Guides Book review: The Business of Belonging by David Spinks

Book review: The Business of Belonging by David Spinks

Last updatedJune 5, 2024
AuthorKai Forsyth

In The Business of Belonging: How to Make Community your Competitive Advantage David Spinks presents a persuasive argument for placing community at the heart of your business strategy. As the co-founder of CMX, an early pioneer in the community industry at the time, Spinks draws on his extensive expertise to provide a comprehensive guide for creating customer communities that drive tangible business results.

A practical roadmap for community success

One of the key strengths of The Business of Belonging is its practicality. Spinks offers a detailed, step-by-step roadmap for aligning your community strategy with specific business objectives and measuring ROI. He makes a compelling case that community is not just a nice-to-have initiative, but a powerful competitive differentiator that cannot be easily replicated.

At the core of Spinks’ approach is the SPACES model, which outlines six crucial ways community can drive business outcomes:

  • Support: Reducing support costs through peer-to-peer assistance
  • Product: Accelerating product innovation through community feedback and insights
  • Acquisition: Fueling growth by leveraging community for word-of-mouth referrals
  • Contribution: Encouraging members to contribute content, code, and other value-adding resources
  • Engagement: Enhancing customer engagement and retention through community participation
  • Success: Enabling customer success by providing a platform for learning and sharing best practices

For each of these areas, Spinks provides proven tactics drawn from his experience building communities at companies like Udemy and Google, and advising numerous organizations through CMX.

Whether you’re seeking initial buy-in for community or aiming to optimize an existing program, you’ll discover a wealth of practical insights to implement. I found the real-world case studies from companies like Salesforce and Duolingo particularly valuable in illustrating how to apply these principles successfully.

Accessible frameworks with engaging storytelling

Beyond the practical playbooks, Spinks’ writing style makes even complex topics engaging and easy to grasp. He has a knack for distilling abstract concepts into clear frameworks, such as the Community Participation Framework, which outlines members’ journey from passive consumption to active leadership.

Spinks skillfully balances high-level strategy with on-the-ground tactics, using stories from his extensive experience to illustrate key points. These behind-the-scenes anecdotes, sourced from his own journey and interviews with industry leaders, offer valuable lessons and inspiration that bring the concepts to life. Spinks’ approachable, conversational tone creates the feeling of learning from a trusted advisor.

Powerful tools for demonstrating community ROI

For me, the most impactful section was on leveraging the SPACES model to demonstrate community’s business value. Community initiatives are often undervalued as cost centers. Spinks provides a compelling framework for directly linking community efforts to revenue-driving outcomes. In truth, Spinks’ SPACES model has heavily informed how we are designing and building Hall, our community platform.

My only critique is that most examples come from large enterprises. While the core principles apply universally, some tactics may require adaptation for resource-constrained startups and small businesses.

An essential guide for harnessing community’s power

In sum, I was immensely impressed by The Business of Belonging. Spinks has produced what I consider to be the most comprehensive, practical guide on building business communities available today. For anyone seeking to harness the power of community in their organization, from founders to marketers to community managers, this book is an indispensable resource.

If you want to drive growth, innovation, and customer experience through community, The Business of Belonging is the go-to roadmap. Spinks’ expertise, engaging voice, and passion for the topic make it an essential read. If you’re ready to unlock the full potential of community, don’t hesitate to pick up this up for a read. This book will equip you with the tools and inspiration to build a community that delivers meaningful business impact.

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