As regulation and platform policies make it more difficult to track people across the internet, it has forced companies to rethink how to understand and get to know their customers. If they can’t stalk them surreptitiously, how can they gain a full understanding of their needs and wants?
The answer may lie in building or buying communities of individuals whose interests align with your company’s.
Many SaaS companies are doing just that, from big players like Salesforce and Hubspot to smaller startups, which understand the power of building a community of interested individuals who can answer questions, act as quasi-evangelists and give the company honest feedback about products and services.
The rise of Slack and Discord are related to this trend because both make it easy to set up a community for like-minded folks to gather and chat online. It certainly requires moderation to avoid muddying your brand with misinformation or harassment, but generally, companies find this a cost worth paying to gain such unfettered access to customers and interested parties.
“Building community is the most authentic way to speak to a customer and to market to a customer because you can’t force what someone in the community says about you.” Bevy CEO Derek Andersen
We spoke to a number of industry experts to get their take on this phenomenon and what it means for SaaS companies as they look for growth opportunities in a changing privacy landscape.
Many startups today are using communities as a way to drive interest and discussion in their early-stage companies long before they even have revenue. While this is particularly true for open source projects, which are community-centric by their nature, any startup can benefit from having a group of people discussing its products and services.