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Episode 96: Becoming an Accidental Community Manager with Adrian Speyer

by Deb Schell
November 27th 2022

In this episode of the Community Strategy Podcast, Adrian Speyer, an experienced digital mark... More

Hi there and welcome back to the community strategy podcast. My name is Deb Shell. I'm a creator turned community builder. After launching my online community in 2020 I have a passion for online events and bringing people together. I now consult business owners and leaders just like yourself who have a message, their life's work or a vision for helping others transform through their online courses, cohorts or memberships on this interview style podcast. You'll hear conversations with community leaders, passion for bringing people together online. Our goal is to provide you with interesting conversations to inspire you to build launch and grow an online community with energy, confidence and purpose. Let's get started. Hello, Hi there and welcome thanks for returning back to the community strategy podcast. My name is Michelle, I am the host and today I am joined by Adrian spire. He is the head of community at higher Logic.

He's also the author of the new book. The accidental community manager Welcome Adrian to the community strategy podcast. Hello, thank you so much for having me dad. I'm so excited to be here. I'm excited you're here to uh so I am excited to hear a little bit about your journey. I did start reading the book and so diving into that a little bit. Um but I really am excited to learn about, you know, you share in the book how you kind of got into this community industry as an accidental community manager but I wanted you to share what that means for the audience, how you define an accidental community manager based on what you've experienced and what you write in the book. Yeah, well I'll take a step back and I'll just say, um you know, I'm very lucky that I've been in the platform vendor space for many years and I've interacted with so many wonderful community managers and what would always happen, which I found funny is people would say to me, oh, I, you know, I was a teacher or I was a physical education instructor or I was a bartender or I was a theater major.

And somehow I'm now a community manager and you know, kind of this, this idea of the accidental community manager kind of popped into my head a couple of years ago actually cause I own the domain, I bought the accidental community manager dot com thinking I'll do something with it. Yeah. And um, so for my case it was, it's, it's simply I guess on the, the most common one is I was a marketing man. So let me take it back. I'd always been building communities for hobbies and fun stuff and it was just, you know, friends getting together, really small communities, maybe a couple of 100 folks and things of this nature. Anyways, long story short, I started my professional career, I'm working and I'm doing all kinds of marketing roles. I'm a marketing manager and then one day my boss just says, hey, we want to do a community, you like people, how'd you like to be a community manager for this new community that we're building for a month And I worked at a multi billion dollar company. So it was like, now all of a sudden I think I talked about in the book, like it's it's one thing when you're doing like a hobby community with a couple of friends and it's a whole nother thing when you're working a multibillion dollar company and they're saying, hey go take out the Porsche for a spin around and you know, hey, don't, by the way, don't screw up or you know, blow things up.

So um that to me was um you know, my kind of introduction into the accidental community manager. So for me it's um and and specifically talk about B two B community. So I'm really looking at folks that are doing this professionally, certainly like if you're, you know, having a hobby form for your favorite band and, and you have a community, certainly your community manager, but specifically in this book, I was aiming at, you know, people that end up having a career, like their paycheck is around managing these communities, especially the B two B space. Although I've taught, you know, worked with B two C and nonprofits and things of this nature, I felt that there was a need for a book in the B two B. Space that hadn't been written. So I wrote it, yeah, I can see from just like reading the beginnings of it, just learning about your experience and background and like you're, you're really like in the Frontier days basically of trying to like dig through this, what is this thing called?

Community and uh without having the tools or the toolbox or the directions to put things together and assembly, you know? Well, yeah and and and they were hard to put everything together, right? Yeah. And I think as well, like I've been reflecting about this in the last little while, um there wasn't really a community of community managers. Like there were people, there's pot there. I mean if you go look there there were people talking about community management as a as a career and there was people were putting stuff out, but there wasn't, you got to remember, I mean, you probably remember, but you know, for those that don't remember like the in like the 2000 early two thousands internet was such a new thing that really your knowledge was like the smartest people that you knew that was your internet. You know, it was kind of, you know, so to be able to go out there and kind of ask a generic question on social media that didn't exist to say, hey, who's a community manager, like who can help me. It wasn't that it was like who in your like immediate circle of people, do you know, I mean we're we're, you know, if I take a time machine and if you recall like we're talking about when msn Messenger and yahoo Messenger were a thing and that's how you met people really like there wasn't these, you know, there were use nets and BBS and things of this nature, but it wasn't really like there wasn't really a way to go and like join a community club or or cmX and kind of be like, hey, like can someone help me?

