The Community Strategy Podcast: The nexus where online community strategy meets intentionality

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Episode 48: Find calm with B2B Tech Communities with Piper Wilson

by Deb Schell
August 21st 2021

In this episode of the Find Calm Here Podcast, I chat with Piper Wilson. With 15 years of experience in the community industry, Piper is a pa... More

Okay, mm hmm. Hi all. Welcome to the fine comb your podcast. I'm your host. Deb Shell on this podcast. I share conversations I have with community builders who offer tips on what's working for them in their community building process. And we together work in the fun. Come here community and we share community building resources. Um so if you're a new community builder, I'd like to introduce you to the fun, come here community and I'm excited to to learn more in your community building efforts. But today we're gonna talk a little bit about community management. Um I before I get into that though, I did want to just let you know, I do have a community newsletter and I'll have a link to get on our newsletter in the show notes. Um we've got some resources and tips in there and then you get updates on the podcast. So if you're not already subscribed to that, please do you to do that. And then inside the fine come here community, I talked a little bit in the last episode about the common guides. And so those are also some resources that are being dealt with the fine come here members and to learn more about that.

You can go to find calm here dot com and press the join the community button. So I'm so excited today to introduce piper Wilson. She's a passionate connector who's excited about bringing people together and helping them feel like they belong. Following her experience as a writing community. She has worked as a community manager for several companies and is now a community professional with Gray Zd Interactive, a global provider in success and community management as a service leveraging, cloud mobile and social media technologies to reinvent the way you do business as an entree. Sure since 2000 and eight, Drozd has been helping companies power their businesses with marketing automation, cloud innovation services and its enterprise search platform as a global consultancy. They have strategic partners with technology pioneers like Marcato, Salesforce, google Microsoft, adobe, a lot of other ones. Spotify Jive. Um they are combining these platforms with innovative approaches to providing effective results oriented solutions to their clients.

So with that welcome piper to the Fine, come here podcast. Thank you. You did awesome. That was great, thank you. I am so excited you're here. We met a while back I think in cm X a couple of months back and we had a call and you were you know, talking about community and looking for a new opportunity and then you recently just got on with this. So tell me a little bit about your journey and how you know where you came from and where you're at now. Well, cool, thank you very much for having me first. And so my journey with community management started way back in the dark ages when there weren't really platforms like you see today in communities, they were more just forums and um and I joined a writing community because I wanted to be a writer and within a week or two I was spending all my time in the community and no time writing.

So that was the first thing that, that was my first clue that I wasn't destined to be a great novelist or reporter or anything like that. So from there I transitioned to volunteering as a moderator at a large social media website, it's private and I was just a moderator of a group for several years and then I moved up to being moderator slash community manager for the entire site. Um, and, and from there, I, you know, a couple of years later I found out that this could be a really, that this could be a real career, not just a moderation thing, customer service, like, oh wow, that's awesome. Let me do that. So, um, I started taking classes, joined cmx, I started going to conferences and just studied for years and finally landed my job here with graffiti, which I am just delighted about.

Yeah, it's very cool. Um, wow, that's just such a journey right from being somebody who's in a community and being participating and then finding that it's like community is your, is your jam is your thing. It's so, so exciting. Um, so tell me a little bit about what you do over there and give me some more details around what you do with the community. So we have three communities that I'm working with right now. Um, and they are all on different platforms. one is a I think it's a bespoke platform, I'm not quite sure what the name of it is, if it's not a bespoke platform. Um I'm working with the vanilla platform and the core os platform. So each community has something different, so there's something different to learn different types of analytics. The focus for one of the communities is all text. The other two are More B two C. And that's it.

