From Everyday User to Community Expert

October 23, 2016

Experts add immense value to an online community. They possess a wealth of knowledge that enables others to become more productive and solve problems. But expert status doesn’t happen overnight. Instead of having all the answers, most of us join an online community in search of an answer. For the average, everyday user, is becoming an expert an unattainable goal?

Fortunately, you don’t need to know all of the answers to become a community expert. Here are four steps to take your status from everyday user to community expert:

1. Learn

Whether you are a customer, employee, or prospect, it is important to take the time to learn the purpose of the community and how it works. This is an often-overlooked step, but no one becomes an expert by skipping the basics. Begin by reading over user documentation, as well as other materials, such as case studies or eBooks, that provide advice not only on how to get up and running as a user, but how to make the most of your community experience.

2. Listen

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. Community experts are not “most people”. To truly understand the purpose of the community and how to make an impact, experts observe how others engage, what questions are asked, how people comment, and what content is well-received and shared. Through listening, we learn and understand. As an everyday user, listening will lay the foundation for your success and provide the insight necessary to become a community expert.

3. Engage

While it is important to never stop listening, everyday users must also transition from sole listeners to participants in order to become true experts. Engagement can quickly elevate your status from everyday user to expert. Remember to expand your contributions instead of limiting yourself to asking questions. If you know an answer or have a great idea, share it with your community! Or, if you come across a post with outdated content, report it to the community manager.

As key players in the community, experts look for ways to assist and engage with each other. They post comments, contribute ideas, and answer questions. This activity not only enables others to learn and succeed, but is an effective way to earn reputation points and reach expert status.

4. Encourage

Engagement drives community health and success – that’s why experts encourage others to participate as well. This can be done in a variety of ways. Instead of emailing back and forth with a colleague to discuss an idea, create a new community post to address the topic. Or, if you are on a training call with new customers, remind them that they can access important resources and find answers 24/7 via your company’s knowledge-driven support community. By encouraging others to use the community, everyday users can drive engagement, build connections, and contribute to overall success.

Online communities present countless opportunities and benefits. By taking the time to learn, listen, engage, and encourage, community members can not only find the knowledge they need to succeed, but can easily go from everyday users to community experts.

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Author: Caitlin Zucal