How to Run Online Communities - Lessons Learned from GoDaddy Pro and Cloudflare: Episode 2
An open fireside chat about the shift from offline events and community engagement, to a predominant Zoom and digital space conversations. Learn how communities shifted to adapt to an ongoing crisis mode.
Hello everyone and welcome back to Managing Online Communities. I'm here with my friends Adam and Andy.
We've been live about I think two weeks ago or something like that and there were so many questions coming from you that we thought oh why don't we do episode two.
So we're back here today. We're live but if you're also watching this maybe at later time recorded, please feel free to either live or recorded send any questions to us at livestudio at Cloudflare.tv.
Any questions you have for the show, any questions you have about managing social media, online communities for any of us three in particular would be happy to respond either here live or via email if your question comes after the live show.
And I'm not going to continue too much here today because I think everyone notices some weird backgrounds that we are using today.
And I'm gonna first I'm gonna let everyone introduce themselves again just for somebody who maybe you know you're here for the first time.
I would just go first as a host and say that my name is Val Vesa.
I'm community manager here at Cloudflare and I'm welcoming today Adam and Andy who please introduce yourselves.
Hey everybody I'm Adam Warner. My official title is Global Field Marketing Senior Manager for GoDaddy Pro.
But what that really means is I am out in the community running events primarily in the WordPress space, WordCamps and other WordPress related events.
And I'm Andy McElwain Senior Community Manager for GoDaddy Pro.
I like to think of it as me being a conduit between our customer community and of the team at GoDaddy Pro trying to represent both sides to both sides.
And all of us now more online than offline right?
Oh yeah. Yes sir. Yeah I'm only offline to mow the lawn or get groceries really.
Or watch the SpaceX rockets launch right? Right yes. Yeah. If anybody wants to follow Adam on Twitter you can say your Twitter handle but I'm sure people will be very interested to see how you actually film and live stream the SpaceX rockets launches that happen next to or almost very close to your house right?
Yeah I'm a bit of a space nerd and I'm lucky enough to live close enough where we can see some launches from the balcony.
So my Twitter handle is WPMODDER that's W-P-M-O-D-D-E-R and would be happy to have you join along in my live streams.
And since you started why don't you just explain to us what the heck is happening behind you right now?
Are you at an event? No this is just a family gathering. No yeah this is I chose this picture for my background because we're talking about a community and then of course I'm more events focused within the community.
This is a picture of the GoDaddy Pro crew at WordCamp US 2019.
And the reason I chose this picture is because when you talk about community and you talk about events and being involved I consider myself similar to what Andy said I'm an advocate I'm an outward advocate right for the end user of WordPress and any of our GoDaddy tools but I'm also an advocate for our internal team.
I don't think any company can have the same level of success without exposing their employees to the actual community and users that they are making products and services for.
So for WordCamp US you know typically a brand that's sponsoring like we did you can see the sponsor booth in the back they would maybe have five six maybe ten people join but we had over 20 people at this event and that was very purposefully that was on purpose because I wanted to pull people from different parts of the company and expose them to the WordPress end user so then they can take that experience back to their to their daily jobs and apply that to when they're either speaking to customers or working on products.
So we have people from the security team we have the WordPress product experience group here we have our GoDaddy guides which is our customer support we have people from the social team people from engineering we tried to get a wide mix and then we also have let me just move out of the way we have some of our what we call GoDaddy pro ambassadors and these are people web developers and designers that are actively running freelance businesses and creating sites for clients that use our GoDaddy pro tool for maintaining sites and updates and things and other GoDaddy excuse me other GoDaddy products because when you're at an event you know a brand can give you their pitch right but it doesn't mean as much as it does when it comes from someone who's running their business using a product or service from a company so that's why we have the ambassador program so they can speak right to their their peers.
So it is a family gathering.
It is a family gathering yeah we had a great time. Because you have those very close you know in the family then you have the aunts and uncles and then cousins you don't see maybe once in a year.
Yeah yeah yeah it was a great experience.
Nice I think I recognized before we started before we went live I recognized you of course then I recognized Noah who's the guy who just tries to show how short he is by lifting his hand.
Andy what's what's behind you Andy?
These are forks. And you're about to do something or you've just done something.
So my first exposure to WordCamps was WordCamp Toronto 2011 and I organized or helped organize a bunch of those WordCamps in Toronto every year since until I moved out of the city.
In WordCamp Toronto 2012 we upheld our long-standing tradition of two years of bringing hot food like hot food was our thing that we wanted the experience to be really good because we believed that attendees would have a much better experience if they were well fed especially going into the afternoon you feed them well gives them some tasty desserts they're going to have a good time and they're going to remember that.
2012 we forgot the forks so we had this lovely hot buffet but we didn't bring forks so nobody could eat the delicious food that was prepared.