Like my mom is just trying to run a community and I don't know what to do and then and there were resources out there, but it's kind of like how do you how do you discover those when it's something that you're not exposed to? And so um you know, I've been asked before about like what the why I wrote this book, kind of what the thought was this book was the book that I hope that time traveler will go back in time and leave on my desk. You know, it's to kind of fill in the soup to nuts of all the little things that one needs that I didn't have. And and and there are certainly a lot of great authors out there that have put out really great content. I just felt that this was a book that was missing from, from, from my perspective and I think, you know, based on feedback I've had from a lot of folks that they kind of feel the same way. Yeah, I haven't read a book and I've read several books around community in the last couple of years, just several um but yeah, this isn't, this feels a lot different than um a lot of the other books and it's really directed at the actual person in the role and kind of like a play by play almost kind of like, here's our plan for attack for this thing and uh I like your writing style and your approach to it, it was very different than um and I think it's needed because there is a lot out there as far as like consulting for business people in the community space, you know, like having a strategy and a plan and I think your book really seemed to be like, okay, if you don't have any of the nice to have things, here's what you need to do to like put that together, but also like, I didn't get into some of the B two B practices, so I definitely want you to kind of outline like some of the really great examples in the book that, you know, I like what your terms were around, you know, these are things that make the community's success or fail pretty quickly.

There's a couple of key things, I think. Well I think the thing was that I was trying to, you know, think about it, I wanted to write this, like if no one had a mentor, if they needed a mentor, it's kind of like, I'm on the side coaching, like it's anyone that knows me, can hear me hear me when they're like, right, like I'm there and I'm kind of like, okay, we're gonna do this and we're gonna yeah, like you can, you can hear like, I mean, that was the whole point, I mean, and why it also took so long so I could get it right, um but I mean, and and also it also varies too right? I've worked with companies where they have teams of community individuals and I have where people are alone and they don't have anyone and um you know, that was kind of what I was trying to aim for this book is to have a way that, you know, if you're a team of one, like what are all the things that you need to know, and even if you're not gonna do it yourself, like it's great to know some of the tools and things that you um can come to to come look at and think on. So, um you know, that was kind of the thought and um especially with B two B you know, to specifically specifically answer answer you was, there are some differences versus like a B two C community or non profit is there are certain considerations and one of those considerations that, you know, I I talk about a bit is the importance of the branded community now, certainly of course I've worked at a vendor and I have a certain point of view, but that has informed me in terms of, you know, how much value businesses get from having an own community and community.

And I'm certainly never, you'll never hear me say that you shouldn't build on other places because it's it's the idea is that you need to be kind of where your audience is and use these other opportunities to engage and identify and, you know, amplify things. But my argument is that the brand communities the home that you want to kind of bring all this stuff into where it has a sense of permanence, it has an ability to have a bit of control. Uh you know, maybe it's timely that I'm doing a lot of people have seen me doing a lot of interviews and things. Maybe it's timely that I'm doing a lot of quote unquote press and promotion around the book at a time when Ellen is exact, Elon musk is showing us why it's a challenge. When you build on platforms you don't own all it takes is someone comes in, changes the rules. And when I was writing the book, what I was talking about was a lot of the stuff I faced early on in my marketing career, when facebook kind of changed the rules for a lot of folks, like we like early on in marketing that if you wanted to build a community, you put up a page and and you would, you know, market the hell out of it.

Like you would, you know, do a lot of advertising, you get all these people to like your page. And then the idea was, you could put a post and people could connect and have those conversations. But lo and behold, you know, facebook said now if you want to contact people that are like in your page, you have to pay, you know, there was always advertising before, but they were not, you know, at the very beginning, but early on there was advertising, but then they made it basically didn't matter if you had four million followers on your page, you want to talk to them. You have to pay in order to get into the news feed and have that conversation. And so that was an awakening for a lot of folks about, hey, we're actually helping build these networks, were helping build these social media networks. And so basically my point that I was saying in the book was, well this is a consideration that you have to um think about when you're building for business because you know, you're, you're, you're essentially handing over data of your customers to this third party and you don't have access to it. Like if you have a million people on your facebook page and you want to send them an offer or if someone writes a nasty review about one of your products, you don't know if they're a customer, you don't know if they're a competitor and um, I don't know if you've noticed this, but like on facebook groups, like they can, another group can advertise against you or, or put up ads in that way.

So it's kind of a weird like, or whatever things that they change. I mean you and I were just talking before, uh, you hit record and you know, there was that law in Australia that they were doing for news and they said, hey, we're gonna pull out, well Canada is now going through its own thing. That facebook is threatening to pull out. And I'm obviously I'm Canadian. So I'm very aware of all the things that are going on around that. But what I'm saying is that they're, they're kind of controlling. And if you're a company that's in that space, well you may lose an opportunity to engagement. And so, you know, I just tell people like, you know, you use all those tools, like it's the audiences are there, right? There's billions of people on facebook and that's an opportunity to kind of engage and make them aware. But the point is to build your, your, your, your home, your true home, you can control and um, you know, have the ability to engage in the way that you think is appropriate and also have a bit of control for your brand in terms of uh, you know, responsibility and point of view and, and you know, all the things that you want, you don't want to be tied to a third party in terms of how they make decisions um you know so that's kind of my thought on that.

