A user community is a digital space designed for a software product’s users.
It provides users a place where they can ask questions, share feedback, and collaborate on finding new ways to use the software. Typically, it will also have designations for super users who push the boundaries of what the product can do and who are extremely active and collaborative in the community.
A user community usually takes the shape of an online forum or portal, with posts, comments, and response buttons. But there are also user communities that live on instant messaging platforms such as Slack.
Why should a brand have a user community?
User communities stand at the junction of a number of trends: they reflect customers’ desire to build relationships with brands, and they leverage the ease of online communication tools. They also contain a number of benefits to software brands looking to continually develop and improve their product:
- User communities create a place for users to build relationships with each other, allowing them to use their collective brain power to leverage the software in ways that solve complex problems.
- They extend a brand’s value beyond its software. By providing a space where customers can engage with others, the brand shows that they’re in it for more than the bottom line, which helps build trust.
- User communities are an avenue for customers to provide feedback that companies can then take into their product roadmap, which shows users their input matters.
- User communities offer a place for prolific users to become advocates for the software, while inspiring other users to do more with the software.
- Lastly, user communities are a highly useful way to engage directly with customers – but they shouldn’t be viewed as a vehicle for sales opportunities.
Examples of strong user communities
Successful user communities come in various shapes and sizes. Here are some examples that stand out:
- The Asana user community uses the forum structure, with categories for various topics that align with various use cases for the platform. The Asana team has put a lot of effort into the design and ease of use, making it both a fun and simple way for users to navigate through the community. Plus, users can become Asana Ambassadors after a quick application in addition to a training process.
- Given the global usage of the tool, the Slack user community is divided into regional chapters, where people can engage in the language of their choice. Slack also provides a community forum where people can ask questions that other users can respond to or upvote.
- Duolingo provides users with an in-app community for language learners around the world. A dedicated group of volunteers devotes itself to answering users’ language questions and thinking about how to make the app better.
- Intercom Community is a place where users can come together to ask questions, share knowledge, and engage with other users. The landing page offers a delightful dashboard experience, where users can quickly find trending questions, top contributors, and FAQs.
Developing a user community has become a strategic way for companies to engage with customers. For software companies looking to stay on a growth path, giving users a voice is a highly valuable approach.