The Rise of Communities —
Building Communities in B2B

Nearly 80% of founders reported building a community of users as important to their business, with 28% describing it as their moat and critical to their success.

We see the same trend within our P9 Family, where more portfolio companies are building or looking to build a community:

Message in our P9 Family Slack group

Online Customer Engagement in B2B

I group the main different formats of online customer engagement in B2B into the following three segments (I’ll touch on how they influence each other later in the post):

Content

Companies have used thought leadership for a long time, and with the rise of the internet, they moved part of that thought leadership online in the form of content marketing. To educate and engage with customers and leads online, companies started to create blogs, hold webinars, and publish whitepapers. This form of content is predominantly informative and serious.

Social Media

With the rise of social media in the consumer world, B2B companies adopted similar strategies. They built their presence on various social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even on Instagram and Tiktok today. Compared to content libraries on the website, social media posts often appear more engaging, dynamic, and playful.

Communities

Before Covid-19, customer engagement in B2B was often happening in person at sales meetings or trade shows — especially in traditional industries such as manufacturing, logistics, or construction. Now even trade fairs had to move online, and more companies are thinking about how to engage with their customers online continuously and build communities.

Community Pages from Atlassian, Salesforce, and Intercom

Why is building a Community important in B2B?

B2B communities can have a very positive impact on the whole customer lifecycle. In the pre-sales phase, the community can address prospects’ questions and provide showcases. For customers, the community can boost customer satisfaction, stimulate product adoption, and decrease support requests (Extreme Networks has a 91% (!) peer to peer support ratio). You can also use the community for insights and to develop new features. That’s why building a community in B2B is impacting many other departments — from customer support and marketing to the product department.

Screenshot from Holly Firestone’s talk

It’s never too early to start building a community — start now.

Here are a few tips & tricks that have worked for us building the P9 Family — the community of our portfolio founders and all the people who work there — over the years and other community leaders I talked to:

Example of a user journey

Summary

I hope some of the examples above can be a good inspiration to start building a community if you haven’t done so already. Summarizing the key takeaways from this post:

  • Focusing on building a community does not mean that you should drop other ways (content & social media) to engage with your customers online as they are still powerful tools.
  • There is lots of good content out there on how to build and run your community (here, here, or here). However, nobody can offer you an exact playbook as this needs to be tailored to the exact needs of your specific audience.
  • Communities can be a powerful moat that can’t be replicated by competitors easily. B2B companies should consider investing in it if they don’t already do it.

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Robin Dechant

Robin Dechant

Co-Founder @Kwest. Previously invested in SaaS & Marketplaces @PointNineCap, now by myself. Running and living in Berlin.