Bringing Respect to a Like Fight

Talia StroudWhat makes great online discourse? That’s what the Engaging News Project routinely tries to determine. Though their work focuses on news media, the resulting research is often just as helpful to the average community professional.

Director Talia Stroud, associate professor of communication studies at The University of Texas at Austin, joins me on this episode to discuss the obstacles that can prevent comment sections from being great, and offer straightforward recommendations for how you can make them better. Our topics include:

  • Inspiring thoughtful discourse when polarizing conversation leads to more buzz
  • Talia’s thoughts on traditional media sites removing their comment sections
  • Why you should add a respect button to your community content right now

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How to Build a Paid, Private Online Community With Staying Power

Andrew YouderianPaid, private online communities often struggle to retain members and create value over a long period of time. They start strong, with a lot of promise, but over time, many succumb to repetition in content and conversation that leads to members deciding they can no longer justify the expense.

With a fee of $49 per month, eCommerceFuel is a 1,000 strong paid, private community for ecommerce store owners with six and seven figure incomes. They turn people away. They kick out inactive members. They don’t allow vendors. A tight, focused strategy has enabled them to create a community that continues to both grow and retain members. Founder Andrew Youderian joins me on this episode to discuss how he’s done it. Plus:

  • How Andrew seeded the community initially
  • Finding the right price point and deciding when it’s time to raise it
  • Why Andrew turns away new members, for the sake of the community

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Kickstarter’s Community Wants Your Next Crowdfunding Campaign to Be Successful

Carol Benovic-BradleyKickstarter is the world’s largest crowdfunding platform, with $2.3 billion dollars pledged to more than 112,000 successful projects. The company has a firm grasp of the best practices that can improve a campaign’s chances of success.

In part, this knowledge comes from their large community of creators, who continue to refine and identify new “best” ways of using the service. Carol Benovic-Bradley, of Kickstarter’s learning and engagement team, within the larger community team, works to surface these insights and connect creators with one another, raising the bar for the platform as a whole. We discuss those efforts, plus:

  • The size and scope of Kickstarter’s community team
  • Why data can be noisy and distract from the big picture
  • How you can make room for diverse voices in your community

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Taking a Week Off

Community Signal is taking this week off and will return next week. Due to a series of unfortunate scheduling conflicts, we were not able to record an episode in time. Our next episode will be released on September 19. I apologize for the delay.

If there are any recent episodes that you haven’t listened to, this would be a great opportunity to catch up!

Thank you for your patience and for listening to Community Signal.

The Skills You Gain From Starting a Community

Andy McIlwainIf you’re interested in community as a profession, and you’re looking to build your experience, start an online community. This industry is full of amazing people who trace their roots back to taking initiative, not simply reading and studying, but actually doing. Our guest on today’s show is an example of this.

Andy McIlwain, who works in community at GoDaddy, will tell you that he has only been doing this “professionally” for one year. But his experience in community dates back to the late ’90s, when he began to moderate and manage gaming communities on a volunteer basis and as something he did on the side. But when a perfect job opened up at GoDaddy, he found that the skills he had been building for the last 15+ years translated pretty easily to the corporate world. We also discuss:

  • What ezboard and Medium have in common
  • The partnership model for growing online communities
  • How GoDaddy identified the customers they wanted to be early adopters in their community

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Supporting the Mental Health of Front Line Community Pros

Joi PodgornyCommunity pros on the front lines, the ones who stand between your members and disturbing content, are often viewed as expendable. Use them up, and hire more. Even though they may see the most psyche-damaging content the internet has to offer, companies usually do not make their mental health a priority.

Joi Podgorny argues that not only should companies offer this support, they have an ethical responsibility to do so. This episode is all about how these professionals should be treated by their employers, which will allow those employers to get the greatest work out of them. Topics include:

  • How to ensure remote workers aren’t viewed by the office as outsiders
  • The ways that companies can emotionally support the moderators of sensitive content
  • Why taking care of other people’s kids online is so impactful

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How Marketers Should Approach Community

Ted SindzinskiTed Sindzinski is a world-class digital marketer, who has led those efforts at SVS, Monster Cable/Beats by Dr. Dre and Jenny Craig. He’s also done something that most marketers never have: co-found a large, category-leading online community.

There aren’t many digital marketers that have the understanding of community that Ted does, an understanding that he applies to marketing efforts to leverage the power of community (especially third party communities that the brands he works with don’t own) to drive sales and revenue. Among our topics:

  • Justifying the investment of a forum outreach program
  • How community owners can convince companies to make them part of their paid media spend
  • The ways that businesses can begin to understand the impact communities are having on their sales

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SWAT Team Commander and Community Moderator

Alex EmbryAlex Embry has been with me as a moderator for more than seven years. He also happens to be a SWAT team commander and training sergeant at the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office, outside of Chicago, where he has worked for 12 years.

He is one of two moderators, of my current team, that works in law enforcement. This isn’t something we did deliberately, but I also don’t think it’s a coincidence. There are some really interesting correlations between good law enforcement and good moderation. That’s what we explore with Alex on this episode, including:

  • Why policing and moderation are about more than identifying violations
  • How to limit and address abuse of power and corruption
  • When suicide and offline threats should be taken to law enforcement

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Managing Oprah’s Community

Jenn PeddeOprah Winfrey has one of the strongest personal brands in the world, with a massive legion of fans, subscribers and supporters interacting with her online initiatives every single day. This includes a substantial online community and UGC-tied efforts.

Jenn Pedde spent almost two years as lead community manager for Oprah’s online communities. This included tranisitioning from the previous community management team, that had been in place for 16 years, as well as moderation, staffing, community engagement, customer service and more. Plus:

  • Why (some) for-profit companies should launch alumni networks for ex-employees
  • The creation of #cmgrchat and the viability of Twitter chats in 2016
  • Imposter syndrome and how Jenn felt it when taking over the Oprah account

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The Application of Community Guidelines

Zack SheppardWhen it comes to community guidelines, there is a lot more to them than just writing and publishing a single document. The application of them spawns a series of processes that ensure consistency and keep them up to speed with challenges currently facing the community.

Zack Sheppard has spent time in community at Flickr, Pinterest and Kickstarter, helping them to develop guidelines, enforce them and train staff members how to do so. This episode features a loose discussion around internal and external community guidelines. Plus:

  • The value of a strong mentor in the community space
  • How enforcement guidelines help create consistency between staff members
  • What it’s like to update the guidelines of a community like Flickr

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