No I yeah and I think it's so interesting like we were talking about like just where we are in time span of just all of these things changing really quickly, I don't know, have you ever heard of the term cultural software? Okay. I wanted to ask you because it was on my mind recently with mighty Networks new um relaunch and what they're doing with their platform and they're calling it cultural software and so there's some frameworks around that that they're describing but it's just this nether buzzword and I'm curious about like what your thought is on these these new terms that keep coming out that people, I feel like I want to create that already exist and then redefine them to find that interesting. Yeah I mean well I mean it's actually a post I had the other day on linkedin about you know dark social, like everyone's talking about dark social right? Which the idea is that you know the connections are happening invisibly and D. M.

S. And markers can't track stuff and um and I was saying hey that you know forget dark social, what about dark community, you know to me is even a bigger thing because um you know there's forums and other spaces that people are having these conversations and connections or you know, because communities, not only about forums, it's also in person events and connections that happen that, you know, but at the end of the day, let's let's be honest, it's all kind of marketing. Yes, because it's just word of mouth for the most part. I mean that's just gave it a different terminology, but you know, that doesn't sell books and gets likes on facebook or linkedin or makes you look like a thought leader or have that bit. But um you know, sometimes you sometimes, but I guess the lesson though and I kind of talk about that in the book too is sometimes you have to talk to talk to get your point across. So in the sense that um I wanted a term dark dark community because um I don't know if I'm the first to say it, but I'm certainly being an advocate of it is like if your marketing team is talking about dark social haven't talked about dark community because this community builders, we want to get our um the credit for the community work that we're doing.

And so what I've noticed is there's a lot of companies now that are brought into this dark social and are trying to track it and what I mean and actually showed a screenshot on my linkedin of it. They're, they seem like a survey afterwards. Like, hey, where did you hear about us? Because they're trying to, they're, they're marking software is saying, okay, we've got this new account that somehow came, we don't know how, we don't know if it was from a friend, an email, a coupon. Uh, you know, somehow. So what they'll do is they'll do these surveys right to ask folks, um, hey, how did you hear about us? And inevitably they don't put community is not, uh, an offer on there. It's always social media or email or friend. And I'm saying, hey, we need to inform these marketing teams, please please include community. You know, so the community gets the, the benefit that of getting under report because otherwise it's under other and I don't know about you, but when you're giving multiple choice in a, in a survey, you tend to going to choose from one of the things that are there and you may not think about forums if it's under other, but if it's there, at least as a selection, maybe there's a bigger chance that that gets credit.

And I want community teams to get as much credit as possible. And so the way that you do that is you kind of go into their buzzword kingdom right? Which is now instead of word of mouth, it's dark social and hey, now we've got dark community. So hey, let's push dark community and get get people to start thinking about how does community impact at, you know, attribution? And um, you know, I think, I think Richard millington today, what's the date today? So we you know, people looking november 9th, I don't want to hear this recording, but he had a post today about revenue generation and you know, I talk about that a lot in the book about you know, you know having impact and things of this nature, but you know, it's really important to to to think more than just cost savings, but to think about, you know, how does how does the community have impact for you in revenue? And one of those ways is talking about dark social and things of this nature, right that you can um kind of get people to start thinking about, okay, how did our community have impact? And one of those ways is also making sure that your analytics is across your digital ecosystem, including your community.

Because sometimes people forget actually to put I found that they forget to put their google analytics or whatever tracking they have across their other digital properties so that people know, okay, the community had an impact, it's really important. And especially as we're facing dire economic times, where people are looking at, you know, the value of the work that they do, we got to make sure that stuff gets measured. So I'm a big proponent of that as much as I can to advocate it. And I spent a lot of time in the book talking about that. Yeah, I think I loved this where you have a sentence on page 11 for anybody who's like, got the book at hand and it says by the end of this book, I hope you'll see that a community role is actually a career path of its own. You are the heart of a customer experience, You are doing real advocate marketing and you are crucial frontline to pr work your the essential piece of reducing frustration as customers seek self support. And I think one of the biggest amazing things that communities do is help people help people get to the resources they need, help them connect to the people they need to connect.

And I see you have a friend, hi friend, a pause for anybody, like listening, Adrienne's dog is taking over his keyboard and studio space, sorry, the dog is the dog wants to treat and I'll just give the dog a treat. Okay, give the dog a treat. I love, her name's lulu, and she's lovely. But uh what do you what do you feel like um has been the key to a community manager feeling like they are valued. That's a great question. I think that the most important thing is being respected for the experience and work and trusted to be that voice.

