Business Unusual Interview ft. Beth McIntyre: Build a successful brand community

Business Unusual Interview ft. Beth McIntyre: Build a successful brand community

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Hello! My name is Jessa Lux. I am the host  of the Business Unusual Interview Series and this exists to bring expertise and guidance  to marketers - so many of you all - to help you do   the absolute best work of your lives. And I'm also  the Community Manager for a digital design agency   called Clique Studios, so we build websites, software,  and apps for our clients. We're headquartered in   Chicago, but we also have offices in Denver, which  is where I am, and in Austin. And I am so excited  

about this conversation today, not only because  it's about building communities as brand strategy, but because it's with Beth McIntyre who, as far as  I'm concerned, is the absolute best in the business   and I cannot wait to learn from Beth. Beth  is the Head of Community at CMX and Bevy.   Beth, thank you so much for taking the time to  talk to us and share your insight today. [Beth] I'm   so excited to be here. Fun fact about me: my airpods  just died, so I'm just going to quickly change it out.   That is so funny because every time I get on one  of these interviews, my airpods - I wear them all day   every day, and then I'm doing an interview and  they're like, it's impossible to keep them in my   ears. So while you do that Beth, I'm just going to lay  the groundwork a little bit for this conversation.   So, it's a live interview, clearly, and it's 30  minutes. Beth and I will talk and then we'll   leave time at the end for your questions, and I  know there are a lot of them. I kind of opened the  

can of worms yesterday - I emailed everyone who is  registered and asked them what questions they have and I   got so many responses. So our conversation won't  be able to hit all of them, but please everyone   don't hesitate to put your questions in the Q&A feature and because this is a live interview   please also just say hello in the  chat tell us where you're coming from   Beth, you mentioned a couple of other ideas that  can kind of break the ice in the chat yeah i love   asking okay your day so far explain it in three  emojis in the chat so this is like any emoji   you have access to and you're allowed to use it to  explain your day and then we kind of have to like   decrypt what your day was like through your  emoji um symbols okay i absolutely love that   and while you are all deciding on your emojis  i'm gonna put beth on the spot beth what are your   emojis to describe your day so far okay i think my  first emoji would be the little cup of here i can   actually put them in there so the little cup of  coffee definitely um my second one is going to be   um a snowy mountain because i'm actually based in  jasper alberta in canada and the sun is shining   today and i can see all the mountains around me so  that's like a really nice part of my day and then   let's see if there's like uh headphones because  they are causing me a bit of strife this morning   totally i love that okay that is a great way to  get started everyone else put your emojis in there   and beth for anyone who's not familiar will  you tell us a little bit about cmx and your   role there totally so cmx is the community for  community professionals um it began about seven or   eight years ago when david spinks the founder got  together with a couple of other community builders   in new york and they went for a beer and they  realized that around the table all these other   people knew what problems they were facing and  had advice and were sharing the same experiences   um and so from that one afternoon beer with  community professionals cmx was born um it grew   super organically our mission is to give community  professionals everything they need in order to   succeed so we do that through our online community  spaces we do that through training and education   we have a huge very robust events program  that hosts lots of events every month um   and of course our blogs and frameworks and  research and uh really there's just a lot   that we do and uh want to give back to community  professionals so that they know exactly how to   succeed in their roles and i as a community  professional i'm so appreciative to you all at cmx   i was introduced to cmx through  you at the cmx connect conference   um which is probably about a year ago now and i'm  so thankful because i've learned so much from all   those resources that you just mentioned um i  know that community is something it's kind of   like a point of confusion for people especially  as a business function and i know that because   sometimes when i just i describe my own role i  get some blank stares so beth what is community   that's so you know i think that that's something  all community professionals can for sure connect   with is because it's like how many times  have you been to a house party before covid   and you were meeting strangers and they said  what do you do and then you just are like   um don't worry about it because like you don't  want to explain all of it um so the way that   i kind of see community as a brand um especially  now that it is kind of becoming more of a buzzword   so businesses are building out communities so that  their customers voice can be the can be heard can   be the most powerful um you know i i always think  of community starting with like if i'm going to   buy running shoes i don't want to ask nike i  don't need nike to tell me which running shoes   i should buy i'm going to ask you know my friend  who runs marathons or runs every single day   has tried a whole bunch of different shoes that's  who's that's whose um opinion i'm going to trust   when i'm talking about running shoes so then from  there i think of community is like the company   nike is giving me and this marathon runner a  space to have these organic conversations about   running shoes and so community