Believe me, I’ve been there with you. Trying to sell the idea of inspiring and gathering a community together to the executive suite can be a daunting task (more on that in another post). But let’s say it happens. You do it. You get your budget and you go. And build. And gather. Ignite and inspire. You report in and tell your superiors how well everything is going. How you’ve increased online mentions X%. How you’re connecting employees with customers and watching the magic happen. And the C-suite nods their heads and says, “That’s nice. What else ya got?”
And then one day it happens. Crisis. It could be in the form of a product recall (hello, Toyota) or a full-blown attack on your brand by an angry blogger. And before the PR department can issue a statement. Before you clear what you can say about it on your website or respond on Twitter because of the legal red-tape checking, your community swings into action. Squelching naysayers. Answering questions. Pointing interested parties to information on your site. Your community becomes a line of defense – without you even asking. And in the eyes of everyone, the value of your community increases.
So…how do you measure that? Which really begs the question: do you even NEED to?
Look, if you build your community WITH your customers instead of FOR them, then you’re laying a foundation for a community that is going to be your greatest asset in times of crises. No company is immune to crises. It just depends on the size of the crisis and the timing. But if you’re doing things right, then your community can help shrink the size and shorten the length of anything crisis that comes your way. And that, my friends, is priceless.