And um it goes to kind of the story I I told in the book that almost didn't make in the book, I was actually told to remove it about my big failure launching this engineering community. Um, and it was that I didn't trust, like they paid me to manage the community, but I didn't trust myself to kind of be the person that could say no, this is the right way to do something, and this is not the right way to do stuff. And, and so um it's a bit of, of having that respect, but also having the belief in yourself. And I kind of want this book to kind of be there to kind of say like you can do it and if they're putting you in charge, I think I would say that in the book, they're putting you in charge of the community, right? Then that's, that's some kind of anointment or, or uh, you know, what's what I'm looking for, um acknowledgment that they're trusting you to build this right, because if they put you in charge, so you need to yes in the role you have deemed that you are worthy.

You don't need to ask for that permission. You need to step up into that role and sometimes people have a hard time. Um, but I've seen, you know, and and it takes confidence. It does, it does. And I fully admit when I first got my first role in my early twenties, I was not confident, but I'm hoping this book will help and say you weren't alone. Uh, and, and and here's some ideas and concepts and things of this nature and hopefully you have people in your company that will be more senior, you know, I mean, when I was coming up, we were still dealing with a lot of older people that did things the old way and I think hopefully now that, you know, there's been a bit of a tide shift in that, that there's uh you know, you know, as as an example, I worked at one company that to use social media, it was banned within the company, like I was managing twitter and facebook from my personal cell phone on my own data because I couldn't access it from my computer because it was completely banned. They didn't want even the marketing team to access um those kind of tools and I don't think we're there now, like I think most people that are marketing would would probably have access to social media to do their job.

And so, you know, from that, from that aspect, I think that that's, you know, hopefully you can find someone who believes in you and will support the work that you're doing, but it also requires a bit of, you know, hey, I'm gonna do this because I think it's the right thing. And the other beauty like, to call back to something earlier was um thankfully there's a larger community of community folks out there, you know, and you know that dad, like we see each other and shows or uh like there's no community builder I've ever encountered that if you reached out to him on linkedin and said, hey, I really think that what you're building is cool. Like I'd love to chat and learn more will say no to you. They'll always say yes there. You know, maybe it's not the right time or you'll have to find a schedule, but they're, they're, you know, community people are by far the most generous with their time and want to help one another. We're all part of, uh, you know, I don't like to communities kind of, you know, an overused word, but we're all part of this movement of trying to bring people together and, and, and, and build this really, um, you know, great industry together.

And so I think that people are for the most part very welcoming and open and willing to share. And I, um, and I would say also don't be shy to like reach out to people that are building that companies that you respect or um, and find out from them and learn and you'll, you'll be amazed that everyone kind of has the same challenges. Like that's, that's the funny thing. I always find like everyone always feels like, oh my bosses understand what I'm doing and then they talk to someone else and they're like, oh yeah, no one's boss understands what they're doing. None of us know what's going on. We don't have it figured out, guess what I mean? We don't have it figured out. I mean listen I wrote a book I still don't have it figured out right? Like there's still so I mean I think the problem is when you start to think that you're an expert and you know everything is when you're actually gonna be in trouble. Um and everything changes and it's rapidly changing so fast. Um The technology is changing the way people human beings are interacting is changing the way society is reacting constantly to the changes is changing.

I agree with the technology when I was writing so many shifts. I mean when I was writing the chapter on technology tools like I was debating it because I was like my name, any tool in six months time that tool might not be there anymore you know And then it's kind of a weird thing so I try to avoid tools and more about the what the tool allows you to do but you know what there's things are gonna come out probably like a couple of years from now that and I'm like oh I should have talked about that. Yeah that's what I was gonna I was gonna ask you like what is are the necessary elements to a really successful community strategy for B. two B community when they're just starting out we'll start with a starter bucket people of like starting out um what's essential. Yeah so I I talked about in the book there's the framework that I talked about and it starts with M. V. P. Principles which is knowing that community is about building for people and that you have to two types.

You have your external folks, those are the people that you want to have come join your community, you need to have a conversation with them to understand what their motivations, what they care about. You know, there's so many times I hear people want to start a community and they're like it's gonna be this it's gonna be that we're gonna do this, we're gonna do that. It's like what did you talk to anyone? Is this actually what people want? Are they you know, are you solving anything for them? You know like oh what an idea. But but what I find is where the failure ends up happening is they also don't talk about their internal people and when, I mean the internal people the common term would be stakeholders and I think you know, I don't want to blame, um it's too easy to blame it but I'll just say that a lot of community failures or reductions in staff and things that happened is this imbalance that happens where community building that building really great communities that could solve for problems to their community and are kind of ignoring their stakeholders in the sense that they haven't.

