It’s that day of the week where we share wisdom from amazing community experts among other things. But first…
This is our 7th week of sending the newsletter and our open rate are off the charts consistent averaging 50% open rate. This means a lot to us. We are who we are because of you. ❤️ We send this to 185 people and our goal is to reach 500 people by the end of this month. Only you can make this happen. If you are finding this valuable then why not invite your ONE close friend? Just ONE.
*drum roll* *🥁 🥁 🥁 Introducing…
Noele Flowers is a blogger, consultant, and full-time community manager. By day, she leads community at Teachable. Outside of her full-time gig, Noele helps entrepreneurs and early-career community managers reach a bolder vision for community. Plus, she sings in a band & loves to cook.
A lot of people use these terms interchangeably, but I really believe they serve different purposes. When I say audience, I mean anyone you can reach with your message, regardless of channel. So, that could include an email list, your social media, a webinar you speak at, or people in the subway car where you’ve put an ad up. Those are the people who know about you, and who you have an established way to reach. Within audience, there might be people who are super engaged—like the people who open every email and comment on every Instagram post. A lot of brands notice that extra engagement and they want to acknowledge it, and the way they do that is by saying, “that’s our community.” There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but I don’t believe it reaches the full potential of what community building really is when it’s put to full and intentional use for a brand. When I say community, I’m talking about a specific, interactive program that a subset of your audience choose to be a part of because it enhances their experience. That often looks like a place to meet up and talk online, like a forum, but it could mean events, networking, or a whole slew of other things. Every brand needs an audience in order to exist and survive. There are ways to apply the ethos of community building to audience building that can be really beneficial to finding the right leads, getting the feedback you need early on, and creating strong connections with your brand. On the other hand, building a capital C Community program (which is what I’m most professionally interested in) isn’t necessarily a fit for every brand. I’d actually predict that in the coming years, we might see a bit of a cringe-y overuse of communities as a branding tool. But, for most brands who really get what community is and what it can do when used right, there’s a way to implement it that can be very effective as a retention tool and a content pipeline. But, overall—why not both?
I don't love the terminology of lurkers because it sounds like a bad thing, and I don't think it really is—someone needs to come up with a better way to describe people who get value from observing! But, to use that language: some level of “lurkers” in a community is normal—it’s ok if the way that some people get value out of your community is by opening it and reading the posts, and that the way others get value is by posting and interacting. But, if you get the sense that you have a ton of people in your community who are inactive because they don’t get value or they don’t know how to participate, a good way to combat that is by making sure you create engagement opportunities at a variety of levels. If you look at your engagement prompts and find that nine out of ten of them require a ton of expertise just to chime in, it’d be no wonder if you had a ton of "lurkers." Make sure you vary the level (how hard it is to chime in) and modality (the format of participating—written, voting in a poll, images, watching videos) of conversation that’s taking place in your communities so that anyone who wants to participate more actively has an opening. From there, don’t worry too much about trying to change the way people get value. What matters is that they feel the community is valuable enough to continue to visit, and that you have a healthy enough ratio of content creators and content consumers to sustain a cadence.
May be obvious, but Community Club! They take a really bold and creative approach to community building, it’s a great model for community managers in the space. I love how they approach their community program as a central hub for a number of different features, like their content library, and their mentorship program.
Danielle Maveal—she has a ton of experience building communities that make her really tactical and strategic, and at the same time is an all-in-all super creative and empathetic community builder. It’s a rare combo in our field, and it’s her superpower!
I love Carter Gibson’s writing about community. His exploration of the history of community management and his definitions for it are really great. Also, he’s hilarious on Twitter.
Our 3rd episode of Community Stories is live. I chat with Charlie Ward of Weekend Club to hear his story - a paid community that has generated over $800. Weekend Club is the #1 solo founder support community. They offer weekly, remote working sessions with other founders, plus 100+ software discounts. You can sign up for a limited 30-day free trial. If you are thinking of how to start a paid community then why not dive in?
You simply cannot accumulate a large number of members and turn them into a community. You must do the reverse. You must let the fruit ripen on the tree before picking it!
Communities form when bonds between members are created. Think about two types of gatherings 1) a small dinner party with a group of people that share an interest or 2) a large concert. In which situation would you most likely create true bonds?
When building a community it’s important to start with a core founding group (the size of a dinner party) and add members slowly. Grow slower and deeper bonds will form. Deeper bonds = regular engagement and community member stickiness. This piece by Danielle Maveal is great. Read here.
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