So this photo is from 2013 and we called out specifically we remembered the forks this time and so our our lovely hot lunch buffet went over quite well because we had had forks.
So hashtag don't forget the forks.
Don't forget the forks. Big piece of community advice right there keep your members well fed and remember the cutlery.
And then a fun follow-up to that so in 2013 or 20 yeah 2013 the second day so for the Sunday we had this stuff we had onigiri the Japanese like a snack food it's if you're familiar with sushi and maki rolls or hand rolls same idea got rice and filling wrapped with nori so seaweed.
I loved it but it wasn't well received by everybody and it also came with instructions on how to open the food which apparently you know when you have a little bit of friction.
So this is my second piece of advice for community managers.
Reduce friction so if you're going to serve food make it really easy.
This is applied this is an applied workshop. This is an applied workshop. Remember the forks and if you're going to have things that don't require cutlery make it really easy to consume.
Yeah create a an easy user experience. You don't have to wait a lot for the food to actually get cold enough to be consumable right.
You know it could have been a workshop we saw some really creative uses of spoons and knives during that 20-minute span when we went literally running around the neighborhood looking for forks.
There you go. Yeah but it takes a community right to to solve those problems.
It really does it really does take a community so you know you do what you can.
I'm going to go ahead and explain mine. Let me see if I can go to the side.
So this is a War Camp Europe 2019. So I think June of last year and they were about to call all the volunteers from the volunteering teams.
I was leading the photographer's team again and just as I was about to actually the next photo after this one is not publishable because I literally fell behind the stage and I broke my arm.
So that's one memory that I think everyone who was in there like I could literally hear that.
Yeah I was one of those people gasping and everybody wanted to get up from their chair to do something to save you.
Yeah I remember Crystal was there from our team at Security and she was like are you okay let's go outside and then Milan was on stage presenting and introducing volunteers and I remember that everybody sort of waited for a few seconds for me to say something anything and the first thing that came to my mind was Milan was asking me are you okay is everything okay and I said people are asking if you're okay and I said give me a mic I can't shout from here because I was literally on my belly like holding to my head and he gave me the mic and I said see you next year.
I had no idea the next year coronavirus will happen.
Yeah well I'm glad it was just a broken arm it could have been much worse than that.
Again when you go to events make sure if you're on stage and you have a light on you and everything around is dark and the stage also is dark make sure you don't do too many steps because you never know where the edge is.
I think the curtains like if you look in the background the curtains is almost dark and then you just you could see no finish line no margin nothing.
I feel like we're stumbling into a theme of what you do when things don't go according to plan.
Yeah which is a very good question to ask because it was contained I mean this question was one of the questions that came in the last episode that we never actually got to because we only had 30 minutes.
Now today we have luckily more time an hour so see we have 60 minutes.
Brilliant do we have all the questions from last time? I think we have about three that I didn't we didn't answer.
Okay let me just actually the first one that I mean the fourth one because we answered about three last time was how is GoDaddy pro team organized to manage social media?
Can you suggest best approach for a company with multiple teams creating products?
Oh which one wants to take this one but it sounds like it's not a three-minute response and we have time so go ahead.
I'll grab this because I'm trying to drive getting our GoDaddy pro social handle off the ground and right now it is a team of one and a half the half being me and the one being my colleague Mike Chorba.
If anyone's joined our GoDaddy pro webinars he's also the one that moderates the chat there and he's done a great job of basically driving the ship steering the ship to get the GoDaddy pro handle up and running and the way we've been looking at it at the outset was really understanding who's the audience that we have in mind for this what sort of things would they care about like what's the reason that they're going to follow the account what's in it for them anything that we do as a community effort or like a community presence I always think back to the same things that I would think about when I was organizing word camps it's who's showing up where are they showing up and why would they care about anything that we're doing so for us at the outset I thought of like three major areas that I thought would be useful for the social handle the first one would be showing up and participating in the community so us curating resources useful links information news articles essays from around the community so if I'm a GoDaddy pro member or I'm a potential GoDaddy pro member what sort of things would be of interest to me I want our presence on Twitter or on social in general to be a source of information and inspiration and content relevant to that audience the second piece is using it as a communications channel historically we haven't had a really good go to comms channel for GoDaddy pro so Twitter was kind of like a low-hanging fruit something that we could start with so using it for that as well and then the third piece and one that we haven't done a lot of yet but I'm definitely thinking about and it's something that our main brand social team does really good job with is original content so what content creation are you doing that's native to the channel so if you look at what GoDaddy does on Twitter just main GoDaddy handle we have a whole bunch of different series that go out like tools of the trade and icons of our tribe we don't really do any of that for GoDaddy pro yet because we don't have the same amount of resources behind it but I think that's a really important part of creating a strong social presence is that there is something that you're going to find here that you're not going to find anywhere else the content curation you can find it elsewhere comms you can find it elsewhere but something that exists specifically for a social channel that is a requires a lot of heavy lifting but it's it's really important so you would not necessarily wait for sorry I just want to ask you don't want to necessarily wait for like having a presence and content for all of the possible