At most organizations Online Community and Social Media Managers look to product managers and subject matter experts (SMEs) as resources for articles and infographics that build a strong online community.
I suggest that there is another, often overlooked resource: instructional designers can produce interactive and engaging materials that solve specific customer problems. The process should start with customer support. At some organizations it is called Help Desk; you might have a different name for it. I'm talking about the people on the front lines taking calls from unhappy customers who are having some kind of problem. Figure out your top support calls, design high-quality materials to address them, and then publish those materials via social media.
Well, that is dumb, you might be thinking. Won't that just highlight problems with our products/services?! To some extent it will. But the result will be an online community that thinks of your organization as a trusted partner that is honest and open and is more interested in solving problems than selling products.
Think of it from the perspective of your customer: Joe Schmo wants to make red widgets. The widget maker you sold him is making blue widgets and he doesn't know how to change the color setting. Joe goes to your web site and sees:
- A short "How To" video entitled: "Adjusting Color on the Widget Maker"
- A recorded demonstration entitled "10 New Features Customers Love"
Which one makes Joe want to be part of the online community? Which one might inspire Joe to add a quick comment? Which one is Joe going to share with Jane at the other branch office that makes green widgets?
A valuable side effect of providing professionally designed training materials to your online community: every customer that watches the "How To" video is NOT calling the Help Desk, freeing that staff up to handle other issues.