I know it's icky, it's disgusting. And it's it's hard. But at the end of the day it's about making your stakeholders look good at the company and what are, what are some of the ways that you can help with community to make that happen to be aligned and having those conversations. And I think that's an important thing that, you know, unfortunately, maybe not as many people are comfortable with doing, but it's a conversation needs to happen and my whole career and in this book as well, I always have made it clear you want to own this conversation and you wanna, you wanna be able to guide the company to how the community can have an impact on the company rather than someone coming to you and saying, why do we have you on our payroll? Why do we have a community? What, you know, I don't understand. Um you know, if you've already had that conversation up front and kind of built that in there, then hopefully it's it not saying that that will protect you, you know, because, you know, the winds of change are always out there, but at least, you know, you've given your best shot as opposed to kind of being caught by the surprise of, hey, you know, you know, what's the why do we, why do we pay you this money and why, why are we paying for software and, you know, justify your existence?

It's a lot easier if you like, you know, hey joe, like we met last week and here's my, Here's the things that we're doing and so moving forward, I have the span concept, which is that B2B communities generally fall into one of four quadrants. Products support ambassadors or networking and each one of those are really important. And I see them as interconnected. Like every really healthy community will have all four elements. So I have an image in there if it's like a puzzle piece where they're all interconnected. Um, but the, but the idea is that when people start community, they get so excited, they want to do all the things all at once. So the idea was like choose one of the quadrants, work on understanding it really well what you're trying to achieve and sometimes you get it wrong like you, I talk about like we first launched our internal success community for our customers. We thought it would be really good for support. It turned out that people want to talk to us about product. That was actually what was the number one use case that people wanted to submit ideas on how we could make the product better and have a conversation with our product team and have a bit more visibility into the road map.

And that took off. And then once we achieved our goals that we had set out, we then moved into doing support when the time was right right now we're doing networking and eventually we'll move into ambassador programs. And so we're gonna do all the things, but we're hyper focused on that area and then uh fully through is something called cargo, which is the framework to build this plan on. So once you choose your span, you're gonna have another product or support community. There's basically these five questions or five words that I suggest that people look at to um build their communities. So it's concept acquisition retention goals and outcomes. And if you can answer those five questions and you're able to then um kind of go through and figure the uh, you know, figure out the, the best way to build your community. And, and so, uh, you know, the concept is really important because if you say you're doing a product community, then your goal should be product related.

And if you're doing a support community they should be, you know, support related. And I found that a lot of times when people fill out this one sheet, they'll start to see, oh you know what I'm saying? It's a product community, but all my goals are support. Well, I've got to, I've got to readdress this and figure it out because I'm obviously doing the wrong thing. And so those five are kind of like all connected weight wise and kind of figured out like, okay, the concept I need to change or tweak or fill that out and you know, every company that I know that's gone through has found it really helpful because it ends up being this one sheet that they can look at and it's a living document where they can say you know what your goals change. Maybe our concept needs a twist. Maybe the way we're acquiring people is the wrong way or we're not doing a good job with retention and you know it all gets impacted and changed all all all along the way. Yeah it's so interesting. Um and I love the models that your your spanning out and a couple of things just to highlight on there. I work a lot with clients on discovery interviews of ideal member interviews because knowing the ideal people that you wanna host and help and support in your community will allow you to understand the problems you solve much better and that need to be solved and then getting the validation that this space is needed as well as like they want to show up there.

I think earlier you mentioned about sometimes you do have there's a part of it where you do have to meet them where they're at, right? So you do have to like branch out because they're not gonna magically I mean S. C. O. Works but you know what I mean, They're not going to magically find you instantly with no work on their behalf. So you have to come to them and you know tell them what what this is and then bring them in. But I do remember interviews really helped clarify and get really down to like what these people are experiencing currently with your product or service and then you know getting to know while they want to be a part of the community. We just went through a whole bunch of these with a client I worked with and it was really interesting just to learn about the differences and I think the client wants all the things, all the boxes that you're talking about and they want, you know, a lot of people and they want to launch like tomorrow and they want to do all these things. And I think there's the thing that you really talked about that I've been really working with a client recently with was getting everybody on board is like the key because once you figure out like okay, how does marketing fit?

Like a puzzle like how does marketing fit, how does sales fit? How does how do we all work this together? So we're all in kind of tandem working together, not like opposing like, oh marketing is over here doing this thing and communities over here doing this thing, you know, like how are we gonna like we're all one company under one brand. So let's work together and create cohesiveness I think is what what I was hearing anyway. No, absolutely. And and and I said uh you know various places in the book as well, like the communities, the the front door of the experience for most customers, either at or even prospects when they're doing research about your brand and so who's the other departments too participate and be part of it. But it's also on us as community builders to be the marketing for the community in the sense of, you know, explaining the value and the impact. And because no one else is gonna do it, like the reality is like if you're not the cheerleader for your community, no one is gonna be the cheerleader for your community.