platforms but just start like oh yeah when you're when you're ready to start start when you're ready to start start with something iterate iterate iterate literally when we turned on the handle it was we're going to curate content we're going to pull stuff from the community pull stuff from our blog put that out and then we're going to figure out what's the next thing that we're going to do to build on top of that you get into a cadence build up some rhythm and then figure out what are we going to add to this it's like training anything else you get used to it feels easy cool what's the next thing we're going to add to make it start building another muscle and I just wanted to add that even though as Andy said that the the GoDaddy Pro's twitter handle is really staffed by one and a half people it's really the entire team surrounding the GoDaddy Pro brand but also internal into GoDaddy there the person who's managing this this handle is interfacing with a lot of different people internally in order to make sure that source first yeah source content but more than that source the desired approach right so one thing that I think is really important to mention that Andy is a huge proponent of is your social handles aren't there to simply talk at people and and it's not it it's it's primary person purpose is not to promote it's to connect it's to engage it's to conversations yes to have conversations it's to learn from from your community probably more important than anything learn what the community wants what what they're having trouble with what the pain points are and then taking that back and and communicating that internally as well yeah yeah that's largely like my entire role is is really that like listening taking the insights bringing it back to the team when we do stuff bring that back to the community um another point to what Adam was saying joining forces with other groups like one of my favorite things to do and I miss it dearly is um live tweeting and doing kind of back channel social around in-person events I I'm not a great like schmoozer how do you how do you live directly the mobile app twitter or something else most of the time yeah yeah I'll log into the handle um and then tweet out takeaways grab photos like being on the ground like an embedded reporter just grabbing snapshots and takeaways from the experience but also chatting with other people who are attending the event and I'll usually do that on my own personal twitter handle now but those opportunities where you can team up with other groups that are doing things that are complementary to the social handle I think is a huge opportunity to leverage the resources you already have so even if you are a team of one or team of one and a half you can move a much greater impact by teaming up with other groups within your organization to do some really cool stuff and a quick plug for Andy because his tweets from his personal handle are always very thought-provoking and very community -based so Andy I think you should share your twitter handle as well I'm at Andy MCI pretty much everywhere so you can just search that I was actually watching him like well following him I'm watching him on on twitter the past couple of weeks now and what I'm amazed by is how you find time to have such a diverse sort of a beach of possible subjects that you just put on like there's a tweet at you know 905, 907, 912 and 918 and they're all different topics but they're all interesting and not only not only are they different topics but the topics are very long and in-depth reads but yeah what you're what you're commenting on Andy is it's very in-depth as well so we're both Andy MCI fans sure should I um this is my hack and I'd love to share it for anybody who's interested oh please do I'm sure there's a lot of people watching so I'm a big big fan of pocket this is a good hack right we're not talking about yeah yeah this is a good hack just in terms of efficiency um I'm just saying that just just to make sure because we're like a week after something yes yes okay very true and within the context of Cloudflare absolutely just putting in the disclaimer in there an efficiency tip pro tip I think pro tip um so I'm a big fan of pocket and I subscribe to a lot of newsletters starting to do more RSS again uh and I set up time devoted to just reading and usually it's in the evenings weekends um I love my Sunday with like either a cup of coffee or glass of wine and I'll just uh plow through a bunch of reading in pocket the rest of the week is I'm getting newsletters in RSS feeds anything that I think is interesting I'm going to throw it into pocket and I'll get back to it later within those uh you can connect um your or within pocket you can connect your pocket account to your twitter account and then when you throw out recommendations from pocket those can sync with twitter so what I end up doing is I'll find what I think of as like juicy quotes or excerpts if they're punchy and short and good for twitter I'll do a recommendation um select twitter when I go to share it goes out to my pocket profile it also goes out to twitter and then there's a bit of time to the actual url as well and it goes the actual url it does like a little bit of a redirect to the pocket url so I think pocket tracks um click throughs uh but it ends up going to the source url um and then for the longer stuff if there's a piece that I was I want to do a commentary on it I may want to blog about it I'll take that save it to um the notes app on ios used to do it to google keep when I was on and I'll take that and use that as a prompt or starting point for a blog post or even if it's just like a longer excerpt that's not good for twitter but I still want to share it I'll use that for my blog so just I've been following the same routine for years and to the point now where it's just it's my reading time that I can piggyback a little bit of social on top of it and that keeps my profile active and so you're taking the community on your reading journey along pretty much yeah yeah and most of this stuff I feel like most of the stuff that I'm into I'm either it's either going to be relevant to my connections that care about community management and community stuff or it's going to be web design web development freelancing side hustles entrepreneurship um so I have enough of a mix of a follower based uh we're interested in all those different things that hopefully somebody finds this stuff that I'm sharing interesting so that's my process again just jumping in there before Adam sorry Adam if anybody watching this has specific questions that you know you'd like to ask to answer or maybe Andy to give you some more hints please email live studio at clafay.tv we'll be happy to answer okay Adam please take it away it was just a comment that when you mentioned your Sunday reading it brought me back to uh my childhood and having Sundays were basically dedicated