- Your Home Page
- Registration Pages
- Confirmation/Welcome emails
- Blog Posts
- the credibility of the sender
- the style and content of the message
- the mindset of the receiver.
Let’s face it, without your members your community would basically be like you sitting in a darkened room talking to yourself. Pulling members in, getting them engaged and then keeping them engaged is tantamount to the success of your Community and ultimately one of the crucial aspects of your role as a Community Manager. As your customers become engaged and (hopefully) super-engaged, something you should look to do is help raise their profile and try find ways to bring them into the spotlight. They’re already doing this by being who they are and engaging the way they do within the Community itself, but there are a few things you could consider to really build on the partnership you’re nurturing and help promote the brilliant people that they are. Here’s some suggestions:
Do you look to spotlight any of your members and help to raise their profile? Any other tips and suggestions? Let us know in the comments.
If you’ve got a customer facing online community, and your not using it in conjunction with your product team, then you’re really missing out an opportunity to not only strengthen the ties between you and your customers, but also to find out what makes them tick and what they think can improve your products. Make them feel a part of the process. Here are some ideas:
Just a few ideas to think about when trying to pull your product team in to the Community, collaborating with your customers to build better products to help everyone become even more successful. What other ideas do you guys have? Let me know in the comments below.
Getting new members to actually visit your community is probably one of the first hurdles you need to get through as a Community Manager. A lot of members realise they would find value once they get there, but in the hectic, busy lives we all need, sometimes we need a nudge to remind us. So how can you provide these nudges? For me it all starts with getting them used to being nudged and giving them reason to actually click on a link and take them there.
I was very much influenced by Nir Eyal’s Hook model: essentially you have a trigger, either internal or external, which pushes people to your community, where they are rewarded with something of value, are enticed to look around, hopefully contribute something of their own and then return later to continue the loop.
I use this by trying to get triggers out to members whenever I can. External triggers are the best way to start thinking about this. An external trigger could be an email or a link on your corporate website etc. External triggers will hopefully lead to users developing associations attached to various thoughts and emotions and eventually become internally triggered to access your community.
An example: you have a new user who has been @mentioned in a post and receives a notification in their inbox. From there they click on the link to see the post and reply with a comment. Whilst there they have a look around and find value in several other posts, liking and commenting as they go through. These interactions lead to others commenting or liking which very likely creates another notification in the inbox, pulling the user back in to the community to continue the conversations. Over time this process leads to the new user associating a visit to the community with finding information out, probably in the form of tips, advice or help with specific issues. Thus when they encounter an issue themselves that they can’t figure out a solution for, they then remember what they’ve seen on your community, which results in them visiting and making their first proper post, a question. This leads (hopefully) to replies and likes, creating more notifications and the cycle continues. Each time strengthening the internal trigger until your community is a part of their daily routine and habits.
Here’s how I begin to use this for new members:
All of this takes place over the course of their first week and very often leads to people visiting and hopefully receiving their reward of value from at least one of the triggers they receive. You’re now ready for the next step – keeping them there and getting them to make their first post.
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After a great first day, a rare full night’s sleep for me and a refreshing walk through the centre of London had me all geared up for a great day at the conference element of FeverBee’s SPRINT Europe event.
Day two saw the more standard conference format kick in, with the first session featuring the “smiliest man in the community world”, Joe Cothrel from Lithium, talking about how we can grow our existing communities, based on a great strategy of Targeting, Attracting, Converting, Engaging and finally Super-engaging members. It didn’t escape me how this had similarities to the popular Hook model that’s been gaining a lot of attention recently and I’ve read quite a lot about. Joe also pointed out that 30% of content is generated by our communities’ superusers and therefore how we all need to be considering how to formalise the superuser process.
Registration was another key issue in Joe’s talk – popping registration could double your abandon rate, whereas on the flip side, if you worded things a bit softer, almost making it voluntary, you could as much as double your success rate: e.g. “Would you like to join our community?”
Next up was the always entertaining Jenn Lopez on how to ensure that SEO is integral to your community’s strategy.
Jenn was very clear throughout that links should be earned and not built, so the quality of your content and indeed how you title it, is of upmost importance. As ever Jenn shared an absolute myriad of tips and tools about how to format your posts and keywords to help people find your content and indeed link back to it when they do.
You can check out her slides from the session here, and I strongly suggest you do, there are so many lightbuld moments – not least about the NASA guy with the cool hair!
Next for me, as the day broke up into two different tracks, was to head over to listen to Tanja Knorr-Sobiech, from Bosch, about how the internal community there is simply growing and growing, with over 20K communities on their IBM based platform. Almost 90% of employees are active on this community – an incredible success rate, and one of many statistics that most people in the room had twinges of the green-eyed monster about. Tanja shared some really great ideas about how they onboard people in to the Community and keep them engaged by encouraging content production and participation through a wide variety of initiatives, from World Cup themed problem solving games via the vast number of selfies that were shared to celebrate the community’s first birthday.
Just before lunch was a lively session with the brilliant Dan Spicer, from Hootsuite, giving some great tips and advice on how to cultivate your community of advocates or super users, sharing the tried and tested tactics used at Hootsuite. These guys really have this nailed on and Dan gave some great advice on how to get your fans and advocates really raving about your brand. Key takeaways were around making sure you engage actual customers and not just influencers; merging your on and offline worlds with meet ups and conferences and, perhaps most importantly, making sure that your advocates know that you’re listening to them, showing that you’re taking onboard their feedback and how you’re applying it to your roadmap. A really great session by one of the industry’s bright young stars.
