At February’s San Francisco Community Manager Breakfast, we eschewed the pre-set topic and chose topics as a group. The result was a fantastic, varied conversation with folks from all different experience levels, business types, and focuses. Although you won’t get the full context from the notes – you’ll have to come to breakfast for that – there are some great observations and suggestions below.
A huge thank-you to Meredith Black for taking the notes! If you’re looking to hire someone very intelligent with events skills, check out her LinkedIn!
1. Launching a community from scratch
- Choosing community focus
- Test with Minimum Viable Communities – do things as simply as possible (Facebook groups are easy) and see what sticks. Less risk.
- Consider that you may have more than one community – especially if you’re a two-sided marketplace. Don’t treat them the same.
- Go to Twitter chats, forums where market exists.
- Hang out, follow, engage in conversations.
- Note what engages people, where gaps are.
- Once your community has started, these places can be perfect for sharing about your CMTY organically.
- What is a real, loyal CMTY member? Sticky, engaging, and offering value.
- Do user testing for ways to push interaction.
- ID the evangelists (Customer Support can be a great source):
- Figure out how you can help them.
- Give them responsibility – they want it, and it’ll help you.
- Be the face of the brand: sign social media posts with your name, be the face/voice of the brand.
- Use a personal email (ie Shannon@monument.com) – if you can’t handle the volume, have the rest of your team help with it.
- Do the things that aren’t scalable (a la Paul Graham)
- Phone calls, emails, friendships, 1-on-1 asks
- Hard to launch a CMTY without a platform/ways for members to communicate.
- Facebook Groups definitely work – but FB has a tendency to interrupt/pull functionalities. Move off it as soon as you can.
- Platform suggestions:
- Mobilize (built by former CMTY mgrs.)
- Jive (can segment, has gamification)
- Mighty Bell
- Mobile community platforms still pretty rare.
- When moving a CMTY from one platform to another: do it in buckets, introduce users to forum, measure activity.
- Moving has risks, challenges, so it’s necessary to get the CMTY more engaged.
- Platform architecture can be overwhelming – don’t underestimate.
4. Offline CMTY-building
- Offline is a trend (vs. 4 years ago).
- Development is the same (set the tone/rules, power-user program, scale it).
- How do you find your initial members?
- Relationships are built face-to-face: get out there, tailor, make it personal.
- Collaborate/empower users so they initiate events for the brand.
5. Offline Metrics
- Know what the actual company goals are (often, management isn’t sure):
- Brand recognition/association
- Member-to-member interaction
- Don’t have ROI measured yet? Provide management/C-suite with tons of general data:
- Activity level
- # signups
- Engagement volume
- Tell both stories – metrics and personal:
- Emotional: interviews, feedback, Yelp reviews, etc.
- Share successes pre-emptively:
- Learnings (shows you’re not just flailing)
- Roadmap that can be quantified
- These are the same challenges as for other soft departments (like PR).
- Google Analytics
- Sprout Social
- Good ol’ spreadsheets
6. CMTY+ (cross-functional integration)
- Make friends internally and externally – get buy-in of tech team, C-level, support, finance, etc.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel – partner instead.
- Community can help retain, make repeat sales more likely.
- Leads are more qualified/shared.
- Deals close faster.
- Benefits maybe aren’t apparent through regular CRM data.
- Leverage current customers for leads to new growth.
- Track evangelist movements, put in a bucket, use for PR/marketing (collateral, landing page quote, great story, reference for potential investors, etc).
Hope to see you at the next breakfast!