20 Online Community Examples That Will Inspire You

Community Strategy, Customer Stories // Does community feel like an abstract concept? Dig into these 20 online community examples to understand different use cases and benefits of building a branded community.

Melanie Bond
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Engaged online communities have an undeniable impact on organizations. Higher levels of engagement can lead to greater retention, which, in turn, drives revenue. Online communities can take many forms and accomplish multiple use cases (often, all at once).

You might be thinking this all sounds great in theory – but what does a real-life online community look like?

We’ll make this more concrete by showing you 20 of our favorite online community examples.

These examples come from a variety of industries, but there are great lessons to be learned from different communities. One thing that most active online communities have in common is that they grow from a shared purpose.

When managed well and built on an online community platform like Higher Logic, organizations can use their communities to:

  • Drive engagement with personalized experiences
  • Unlock the knowledge of the group
  • Create loyal fans and grow retention
  • Drive new revenue
  • Boost new user acquisition
  • Reduce support workload and administrative burden

And much more, of course, but we’ll let these examples show you themselves.

1. Educational Theatre Association

EdTA Expands Engagement Beyond Members, Benefiting All & Improving Member Satisfaction

School theatre departments are often a one-person show, leaving these educators without colleagues to lean on. EdTA chose to open their online community to the public to expand participation and attract more users, including those who simply can’t pay for membership. This has turned the community into a thriving destination, a robust resource that supports EdTA’s members even more.

The community helps its members find resources they need in the library and get advice from members in discussions. EdTA’s community has also created a 900% boost in their organic search rankings. Additionally, EdTA leverages automation rules to get the community engaged and reduce manual work for their community manager.

2. Zenoss

Zenoss’s Community Grows Customer Engagement

Zenoss has facilitated a user community for over 10 years, becoming the de facto online gathering place for IT Ops customers. Leveraging Higher Logic’s community platform, Zenoss relaunched the community with innovative collaboration capabilities and an enhanced overall user experience.

John Boyle, former Head of Technology Alliances & Community, said, “Since launching our TechZen User Community on the Higher Logic platform, we’ve seen dramatic membership growth and increased engagement. New capabilities coupled with engagement strategies have helped us gain greater insight into the needs of our customers and the community.”

Their engagement stats make them a great example of an active online community:

  • Over 3,500 active members worldwide
  • 140% membership and engagement increase
  • Immediate increase in webinar registrations by 5-10% and growing
  • Increases in discussions and library items

3. Genesys

Genesys Humanizes Their Brand with Community

Genesys, a SaaS customer experience platform, wanted to accomplish several goals with their customer community, including scaling customer success and answering support questions, particularly those in the community that other customers might not be able to answer.

Genesys’s online community manager Matt Lawson launched a TV-show like series in the pureCloud community where he and a staff member pre-record videos on a certain topic and answer customer questions in the community. This unique, fun approach to answering technical questions humanized the customer experience and resulted in ticket deflection. Staff also love helping in this way and getting a little time in the spotlight.

Genesys tailored their approach for different communities and implemented an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) style discussions for their pureConnect audience, tripling average daily engagement metrics during AMAs.

4. Pragmatic Institute

The Pragmatic Institute Launched Their New Community Mid-Pandemic

Pragmatic Institute, a world-class training partner for product professionals, launched a brand-new community in April, mid-pandemic, which has served as a lifeline for members. The community aims to bring professionals from different verticals together to advance their discipline and their careers.

Georgina Donahue, Director of Community, chose Higher Logic for the powerful features that would support a personalized experience even as the community grows. Their community of practice constantly curates high-quality support and resources for members.

To prevent an initial huge spike of activity at launch that wasn’t sustainable, Georgina created a phased launch plan, starting with the Founders program, a high-level leadership program that served as the anchor for lasting online community engagement.

5. Metal Treating Institute

MTI Harnesses Community to Digitally Transform

MTI is a nonprofit trade association built to support their members (companies in the heat treating business).

MTI uses their community to empower members across different generations to connect and engage in ways that are most meaningful to them. Community users can tap into the content and the expertise of other members, which is particularly helpful for those who don’t attend in-person meetings. Members can post questions, concerns, or comments and get feedback overnight from MTI’s membership base of over 1500 people.

By embracing their community as a tool in their digital transformation, MTI has been able to do more with less, and has achieved the following successes with less than 4 full-time staff members:

  • 50% decrease in transactional requests due to community
  • 2600% revenue growth in 14 years
  • 97% member retention rate

6. Discovery Educator Network

DEN Community Connects and Empowers Educators Across the Globe

DEN, a community for educators using Discovery Education, evolved from disparate groups connecting across social platforms to become an engaged, active online community hub.

