community building experts

in Community, Growth Hacking

25 Community Building Insights From 5 Of The Best Growth Marketers

 

The internet is noisy, over 2 million blog posts are written every day, that’s enough to fill Time Magazine for 770 years. So how do you get heard in the midst of all that content?

Eager to discover how these incredible communities grew I interviewed 5 of the most intelligent community managers & growth hackers to learn about their story and how they have seen their communities grow. Each answered 5 important questions.

Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré

Nichole Elizabeth

SaaS Consultant & Customer Success Evangelist. Moderator at @ProductHunt & @GrowthHackers. Previously: Growth at @Inboundorg

If you want to grow your SaaS business you should hit Nichole up and follow her on twitter.

1. How Do You Define Community?

People who would like to be connected to each other to advance themselves mutually in some regard, your website or your product is the medium in which they accomplish that.

When you are looking to build a community, it’s customer success, you have to help your community members be successful in the goals they would like to achieve with one another.

Whether it’s about sharing and discovering products, sharing advice and getting advice together, finding a job, finding someone to fill that job, get feedback on products you have built, stay up to date on things, scale your own reputation by doing curation.

2. You have helped build Product Hunt, GrowthHackers.com, Growth Hacker TV, and the Inbound.org community, have you seen any trends that played a role in building those communities?

Communities are all about people and each of these communities have amazing people behind them.

Growth Hacker TV – Hosts incredible videos with experts, thus those experts share the videos with their following helping grow Growth Hacker TV.

The communities with the most success practice what they preach. Bronson Taylor is in the game himself so he knows how to interview and how to ask the right questions to get real answers.

GrowthHackers had an unfair advantage that is Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown. These world renowned growth marketing experts are constantly providing free advice to the community, with their network they were able to bring on other experts making the vibe exciting and the community super helpful.

Product Hunt – Ryan Hoover has a tremendous heart and uncanny ability to empower others, what started as an email newsletter with help from members including Hiten Shah turned it into a website. They also made it exclusive which created a network effect, now landing on the first page can drive thousands of visits to your website.

Inbound.Org – A collaboration between Hubspot and Moz has a dedicated team ensuring the success of the community while hosting creative contests and bringing in tons of talents for AMAs.

3. What is your favorite part about community building?

Curation & access to experts, I wanted to build my career and I was able to curate the best content while learning from experts including Morgan Brown, Sean Ellis, Ryan Hoover and Lincoln Murphy.

4. If someone was building a community from scratch what advice would you give them?

Download the Ideal Customer Profile Framework by Lincoln Murphy, it will help you focus on 1 ideal customer, form a hypothesis on it and once you have your ideal customer than customer success should talk to customers about the MVP that you have built and figure out it is that they LOVE about it, once you know what they love about it, build everything around that.

You want to make sure you have a market. You can’t expect to form a community around hiking in the desert with no water, you’ll would be in the desert by yourself.

Find product market fit, ask you customers if this product was no longer available would you feel at a great loss? Do you consider this as must have product?

If 40% of people say yes, you have a product market fit.

Remember it’s not about what features to put, it’s about what do the members want to accomplish together.

Read Value Proposition Design – by Alex Osterwalder – a strong value proposition is extremely important to community building.

5. What is the number one thing most communities are missing?

A stronger value proposition, though ProductHunt nails it.

Matt Diederichs

Matt Diederichs

Community growth @hootsuite Keen on SaaS, new venture dev and consumer psych. Get at Matt on Medium, or follow him on Twitter.

1. How Do You Define Community?

When I think of community, I don’t think of one-way connections between a brand and an audience, but rather a web of connections between people. At Hootsuite we try to build a web of connections rather than a bridge, connecting customers and advocates together around a shared love of social. You have a true community when your customers are talking to each other as well as interacting with your brand.

2. You have helped build Hootsuite’s community, are there any other communities you have been a part of? Any trends you have seen in those communities?

My background is in business, but not many people know I was a pro golfer. There are definitely trends that show similarities between golf communities and today’s online marketing communities.

For those who love golf there is a strong community built around the love of the game. As social media developed, that shared interest evolved into communities of pro golfers, professionals and amateurs – all supporting each other. With golf as with online communities, social allows those that had different perspectives and backgrounds to connect. With golf there are strong feelings and emotions, often players or professionals’ livelihoods are tied to the game – that investment generates a ton of conversation. The same concept translates into Hootsuite’s community where we represent over 30 countries, and a diverse audience from large enterprise organizations to a one man show.

3. What is your favorite part about community building?

Making and developing authentic connections that lead to opportunities for collaboration (like this one)! We originally connected on Twitter around #CROchat and shared interests in hiking and digital marketing. Authentic connections happen through great communities. Another extreme example: Two Hootsuite advocates that met in our community ended up getting married a few years later! Enabling that kind of connectivity is the real magic.

4. If someone was building a community from scratch what advice would you give them?

There is always an existing community, whatever your focus is. When I built online golf communities, there was already an existing golf community with leaders who were trying to bring those conversations online. Now if you are building a community from scratch, whatever business you’re in, chances are a community exists already in some form.

