community an integral part of your company's customer culture.


Oh the Places You'll Go...

Customer Communities are not easy, but they can provide amazing opportunities to learn from and about your customers and build brand advocates. The more prepared you are to handle the growing pains and inevitable challenges, the better you'll be able to reap the benefits and offer a rewarding customer experience.