is about building  and investing in these spaces where users   customers you know members of your community  can have these conversations organically so   these spaces also come in all different shapes  and sizes there's online community places   there's forums um in-person in-person  events virtual events conferences   all of these can be kind of under that community  umbrella and they all have different purposes   sales and marketing and customer success and uh i  mean those are kind of throughout the job my head   um but it's really about determining what the  business goals are and then figuring out how   community can drive the success for those goals  so community as a definition as a long-winded   definition is the space that the company is  investing in to bring those people together   i love that and i wish i could just take you with  me to dinner parties and house parties and be like   beth take it away because i think that was such  a good summary i think long-winded is kind of   the only way to really describe what community is  and can be and when you were giving the running   example it actually reminded me of a tweet that  david spinks shared probably about a week ago   and he said community is something  about community is less about   helping your audience and more about helping your  audience help each other which is exactly what you   described with asking other runners about the  shoes versus asking nike directly totally and   that goes into all of the different aspects so  i mean like your business audience a business   a community business is finding people to help  each other same with customer success so customer   success as you know it in a traditional sense is  your customer is going to your website or calling   you and you helping them but a customer success  community is you giving your customers the tools   to help each other um same with field marketing  like field marketing traditionally is i would send   one employee to all these different places to  host events for my customers or prospects or users   field marketing as a community is people  hosting those events for each other   customers getting together with each other  um so i mean totally it's it's an absolute   extension of your team and i think community  is really um what's the word when exponential   it's what you get the exponential growth  that you wouldn't otherwise get as one or two   people on a small team totally it can be such  a powerful tool and there are a lot you kind of   alluded to it there are a lot of reasons that a  company could decide to start a community and i   know that cmx has a model around this so can you  describe some of the compelling reasons and maybe   give us an intro to what that model is like to  help people maybe define and decide for themselves   what a communi what a community could do for their  business totally i'm glad you brought it up jessa um yeah so cmx has the spaces model um a couple  of years ago the cmx team created this model it's   i would say it's like a framework as well  because it's an acronym which we all love   and each different component of the acronym is a  business value or a goal that your community could   provide so i think one of the most important  parts and one of the biggest challenges of   community is provide like proving the value of  what you're doing because it's hard to measure   the quantifiable impact of community especially  because a lot of the times community is about   building relationships solving problems building  connections and those are more like qualitative   they're not really numbers based so the  spaces model kind of aims to solve that   challenge for you and i'm gonna do it on my hand  so s starts with support um this is that example   like customer success communities how your  members are answering questions for each other   and supporting each other with answers and then  you have p which is a product um and this is when   community members are giving you product feedback  and ideas and helping you basically improve your   product or your software a is acquisition  i would say acquisition might be the most   slept on business goal to drive because sometimes  sales communities and acquisition communities can   feel a bit like used car salesmen like a little  bit um sticky but i think acquisition is like the   the biggest possibility for community anyway  it's how your community is helping you grow   and acquire new members or users um c c  uh c i knew i would i would lose track   um this is where you have a platform that  your community members are contributing to   so this would be like a marketplace or a social  network where or developer relations programs   like this is where your contribution comes from  your members and what your platform is like   airbnb or uber like these are contributions  from your members and then engagement is e   and it's when your your goal is retention so  customer retention member retention this is when   we want to engage with people so they stick around  longer and become more loyal maybe to a product   maybe to a movement maybe to the identity that  your community gives them but that engagement is   just like bringing people in and holding them in  keeping them in and then the second s is success   this is kind of goes hand in hand with support um  but this is more helping people become successful   so while support is about like the technical  side how do i work this thing success is like the   strategy behind it how do you become the best you  can be while using this product or or um tool so   i think with all of those things and maybe we can  email everybody after this with like the picture   of it so they have a visual um but a community  program absolutely aligns with more than one of   these outcomes uh i would say that the majority  of programs definitely align with multiple   and um the spaces model is like the best  way to either start a community program   or go back if you inherit a community and