for morning cinnamon rolls with uh some Harold Lloyd three stooges and um uh the Lone Ranger but also the Sunday paper and me getting the comics section from my parents and then basically all you know the first half of the day that's what everybody did was sit around together community and uh and read the paper together good good habits never die yeah rituals it's all rituals right and I think and Adam uh and Val I think that I'd love to hear your take on this but the types of rituals that you build around the community events and things that you're doing um I know value you're moderating but I'd love to I want to know I want to know this what are some rituals that you're doing around the community stuff for Cloudflare and then Adam you want to talk about some of the rituals that you're doing for happy happy to share no most most of the people watching hopefully already know this but if not I'm I'm a big fan of photography so usually you'd find me at any large event most likely taking photos and talking to people but like taking photos first but first of course asking am I okay to take your photo and then take the photo and then it's just like a natural conversation oh would you like to see it would you like to get more and then I think for me is not only a way to start the conversation but actually to show that you care because if you sort of a run through and take 20 photos and then that's it and then you publish them and you know people might be offended might not be offended but it's always good to ask first and in in the community um it's I think what I've learned in I don't know 12 years almost of going to events and being involved in communities is that if you ask for permission first and then you proceed what permission I mean to engage to talk you know to expose a specific photo to talk about some details and then when you also conversate privately with somebody I always like to ask is this conversation private like are the details that you're mentioning right now about your product launch about your you know bugs that you just found in yourself or whatever it is is this private or am I allowed to share with either my team if it's something you find in our product and maybe I can go back and sort of a be a liaison between the person using our products and you know the customer support team or the engineering who's maybe possibly fixing it right then and I've seen this a lot happening like I think Adam you mentioned that you bring in ambassadors like existing GoDaddy customers who join your events just to you know be with the community be with the team but also I think they're sort of like a like a walking case study if you want people can come up and ask or are they for real like is this really true like is this feature really happening like that or if you click there is it always happening or how do they talk to you like how many minutes you wait on a call to get somebody to respond or how do they fix stuff for you and I think that's the easiest way to not sell but still get audience interested in whatever you're most likely selling because people will see and talk to the living beings who actually use your products and services and they're like oh I'm sold and you did nothing yet you never said you never even mentioned your landing page or your you know we have a coupon we have a voucher we have a free trial nothing like that and second I think when I create content that's also connecting me to the people that are in the photos like Adam's photo right now I know half of those people and when you go to an event in real time in you know in real life you sort of a reconnect from whatever moment you stop the conversation even if you still talk online like I we talk online we retweet each other we talk to each other we respond to tweets but it's not the same thing that once you reconnect physically God willing we'll be as soon as possible I think there's something if you had those rituals happening like if you were brought up with a certain amount of respect for people need for connection loving the people it's something that I keep saying all the time I'm going to repeat it again if you do social media and you love people this is this is a success I mean you can't do community management and social media if you don't genuinely love or be interested in people yeah I couldn't agree more I just wanted to mention something when you mentioned having ambassadors right at our at our booth or at events whether they're physical or or or online one of the most important things that I think that has helped us connect with potential customers in respect to them talking to ambassadors is that we we don't want our ambassadors to sugarcoat anything we don't want them to just be yes men or yes women for our products we want them to share their authentic story on how they use our products and services and how they help them and or what the limitations may be and what what the options are for for other tools or services which may fill that gap but at the same time we're hearing that feedback so it it it helps everybody succeed at the end of the day and I know we're getting low on time but a couple of rituals that I just wanted to mention in terms of events one of the things I always make sure to do and I have enough time Adam there's half an hour more remember this is a one hour segment oh okay okay yeah I thought we were at 30 minutes today okay good last last one was this one not all right great well I'll talk slower then one of the voice one of the one of the most important rituals that I do which I I really didn't realize it was a ritual until we just had this conversation was that when I am at an event whether it is a a pre-event networking get together or it's the day of and I've got a break at the booth or I'm having a hallway chat or something I tend to look for those people who are off on their own looking like they're not sure what to do next or perhaps they're feeling or the impression that I get is that they're feeling a little bit uncomfortable and unsure of themselves and I make sure to approach those people very deliberately sometimes people just want to be by themselves you have to read you know physical cues and verbal cues of course you don't want to be that person who is bothering someone who needs their space but what I found more often than not is that they're new to the community they're new to these events they don't know people like the three of us know people you know at these specific category of events these word camps and welcome them in and just say welcome to the community one of the leading questions I always ask is are you a regular word camper and if the answer is no this is my first one then my next sentence is welcome to the community if you have any questions and then throughout that community now that I've made that initial connection I considered a personal mission to introduce them to as many people as possible and when