Dave Tchozewski, Manager of the DEN Online Community, stated, “Members started showing up for the resources, but they stayed for the people. People who join often will tell you it has improved both sides of their lives.”

The discussion posts and replies (per day or per post) hover 5-6 times higher than industry benchmarks. Additionally, they created a microsite to meet their specific needs of DEN STAR Educators, DEN members who choose to take the lead in sharing what they know and love.

7. American Society of Association Executives

ASAE’s Community is the Town Square

ASAE, the association for association executives, uses their online community, Collaborate, to give members a voice and a platform with powerful social networking, discussion, and information-sharing tools. They call their community their town square – because it’s a place for members to connect, problem-solve, and learn together.

ASAE’s community also generates invaluable data about their members. When they worked with Association Analytics to analyze their data, they realized that GDPR was a topic that kept coming up, and because they saw it growing early as a topic of interest for members, they were able to put together a GDPR program much faster.

Plus, community helps them drive revenue. After digging into the data, they realized that members with community users with at least one activity per month generate 5x more revenue than users with one activity or fewer per month.

8. Southern Medical Association

SMA Fosters Support Among Healthcare Providers

There’s a need for peer support in healthcare, particularly with the high level of industry change. SMA created their community, SMA Connect, to bring together healthcare providers and clinical professionals outside the scope of the corporate environment they work in.

SMA Connect provides a way for members to engage and support each other 24/7, as opposed to just attending one meeting a year. As a member association, it’s a space where they feel comfortable sharing information. Higher Logic’s mentor program software provides a virtual tool for experienced members to mentor others.

Watch the full story to learn more about SMA’s example of community:

9. Delphix

Delphix Listens to Customers at Scale with Community

Delphix, a SaaS-based data operations platform, leverages community to give customers a gathering place. The community enables Delphix to understand their customers’ needs in a deeper way – showing the voice of the customer even more than NPS.

With Higher Logic’s advocacy and gamification capabilities, Delphix recognizes people for contributions, such as testimonials, or speaking at a conference or user group. Encouraging advocacy has further helped get the word out about how game-changing Delphix can be.

10. City of Hope

City of Hope Community Encourages Course Attendance and Research Discussions

City of Hope, a nonprofit providing training to medical professionals in the field of cancer genetics, uses their community to engage their audience. The nonprofit leverages their community to encourage course attendance and discussion. The community also serves as a virtual conduit to discuss the latest research and collaborate with each other on cases.

11. Promotional Products Association International

PPAI Engages with Previously Unknown Members

PPAI decided to create an online community, Promo Connect, to offer member benefits like peer collaboration, direct access to the association, and central location for giving feedback.

PPAI knew of about 200 to 300 dedicated members who participated in volunteer opportunities. For the rest of the trade association’s 15,000+ company member base (which includes around 60,000 individual members), PPAI encountered members at tradeshows and in learning platforms, but PPAI didn’t have a way to learn more. With Promo Connect, PPAI could engage its less visible members.

PAI has seen incredible growth in engagement on Promo Connect:

  • 93% of members who regularly post were previously unknown to PPAI
  • Since launch, Promo Connect has had an average of 20 posts per day (that’s over 8,500 posts from the year)
  • Each active member has logged into the community at least 9 times in a year, on average
  • Over 25% of members that have logged in have posted a discussion

12. Phi Sigma Pi

Community Draws Students with Ease of Use and Excitement

Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity is a great example of what an online community should be – because they started by aligning their community with the needs of their users. Since many of their daily users are college students, the community’s design focuses on excitement, energy, and ease of use to draw students in. The fraternity curates personalized content and provides a live chat feature to assist their members in real time.

13. Certified Financial Planner Board

CFP Board Community Grows Unique Contributors

The CFP Board’s mission is to grant a certified financial planner certification. They launched their community in mid-2016, and recently won “most successful online community” at Higher Logic’s annual conference, Super Forum. The community has seen a steady increase in engagement, achieving a 12% growth in unique contributors since 2018, with members jumping in to network and grow in their professions.

14. Australian Medical Association of Queensland

AMAQ Uses Community to Connect in a Rapidly-Changing World

AMA Queensland’s community is a key piece of their member engagement strategy, giving members one central hub to access resources and connect with each other, the association, and sponsors. The Queensland Doctors’ Community (QDC) also protects members’ privacy better than a community built on social media would. Community conversations also provide AMA Queensland with insight into trends and the issues their entire member base is facing, so their members’ needs can truly drive their work.