you're  like what is the purpose of this community go   back to the spaces model and really dive into  which which letter your community coincides with   okay i love that that does make it a  lot more clear about where to start   so if your company doesn't have a community  at this point you're embarking on community   to use the spaces model you would kind of  huddle up say what will this community be   used for what is the goal and then identify one  or two or whichever are applicable of the spaces   and go from there is that right exactly and  i i think especially when you're starting   a community from scratch and we have a lot of  resources about exactly that question like how   do you start from the very beginning what's your  first step um it's about listening so it's about   who are the users of your product or who are the  people who might already be in a community that   you just aren't really investing in yet um i think  it also comes down to talking cross-departmentally   if we will allow that to be a term um like what  is sales need what is marketing need what does   customer success need what is development and  product need how could you fit into these spaces   um i would say first and foremost though is  like what is the company's biggest goal what is   the business goal that your company has and then  what is that outcome that you're trying to achieve   and how can community fit in with that so if your  company's biggest goal is sales and acquisition   that's the business strategy then from there  you can build out the community strategy so   which types of programs are you going to implement  in order to meet this business outcome and that's   where you come with the programs themselves  like we need a forum we need a distributed   events program we need online communities this  is where those kinds of things come into play   and then the third step is the tactical level  this is when you hire a community manager   or this is when you join the cmx community  and start researching how to do this but the   tactical level is like everyday work what  goes into making these programs successful   if you have an online community and that's  your community strategy how do you keep it   engaged how do you welcome members in how do  you answer questions how do you solve problems   so those are kinds of the three like  strategy levels of where to begin okay that's great and i wrote down  two things while you were talking   um one that i think is really important and it  can be a misconception which is i think a lot   of people assume that community lives within the  marketing department and you just clarified for us   that community is a is a means of helping  serve those higher level business strategies   or goals so it's not necessarily within the  marketing department do you want to talk on that   um just briefly in terms of like where communities  should live is there one right place that it   should live should it always be on its own um  or if if marketing is the goal the community   has brought community exists to serve should  live within the marketing department for example   um i mean i'm biased i think community should  always be on its own um this is a conversation   that we're having in the cmx community  and the entire industry right now is like   the future of the chief community officer and how  that like how that's going to be the future soon   even now um so i do think that there's space for  the chief community officer and like the community   department on its own but understanding that  when you start with that first business outcome   if your business goal is sales maybe the  community sits under sales if your community goal   is acquisition maybe it's marketing if  it's you know customer success maybe you   sit under the customer success department i  think that when you start to see a community choosing more than one of those goals and actually  reaching out to more of the business that's when   it sits on its own so a great example is cmx cmx  is actually acquired by a company called bevi   bevi is a software company that builds a  distributed events and virtual conference   software for any company who's looking to  have a conference and then build a community   so within bevy cmx is the community department  we help sales we help marketing we help product   um you know our distributed events community is  hosted by volunteers who use our product and we   ask them for feedback all the time so it it really  depends on the organization i wish that we could   all just be chief community officers and work in  a community department but understanding that it   really does depend on the organization totally and  it might be an evolution maybe you start working   with marketing or sales and then um community  grows and it can sit on its own but um i think   that is an important distinction to help people  get their head around community as a concept   the other thing i wrote down while you were  talking which is you specified that you have   to start with that goal or that vision of what  you're trying to achieve with community and then   choose the tools you're going to use whether that  be an event or a slack community or facebook group   um i think sometimes people want to build a  community and they just you know start having   events to meet people and help them but  there's not really like a clear north star   you know that's true but i think that's okay  in some ways and the reason why is because when   you're starting to build a community the thing  that a lot of people forget is that it takes a lot   of time and it takes a lot of work and it takes  a lot of love to build a community um you don't   really launch a community because you have to have  put that groundwork in to give people the reason   to join you're probably going to be manufacturing  the conversations in the beginning and like   personally inviting people to take part in them  so when you're in that space at the very beginning   i really