How-to Guide

How Tech Brands Reap the Rewards of Engaged Communities

“Today’s consumers don’t want to be talked at, but they do want to be invited in to the discussion. They thrive on creation, curation, connection, and community.1
- Think with Google

Lithium’s most recent State of Social Engagement report found that tech companies are generally more in broadcast mode than other industries. Brands still use their social platforms to push content, and for the most part, fail to take the time to answer questions, respond to comments, or recognize contributions. While 80% of companies believe they offer superior
customer experience, only 8% of customers agree.2 Engaging customers is a critical priority, and if you fail, you risk losing them.

Are you at risk? Answer the following questions to find out:

  • Do you have an online community?

Fewer than half of brands surveyed include online communities in their social ecosystem; those who do use them mostly for customer support, not customer engagement. Listening to and learning from your community should be a core part of your digital strategy. One of the key benefits of organic social is the ability to listen and respond to community members and to better understand and learn their needs. This only happens when you are actively involved in your community.

  • Is your company leaning on unsustainable methods of customer support?

Over 62% of consumers across generations would rather message than call or email, however over a third of consumers have been unable to contact a company through their preferred channel.3 Call center interactions cost six times as much as solving a customer issue on social media, and social media delivers responses 44% faster than email. It’s time for brands need recognize the benefit of engaging customers where they are.4

  • Are you holding on to outdated media tactics like prioritizing broad exposure over targeted engagement?

Chances are you’re just pushing out content. The technology industry is more generally stuck in broadcast mode, focusing largely on push tactics like paid social rather than taking the time to truly engage. Based on data collected from 70 brands across eight industries, Lithium uncovered that only 2% of brands that engage deeply with their customers across multiple channels. Today’s consumers do not want to be talked at; they want to be invited into the discussion. Don’t underestimate how much customers value real responses. Direct targeting on social via ads can actually lose you customers, especially Gen Z and millennials. Connecting drives more value for customers and results in longer term relationships with your customers.

“Personal dialog is a brand’s best bet to establish rapport, trust, and loyalty. It requires companies to shift from one-way to two-way, from email blasts and social media broadcasts to one-on-one, real-time, personalized dialog.5
- Adweek

Focus on building trusted connections through one-on-one engagement by responding to every direct question or comment and providing recommendations to people who mention your products or services. Go beyond small talk and corporate speak and instead hold real conversations. Improving your digital customer engagement instead of broadcasting provides a tremendous opportunity to humanize your brand and build relationships. Engaged communities also attract new customers through organic search; there’s no better traffic-driving tactic than creating an environment that encourages real people to produce content that’s useful and authentic. See how two tech leaders did just that.


Aruba’s Focus on Self-Service Pays off with $145M in Savings

Aruba connects the dots between business and IT priorities with its mobility and IoT solutions. At its heart is its Lithium-powered Airheads Community, where the largest community of mobility engineers, as well as Aruba’s fiercest advocates, share ideas, discover opportunities, and find solutions.

Once a year Aruba hosts Aruba Atmosphere, an event that brings Airheads together for six days of content-rich experiences. In 2017, Aruba realized it was missing an opportunity to build stronger connections, not just with the onsite attendees, but also with the tens of thousands of remote Airheads who do not physically attend. The Atmosphere Activate campaign was created to extend the life of the event to a digital audience. Its strategy focused on:

  • Leveraging the personal and professional development interests of the community by creating content and opportunities that also tapped into members’ senses of humor. Amusing content included a live chat show inspired by the immensely popular web-series “Between Two Ferns.” Aruba’s “Between 2 APs” edutainment videos humanized the brand and resulted in 8,100 views for all four in the series.
  • Empowering internal and community influencers to develop a private group where they co-created influencer content and fun member polls, like “Tell us your favorite 80’s arcade games and you just may find them in the Arubacade at #ATM17!” By putting its strongest advocates in the spotlight, superusers felt valued. Also, because customers trust UGC over branded content, Aruba’s credibility was boosted.
  • Executing a “Chief Airhead Selfie Contest” that encouraged attendees to find the Airhead community manager, take a selfie, and post it on social media. Exposing members to the community manager helped drive a personal connection between the community and brand.
  • Creating an integrated approach that provided digital access to content and activities from the event generated 75,000 social engagements and 1,400 new registered members — 47% over monthly average.


Microsoft’s content engagement cycle saves millions in support costs

Microsoft knows that the next generation of customers want both the option to engage directly with their favorite brands and to self-serve.6 By launching the Power BI Community, Microsoft created a social destination with a Lithium Online Community for business intelligence experts and their peers.

After three years of community success, Microsoft’s customer service team decided to take a risk by phasing out all free customer support tickets and support calls; the Power BI community would be the place to get free support. Prior to launch, they determined most customers who have a problem or a question with Excel or Power BI will ask a search engine first. Customers were independent and wanted to search for their own answers; they didn’t want to submit a support ticket or call support. For Microsoft, having a community serve up answers through SEO has transformed their support initiatives. Even better? Since users were now able to quickly find the answers they were looking by searching the community there was not one complaint when other free support methods where eliminated.

However, free online support requires a knowledge base full of content; and without engaged members, there would be none. Here’s how Microsoft fosters continual excitement and participation in the community and its content creation:

  • Motivate people by building trust and showing the value in community
  • Educate people by getting the info they need and more opportunities to participate
  • Celebrate people by offering badges and recognition for engagement

One of the most popular areas of the community is the custom developed Data Stories Gallery. The gallery provides members an opportunity to showcase their product expertise and share their own data stories. The story with the most kudos uses statistics on Planet Earth to tell a compelling story about climate change.

A community of business intelligence experts and peers who love Microsoft products existed before Power BI, but the advent of the community gave them a place to connect, learn, and share. Their plan to focus on self-service and online community engagement has paid off, with $2.24M in value of organic search-referral traffic to the community and $145M estimated savings on call center and ticket support.

Get inspired by more of the top tech brands when you download the eBook Who Leads the Pack? How the Top 10 High Tech Brands are Winning in Digital Customer Engagement.


1https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/engagement-project-new-normal/

2http://www.bain.com/publications/articles/focus-on-the-customer.aspx

3https://insights.fb.com/morethanamessage/

4https://www.onlinemarketinginstitute.org/blog/2017/10/4-reasons-social-media-future-customer-care-infographic

5https://www.adweek.com/digital/shifting-from-one-way-broadcast-to-two-way-dialog-changes-everything/

6https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/how-to-respond-to-tomorrows-customers-today/