I really think about why I do that I tend to go back to my childhood because I have an artificial eye so in elementary school in the 80s kids can be mean right so I've heard every name in the book and my big sister was always defending me you know but I really connected with those people through from that time onward who made it a point to make me feel included so I think it's it's my natural tendency to make sure that I'm doing the same for other people that I identify that are maybe feeling that way and again that's pretty presumptuous of me to assume that that person is you know wants my my introduction or my attention but I tend to think more times than not that it's it's a useful approach I as a an introvert in meet space real IRL I appreciate that I appreciate that because I have a really hard time unless I'm doing like MC stuff or organizing where I have a very specific function I'm super uncomfortable just going up and introducing myself to people that I don't know even if I know somebody if I haven't seen them in a long time I feel a little awkward about going up and saying hi so having someone like you step in and kind of get those gears turning is really appreciated well good thank you for that this is really this is something really important to do and as you were talking Adam I remembered a real story something that happened to me in I think Denmark I hope it was Denmark one work camp a few years ago we went and then you know we have this habit well some of the work camps have it where they're like smaller and you just draw a ticket or a note from a hat or something and then there's questions on there and you're supposed to find the person to ask that question too and then they ask a question back and that's like sort of a conversation breaking something happens yeah and I've noticed this like you said somebody that was like on a bench somewhere on the side looking like what is happening here this is most like like he had a huge sign my first time here but I had to ask the question just to be sure so but when the conversation started I was I was expecting something yes it's my first time and maybe what is this all about so I was like having those answers almost prepared like I knew exactly what to answer if he was about to ask the same and then he said yeah it is I just got out of hospital and I started coding a wordpress site so I can feed my family because I was in the hospital for 12 years or something like that after an accident when he was young I'm gonna find the story I'm gonna maybe tweet it later but I think that the conversation we had was so deep that I didn't even expect it you know I might have just gone with other guys and like you know exchange notes and just chat oh I know you oh how have you been but I chose to go to the one person that I didn't know in the room and I was so blessed yeah you know just jumping off of that the other thing I wanted to mention with rituals was what I like most about events and community is having those one-on-one conversations where all of a sudden and this might be a person that you've just met you can have the deepest and most intimate conversation about you know life the universe and everything and it's and you you walk away feeling fulfilled after that and and hopefully that person does as well but it's happened I wouldn't say at every event I've been to but probably the majority of events there's always this moment where you have this conversation you know there's a lot of service hey how you doing nice to see you again what's been going on and then someone decides to share something you know personal or or or deep with you and then you that that real authentic connection just means so much and I love that about events and about community because I think at the end of the day community is you know we use the word community as a thing it's we're all people we're we're we're all connected in one way or another universally speaking we're all living this human experience except for you know the ones who aren't human but the other communities the other communities well now they're all part we're all one big community anyway I guess the point is I I I make it a point to try and facilitate that as much as possible because at the end of the day I think that's what's most important it doesn't matter that I'm working for a brand it doesn't matter what my job is what matters is that together we are trying hopefully to uplift each other in whatever way each one of us needs it if we need a private conversation where someone just listens and says yeah that sucks and I understand or if someone is seeking advice and you can help them by sharing your experience I think you know that's what community is to me it's it's the it's the it's the intimate connection between two humans yeah and I think you said it really really great when you said we are not necessarily the brand so we are attending events in real life or online but it's me Val it's you Adam it's you Andy and I think people if we are genuine and we actually are honest to ourselves and with them when we speak we should sort of be that person like I should be myself not necessarily selling a brand or not necessarily representing a brand not on purpose but like connect to the people you talk to and either if it's a tweet if it's a handshake if it's a hug if it's a you know a longer conversation that's deep like Adam you remember ours and I do Paris yeah like hours and hours because sometimes like you said you can just say hi hi and it's it's still fine it's still a level of friendship and connection but then you can also sit down for hours and talk and then it's like oh my god it's been five hours where did time fly um and that's also community so we're going back to the photo you have in the back there is it's a family and in the family you have very long deep conversation with your kids with your spouse and then maybe you have very hi how are you with the aunt or the uncles every other month or so um or maybe when you no longer live with your parents maybe you call them but I don't know how often you call them do you call every week every day but it's still important to talk to to talk to and be yourself I think that's that's what's going to win people towards you as a person and I don't think they connect to the brand as much as they connect to the person that speaks to them and then you know you today you can be with one brand tomorrow you can be with another brand that's not so so important but I think it's important for you to be authentic or for me to be authentic exactly and uh and it's it's about building a relationship but before you do that you have to build trust right and and no matter what brand you work for if you're authentic and if you as an individual have found something about that company's products or services that you truly are passionate about and you truly believe in then that just will come across naturally and this is