On Tuesday I ventured into the hipster-mecca of the world, Brooklyn, to attend CMX Summit 2015. Community is currently an ambiguous role in the tech/media/any-company-that-has-a-product-or-platform world. Every company has a different definition and status for Community. It’s a burgeoning field where boundaries and roles are still being etched out, but CMX enlightened me about two constants in Community:
- Community is NOT about engagement. Engagement is only a tool. Community is about acquiring and retaining loyal users/customers (in our case, it’s commenters/bloggers) that helps us push the brand and increase product usage. More platform usage equals more ad money!
- Community is integral to Product. Our community helps us gather feedback, spot/investigate bugs, and discover UX pain points.
Here are more of my learnings from CMX Summit:
There are two things we can measure in terms of Community:
- Retention: The less turnover with users, the better. Equation: Churn = (users at start of period – users at end of period) / users at start of period
- Acquisition: Are people who join the community more likely to sign up? Do current users drive new users? Equation: More Likely to Comment/Contribute = # users signed up / commenters+bloggers
The stronger the community, leads to more interaction with the platform, which leads to higher acquisition of users, which leads to longer page visit time, which leads to more ad money!
- Activate the core: Cultivate early adopters. Observation Deck and Opposite Lock are great examples of Gawker Media activating our core community and creating platform loyalty.
- Give karma, get karma: Connect people across the community (this can be done through events, or intros, or online interactions that bring multiple people into the discussion such as Product or Talk has done).
- Establish Clear Brand Values: Codify the founding principles of the brand early to shape the community ethos (and ultimately the business). In our case, we’re basically the home of no-bullshit media coverage, entertaining and informing, and also the place to discuss and push the story further than the boundaries of editorial.
- Create Meaningful Offline Experiences: Editorial and our community blogs (ODeck, Oppo, Groupthink, etc) already do this by hosting events. A consistent push for similar events can increase the strength of our community.
- Balance Curation With Openness: A tightly curated membership yields quality, but can be unwelcoming. The key is to find a balance where our core community feels exclusive yet welcoming. Our core group blogs already do a great job at this on their own. The challenge is transitioning the communities of our group blogs into a large unified Kinja core community.
- Specialize and organize: As a support/community increases, focus on specializing roles. This will help in escalation of tricky support issues or have deeper knowledge of what users want from us in every area of our product.
- Scale feedback with support: As support teams increase, it’s important to thoroughly track feedback. Feedback is integral to highlighting pain points within your community.
- Share feedback widely: After organizing our feedback, sharing it with the Product team is key. It’s up to us to determine what the top feedback is. A monthly feedback report could be useful. For example, Vimeo has a monthly report titled “Top Community Pain Points and Requests” In our case, community applies both internally (editorial, commerce, and ads) and externally (non-GMG bloggers, commenters, and readers)
- Research with your community: Opening beta testing to the core community.
- Prevention is the best medicine: Open testing can help us spot issues with the product before release, in turn decreasing support queues.
For more information on each talk, you can visit CMX’s site here.