After lunch I started out back with Caty Kobe as she spoke about putting together your community strategy. There was a strong message throughout about knowing where you were right now in the community lifecycle and having an understanding of where you wanted to go, using what Caty referred to as “The Goldilocks Principle” for knowing how much to do – not too much, not too little, working out what was just enough to push yourself whilst remaining achievable.
After a short break I headed to the venue’s smaller room to listen to Kim England speak about how learning giants Pearson had gone about building a highly engaged community. This session proved to be so popular that an eleventh hour decision was made to with rooms with the other session, so Kim found herself in the main room with a packed house, and what a great story to hear about too. There seems to be a changing tide in the learning community about how communities can really help people learn, more and more people are getting it now and helping their stakeholders to understand, and it’s people like Kim that are helping to spread this message. strategic use of gamification, building use case to drive adoption, truly global initiatives to bring people together and work together and learn from each other. A really great session that provided so much inspiration for people there to observe I’m sure. You can check out the Mini Rough Guide that she spoke about during the session here
The last session in this track was with Matt Doris of Etsy where we learnt how the growth of Etsy teams, driven by members of the community who were also Etsy customers and sellers, were helping each other online AND offline, working together in their local regions to put offline activities such as pop-up shops and Christmas markets on. There were examples of how community members were teaching others the skills they would need to be successful on the site in classroom based sessions, sponsored by Etsy and local councils. What were Matt’s key points in how this comes to be in this endearing story? Being a supportive friend. Being a gracious host. Being an involved citizen. Great lessons to take away.
The day, and indeed the event, was completed with a fun and frank Ask Me Anything session with Justine Roberts, founder of parenting and community behemoth Mumsnet. Some great stories around the history of the site, ethics, freedom of speech and how making small changes often can help you to remain agile and relevant in what can at times be crowded marketplace for information.
More drinks and networking before heading back up north rounded out my first experience of a Community Managers event. I met some great people. I heard some great stories, both on the stage and off. I learned a ton of great information that I know, when I’ve been able to reflect and digest everything, is really going to help me and subsequently our community, be successful. FeverBee put on an incredibly well organised two days with an awesome group of speakers. I learned that Community Managers are a great bunch of genuine, lovely people, and I’m happy to be a part of the crowd and look forward to following some of those stories and meeting everyone again and continuing to learn with you all.
Today sees my re-emergence back in to the real world after spending two days submerged in the elaborate halls and lecture rooms of the beautiful Royal Institute of Great Britain. A really fitting venue for community management gurus FeverBee’s European SPRINT conference for community professionals.
Firstly a brief note on the venue: what a stunning building, with wall-to-wall books in every room, oil paintings and busts of (in)famous scholars and scientists; cabinets of experiments of a by-gone era and a truly wonderful lecture theatre that evoked a real feeling of learning some awesome things in an arena where so much theory and learning occurred that shaped all of our lives in some way.
Anyway – onto the event. I was lucky enough to be attending both days of this event, with the first day being split into two half day workshops; the tricky part being deciding which ones to take.
The first half of the day for me was spent with FeverBee’s head of training, the lovely Caty Kobe and the organisation’s charismatic founder Richard Millington. Caty kicked things off by talking about how to use influencing skills and charisma to drive community success. Being likeable and friendly, reciprocity and using your expertise were all strategies for building influence within your community, with most people probably using one over the others. The tie that bound all of them together, however, was the rule of being always being authentic. Don’t say things in your community if you don’t mean it. Probably better not to say it at all.
Charisma was identified as being a skill you can work on to help with those awkward internal conversations, trying to sell the concept of Community to stakeholders, with confidence, presence and developing a charisma mindset being key to owning the room. How you put your case across and are able to confidently speak with authority about your community is a great way to begin winning those conversations.
Richard’s session was around developing your Community’s story, starting out with making sure that you had an interesting name, rather than simply “brand-name community” (I wonder how many do fall in to that category), and whether or not it passed the -ers test (a current example being the Beliebers phenom). This also led to funny conversation with Dan Spicer the following evening about why HootSuite users should/n’t be referred to as Hooters!
Richard also talked about proving the group’s efficacy by highlighting successes from across your community, press coverage and doing things that change your industries, and finally about having rituals and traditions that really bound people together in community. The workshop was consolidated by having some great activities to bring this to life, one of which was to take our own Communities and look at applying these theories to it. We had a great example around our table of taking the story of Yannick Porter from Greenpeace and his fledgeling community, GreenWire. There is a great story behind it but Yannick now had so many more ideas about changing the name, rituals to keep people coming back and ways to help members celebrate each other’s successes. A story I’ll be sure to follow after this event.
In the afternoon I encountered the brilliant Jennifer Sable Lopez from Moz as she guided us through a session on SEO. I wasn’t too sure how relevant I was going to find it, as our community is a closed community and we have our own SEO people, but as we went through the afternoon I found myself having quite a few “A-ha” moments about how I could use some of these dark arts within our own community’s internal search engine, and be able to think about tailoring the Community’s content to help people in their searches there. Jenn is a great speaker; entertaining, knowledgeable and full of everything you need to keep you engaged after a good lunch. She brought with her such a toolbar of tips, tricks, tools and resources, all of which she shared, that you couldn’t fail to be in the session and take plenty away with you. In fact several people were fixing their own site’s SEO during the session!
At the end of the day we had a great opportunity to network a little and solidify some of the connection we’d been making through the day, with a few drinks at a nearby pub, the Burlington Arms, organised by the lovely Christie Fidura, with some money behind the bar, some lovely food, scotch eggs and lots of great conversation, it was a great end to the day. you could already see the new connections, friendships and networks being built as the day and evening went on, all preparing us for day two.