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An insight community offers Business to Business (B2B) companies a holistic view of their customers, access to decision makers and valuable longitudinal data. This only happens if they can keep their community healthy, active and engaged.

Here are 6 tips on how leading B2B brands do just that.

1. Understand your community's motivation for joining.

People who join a B2B insight community have different motivations from those who join a B2C insight community. As my colleague Ray Poynter recently pointed out, people join a B2B insight community because they believe there is something in it for them and their organization.

Members of a B2B community want to get their voices heard, but they also want networking and learning opportunities. They want to help their company grow and reduce costs by helping shape the future of your products and services. Be cognizant of these motivations when recruiting for your community and as you engage your members.

2. Set the right expectations.

The success of any community depends on members feeling like their time is valued, even more so with B2B community members. Remember that each member of your community implicitly evaluates the ROI on their participation: is my input going to lead to better products, services or outcomes for my business or career?

Show people that you value their time. When people register, set the expectations right away and make it clear how often you'll reach out to them and how much time they should expect to share with us.

Will you send studies and discussion requests twice a month? Once every 3 months? Whatever the frequency is, let your members know before they sign on.

3. Vary the tasks.

There's nothing more boring than seeing the same study or having the same discussion month after month. Make sure the tasks you give your members are engaging.

Ask them to complete a variety of tasks. One month, you might want to ask questions; in other months, you might use forums or host a real-time live chat. Keep it interesting.

4. Create motivating activities.

Help your members look forward to participating in your community by using tools to motivate them. Visual questions, for example, are much more engaging than standard radio button style studies. If your members are C-level executives, they want to look forward to sharing their thoughts, opinions and real world experience with you in a professional and engaging manner.

5. Enable responses from anywhere.

Members of a B2B community are typically busy folks. When they are ready to share their time, you need to be ready for them.

Your busy executive could be participating in your forum while on the train or undertaking a 10 question study while in an airport lounge using their iPad. Enabling your insight community to be mobile optimized and ready for your members when they are ready for you is key to achieving great response rates.

6. Give meaningful feedback.

Let your community know you're listening and that you appreciate their time. Remember: B2B community members want to see results for them as well as their business. Even if you do not take action based on their input, share how their insights influenced your product and how your decision will benefit their business.

Show your community that you are learning, and provide evidence that you are listening. One idea is to create a video from a senior executive in your company thanking the community for their time and input. This video doesn't have to be too slick or long - less than a minute will do - but it can effectively show your appreciation for people's time. Member-only symposiums and targeted whitepapers are other highly effective ways to add value to your members, all the while proving you are listening to them and learning from each other.

A B2B community can provide valuable insights into the mindset of customers and market trends. Don't forget to keep your members engaged and show your appreciation to maximize ROI from your B2B insight community.

What has been your experience with a B2B insight community? Let us know. For more on B2B communities, download our whitepaper or check out our presentation.

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