Rather than building from scratch, discover relevant communities and participate in them. Don’t expect them to be a part of yours right away, but by providing value to other members they will become curious and connect organically.

Before launching Hootsuite’s #HootChat, (every Thursday at 2PM CST), for months leading up to that I participated authentically in #SBizHour, CROchat, and others, making connections within those communities with other like-minded individuals. When we did launch our own chat community, many of those peeps were kind enough to participate in ours as as well, and still do. We’re very grateful for the support! Thus, participating in similar communities authentically and providing real added value is a  powerful tactic.

5. What is the number one thing most communities are missing?

Most are missing the interconnectivity piece – having interactions back and forth but not enabling a greater conversation. It depends a lot on the form of the community (there is often stronger connectivity in formats like forums where a lot of natural conversations happen between people), but it’s legitimately hard to connect people. It’s much easier and much more impactful to empower people to connect with each other. Brands that empower and enable their connections to talk to each other are the ones building true community.

Nicole M. Miller

Nicole M. Miller

Community @Buffer. Writer. Designer. Urban homesteader You should check out the Miller Homestead, and follow Nicole on Twitter.

1. How Do You Define Community?

We define community as the network of customers, friends, supporters, consumers, anyone connected to Buffer in any way. We treat every community member the same, customer and non customers alike. Our blog readers who may not use Buffer are a vital part of the network and community. Also within the community you’ll find that there are mini communities that interact differently, for example the Buffer Blog commenters vs the Twitter community.

2. You have helped build Buffer’s community, are there any other communities you have been a part of? Any trends you have seen in those communities?

The Buffer community has always been very self-directed and has shaped itself into the awesome environment you see today. We are constantly blown away by the support and generosity from our community members.

3. What is your favorite part about community building?

There are so many favorite parts! Definitely seeing the connections made within the community. Buffer is a tool striving to make people’s lives simpler so to see our members reaching out and helping each other is incredible.

4. If someone was building a community from scratch what advice would you give them?

At Buffer, community and customers were a focus from the very beginning. I still write handwritten thank you cards and have 1-to-1 conversations with customers and community members. If you are starting from scratch, build it in your foundations to value the community and value the connections the community brings.

Worry less about numbers; focus on quality of relationships. The more involved and more engaged, the better. Remember 1-to-1 interactions are key and are the foundation for enduring success.

5. What is the number one thing most communities are missing?

There are 3 main pillars that make communities strong.

  1. Delivering something of value, i.e. information, entertainment.
  2. A sense of ownership, where people feel like they are a part of something and can empower change. (Their voices are heard.)
  3. Trust, a fulfilling and welcoming community.

Every time someone new shows up to #BufferChat (Wednesdays at 12:00pm EST), we’re so proud that the entire community joins in on welcoming them. We couldn’t ask for more!

Andrij Harasewych

Andrij Harasewych

Andrij is the anti guru, specializing in building communities, You can find him on Google+ or on Twitter @socializations.

1. How Do You Define Community?

A community is a group of people that interact with you, whether it’s deliberate or direct does not matter. It may just be a group with a common connection, a group sharing an interest, or perhaps working toward a shared goal. Neighborhoods, schools, churches, pool halls, bars, there are communities all around us, each sharing parts in a natural ebb and flow. Now mix in the internet, and amazing things happen. Any human with access to the internet can find a community they can feel at home in.

2. You have helped build the Social Media Strategy Community, are there any other communities you have been a part of? Any trends you have seen in those communities?

The problem in marketing is all too often people will mistake the idea of a community with that of a group or audience. There is a decision that has to be made when someone makes that transition from a visitor to a member of a community – and it is by and large based on trust.

Something that I have worked very hard to impose in the Social Media Strategy community on Google+ is the idea that Quality > Quantity.

We don’t allow the same old posts all the time that people regurgitate about the “Top 3 Tips for <insert social network here> Engagement,” we require people to go a bit above and beyond – to grow as both professionals, and to allow the community to grow as well. This concept of Quality control is what I think helps people trust the community, makes them want to come back, interact with others, help when needed.

They know they won’t be bombarded by advertising, or gated content. They get only the best of what the community has to offer. No broadcasters – only people who will actually respond to you when you comment on their post – who are willing to have a discussion and improve themselves.

I helped grow the Science on G+ community from just a fledgling circle-sharing group with a few hundred members to over a quarter million members. Sadly, I had a falling out with the co-owner at the time, and took a step back from the community – but they have continued on with the legacy I helped to instill, that quality trumps quantity.

Like me, they don’t just want to see the same old bot-style link litter, with just a copy of the title and a link – they want to see people invested in the community, and invested in the content.

3. What is your favorite part about community building?

Wielding the banhammer, of course! No, I kid. that’s actually my least favorite part. Seeing the number of individuals out there and bot accounts consistently spamming, consistently trying to scam a naive young business owner out of their hard-earned dollars… it does make me sad. But my favorite part? When people solve problems thanks to the community.

We have a Social Media Discussion Community in which professionals and business can post questions or problems they are having – and seeing people jump at the chance to help others is probably the best part in building a community – when it finally hits the level that you don’t have to go and help every single individual – that when you show up in the morning – much of the “work” (if you can call helping people work) is done.