a treat that we see in the community go ahead go ahead I was just gonna I noticed he changed his background I wanted to know uh what that what that was well I was just thinking about the the experience of feeling kind of alone on the sidelines and I remembered there was this fellow at uh at WordCamp Toronto 2013 as well the lonely squirrel and it just felt appropriate he probably had no problem without having a fork yeah he was fine he was good but yeah I mean that's that's a valid uh a valid kind of um example right there that word in the community whether you're an introvert extrovert um uh you're you're never really truly alone right no matter um how any of us might feel at any given time of the day or year or over a course of the years um keeping things in perspective that again we're we're all living the same human experience uh and um I don't know for me it it it comforts me to think that um that that we're all in this together you know I don't know I'm being a little too uh I think aspirational or flighty now but it must be the coffee there there is a you're just being yourself and we're loving it um there is something I've noticed uh you look at any sort of community especially folks who are in the community management space it's a balance between the harder business criteria and the thing the things that just come to mind is requirements when you're doing brand advocacy or managing a brand community but then there's the other side the much more ephemeral soft touchy-feely community stuff which is just as important but it's much harder to articulate in business terms um and so that that sense of community the vibe that we feel when we're doing events getting together with people whether it be formal or informal just having a conversation with someone those are the experiences that really matter and stick with people and then it's on us to figure out how do we measure that in a quantifiable way to tie back into the business and I think that's one of the hardest things for this emerging field of community management especially when we're looking at it from the point of we're building these relationships and the sense of trust and credibility we're not just talking about community as like a support channel which is I think where a lot of places start off it's community is a place to go and ask questions so you're not coming into the phone lines or opening up a ticket yeah that's an interesting point uh Andy because uh you and I are both familiar with this and I think anyone else who works in community uh Val and any of our fellow community managers or events people is that um when you when you at the end of the day uh whatever brand wants to know uh the value of of their event and and in community investment right um some uh leadership from from different companies have different views of of what it should be I've uh especially in the WordPress space where um WordCamp events um they're they're meant very specifically to not be a traditional trade show event that is just all about sales pitches and uh contact information and follow-ups and all of that stuff uh and uh we are lucky enough to work for a company that understands uh what community and uh in involvement really means at the end of the day they're playing the long game basically right so the question has come up in the WordCamp space before um I keep saying WordCamps but I mean event space probably in general what is the ROI what are you reporting on well we're not reporting on number of email addresses we've collected number of conversions from those email sends uh number of coupons that we've given out that have been used none of that um is is what the primary focus is the ROI for us and and it has been very tricky and continues to be tricky especially now that we've had to pivot to online uh what are those things that we're tracking that show that engagement and relationships uh are happening and being built right so online is actually a little bit easier to track because we have uh you know trackable links on event websites and and and that sort of thing um and the thing that we're we're trying to solve now is that this this in-person engagement and how to make that happen organically uh through a zoom call uh so we've we've we've been trying a lot of different things and some things are working and some things uh you know we still need to experiment with and I think I think that'll be I don't think there will ever be uh you know a bullet list of here's how you report ROI from community work or event work I just don't think that's ever anyway not not always the same bullet list and not always valid because everything changes so so so you know so much yeah yeah it's been uh it's been um it's been a journey so far and continues to be something else that is really interesting um to to see for me um and of course I'm gonna let you also uh go in on that is when you connect to somebody uh online and then at some point you get to be at the same event in real life that's always exciting it's always yeah it's there's something there there's something there that I cannot necessarily explain but it's that moment when you know you only see the handle for months or years uh maybe sometimes the photo I mean we don't really post photos of ourselves like in community management so much but you know you have photos of what's happening in front of you so you're always sort of a behind the handle and then you meet somebody who's like oh so you're at whatever and oh my god I love the way you said about that or oh that was really nasty about the other one and all of a sudden you realize that even if you haven't met so that's the first moment you just shook hands and sort of a you know seen each other they know so much about you already because of the online sort of a content you have out there already and when you mention that you meet somebody and you have all those long conversation it's only the first time you met them that's something that I can like for now instantly remember Michu from Yoast like one of my very good friends we've met online and then we've met at a dinner at Warcamp Paris I think 2016 and there was somebody else speaking at the table about some topic but we were like he was sitting right across me and you know that moment when somebody says something that's so not okay so not true like everything you want to say that's bad and then you you raise your eyes and the person in front of you sort of nods in the same way like this is just we gotta move from this table and then we start another conversation when we move then it's like oh so you know we both marry we're both all same age having kids almost the same age and then a new conversation starts and do you feel that when you go to you know meet somebody for the first time physically like in person after you've sort of a had conversations or watched each other's content online for some time it's another level of community I think.