would say like focus on controlling what  you can control and scaling comes later so in   the beginning yeah have an event meet people  ask them what they're interested in ask them   what would you do you want more events would you  rather have an online place like asking customers   asking your members who are already there and  who are already invested in what you're doing   get them to weigh in i think that it's that's  also a very slipped-on technique it's like ask the   community what they want because they'll tell you  um and being totally transparent that you're gonna   try your best to give it to them but anyway  so you know you host that event you now know   what's gone into hosting an event you know how  hard it can be to get people involved you know   how to ask a speaker you know what platform you're  going to use so from there now you know all of the   hard work that goes into it so now you know how to  automate that how to scale it up and i think that   comes from all of them especially in the beginning  when we talk about online communities a lot of   communities you would talk to a lot of community  managers they start because their community   made a facebook group on their own or people  were hosting events on their own like just   because they love the product or they love the  things so much so then the company was like well   we should be involved in these events we should be  giving them more resources so that they can meet   and talk and maybe we'll send them some swag and  then these people get really excited to receive   t-shirts um so it's i think the community can be  super organic and it will grow organically but you   have to put that work in in the beginning to ask  people what they want and to put in that manual   work so it can scale later totally and one thing  that's been fun for me with that is hearing what   people have to say and then demonstrating that  i heard them because i actually make the change   and i follow up and say like so you mentioned  last time this was a little rusty or didn't work   perfectly for you and that sort of communication  and like demonstration of hearing my community   members is just like build such good will and  those people become like super community members   i know you have a better name is it a power member  is that what a top tier of members power member   super user like there's all sort advocate there's  all sorts of different um i call them my favorites   there's all sorts of different names um but you're  right and i think always the key is transparency   so um you know when we talk about platforms how  do you choose a platform well ask the people   i mean are they on facebook already maybe you  just take over the facebook group um will people   like to move to another platform after facebook i  don't know maybe ask them um and then i i said it   earlier that like you don't launch a community  on the same note i feel like you can't surprise   your community like there should never be a big  reveal in your community because they should be   with you every step of the deciding process how  things are going to happen they should agree with   you on the values and the mission and like what  are we here for what is the purpose of this um   i i really feel like a community should be  built with its members not for its members   i really really really love that um and i would  like to keep the mic for this whole time but i'm   not going to so i'm going to ask you a couple  of just rapid fire questions and then we can go   to the q a so anybody who's listening right now  please put your questions in the q a um beth one   question i really wanted to ask you um i love  learning from my own mistakes but i also would   prefer to learn from somebody else's mistakes so  what is a common mistake that you see in community   building um especially when people are kind of  like getting started with their community building   uh i think the idea that it's gonna be easy um  you know the idea that that you're gonna launch   this thing and oftentimes it's not the community  manager who makes the mistake it's the executive   who orders you to do this huge thing right off  the bat um and that's just a mistake right away   i would also say the biggest mistake  is thinking that you're going to get   the right metrics right out of the gate um you're  probably not you're probably going to measure   a whole bunch of different things about your  community new members comments you know retention   all of these different things you're going  to start measuring until you find the perfect   metric um and then i would also say just like  you're allowed to be inspired by other communities   and look at other communities and think wow this  is amazing but don't compare yourself to other   communities because every community is different  and i think that's what i mean that's what makes   community so special is that it's the one thing  that someone can't copy from your business   they could probably copy your product  they could copy a lot of what you're doing   but your community is totally uncopyable um  and so don't compare yourself to anyone else just in general don't compare yourself that's just  good life advice totally um it is so tempting and   it's such human nature to compare yourself and i  just had a conversation last week with one of my   community members and she's like do you know the  xyz group they have this really robust slack group   and my response was well should we have a slack  group she's like no that's not what you're doing   like you're facilitating more  intimate relationships with people   and i needed that reminder um and that was just  like you know falling victim to comparing myself   to this other community that is also great um  okay looks like we just got a question from amanda   she said how do you best get other  employees involved in your communities   i feel like community will fall in marketing in my  company but i'd love to understand how to best get   