4. If someone was building a community from scratch what advice would you give them?

Well, if we speak of building a community from a marketing standpoint  – building a group of people passionate about your brand, products, or services – you need to be consistent in not being evil. Help your customers, offer them more than you promised, or even more simply – just start talking to them. Don’t broadcast at them – start with a single person, and go from win to win that way, until you find you have an entire group behind you. Don’t put the cart before the horse and assume you’ll build a 10,000 member community overnight. It’s a slow process. Trust isn’t something won overnight.

Now, if we are talking about creating an online group, forum or community – I have a bit of advice:

  1. Find a group first. This may mean joining an existing community, getting to know the leadership, and simply getting involved in what is already there – there are so many communities out there – maybe the community of your dreams is just waiting for you to join! Or, if you are sure there is nothing like what you want to build, find some people to help you build it – offer them part ownership or moderator status from the start – give them a reason to really invest some time into the community.You can’t build a community by yourself.
  2. Make it valuable. Don’t just create an online community to reshare your own posts into. Few online communities survive when it’s just a copy of your page’s posts, one after the other. It should be a collaborative effort between you and your new members, a unique value to give people a reason to not only join your community, but follow your page as well. Otherwise, you will only get one or the other… at best.
  3. Set rules early and hold to them. Sure, there are places you can totally be flexible, and even change your mind as the community evolves – but it’s much easier to keep the community full of quality content and healthy discussion when people know what is expected of them. I use this policy which I wrote based on a list of rules by Evo Terra for online communities – feel free to copy and paste and edit as you please to use in your own communities.

5. What is the number one thing most communities are missing?

The number one thing lacking from online communities is a simple sense of tolerance and understanding of one another. In the Social Media Strategy community we rarely (if ever) have had any reason to discuss things that may bring about fervent and angry comments and arguments – but in the other communities I’ve started – such as the Progressives community on Google+, we always strive for an even keel approach – if we disagree – let’s discuss, and figure out if we can find some place in the middle we can both agree, or perhaps one can convince the other.

Tolerance and understanding are key to growing a community. If new members come in only to find anger or sense hostility, they may not be tempted to stick around for long.

Hayley Mullen

Hayley Mullen

Community Manager @Unbounce, You can find Hayley on the Unbounce Blog or follow Hayley on Twitter.

1. How Do You Define Community?

A group of people who have similar passions, interests and pain-points—anyone that you can connect with in a certain “fold.”

2. You have helped build the Unbounce community, started #CROchat, are there any other communities you have helped grow? Any trends you have seen in those communities?

Tia my predecessor gets credit for building the Unbounce community into what it is today.

Before Unbounce I was managing communities at TalentEgg and Uberflip. The trend in the last couple years from a macro perspective is that the successful communities are shifting away from gimmicks. People are savvier.

Running a quick contest used to do well but to have a successful community you need to focus on the longer game. If your community is inauthentic and built around quick wins, it won’t grow.

3. What is your favorite part about community building?

Talking to people!

We are so lucky to be in careers where we get to talk to people all over the world. Though we don’t know each other personally we have talked many times through CRO communities, it feels like we know each other. I love meeting new people, they always have something interesting to share and as you make those connections you get a sense of what resonates with people.

At Unbounce we are always promoting those who are actively involved in the community from crowdsourcing #CROChat answers to promoting customers with conversion success stories.

4. If someone was building a community from scratch what advice would you give them?

First, research where people are and find the best networks that already exist, this will enable you to learn more about the unique value your community provides. Focus on the best networks rather than trying to “hit them all”.

Second, stop trying to change behavior. Discover what makes your customers tick and involve yourself while promoting others. At Unbounce we constantly share great CRO content from a number of sources.

Lastly, talk to people like the humans they are. You hear this all the time but it’s still something that needs to be said. People need to be treated online as you would if you were sitting in a cafe with them.

5. What is the number one thing most communities are missing?

Lack of transparency & taking things TOO seriously. Recently the Houston Rockets fired their social media manager over inappropriate emojis. Yes, it was a dumb tweet, but people make mistakes. It was amazing to see the community rally behind him and sign petitions to get his job back.

In B2B and B2C, taking things too seriously lead to canned answers or coming off as robotic. And if you put too much emphasis on the copy of a tweet rather than letting it be organic people can smell that it’s inauthentic. Transparency is key.

Takeaways

I’m incredibly thankful to have had the opportunity to speak to these 5 talented individuals.

While working on recruiting the best in class CRO experts for the Experiment Engine Expert Marketplace. I plan on applying these tips to forming a small, tightly knit CRO community, sharing learnings from A/B testing wins and losses, collaborating on variations and helping each other grow professionally.

Starting with a small private slack channel and hopefully evolving to a forum. I am eager to see where the community is 1 year from now.

The following two tabs change content below.

Luiz Centenaro

Customer Success Manager at Experiment Engine
Luiz is a CRO consultant, eCommerce Entrepreneur and Adventurer. You can follow Luiz on Twitter or Google +.

Comments

comments

Google+ Comments