So you've and it's tough, right? Because um what I've, you know, like I said, the benefit of, you know, dealing with hundreds of communities over the last decade is you would be amazed at how many community builders are introverts or or don't realize that the majority of community builders are introverts, but extroverts when it comes to online community, so they have trouble in person, you know, telling the story or or doing it, but you know, they're great at the community job. Like they're great community builders. They connect folks and they do really well behind the keyboard. But now if they have to go present to a ceo or something of this nature, it's like, you know, I don't want to do that, but but that becomes the problem and it's, you know, I would say if there's any skill that people need to work on its they've got to understand that in order to get the support and the survival of those communities. They've got to step out of that shell to have those conversations and make the connections and you know like I know there's like a some individuals will say oh you don't want marketing in the community or you don't want them involved or you don't push them away.

Um And I just don't think that's a sustainable model. I think you have to recognize that especially B two B communities you're gonna you're gonna have to deal with marketing. Um So what are the ways that you can and going back to the M. V. P. Principle and stakeholders is you know, what are those things that they care about and how can you work together in presenting things in a way that gives value for both. So like at the end of the day like marketing wants leads or whatever that they want but there are things that your community wants and so there there is a way that you can balance those things. So like one of the things I've always seem to be really successful are these community um guides or playbooks that come out where people will share their best practices, you know so the community gets the opportunity to showcase their expertise and professionalism and you know up level their skill and have an opportunity to say hey I'm part of this e book, you know of tips and tricks or what have you, you know they can tell their boss or put on linkedin or on their resume or, but then at the same time, marketing can use it as a lead magnet right to uncover new opportunities and prospects to say, hey, we have like I personally don't know a lot about Photoshop, but I can tell you that if Photoshop put out here, the 100 best tips from our community about Photoshop for beginners, like I would download that book for sure, you know, and I'm sure that the marketing team at adobe would be like, yes, all these fresh leads from Photoshop and then the people that are in there, like I was, I was one of the 100 tips taken in Adobes special book, right?

Like it's a, you know, it's a very prestigious thing and then, um, you know, so I mean that's what I'm saying, There's, there's ways that you can, can arrange it and I think it's on us to kind of be that, um, translator of needs and wants, you know, to kind of be at the negotiation table in some ways to be like, here's what the community wants, you know, like the commune may want, I don't know, access or swag or whatever it is and then product team wants this and that, well, hey, you come together and you can kind of find that balance, that, that's what it's about. So and it's serving the community Yes and the company at the same time and like how do those missions and goals aligned together because if you, I think one of the famous questions I've heard is have you asked your members, have you asked them if this is something they want? I think there's a lot of people out there that want to create a lot of um things whatever that is and that may or may not be helpful and we don't know unless we talk to people and really validated, oh, this is going to be something that is needed and then we validated it.

And I think that's where you talk about talking to the different departments, getting figuring out who you're like advocates are, you know, your community advocate people in the company and just tapping on there being like, hey, you know, and if you keep, if you keep being you're, you're the number one community advocate, like you're the best ambassador, right as a community manager and if you keep um having conversations with people about what's happening in the community, it'll keep staying top of mind versus like when you have a report once a quarter or whatever and that's your only time that you get to talk to people. If you could set intentional. I think it's really a great idea to set intentionality around keeping people up to date and not just with metrics or numbers, which I know Richard and I was just on the podcast um last week that aired already and, and we talked a lot about numbers and how you use data, which is really helpful, but also these are human beings and there's a person a face behind each number. And so I think what you talked a lot about two that I was reading was, you know, don't forget that.

Yeah, well, the people's stories are so important. Like I'm never gonna say that data is not important, but you know, the funny thing is, um, the people's stories are the ones that that people recall. And I also think that you don't want it to turn into where, like, if you're in a marketing meeting and they go, oh yeah, well, the community can take care of that. It's because they've got a very shallow understand what the community does. And then you're kind of like, well, actually that's not, you know, you want to have that ability to have that conversation before that happens and kind of, you know, deal with it and, and, and kind of, um, you know, have a bit of control over your destiny in some sense, that you're part of that conversation and I'm doing it. But to me, like, the stories are always the best part. Like I always say like, if you're gonna report on some any any metric. And um, you know, it's not, it's sometimes it's not only one metric, There's a couple of metrics, that one can look at depending on who your stakeholder is, but having the stories that you can tell, like, hey, you know what we saw for this or saw for that or uh you know, like there was a customer that was really upset and then, you know, the community was able to come together with a solution that we didn't even think of right?

Because are true experts are in the community product communities, right? Like there's, there's so much knowledge out there from people that use things day to day that and when you're in real world situations that you, that people will not recognize or not know about and then um they just come together and and can solve for it. So how long did it take? How long do you think the average community takes to build um, from, you know, concept, you know, community concept to um launch, what is, what is that time frame look like? Do you think that's a good question. I mean, I've seen people do it very quickly, but I mean in terms of healthy and, and kind of rocking and rolling without the anxiety or like, oh shit factor of are we putting something out? Yeah, I mean, it usually takes between 6 to 8 months, a little bit longer. Maybe a year in, you know, a dirty secret is a lot of contracts for community vendors.