others involved without taking up too much of  their time that's a super good question amanda   and it's actually something that we're talking um  in our own community about right now how do you   get more people involved and how do you get them  more excited because you know sometimes the work   i'm doing is only exciting to me like i just  reorganized all our slack channels and i'm like   singing about it from the rooftops and people  are like well done beth um i think starting   is like with a low lift so asking people to come  in once once a week maybe on a wednesday morning   and just peruse the conversations what are people  talking about answer one question a week kind of   thing um the other thing is if you have rituals  in your community we have a welcome committee   um once a week on mondays they come in and they  welcome all of the new members in the in the   thread that we start um you know maybe they take  a shift on the moderation crew like once a month   they are moderation or moderator for a week where  they're in charge of commenting and liking and   responding to questions so you can kind of have  like a tiered approach of that um again starting   with a super low lift maybe it's only once a month  they do this the first of the month they come in   and then from there you can work your way up  we actually do have like an engagement cycle   framework at cmx too that i can probably track  down um and that engagement cycle could totally   relate to how to get other employees involved  but i will say that part of the challenge   of getting them involved or part of the way to  get them involved is to get them excited and   that would be those reports so a weekly report or  a monthly report to tell people like look at how   many questions we answered this month look at  how many new members we got these are the top   posts we had we had 9 000 likes in one month or  something so you're really showing them how much   is going on and almost make them get fomo like  fear that they're missing out on something awesome   i needed that advice i really did like i talked  about week over week like how can i get people   excited without like you know with with it being  more like organic excitement so thank you for   asking that amanda thank you for answering that  with such a good answer beth um we're getting   really close to the end but i still want to  ask one more so we might go one minute over   um drew who is amazing and is starting  a really cool company right now   drew put a question in the q a that says  how do you create credibility and hype   to get users to want to join an online  community when you're starting from zero   okay so that is a really good question and i think  that this is kind of where that groundwork comes   from in the beginning and like the manufacturing  the conversations and the excitement so not lying   manufacturing um when you are starting a community  of any type it's about personally inviting people   and telling them why they specifically should join  this place um reaching out to people via email or   linkedin or whatever method you'd like but telling  them like i see you work at x company and i see   that you've done this much work on these projects  i really think you should come into this space i   would love to answer some questions i would love  for you to answer some questions of our members   or this is a topic we're all talking about right  now i would love for you to come in and join us   and doing that for 20 or 30 people so then  all of a sudden you have these say 20 people   in this space who are feel good that you  ask them you invited them into the space   they're talking about something they're  interested in and they're an expert on then   you start asking them what are their challenges  so now you can start to kind of cross um like i   said manufacture those conversations you know if  member x needs help with this one and this member   just told you they're good at that now you can  connect them so you are making those connections   which will then kind of build a relationship and  grow the ultimate goal is for those two people who   had this awesome connection in your community  even when it was just 20 people them to go out   and invite a friend each so now you have 40 people  and then it kind of grows exponentially from there   um but again in the beginning it's focusing  on the quality not the quantity we all have   this grand idea of scaling but you really need  to focus on controlling what you can control   in the very beginning and that's those like  awesome conversations with awesome people so good um i wish that we could talk all  day and i knew that i would wish that   but it is 11 32 my time so i have to let you go  i have to let everyone who's here go back to the   rest of their day but beth this was like such  a privilege for me it was really a dream come   true to talk to you and learn from you and now  know you so thank you again for sharing all this   um i've gotten a number of questions about  a recording you will all get a recording   and um you'll get that via email i'll  share other takeaways from this but   beth thank you again and thank you  everyone who tuned in for being here   yeah thank you so much for having me and i will  say i mean of course join the cmx community but   if you had any questions that didn't get answered  or you want to start a discussion with me um i'm   on twitter which i normally never like promote but  uh that's a really easy low lift way to like dm me   or or um send a tweet to me or something and we  can start having these conversations there that's   great and just with regard to cmx it's cmxhub.com  right yeah cmxhub.com community and then it's kind   of a choose your own adventure how you want to get  involved okay perfect well thank you so much beth   have a great rest of your day thank you everyone  for tuning in and i'll see you all soon thank you

2021-03-02 05:07

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