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This week’s Expert AMA is with, one and only. Wait for it!!!
*drum roll* *🥁 🥁 🥁 Introducing…
Krystal Wu, Social Community Manager at HubSpot. She’s been working at HubSpot for more than 5 years collectively managing three million followers on HubSpot’s social channels.
What's the opportunity for businesses to build communities in 2021?
The list could go on and on about the opportunities for businesses to build communities, starting with putting the community first. Implementing community tactics within your company will allow you to build authentic relationships among your audience, internally and externally. Community has the ability to scale a business when done right. It humanizes a brand, grows its customer base, offers valuable product feedback, and strengthens connections. Putting the community at the center of the business, like using the Flywheel approach, will keep the remaining parts of the business spinning faster and longer.
So if you’re reading this wondering if community efforts are the right move for your business, know that the community investment is impactful throughout every business touchpoint. It’s about making that transition from an everyday brand to a human brand.
What's the formula to build a successful thriving community?
I’ve seen many varieties of ‘formulas’ for building a successful community, and what I’ve learned is that there is no one answer for one community. There are different goals, platforms, and needs when building a community. However, key foundational steps can be taken to grow into a thriving community.
Create a community with a purpose. Knowing why the community exists and its value will add to members looking to join. Stick to that and really believe in your mission; the confidence will eventually become contagious.
Start the discussions and bring your members together. Engagement is really what’s going to drive a community to be successful. So diving into conversations and looping in other members in those conversations shows that you learn from your members and value their skills enough to bring them into the discussion.
Consistency really is key. I like to think of community building as if you were growing a plant. Once you plant the seed, it's important to nurture that seed and give it time to grow. At its earliest stages, the seed is vulnerable to breakage and possibility over/under-watering. Keep eyes on its growth, determine what its needs are and where its limits are. You can’t go heavy-handed. Then from there, as it gets larger and stronger, it will eventually hold its own and stand firm. Watering becomes second nature to you as you know when and how much it needs. Good things take time, and the same goes for a thriving, self-serving community.
Feedback is your best friend. Once you’ve found that your community is thriving, don’t let the cycle end there. Continue to get member feedback and learn from them on growth or innovation opportunities to improve the community atmosphere.
When do you say a community is an engaged community?
An engaged community is when the *actively* engaged members create value and reach out to the other members organically. I consider this a thriving community because it’s one where the creator can successfully step away and trust that the members will continue to pick up the conversation and lead the charge when needed. Getting to that stage doesn’t happen overnight either. Every community should be built with a strong foundation of trust, accountability, transparency, welcoming participation, and be valued.
What's the intersection between community and marketing?
Community and Marketing have a natural overlap, as that’s usually the department that community folks start from and where the initiatives take off. Combining them puts them in Community Marketing which involves social media, customer advocacy, online and offline event planning, partner programs, and education roles. These areas are tasked with building a community and tying in marketing tactics. From writing blog content, sharing brand messaging on social to email marketing, they all come together to offer different outlets and tools for your members to form a community around your business.
One community professional whom you admire and why should we follow?
Someone who has been paving the way for community advocacy and actively working to grow the industry is Christina Garnett. If you search for her on Twitter (@ThatChristinaG) or in community Slack groups, it’s immediately evident that she puts the community first before her own content. She highlights individuals in the industry by spotlighting their thoughts and opinions using her platform, which has a large and engaged audience, to amplify those messages. What she is doing is not as common as what I see others in the industry do. Many use their platform to share their thought-provoking ideas and occasionally engage/share other content.
She is well known and well respected in the industry because she sets aside the metrics and vanity of being well known and instead focuses on helping, educating, or lifting others to make the community a more prominent and respected place. Her method is the complete opposite of typical industry leaders, and that’s what I think is admirable about her work -- it's having the community-first mindset.
Advice to someone just getting started?
If you’re looking to dive into the community space, welcome! It's an area that sees significant growth and will only be more valuable as time goes on. Determine what about the community makes you passionate about the space and how you can impact it. Check out others in the industry to learn from their past experiences building community; those are the moment’s community professionals can gain so much from. Some people start by being community members and find themselves eventually on the other side; others seek opportunities that have community growth potential and dive right in. Either way, no matter the journey, know that, as I’ve mentioned above, good things take time, and community is always worth the time spent.
Follow Krystal Wu on Twitter.
What else we’re reading?
What is community-led growth? These startups encourage connections - not just transactions. A great piece by Hal Koss on why we are seeing the sudden rise of community-led startups. Full piece here.
Prioritizing community hardly seems like a new phenomenon for companies. After all, Apple energizes its cult-like following through product unveiling events and keeps a well-tended support forum. GitHub fosters a community ethos among developers and programmers by letting them easily collaborate on code in public. Salesforce draws hundreds of thousands of attendees to its annual Dreamforce conference like it’s Woodstock. And countless others would say they value community too. The concept isn’t new.
What’s changed, though, is the intentionality with which companies are making their communities the main attraction of their brands.
It’s a difference of valuing community as a core piece of your business versus just bolting a forum on your product.
Why Executives Should Care About Internet Communities - Internet communities are groups of people with shared interests and identities who interact with each other on the internet. Read Ian Vanagas’s piece here.
Communities are opportunities for executives to better understand their people and industry, as well as to educate and share messages. Key people pay attention to and are influenced by them. Executives who do the same create a better knowledge of what their employees, customers, and other stakeholders actually care about. In the long run, it helps protect their company’s reputation and build better offerings.
Don’t call it a community - When you say you want to build a community, what do you mean exactly?” And I get a wide range of responses. Sometimes they mean “the local, geographic sense of community” or more often, “our community of followers on social.” Interesting piece on the meaning of community. Read here
Most of the time, what marketers are talking about when we say “community” is actually an audience — a group of people who follow your brand on Instagram or sign up for your email list. While these individuals may all share an interest in your content, they have no relationship with each other. No mutual concern. No coming together.
I’m not here to argue that audiences have no value. They sit at the top of your marketing funnel and without them, you’d have nobody to purchase your products or services. But the strategies for growing an audience and building a brand community are quite different.
This week’s newsletter is for experts. And yeah set your priorities right.
Are you building something in the space? I’d love to talk.
The legendary David Spinks with a 🔥 tweet. Community isn’t the new marketing.
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