They want to be three years. And the reason is because it takes about three years for the machine to be rocking and rolling that you're seeing full ry and value. Thank you for saying that to. Yeah I mean that's I mean no one wants to say it but that's really we've got to start being realistic about this stuff. I mean I mean the biggest annoying thing for me as a consultant is to talk to people that have no understanding of the real life that we live in. And I think not all the people that I'm talking to are saying like ridiculous numbers but I think that there's this misconception that um you will you put the we're open sign and people just come and you know if you create enough sequences or S. C. O. That it's all gonna work. And I know the first the first the 1st 12 months or oh shit okay this doesn't work. I don't know if I'm going to swear but okay. Oh ship go ahead. So it's you know it's the it's the 1st 12 months of the oce it let me modify figure out, get the recipe right. Usually by the end of year one usually people are kind of on the right path.

Year to your, you've kind of got it going and you're starting to hit it. But by year three, most communities are firing on all cylinders and kind of found their way. But see that's why I always find funny because sometimes people look at our showcase and be like oh I want to do like this community and you know I've had the benefit of seeing like yeah, they didn't build that overnight. Like it took, it took many iterations and time, like usually like the first iteration in that first year, they do a basic theme out of the box, you know, not that much customization then you know they start to get a sense of what the community is and and by the way I'm talking about people that do this in the healthy and proper way, right, they start to get a sense of what the community is and the vibe and the culture and then they work collectively with the community start to make tweaks to the theme, start to introduce programs, you know, you already in like year to doing that kind of thing and like I said year three is usually when that is, so that's why um I know signs, it could guess I get accused I guess being at the vendor so we're being greedy and want to lock people in.

Um The reason it's, it's, it's it's not to be, I mean obviously we want people to be in long term contracts is healthier but it's also to give them the time to see the success with the community before they make a decision and say, oh it doesn't work, you know, because it takes time and yeah that's A good point to say that a lot of people are like, if if they don't get results in, you know, 30, 60, 90 days in the first quarter or two. Um, a lot of times people especially probably in this industry in this market time right now that we're in the economy or maybe like, well maybe that wasn't a good decision or we need to put our resources elsewhere, you know, or whatever. And that can be really challenging to stick through that this time right now that we're living in, I mean you're making a good point and kind of what I was saying about why cargo is a living document, the goals that you're gonna have at the beginning when you're starting out are not going to be the goals that year two or year three. Um, but I also, um, I would challenge people that say that you don't get our Oi results in 30 60 90 days. You do, you just have to know what you're measuring for.

Like the R. O. I may not be like Ri doesn't necessarily need to be dollars right. It could be just happiness. It could be, you know, loyalty. It could be, you know, affinity to the brand. It can, you know, connection. It just takes time cancer. Everyone is going to get people here and to get them functioning through the flows and, and to build habits and rituals and routines and all that kind of stuff. That takes quite a long time. I was curious what your thought is an ambassador programs. I know you said a little bit ago that, um, you said you've you've done some ambassador programs in the past with some some organizations. So I think, I mean it's interesting. I know that who was I talking to? I couldn't remember. But they were like, you need to have an ambassador program on day one. I'm not necessarily a fan of unless you're doing a straight ambassador program. But I think identifying ambassadors and and kind of keeping track or having a way to know who those folks are from. Day one is an important thing. I think it's important to kind of understand what the community is and the culture and understand it a bit better because it's kind of like um I guess this is my like my political science brain from when I studied in school they used to always talk about political documents will be written out.

But what ends up happening in in true life is always something different. And communities are kind of the same ideas that you may have an idea of what your cargo is, your community plan. And then you actually get the people in there and it's not at all or it's very different. And so if you're gonna I would much much more recommend that people identify these individuals that are doing the good things but hold back on creating a full fledged program until they understand the community out front. Although like I said, there are companies I'm aware of that launched straight with an ambassador program like I think a foursquare that's on our, on the higher logic vanilla platform and its ambassador community like it's only for their ambassadors and that's how they launch it. But um, that has iterated many times over the last several years called Foursquare Foursquare. So wasn't that wasn't that an app like back in the day? They're still around, my dear. They're still around. Yeah, I mean, they do, they just said, my dear, I'm sorry.