Um And I'm doing moderation and documentation, data, all kinds of stuff, whatever they need. That's that's one of the things about about graffiti that I really like is that it's not just one, you know, there's the opportunity to learn so much and do so much that this c mass contact concept. The community management as a service contract concept is just right up my alley. I hear that a lot with with people and entrepreneurs as well as companies I think are seeing the value in community. And it could be another additional revenue sources potentially as a paid community or a place where uh customer service and and relating back to people and connecting the customers or clients. And so it sounds like, you know, you've got a lot of diversity there with these different aspects, right? And you came from another community and it was more focused on um on people. Right? Tell me a little bit about like who you were working with before, how it's different.

Um I was yeah it was a C to C type um social media site. Um Where there were it's very large, there's like three million members right now. Um And they have you know, subsets of communities within the larger community. So there are special interest groups I guess that's what you'd call him a special interest group. Some are more active than others as as with any forum and stuff like that. You know like I said again in that community is where I started moderating and moved up to the site level. Did I answered that question completely. Well I was yeah I was asking about like how are how are things different and it sounds like um you know all these different interest groups that you know maybe you're not knowledgeable in all the different subject matter but you're it's more about connecting and collaborating with them in this space right than focused on the subject matter maybe.

Yeah. I'm not a subject matter expert for everything. They're definitely I don't think, you know I mean that platform is is like so similar to facebook. It's got crafting and psychology and politics which was just really toxic. It's such a toxic thing to talk about religion gardening, all kinds of stuff that sounds so fun. So how was that? So you were working with that group of people, you know what's different with the role that you're you're in now. Um It's more company and data focused. It sounds like Mhm. Yeah it is it is more data focused, the biggest difference is that personalities don't come into play as much, you know, in the social network thing. People were sometimes quite toxic, sometimes quite loving, you never knew who, where you were going to fall on the gamut when you were interacting with someone.

Um the communities I'm with now are all more professional focused. People use their real names instead of pseudonyms. Um and you know the social media network I was with didn't use real names for the most part, anonymity was a big part of the thing and it's not read it, I just want to, it sounds like reddit that I'm talking about, it's not read it uh uh what else? I think that's the main thing is how the personalities and the focus of the topic, you know, instead of such a broad range of things that you deal with every day on that other platform, the everything is more focused here because like the topics specifically you don't need to necessarily know about but you're actually supporting the members around connecting with each other around the topics and that is more focused on um tech and and um yes software, software, yeah the tricky part for me is knowing who to tag in when someone has a question, you know, it's like okay, so you know joe Schmo is a expert in X, Y.

Z. And you know Marla is an expert in abc and so when someone asked questions, I need to know who to pull in and and that's very difficult for me so far, I need to become more familiar with the subject matter so that when I see people respond, I can learn from that, you know that that is a good point though, um since we're talking like specifically about community management, not necessarily being a host of a community, A lot of people that come on this podcast or who I talked with, his clients are, you know, hosting, hosting a community and they're looking for support around that and this, this aspect of community management really allows you to dig in to the content to the members and you have the time, so you're not as worried about the vision because the vision is already kind of been laid out for you by somebody else, but then you're actually just implementing that and then it gives you the ability to connect and those are part of, you know, learning about the context of what's going to be helpful and then meeting members and then saying, oh dubs the person who I can go to for community, oh piper is the person I know I can talk to you about these tech management questions or whatever, like then then you start to get to know that and by the way you're still brand new, right?

You're still brand new, so it's like you're in this brand new role and it sounds like you're doing such an amazing job with just really interacting and being in these different spaces and coordinating that. Is there any tips that you have that have helped you in this first, you know, year of your career here asking questions even if you, you know, especially if you should know the answer, but you don't ask anyway. Um, you know, ask for feedback on, you know, ask for a regular feedback, you know, do a good job, be thorough, you know, get all the training you can, wherever you can, even if you don't think it's relevant, you never know what you're going to pick up from someone. There's golden nuggets everywhere. Mm hmm. What's it called? The nugget you found, Oh, a golden nugget I found. Um hmm.