Andy? So I think it depends I think so a couple experiences I've had one early on back I was still in college and at the time I was doing community management as a volunteer thing it was a hobby looking after some gaming communities and it was blogging and doing stuff and showed up at a release night for a game that was one that we covered and someone in the line and I'll never forget this one in the line when I said oh I'm Andy from such and such website they're like oh my god I read your stuff all the time this is amazing this is incredible and I felt like oh I don't know what to do here I don't know what to do here this feels so uncomfortable yeah I'm just like I just showed up and was just making small talk with other people in the line because we all like the same thing and at that time I would sometimes ask other people if they're big fans of the other games like hey are do are you familiar with this site just to see just curious what is just what if yeah what if and this is the the situation where it was well what if the person's really big fan and you don't know what to do your biggest fan so I just kind of jumped back in the line said I there was someone else that I saw I just showed up and I had to I had to split so I just bailed out of there as quick as I could I didn't know I was not ready for that so so that's one way it can go especially if you're doing community management for a brand or some sort of presence that has a really big following and this is your first time kind of coming up from behind that I've also been the person on the other side who met someone who is doing a lot of community-facing stuff for the company that I followed and I was suddenly the fanboy going like I love your stuff it's so cool it's great to meet you and I realized like okay now that person is in the shoes that I was in like whoa what is this this is a bit much so that's something that always comes to mind for me so when I am in these situations I try to be as nonchalant as possible it's not a big deal everybody chill I think what's interesting about your story Val is that those are the moments where you meet somebody at an event and you may have been connecting on one level in one context but now you have a different context and so you become friends out of that for a different reason like you knew each other professionally you were acquaintances connected through online space yeah online acquaintances you knew each other Internet buddies but then you become closer friends because you realize oh we have all these other things in common this is really cool values common values common life experiences common true pain points uh the same industry yeah yeah you have the same vocabulary almost yeah exactly and so those can live on um and I have a number of uh friendships that have carried on for years because of that like they started off as professional connections but then we had all these other mutual interests uh and so we just carry on as friends even at some point you sort of represent different brands and you meet and then it's more than just being sort of the spoke person the speaking person for the brand you become friends and then it's you and them who are carrying on the friendship no matter where you end up yeah and that's part of it that's part of what we do it's part of the just the nature of community because like you said at the end of the day communities are people groups of people that have something in common uh and so um we have about 10 more minutes adam you want you wanted to say something otherwise i'm just going to go back to some of the questions i was just going to comment that um i've met a lot of people uh in real life that i had been connected to uh on twitter or or any other social channel but i think probably in every single instance i had this vision of this person in my head based on their avatar uh whether it was an actual photo uh or or or a cartoon you know face or something or or some image not knowing what they look like but i i think probably in every instance i'm surprised that um it's a different experience from what i expect the the in person not the the conversations necessarily but um the the actual person these biases and these assumptions that we all make when we see their online persona uh is usually uh blown right out of the water in a good way well sometimes maybe in a negative way but i can't think of a specific example but we're not gonna we're not gonna talk about the negatives today yeah because there's nothing negative online everybody's very nice everything's fine i think this brings us back to when i was saying about andy tweeting different stuff in like five seven minutes so many topics many times i find myself trust i mean getting to a level of trust in the community with specific individuals where whatever they tweet about you almost instantly have that feeling of i need to retweet this because i trust them so much that i'm gonna read after i retweet yeah so i think in a way in a way that's also um i don't know a symbol or or or a sign of how much community builds trust and you can you can literally trust people even if you haven't met them physically but even better if you already met but just like following somebody's content online for a week not even more than a week and then you realize okay this is the real deal this person doesn't just tweet random you know it's not about posting anything that comes along but actually they have a theme and a topic and on the flip side of that when you're connected with someone and you start to notice all that's shared is negativity uh then then you kind of you get this sense of uh there's an unfollow button yeah yeah and worst case block you know oh yeah i think that's a good example of so bringing it back to the theme of community building around brands uh that notion of brand affinity so how do you know that a brand is for someone like you so like there are certain brands that i just i feel good about and i think one of the things that we look at when we're talking about community management within the context of a brand community is can we get the brand to a level where that you feel that affinity you feel that when you see the content coming out from that brand whether it be shared by the brand created by the brand or just comments discussions positions that the brand is taking you nod so yeah i agree with this yeah i feel this this makes sense to me and that happens again and again and again and then you meet the people behind the brand and same thing yeah i agree with this i like this person i like what they're saying that affinity goes up and up and up and up measuring that's really hard and there's a bunch of different approaches to it but i think that's ultimately one of