Hi, Rafy here. 👋
So we were supposed to send this newsletter yesterday but the company I work at broke the news that they are merging with SPAC for an IPO. We had a small celebration and got occupied. ;)
Let’s get back to work.
👋 Welcome to the latest issue of Uncommunity - the newsletter that helps you become a better community builder. We bring you community experts’ interviews, content on communities, tools to scale community or events, and jobs to be applied.
This week’s guest is Adrian Speyer, Head of Community at Higher Logic. He has over 15 years of experience building communities, in online marketing, and product marketing.
Let’s begin. 🖖
What inspired you to start your journey in community management and stay in it for the last decade? What have you learned the most?
I have always been someone who liked to connect people and create communities. Even in the early days of the Internet, I created local BBS channels on CompuServe to connect. I only realized this could be something I could be paid for around 2009. I think the biggest thing I have learned is to embrace failure. Looking back at the way I failed at building communities has served me well in how to do it properly throughout my career. I learned so much from those early mistakes of what I did wrong, and I try my best not to make the same mistakes twice. I want anyone who builds communities to know failure is okay and it happens. It's what you do with that information that matters. My best piece of advice is to make sure you listen to your community rather than tell them what the community will be. However, don't just listen, but learn how to infer what they need - they may not be explicit in their needs.
One of the most common questions, new community builders have is which platform they should start their community from. With so many community platform companies coming up at an unprecedented rate this problem has become a bigger challenge. What would be your advice to them when they are looking for platforms and do platforms play a role in the early stages of a community?
Starting a community as early as possible is beneficial to any company. I would not worry too much about technology at this stage, but you need to have an eye to how you can move/upgrade as the community grows. I would make sure you have an easy way to get access to the data and can bring it to wherever you go. This is the biggest surprise I see many companies run into as they grow. The first choice they took, has now their best, most valuable information locked onto a system they cannot bring with them. They become a hostage to their technology.
Certainly, I understand a small start-up may go with a free tool or an open-source solution, but just as you upgrade your website as you become larger, companies should consider the community experience as well. Whatever you choose, never forget to consider your community data and how you have access to it.
What role does content play in your community strategy?
Most of my career has been in support communities, so content is super important. As it’s been reported by TSIA (and our own research) over 90% of support journeys start at Google. I like to spend time looking at what searches people make in the community and look at where they landed to make sure we have the content they need. I have also been a big believer in creating community content on a regular interval, "moments" that people can participate in. Regularity is very important. I try to recommend community builders build out their plans a quarter at a time to consider holidays and other special guests they can invite into the community.
Community builders find it challenging to find and prove their value in the early phase of their existence within an organization, what are some of the ways to build confidence in their work (with or without driving a lot of value at first)? How can community builders get buy-in from product and tech teams for what they feel their community needs?
I think the most important thing a community person can do is to make sure they stay visible. Share stories as soon as possible about people sharing feedback or where a community is solving problems. I think a key thing for any community person to know is who are the key stakeholders in their company and what they care about and try to share insights or things that happen in the community that have an impact on this. If you show an impact on the things that matter to them, you will be amazed how they will want to support you to get more of that. I think the biggest challenge community people may have is being too shy or not wanting to shine the spotlight on their work, but it's super important to get what you need. Never assume people realize the value you are bringing.
What are some of the best ways to build moderation while building communities? How much of it can be community-driven?
There could be a whole book on this. I would rather mention, how if you are building from scratch, community-driven moderation takes time. It does not happen overnight. You should also not choose people based on the eagerness to help, or the number of posts. You need to select people with the right temperament and you, as the community person in charge, must be ready to manage these people to ensure they stay consistent in the moderation. You will likely have to build a moderation handbook or some sort of document to ensure this - as well as have regular meetings with them. I think the key thing to keep in mind is to move slow, take the time in selection, be very thoughtful and deliberate in how you build the team.
Any community builders who have inspired you deeply in your journey and how?
It would not be fair for me to do a list, as I would likely forget someone. I rather tell you about what inspires me. People who change the world for the better with their community work. I'm just endlessly inspired by people like this.
There you have it. Adrian is a legend when it comes to building B2B customer communities. You can connect and follow Adrian Speyer on Twitter.
Feel free to take a break. Stretch, breathe, get some water, etc. Then come back.
There are only three sections left now: What else we’re reading including few tweets, news, and jobs to checkout.
You good? Ok! Let’s dive back in 😅
What else we’re reading?
The Inner Ring of The Internet. This piece by Ali Montag is fascinating and it’s a must-read if you are a founder, a creator or just a curious soul. Check out the full article. Ali explores the price of chasing the Inner Ring.
Those of us watching (outsiders) are driven to emulate those succeeding (insiders.) We can touch their success with our fingertips. We’re drawn to chase after it: How can we do what they’re doing? The only way to get into the digital Inner Ring is to try. Throw open the doors: Show the world what you’re working on. Publish that draft. Send that tweet. Launch that newsletter. Let everyone in to have a look around, then change and iterate your work with their feedback. Let popularity be your guide.
Deconstructing Among Us’ TikTok Strategy. Victoria Tran, the Community Director at Innersloth, creators of Among Us shares her experience building a thriving 2 million followers on TikTok. Read the full piece here.
When we go viral on TikTok, there isn’t a clean “this is how many more game sales we got” or “we got X number of people joining our Discord because of this” like a number of other indie games. So the goal for us isn’t visibility on TikTok — it’s maintenance, engagement, and sustainability.
Community KPI’s that matter. Carmen, the community coach talks about the difference between ROI’s and KPI’s and different kinds of stickiness, impact KPI’s which can help build thriving communities. Do you know there are community KPIs for Innovation? I’ve heard it for the first time though. Dive into the full article here.
The DAU/MAU measures the stickiness of your community. It was made popular thanks to Facebook using it as part of their metrics. Why is stickiness important?
Well if members keep coming back to your community, it means you’re doing something right.
Exciting times for everyone involved in building community. The future is bright.
Communities build brands.
Ooooo. We cannot growth hack how to build relationships. It’s personal.
Easy. Right? 😂
What’s in the News?
Dots, which connects community platforms such as Slack & Discord launched on Product Hunt. Check out the product.
Now Salesforce officially owns Slack. The $27.7 billion acquisition has closed.
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