Yeah, you did, wow. Um I think that the golden, the biggest golden nugget is that with regard to metrics, it's not what you can measure. Its. What answers do you not have? Yeah. What answers do you not have that you need to get and then figure out the metrics. Yeah, I figured out how to measure that's a good point because analytics only get you so far, right? You can look at data and say, okay, these people are returning, you know, or contributing or asking questions or interacting in certain ways. But the questions that you're talking about talking to people in the community of just asking more questions to members and to other people um in the whole process will just help you get a better sense of like what they want and what they are interested in doing in this space. Right. Right. And another nugget that I picked up from somewhere.

I don't remember where actually, I don't remember where I got any of these nuggets. They just kind of, they just kind of percolated into me. Was that when there is an issue that the members want fixed the way they want it fixed or what they say they will fix. The problem is not necessarily the right fix. And so just because they say I want this doesn't mean that that's what they need. If that's what makes it that, you know, I hope that makes sense. Yes. Some people, I think they ask a question, they maybe there's more questions. Right? It leads to more questions. Right. Right. You know, if they're asking technical questions and you know, it goes back to that, you could just as a basic thing of like did you restart your computer, did you did you do this? And it's kind of like that support role of just saying, okay, let's make sure all the basics are checked off. Um It might be one of those things and like usually like whenever I call in or I'm working with one of the, you know, the people in a in the body situation.

I'm usually like in fact it just happened with zen caster yesterday. I was messing around on zen caster which is the app I record this podcast on because I was having so many technical issues yesterday and then I, there's a little like box here that I can ask somebody a question and I had been messing around with these settings and I'm like, I know this is the setting but it's not working the way it's supposed to. So I was messaging her and then she like pointed and circled at something and I was like, oh that's it, thank you, thank you for helping me. Yeah, I'm gonna put my head down now and that's what, that's what the community managers are really great at though is they're really great at like just recognizing where the resources are and pointing and guiding people to the right thing because there's probably seven other people who have that question and then if you can posted in the in the community and you know, say here's and then you can see the chat because honestly when you're talking about forums, it's the, it's the number one thing when I'm struggling with something, I'm Googling something and most all the time I come into a forum or some kind of community aspect because it's like not even there might be something I find from the company, you know, the the software company, but sometimes it's like they don't even help me and I actually get get more answers from these forums or these community aspects of people that are like struggled with the same thing and then there's like a trail of like, here's what we did here is the work around or da da da da.

And like even better than that is youtube videos. Right? Sometimes that's super helpful too. But yeah, I think community in general like just having people connect around specific things I think is such a you know, like platforms and things like that. But I wanted to go back to you. I want to ask you another question though about platforms, since you mentioned kouros and you mentioned vanilla, do you have preferences or things that you like or dislike about these platforms? Because I'm still kind of in the research phase of those platforms. Mm No, not really. I'm I think I'm too new to have any opinions on them. I'm just, you know, I'm about the community, not the platform as much. You know, there may be eventually I may be able to identify features that I would rather have That I don't have on one but um right now it's still all about the people for me, is it easy for you to go in there though and and communicate with them?

Have you found ease of use of the platform itself? Yeah, Yeah, I mean all platforms are easy um you know that some user interfaces aren't so easy but you know, it's like once you get in a discussion, what matters is people responding and the back and forth. Yeah. When we were something I thought about, when we were talking a few minutes ago and I can't remember what it was, but it made me think of a um a situation recently where a friend was trying to take head shots of me with a camera and it wasn't her camera. And uh so she was struggling with it. And I said, well what if you look in the manual and she goes the manual doesn't tell you how to take photographs. It just tells you about the camera. And I think that's something that you need to keep in mind with community. Oh, I remember what it was you were talking about when you were looking when you had problems like finding the FAA cues doesn't necessarily answer your question.