the big things that we're trying to move when we talk about community within a brand is driving that affinity up so like you said you get to the feeling where you're like you know what i see them tweet i see them post on insta i want to like it i'm going to retweet it i i just feel good about it because i trust this brand and i want to amplify it because it aligns with me and like you said it's built in time it's not a one tweet and then like oh my god i'm sold yeah no no no it's not a campaign it's and and going back to what adam said about how you connect so you're in the social or slash community management team or you're a team of one or i'm sure people watching now because i've had questions on twitter even yesterday after they tweeted uh people who are one one person team uh and maybe they manage one brand but sometimes they manage multiple brands because either they work in an agency where they are the ceo and the person doing the tweets and the person doing the calendar and all that and when you look at somebody who works at a company then i think it's something also that comes from the like when the hr team or when the interviews are happening for the community team how do you how do you i don't have the right word for this but how you how do you pick the person who's gonna potentially match your brand voice in a way in a way that they're gonna that like like your audience is not gonna feel that starting july you know 15th the person changed who is actually tweeting or composing the tweets so how do you manage that as a community manager or maybe team manager that's that's one of the questions that came up adam i'm interested in your take because i feel like it's similar to when you're picking potential ambassadors yeah so there's a few things involved one is to be very specific in your documentation on what it means uh to well in my case what it means to be an ambassador what the expectations are uh both for that person and uh from the the brand uh and i think in terms of of social uh making sure that it has the the same voice having documentation on uh on on the the brand voice guidelines as well but i'll let andy speak more to that but uh yeah in terms of ambassadors we there's a few criteria right so one they need to be using uh our products one one or more of our products uh they need to have had some affinity for uh what we're doing or some trust in what we're doing and have shared that organically whether it's critical or not um is not really a that big of a consideration but if it's constructive criticism that's obviously obviously much better much better than just you know putting out a negative statement um and then and then that that expectation when when you're asking someone or telling someone about this program and saying hey would you like to be involved being as crystal clear as you can about what the expectations are uh and again going back to what i said we don't expect you to have rose-colored glasses and you know skip through the field uh with your sundress on and say go daddy and go daddy pro is the best thing ever we expect you to be honest and authentic in your conversations and how the tools have helped you and where where things fall short i um on my end thinking about putting together a team that can really embody the spirit of the brand um what's becoming increasingly apparent to me is really having to understand the the context that your community is coming from so being familiar with the the situations that community members have been in the problems that they face uh even just down to like the jargon and lingo and dynamics within the community because all of those things inform your decision making and type of stuff that you put out there because if you're if you're trying to take the brand and move it into a leadership position within a community and be like the leader of the community not just the customer community brand community but um within a broader community of like let's say in our case like website designers and developers um there has to be legitimacy there um i want to steer clear of using the word authentic because it's been run into the ground but but there has to be legitimacy and there has to be credibility it still has a good meaning it has a good meaning like that's what that's what it's about is the integrity the the um the fact that when you're speaking to something that you're speaking to it from a point of um transparency and honesty but that you also really know what you're talking about and so you can wrap that in the tone and style and the voice of the brand but the person who's crafting that and deciding what to put out when really needs to have a strong understanding and handle on the community itself because after that you can refine the tone and style and language and approach and all of that that can be learned it's a lot harder to learn what it's like to be part of the community unless you've been in the community for a while i would like to add to that too that it's just as important for the brand the company to identify and hire people for these kinds of positions and for every position uh to look for people who are actually doing the things that you want them to promote yeah in andy and i's case we have done client work we probably still do client work i still have clients i'm sure you still do we are part of that web designer developer community we are part of the wordpress community in which we work uh and and you're not only representing the brand but actually taking part every day right and and we've seen in the company as a whole is very focused on advocating to all employees that they use our products and services and give feedback on that um from users perspective so i think that's really important you mentioned the keyword now feedback there's we only have a minute left but one of the questions i got was how is the journey shortened from feedback to implementing a feature so you get feedback from community how do you put that and you know sort of present it to the team so it gets a feature i don't know if we can answer that in 45 seconds be the squeaky wheel is it will join forces with the teams that collect all that feedback internally add community as another input tie into existing processes um we're starting to do that and i think it's really good yeah so when the question comes in saying how many people ask for that you can have well there's 7 000 comments on this and not only not only just making sure that that funnels to get visibility but also that you're from your experience whatever area you're working in that you're bringing context to that why these people are talking about that why it's so important to that and then what it means for the business moving forward and we're offline