How to create interactive customer experiences: A community syndication guide

Because online brand communities serve several functions, it can be hard to know if community members see the right content. But Khoros has a solution: Community Syndication — a powerful feature that lets brands place content from their community platform anywhere on their website.

The top brands in the world have turned to communities to engage their customers and spur user-generated content — using syndication to boost these numbers.

Learn the basics of community syndication in this guide from the online community experts at Khoros.

How brand communities work

Online communities are gathering spaces where people can connect over specific topics. Since 90% of consumers want a closer tie to their favorite brands, a brand community presents the perfect opportunity to engage with customers and help solve problems. The benefits are tremendous when brands provide better ways to engage. Brands are quickly adopting this strategy, with brand communities on the Khoros platform growing over 47% from January to April 2020 as people sought to make peer engagement more digital during the pandemic.

Most people associate brand communities with support forums, but they’re also great for loyalty programs, product recommendations and feedback, ideation, contests, regional events, groups, VIP membership, advocacy programs, charitable work, and more. This makes putting the right area of a community in front of a busy customer at the right time a big challenge. But Khoros has a solution: Community Syndication.

What is community syndication?

The easiest way to explain Community Syndication is to think of it as an interactive shop window for your community — showcasing to any digital passersby the information they need on their way to a destination. Community Syndication lets you place the right pieces of community content where people are most likely to see them.

We will walk through real-life examples of how syndication can improve the customer journey.

Khoros Community Syndication dashboard

“Frequently asked” questions, or just the easiest to answer?

An FAQ page is one of the most common areas of a website because it captures search traffic and diverts inquiries away from contact centers. But the challenge with FAQs is that someone inside the company must be responsible for figuring out the perfect answers, then maintaining, editing, and updating them as products and information change. Plus, FAQs rarely have the same priority as other parts of a company website, so they often get the bare minimum of investment.

Community Syndication makes FAQs simpler to manage and more relevant to customers by replacing the FAQ section of a website with the most active forums in the community — the real FAQs. Using community content in place of internally-owned material is better for a few very good reasons:

  1. Credibility: Answers are more credible when they come from people in that situation — e.g., other consumers. In communities, most answers come from peers, and the original poster can also verify whether their question was answered well to confirm the helpfulness of the response.

  2. Speed: Since the community decides what becomes important, it can rapidly produce new FAQs. This is especially valuable during times of crisis when a new issue suddenly has top priority. Because communities are also global, people answer questions 24/7/365, unlike support teams that only answer during office hours.

  3. Engagement: The customers’ views, votes, and comments determine what makes questions important in a community. Customers are free to add their details and questions to an FAQ if they need more help — further expanding the value for the next person who visits.

Communities and reviews

Not only are community reviews easier and better than traditional reviews for all the reasons above, but they’re also interactive. This means any other community member can add their feedback to a post, providing better detail, their perspective, or confirmation that information in the review is correct. This engagement helps keep reviews fresh, adds valuable detail for other potential customers, and makes it easier for future customers to engage.

Gathering product feedback from your community

There is a secret weapon that any brand can use to make better customer validation on their sites — it’s fast, credible, and inexpensive because it already exists. Brands with their own communities have a ton of feedback content to tap into. As a bonus, community reviews and comments are usually from experienced customers who are motivated to help their peers, not by discounts or to rant about a single bad experience.

Formalizing a review program in a community is a great idea because it addresses three key concerns:

  1. Quantity and quality: Reviews happen naturally as product feedback in a community — you can see this behavior in the popular site, Sites like Sephora, Dr. Pierre Ricaud, Leroy Merlin, and others use associations to help serve related community content when people browse articles. The same review content could be shared on any other digital property - like eCommerce stores or websites.

  2. Cost: Community members don’t need to be paid because the community is set up to incentivize and recognize their contributions through Khoros’ sophisticated gamification tools. Also, reviews and product feedback in communities are moderated just like every other piece of content, so there are cost savings here as well.

  3. Credibility: Removing cash incentives eliminates a certain amount of the risk of questionable reviews. Likewise, since community members are validated before they can even join the community, verification is already taken care of.

Community syndication for gathering customer stories

Researching a solution to almost any problem can be daunting these days. Any search will pull up millions of results, and it’s difficult to tell which is the best solution. More people are turning to review sites, peer references, forums, or case studies to determine the effectiveness of a solution before making a purchase.

The challenge for a brand trying to position its solution is that a lot of this content is scattered across the web — often in areas that brands do not own and cannot manage.

With a brand community, you can point to hundreds or even thousands of posts from satisfied customers singing praises (unprompted) of your product’s value. Why not put community content where customers already are? Adding it to product pages or marketing content is an easy way to deliver a better experience with fewer clicks and effort required.