You need someone that can teach you how to do it. Mm hmm. I love that analogy with the camera though. That is really cool. Because I am a photographer myself and as a photographer, I can tell you I went through school and I, you know, I have a degree in all of these lovely things. But it's still, you still have to practice and you still have to implement what you learn. So even if I'm in a class or a course or take an instructor video and watch that. It's still about Well, how do I compose my photo? How do I check the lighting? Um, you know, what, the rule of thirds of, you know, like there's all of these complex, not complex, but it's like interesting ways to create photographs and the cannon manual that I have for my Canon camera. It's not going to tell me. It's going to give me some, it's gonna give me some maybe, you know, lighting or information around the aperture and the settings of the f stop and all of those things.

But it's not going to tell me that here's how you make a really amazing photograph. It's not going to tell me, but a community of people who are all making photographs and I'm in, you know, little photography clubs and things like that. So I think that that's a good point to have of just saying that's the magic of community, right? That you can connect with these people in this way. Absolutely. It's much easier. I mean, and the people are all over the world, right? So in this, uh, this time frame we're just living in, it's, it's amazing to be able to connect with people and like see their living rooms and like just peek into their life and these zoom calls and you know, be able to meet people all over the world. It's pretty, it's a pretty cool thing. And that's also part of community. What, what kind of do you lead any events or do you, what kinds of things do you do as far as in the community itself? Um I do not lead any, I do not do any community events yet. I support the great Cds community events, but I haven't been in charge of one or anything like that.

So what are you excited about with this new role of community? Oh, one is that, I think it feels less difficult interacting with the members of the community than when you're dealing with anonymous personalities because you know, you never know what you're going to get with an anonymous personality. Um it can be great or wonderful and then it can really become toxic and I think that depends more on the leader of the community or the special interest group, how they, what they find acceptable. Okay, so we had like a minor technical issue, but that's okay, we're getting right back into it and we are going to wrap up this episode right now in a few minutes, but piper, I just wanted to have you kind of finish telling us a little bit more about um what's going on in your community that you're leading and what you're excited about in the next couple of months, The communities I'm leading are actually pretty new that two of them are pretty new.

The one that's on the bespoke platform is actually re launching next month and so I'm excited about that and I hope to be more involved with that right now. I'm doing a lot of spam removal and moderation and stuff like that but I'm hoping to get deeper into it when the community relaunches and the other ones, I'm just excited about the people and getting to know people. That's one of the things that you know, really makes me passionate about this sort of thing is that there are so many people involved and so many personalities and the psychology, I love knowing what makes people tick and you know, which is kind of interesting that I'm so fed by the community. I'm such an introvert, you know, that's I think I think that's actually rather common but you know, I'm an introvert and to feel I'm surprised how much community management feeds my soul.

It's weird. Ah Oh that's so true, right? I love community and every time I talk about it and talk with people about it it gets me so excited. I can see here the same way. That's so cool. It's great to share that with you. Um Well thanks if anybody wants to learn more about what you're doing with greasy ah graffiti. Um let us know where they can find out more because if they're interested in software or sorry, community management as a service that's something right now we have, the main website is grazie dot com. G R A Z I. T. T. I dot com and I don't know the link to the sea mass stuff so it's under resources and community and I can get you an accurate link to put in the um Yes, yeah, if you send me that, I will get that in the show notes. Cool, well, thanks so much for joining me here on the phone. Come here podcast. I'm so excited to hear about your journey and I can't wait to to see you in action some more and we'll chat more about community.

I'm sure going forward uh for everybody who's listening, make sure you subscribe to the fine. Come here podcast on all the apps we're out there, we're gonna have a lot of cool interviews coming up in the next week with some other community builders and community managers. So that'll be exciting until the next time. I hope you're finding calm in this day morning, evening, afternoon, sunday morning, wherever it is, wherever you are, whenever it is, I hope you're finding calm Until next time. Take care. Bye. Okay. Yeah. Mhm.

Episode 48: Find calm with B2B Tech Communities with Piper Wilson
Episode 48: Find calm with B2B Tech Communities with Piper Wilson
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