Serving Communities in Need

Susan TenbyCaravan Studios builds apps that empower local communities to tackle big problems, like finding shelter for domestic abuse survivors and ensuring that kids don’t go hungry.

With more than 16 years of experience, Susan Tenby heads up community efforts for the organization, bringing app developers and non-profits together to serve communities in need. She is also the founder of #OCTRIBE, the biggest online community meetup in San Francisco, which turns 10 years old this month. Plus:

  • How Caravan Studios determines which issues to dedicate resources to
  • The history of #OCTRIBE
  • Mentoring in community management

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When Fitbit Took Their Private Community Public

Allison LeahyAllison Leahy, Fitbit’s director of community, is the architect of the company’s 80+ member community team. After building a large private community that required login to view, she led an effort to make that community publicly viewable by all.

This type of move presents a series of challenges. How will current members react? What are the legal ramifications? Will it lead to an increase in disruptive members? On this episode, we discuss how Fitbit navigated these issues, resulting in a 300% increase in traffic and a 175% increase in content. Plus:

  • The struggle to unify customer service data
  • Allison’s favorite KPIs
  • Why Fitbit tries not to answer community questions for at least 24 hours

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Stealing From the Community

Jennifer Sable LopezWhen you are hiring for your community team, you might post a job online, read through applications, identify candidates, conduct interviews and choose the best one. It’s a long process, and it can be difficult to get to know any candidate all that well.

Jennifer Sable Lopez, the senior director of community and audience development at Moz, has found a quicker, more efficient way to identify qualified candidates they already know well: poach them from other departments and from their community. Plus:

  • How Moz divides responsibilities between the community and audience development teams
  • Investing money in quality forum answers
  • Making sure that your team takes their vacation time

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You Are What You Tolerate

Derek PowazekWhen large online communities have problems, they are often talked about as if they are new. But usually, the issues have been simmering for a long time and are the result of choices that were made by community leaders long ago.

The foundation of healthy community is really the focus of today’s episode. Derek Powazek is truly an online community veteran. He authored one of the earliest books about our work, Design for Community, which turns 15 years old this year. If you want to be reminded that good community strategy endures the test of time, pick up a copy. Plus:

  • What community professionals can learn from farmers
  • The cause of bad community behaviors
  • Why addiction should be left out of your project goals

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Convincing Companies Not to Invest in Community

Sarah Judd WelchNot every company is ready to invest in community, or what they think of as “community,” anyway. Half-hearted, impatient efforts can do more harm than good and leave both the company and it’s customers unhappy.

Sarah Judd Welch heads Loyal, a community agency that helps brands develop and leverage their communities online. But that doesn’t mean that every company she talks to gets pushed off the community cliff. Plus:

  • Why the ROI of community doesn’t actually matter
  • Metrics to measure community quality
  • The viability of Slack as a community platform

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When Community Members Die

Sue JohnIf you manage an online community long enough, you will have members who experience the ups and downs that life has to offer. They’ll accomplish great things. They’ll find love, get married and have kids. But they’ll also deal with personal loss. They’ll fall ill, and they’ll die.

Sue John, a community manager and engagement specialist at Emoderation, launched the definitive community for British expatriates. She guided it for 15 years, and it grew to more than 10 million posts. Not one, but (at least) four couples met and were married, because of that community. Members have also passed away. On this episode, we explore the joy and pain that comes with the long term management of an online community. Plus:

  • The credibility that comes from being the community founder
  • How to leave a community that you have managed for a long time
  • Why forum-based communities are Sue’s “first love”

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Your Community Team’s Personal Brand

Jenn LebowskiSome companies don’t want their employees, even their community team, to have a strong personal brand. They feel like time spent on a personal brand is time away from the business, and that the employee is building their brand on the back of the company.

That’s not the case at Health Union, an owner and operator of communities targeted at health conditions. They encourage their community team to build strong personal brands – during work hours – that they can take with them when they leave. Jenn Lebowitz, senior director of community development, is my guest this episode, during which we also discuss:

  • Why we don’t want people to become addicted to our communities
  • How Health Union uses a mix of in-office and distributed team members to ensure full coverage of their communities
  • Looking for the best in troublesome members

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Online Community Onboarding

Samuel HulickI love what Samuel Hulick is doing at UserOnboard. His teardowns of the initial onboarding efforts of popular websites, apps and social media platforms are insightful, humorous and good-spirited.

According to Samuel, “user onboarding is the process of increasing the likelihood that new users become successful when adopting your product.” Onboarding is a big topic for online communities. We want to increase the likelihood that new members will become amazing contributors. We couldn’t have a better guide than Samuel. Among our topics:

  • The creative, less disruptive ways of confirming email addresses
  • How to introduce new members to community functionality
  • Using lifecycle emails to engage members

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Combating the Biases That Lead to Unequal Credit

Carrie Melissa JonesWith an eye on the conscious and unconscious biases that lead to the contributions of women being overlooked and undervalued, this episode focuses on credit. Sharing it, taking it and ensuring it reaches those who have earned it; not just those who are the loudest.

My guest is Carrie Melissa Jones, the COO and founding partner at CMX. They recently released Keys to Community Readiness and Growth, a study aimed at helping brands prepare for success in their online community efforts. Plus:

  • The balance between praising the community and recognizing your own accomplishments
  • Celebrating churn
  • How CMX hopes to collaborate with other industry resources

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Here’s a Plan That Will Increase Customer Advocacy by 25%

Jay BaerWhen a company responds to a complaint posted in an online forum, they receive a greater boost to customer advocacy than when responding to complaints lodged through phone, email, social media or review sites.

This is according to a new study conducted by Jay Baer, for his latest book, Hug Your Haters. This episode focuses on modern customer service and how you can exceed customer expectations by understanding the untapped value of online forums and communities you don’t control. Plus:

  • How companies react when Jay tells them they should be in forums
  • Why customer support is a career opportunity for community professionals
  • The myth of call deflection

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