Community And Crowd

Your engine for exponential growth

In the age of digital transformation, traditional business models are rapidly evolving to keep up with the changing landscape. One of the emerging models that is gaining traction is that one of Exponential Organizations (ExOs), which are designed to leverage new technologies and platforms to achieve unprecedented levels of growth and scalability. At the heart of this approach stands the concept of Community and Crowd, which allows companies to scale fast and efficiently tapping into the collective intelligence and resources of a vast network of individuals and organizations. In this article, we will explore the role of Community and Crowd in your scalability strategy, and how this attribute enables you to achieve exponential growth and impact. We will examine some of the key characteristics of this attribute, and how they leverage the power of community and crowd to achieve their goals. We will also look at some examples of successful models that have harnessed the power of community and crowd, and what we can learn from their experiences. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of how community and crowd are driving the growth of organizations, and what it takes to build a successful community in today’s fast-paced business environment. Especially in the last months, jumping from advisor roles to mentor roles, I had the opportunity and the pleasure to get in contact with one of the most critical questions in the business model area both for startups and scaling business: How can I scale my business, and what could be a sustainable and scalable model? As you probably image, there is no unique answer to this question, or a unique model to copy. But, on the other side, there are very great business cases, examples, and strategies that could be leveraged to respond to these questions. The first step is to understand the different components of your Community & Crowd, or better, as we will refer to it later, your Ecosystem. To better understand the different segments, and later where they can help your business or scaling strategy, let’s start with a simple schema from the OpenExo world.
Community & Crowd full schema, stakeholders of the community, diagram in lime-green shades

The core teams

The core teams in the Community & Crowd diagram refer to the internal teams responsible for managing and engaging with the community and the crowd. These teams are typically made up of community managers, social media managers, and customer support representatives, among others.

Their responsibilities include:

  • Creating and implementing engagement strategies to build and maintain the community and engage with the crowd. This involves identifying key channels for communication and developing content and campaigns that resonate with the target audience.
  • Monitoring and analyzing engagement metrics to track the success of community and crowd initiatives. This includes measuring engagement rates, responding to feedback, and identifying opportunities for improvement.
  • Providing support and resources to the community and the crowd. This could involve answering customer questions and troubleshooting issues or providing information and guidance to crowd participants.

Examples of companies with strong team cores in community and crowd management include Lego, which has a team dedicated to engaging with its AFOL (Adult Fans of Lego) community, and Airbnb community, which has a team focused on supporting its hosts and guests through social media and other channels.

Users, customers, and alumni

Users, customers, and alumni are all part of the community in the community & crowd diagram.

Their responsibilities are to engage with the company and contribute to its success in various ways, such as providing feedback, sharing their experiences, and promoting the brand to others.

For example, customers may leave ratings and reviews of a product or service or share their experiences on social media. Alumni may continue to support and promote the company even after they have left, such as by recommending the company to others or attending events.

Overall, the responsibility of the community members is to act as advocates for the company and contribute to its growth and success. By building a strong relationship with its community, a company can benefit from increased loyalty, engagement, and brand promotion.

Some examples can include:

  • Users: In the case of Canva, users can create and share designs made with the platform, which promotes the company and attracts new customers. Users can also provide feedback on the product, which can help the company improve and develop new features.
  • Customers: Harley-Davidson’s customers participate in events and online forums, which builds a sense of community around the brand. Customers can also leave ratings and reviews of the products they buy, which can influence others to make a purchase.
  • Alumni: Microsoft has an alumni network that provides support and resources to former employees. Alumni can also serve as ambassadors for the company, promoting its products and services to their own networks.

Vendors, partners, and fans

Vendors, partners, and fans are also part of the community in the community & crowd diagram.

Their responsibilities include contributing to the success of the company through collaboration, support, and promotion.

For example, a vendor may work closely with the company to provide products or services that enhance the company’s offerings.

A partner may collaborate with the company on joint marketing campaigns or product development.

Fans may promote the company to their own networks or attend events and engage with the company on social media.

One example of successful vendor and partner engagement is the partnership between Airbnb and Uber. The two companies have integrated their platforms to make it easier for customers to travel from one Airbnb location to another via Uber. This collaboration enhances the user experience and promotes both companies’ services.

Another example is Coca-Cola’s fan engagement through its “Share a Coke” campaign. By personalizing its branding with fans’ names, Coca-Cola encouraged fans to share their experiences on social media and promote the brand to their own networks.

Overall, vendors, partners, and fans have the responsibility of contributing to the success of the company through collaboration, support, and promotion. By working closely with these groups, a company can build a strong community and attract new customers and fans.

The Crowd

In the context of the Community and Crowd attribute, the Crowd refers to a large group of people who are not necessarily connected to a particular company or organization but have a shared interest or passion.

This pool of individuals can be leveraged by businesses through various crowdsourcing techniques to generate new ideas, solve problems, or improve products and services. For instance, a company might use a crowdsourcing platform to collect feedback from customers on a new product or service, or to source innovative ideas for a new project.

One example of the power of the crowd is seen in open-source software development. These projects rely on a community of developers who contribute their time and expertise to create and improve software programs that are accessible to anyone. Another example is citizen science projects, where members of the public are encouraged to contribute data or observations to scientific research projects.

Crowdfunding is another way that businesses can tap into the collective power of the crowd. Platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and GoFundMe, and many others, allow entrepreneurs and organizations to pitch their ideas to a large community of potential investors or supporters, who can contribute small amounts of money to help fund the project.

Here some additional examples:

  • InnoCentive: This platform connects businesses and organizations with a global community of problem solvers who can submit solutions to complex challenges. InnoCentive has worked with over 300 companies, including NASA, Eli Lilly, and Procter & Gamble.
  • Threadless: This company uses a crowdsourcing model to create and sell T-shirt designs. Anyone can submit a design, and the community votes on the best ones. The winning designs are then printed and sold through Threadless.
  • TopCoder: This platform hosts coding challenges that attract a global community of software developers. The challenges are sponsored by businesses seeking solutions to coding problems or new product development.

Takeaways

Overall, the Crowd aspect of the Community and Crowd attribute provides businesses with a vast pool of knowledge, expertise, and creativity that can be tapped into to drive innovation, solve problems, and create new opportunities.

As you can understand from the description and the examples provide so far, there are a lot of benefits in this scaling approach for growth, such as: access to a wider pool of talents, cost-effective solutions, rapid response, creating new intellectual property, increased engagement, data generation, marketing support, interactions, value for acquisition, and more… But this will be a perfect topic for another article.