Kirsten Wagenaar: I can’t imagine a digital strategy with no community elements in it! #d2m18

In today's #d2m18 interview we are going "international" by presenting another of our keynote speakers at D2M SUMMIT. As outlined in this year's conference theme we have defined the topic of building and curating a customer community base as one of the trending topics at D2M SUMMIT 2018. To underline the importance of this aspect we are very happy about the participation of Kirsten Wagenaar of BIND, a community building consultancy from Utrecht, at D2M SUMMIT. She is one of Europe's key experts in the field of community building and management - with developing and managing dozens of communities since 2008. In our interview we asked her about the importance of communities for the digital strategy.

(1) Kirsten - you will be participating as one of the keynote speaker at D2M SUMMIT 2018. As a community building expert you will share your insights on this topic. What can we expect?

Kirsten Wagenaar: After years of experience I’ve developed an approach to community building that exists out of 6 steps. All these steps are essential to succesful community building and need to be taken in account at some point in time. I will share these steps with the audience and give practical examples on how to get through the steps.

(2) How do you evaluate the role and importance of communities in digital communication strategies in 2018?

Kirsten Wagenaar: I can’t imagine a digital strategy with no community elements in it. Organisation are more and more going back to their core: providing wanted services and products for the clients and designing everything from their customer's perspective, ideas or suggestions. To be in constant contact with your customer, stakeholders or employees is crucial in this approach. Doing this digitally makes it possible to attract more (and different) people, get a wider reach, gather lots of knowledge in one place and can have a postive effect on branding. It would be silly not to use community building in your digital strategy.

(3) How do you define communities? Is a fan and follower base on social networks already a community? Or do you limit the notion of community solely to self owned community approaches?

Kirsten Wagenaar: Community are tight networks of people that have various things in common like interests, location, purpose, action, practice or circumstance. A follower base can be part of a community but isn’t always per definition a community.

(4) What is your idea of aligning self owned communities with social networks?

Kirsten Wagenaar: Facebook is great parallel to a self owned community platform. We work most of the times with specific community software as it ensures stability in functionalities, statistics and integration with other tools of the company. Next to that main platform we set up social media to attract less committed customers, people that are slightly interested but not enough to create an account on the platform. By using social media we have a good outreach for the unique content we create together with members on the owned platform.

(5) What are the key challenges in building a self owned community?

Kirsten Wagenaar: Develop a fitting community concept, get support from management (in time and budget), not put all focus on tooling, get structured community management in place with an enthusiastic and professional team.

(6) But these have been already the challenges that we have been talking about 5- 10 years ago. Why are the companies still behind in this matter?

Kirsten Wagenaar: Because using community building as a way to improve market value for a company still means innovation and change for companies. Working with different profiles, decision making, procedures, business models and objectives. It might take a generation before organisation are able to fully embrace the power and business opportunities of communities.

(7) What is the best role and responsibility that you love to work with in a company to help building self owned customer communities? Or more generic spoken - who should be in charge for this activity?

Kirsten Wagenaar: I believe that a community manager should be always in charge of the communities. He/she is always 'on the fire' and constantly in contact with the members. The only one that can advice the rest of the organisation about the wishes and needs of the community is the community manager. I'm also very passionate about giving mandate to these people as well. And not giving mandate to corporate communications or the legal department. Of course community managers need to communicate and collaborate with these departments but the community manager should have the last call. As an specific (external) adviser I'm always in the priviledged position to make decisions for the community that mostly serve the community. Therefore I tend to say no to projects where this is not the case.

(8) What are expectation in coming to the D2M SUMMIT?

Kirsten Wagenaar: My expectation for the summit are various; I really look forward to get a feel about the market in Germany for comunity building. How digitally mature are organisations and projects. What budgets are set apart for community development? I'm also very curious about the people attending the D2M SUMMIT and very much looking forward to it.
We would like to thank Kirsten for the effort of answering our questions.Meet Kirsten Waagenar at D2M SUMMIT 2018 and get your ticket now!

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