Gathering stories to share

Soliciting stories from users may take a little extra effort; you may have to go through and tag the content you want from around your community as “customer stories” or “feedback. Or you may need to work with customers who will share their stories as testimonials in your community. A contest is a nice way to encourage customers to share their personal experiences. A community is a great place to host this kind of contest, incentivize participation, and get visibility all in one.

As an example, Khoros has had customer awards for many years. Now called Kudos in our community, where our customers write and vote on submissions.

One critical insight about sharing customer stories is to make clear that any story shared in a public space could be used in promotion materials in the future, giving you flexibility.

Community Syndication example

Brand example: Microsoft and adding credibility to content

Microsoft is a key leader in remote work, not just because they are the #1 provider of productivity software worldwide. However, with literally every media outlet and company talking about remote work during the pandemic, it was hard for even Microsoft to get content to stand out. So they devised an innovative strategy to combine their vibrant, multi-million-user community with their internal experts to produce content that would get noticed.

After launching a Community Hub dedicated to Remote Work in the Microsoft Tech Community, Microsoft took the most active discussions and turned them into a series of webcasts and guides. Once they had a good amount of content on the topic, they created a landing page for customers and prospects to find and subscribe to the latest information. Finally, to close the loop, Microsoft syndicated the most recent discussions from the community group into the landing page to help people continue the conversation, ask questions, and see what else people were saying.

The first step: Aligning with marketing

Microsoft highlights a coordinated effort to align strategy between broader marketing and community teams. However, this is easier said than done for most companies where the two teams may meet rarely, if ever. A simpler way to get started is to take existing marketing content and look for where questions are asked of the audience. Then, take those and copy the exact questions in your community. When people answer, you could take that to the Marketing team and tell them you could syndicate that discussion onto the existing landing page (the page where the form to download is) very simply with community syndication. Easy!

Proving the value of syndication

Not only does syndication get more value out of community posts by increasing visibility, it also attracts more people to the community. This helps you expand a valuable knowledge base and grow your network of advocates, not to mention the improved brand loyalty and customer retention that often comes with more activity in an online community.

But can you measure this growth?

Of course! Community forum posts have built-in tools to measure engagement, efficacy, likes (or Kudos), and views. You can even verify solutions from among the customer submissions to help improve your site’s SEO.

Community syndication has three important financial impacts.

  1. Employee efficiency and time saved: Employees don’t have to spend time creating content that the community is now sourcing.
    • Creating or curating content like blogs, reviews, and customer stories

    • Moderating customer content like feedback or comments to remove derogatory language or spam is much easier in a community where it can be automated

    • Answering customer questions in support such as FAQs.

  2. Increased revenue from customer validation resulting in higher conversion, engagement, and traffic through improved SEO rankings.

  3. Savings on replacing other platforms or vendors that may have written content, sourced reviews, or run advocacy programs.

Getting started with community syndication is easy

These examples highlight coordinated efforts and strategies between marketing, support, and community teams. This coordination isn’t always easy, but there are a few simple ways for community teams to find key intersections where syndication may work quickly:

  1. Examine existing content and look for times the authors are trying to generate audience participation. Then, take those questions and pose them to your community. Answers shared in the community can then be syndicated out and onto the existing landing page (the page where the form to download is) to provide new users with more context from their peers.

  2. Embed top community questions into an FAQ site. It’s simple: You can select the part of your community where you have public questions and set filters for the amount of activity — views, kudos (likes), comments, or whether you want only to show verified answers.

Display product feedback from community users. Seeing immediate peer validation of your products is extremely helpful to your potential customers. People appreciate the transparency. Also, iterating the syndication settings to show the most helpful content is easy with Khoros Community Syndication because it doesn’t require coding every time you want to tweak the filters or locations of your syndication widget. Also, you can create the Community Syndication widget once for thousands of products using a variable such as product ID. Contact us for more details and a demo!

Khoros Community Syndication dashboard

Taking communities further today

Most brands see their owned communities as a support tool first. As leaders in the brand community industry for over two decades, Khoros has many customers who do much more with their communities: Onboarding, learning, sharing ideas, collaboration, networking, forming groups, hosting events, and even marketing. Community syndication is one tool Khoros offers that’s different from any other platform. It uniquely enables brand communities to amplify the community content and views without requiring more work to build or manage.

Almost every company that uses an online branded community should be able to execute at least one of the four strategies highlighted in these use cases. There are many other ways to use Community Syndication that we didn’t share, including to enable commenting on your website content. You can join the conversation on Atlas to find out more, or give us a call or chat on

If you are already a Khoros Community customer, syndication is now live and included in your platform. Contact us for a demo, or reach out to your customer success team for an update.