15. Gain Grow Retain

GGR is the Fastest-Growing Customer Success Community

Gain Grow Retain is one of the world’s fastest-growing customer success communities, growing to over 3,000 members in just under six months. The founders, Jay Nathan and Jeff Breunsbach, started the community by building a following on LinkedIn. Next, they broke into podcasting, and started collaborative office hours for their members.

So where does the community part come in? Members actually requested an online community to continue discussions – so now, Jay and Jeff try to drive everything back to the community. And they still promote their thriving community on LinkedIn, run a podcast, and collaborative office hours for customer success leaders. (If you’re a customer success leader, you can actually join GGR and start participating today!)

16. Broadcom

Broadcom’s Intuitive Community Setup Supports Customers

Broadcom, developer of semiconductor and infrastructure software solutions, needed to combine multiple existing communities, including pulling in existing user content and “points” their users had earned.

To help reduce the customer service workload, Broadcom planned a structure for the new community that allows users to find the information they need quickly.

Broadcom created community buckets of discussions, blogs, and ideas, so customers only see the products they want. They can then subscribe and receive notifications from selected communities, which filters out noise.

Users are constantly posting good ideas, which was helpful during the launch of the new community and beyond. The company engages with users for an open conversation and creates a productive feedback loop. Broadcom also uses gamification to make the community fun, allowing users to acquire points and earn badges for activities such as posting. User-generated content within the community is also helpful for longtail SEO.

17. American Occupational Therapy Association

AOTA Support Members During the Pandemic

At Higher Logic, we’ve seen professional associations use their communities to support their members and their industries throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. At the AOTA, members are turning to their online community (CommunOT – such a great name!) as a source of connection and education, seen in their rising engagement metrics.

Overall logins were up 109% in March, and new member logins – people checking out the community for the very first time – were up 149%. While members are there, they’re posting more discussions (posts were up 48%) and engaging with content (library views saw a 100% increase and library downloads went up 122% since February).

18. Imperva

Imperva’s Community Helps with Retention and Reduces Support Case Load

Imperva, a cyber security software and services company, launched the Imperva Community in 2019 to provide peer-to-peer networking, a knowledge base, and product optimization for clients. With the community, Imperva hopes to reduce their support case load and provide a one-stop-shop for customers to seamlessly find what they’re looking for.

“When customers engage in the community, and they reply, ‘like’ posts, or add questions, you’ll generally retain them, and retain them at a higher rate. As our community grows, it will have more information about our customers than any other system or person at Imperva. This gives Imperva a competitive edge,” stated Chris Detzel, Global Community Manager, Imperva.

Additionally, capturing search traffic through SEO was a big driver for creating the community. An online community answers searcher questions in the way searchers are asking them, which can then generate new marketing leads.

19. Jama Software

Jama Software Supports Customers with Community

Jama switched to Higher Logic’s online community platform to gain functionality. The community generates over 700 discussion posts and 14,000 sessions per quarter. Additionally, the support community serves as a knowledge base that customers use as their first resource when they need help. “Our knowledge base has over 250 articles, and we’re continuously adding more. Our support ticket volume has decreased 28% in the last two years, even though our customer base has grown,” said Kristina King, Manager, Technical Support.

Customers can post suggestions for new features or improvements, which has been helpful for Jama’s product team. Finally, Jama plans to incorporate community data, such as page views and posts, into their CRM to develop a better picture of customers’ interests.

20. Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society

RAPS Encourages Engagement with Regular Community Activities

When RAPS first started their online community, they didn’t have the bandwidth to assign a dedicated community owner. More recently, RAPS chose to work with one of Higher Logic Strategic Services’ community managers.

The community manager added several new online community engagement activities, including volunteer appreciation week, where a different RAPS member is highlighted each day, quarterly Ask Me Anything sessions with an expert, and sharing a tech tip every Tuesday. RAPS has seen the following results:

  • 96% increase in logins
  • 277% increase in posts
  • 102% growth in views per post
  • 138% growth in replies per post

And There You Have It: 20 Examples of the Best Online Communities

These organizations are all hard at work to engage their customers, members, and employees in their online communities. Can you see your own organization developing a community?

The best place to start is to learn more about what online communities can do for your organization. And if you already have a community and want to level up, look to our guide for tips on how to create more online community engagement.

Melanie Bond

Manager, Strategic Services

Melanie is Manager of Strategic Services at Higher Logic. Melanie advises clients on community management strategy and best practices for building a highly engaged and successful community. Prior to Higher Logic, Melanie worked at WeddingWire as a Senior Customer Success Manager.

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