Um, uh, they they, yeah, it's the location data at the, you know, the folks that, you know, and they have a space for their ambassadors and super users to have conversations with the company and talk about things and it's a very hyper focused community, but it's been, um, it's been, uh, you know, many iterations over the years on it. What do you think the differences between Ambassador advocate and affiliates? Well, I mean, affiliates is a totally different thing, right? Because those are people that are making money from selling and, you know, doing that kind of thing. And um, I would, I would say ambassadors and advocates are pretty similar in my view. And I could be wrong, but I mean that's kind of how I see it is that they're um, advocating on your behalf. I mean, ambassadors advocating on your behalf and, and kind of doing it in that way. And I guess it all gets down to the definition of semantics, Are they paid? Are they doing it out of volunteer versus they're getting something on the back end, whether it's benefits or some monetary thing.

Um, or or, and even voluntary is, you know, limited, right? We, I think there is a time period where there are some people that are going to be really interested in being a volunteer for a time, you know, I don't know what your thought is on that. Well, I, I mean, I don't know if you got to that part of the book, but I say that if you're not careful with your ambassador programs, um, these volunteers are, could also be called future plaintiffs. Yeah. Because there are very, you have to talk to lawyers because there are very strict laws, especially in the States, United States concerning them on what you're allowed to ask them a volunteer. And at what point of volunteer becomes an employee. And there's a very famous case with A. O. L. And what happened with that. And you know, I know there are some in the community space and say, oh, you shouldn't involve a lawyer. It's, you know, I personally would always involve a lawyer because it's better that, you know, especially if you're at a B two B company and a large brand, you have a target on your back. And um, you, you just don't want to be that community builder that gets the creator program that you didn't talk to your, your latin about and then it becomes a situation, good point.

That's a good point. Um, we just kind of assume we'll just do a volunteer thing and then all of a sudden you cross the line and someone says, hey, wait a second, I should be paid for all this. And, you know, most lawyers And you can't dump a lot of stuff on a volunteer and then expect them to be like, yeah, let's I'll spend 40 hours a week doing this now. Yeah. I mean, listen, there there's some really great people out there that are super passionate, although in B two B communities it's less likely than B two C communities, but you just, you have to be careful because um, you know, at what point does it cross a line that you're asking too much of someone and then it becomes a situation and I know plenty of community builders who don't talk to lawyers or just say, I don't want to deal with that. Um, and to me, they're they're just um playing with fire to be honest. Like i it makes me way too nervous because I've seen things go the other way. Um, and you know, usually if you explain things all, maybe just as a bit of wording, you know, especially if you're doing any remuneration of any kind for what they do. Like you've got to make it really clear that it's a volunteer program and you're doing it at your own volition and things of this nature.

But you know, like I say in the book, I'm not a lawyer, I'm not giving legal advice here. But the only advice I would give is like talk to talk to a lawyer, your legal team or you know, run it by someone just that you're really careful because I can guarantee you like the really large B2B communities have lawyers that have looked at these things because they know they know the risk that's involved. Yeah, it's really great. Good good tips were wrapping up rapid fire questions. Um rapid fire. Well not really rapid fire. You can, you can expand if you want. Um All I was gonna say was what's the one thing I think you already kind of answer this. But what's the one thing that you would tell yourself if you were starting out and you're like, you knew what you knew now and you could go back and you could plop the book on the Adrian's desk. But you could also give them this really good tip in case they were feeling overwhelmed by reading a book, book. They what was the one thing be that you could tell that person, Everybody, everybody makes mistakes, You're gonna learn.

It's a it's a it's a it's a um something I always hold true to myself is like failure and mistakes are fine as long as you learn from them and don't make the same ones again and again and I think that's the thing that you need to know. And you know, you know, I joke that I wish I had the book to kind of avoid the mistakes that I I had done when I first launched the community. But you know what I needed to make those mistakes so that I knew not to do them and be able to go and and thankfully I'm there and able to tell other people, hey don't use sock puppets. It's a really bad idea. You know, don't create fake accounts. It's not it's not gonna end well for you. You know, don't buy a software that doesn't have spam prevention. Yeah. And and knowing. Yeah, I think there's those are good points of just really and it comes down to intentionality, it comes down to being really aware of intentional of goals and and the roadmap and the purpose and why we're doing this in the first place.

But in reality it's people and people are unpredictable and people are gonna do what they're gonna do. It's like you create this beautiful space and then people come and then they mess it up amazingly with their amazing words and like comments and all these things, not messing it up in the sense of messing it up. But you know what I mean? But I mean like for example, like one of the mistakes I made and I talked about this book I employed, not employed, but I had a moderator who while I was sleeping, deleted all the content of the community because I didn't know how to hire a moderator properly. I thought I did. I learned how not to hire and I've never made that mistake since but you know I've made other mistakes but every time I've made a mistake I've learned I've learned from it. You know I thought you choose a moderator who answers the most post seems like a nice guy, nope. What's the last question? What's the best um tip that you have?

As far as creating a B. Two B. Community that will thrive through these challenging times. What would be like one thing that really impacts the community whether it lives or dies. Um So for me the it's funny people want to talk to me about span and cargo. But to me the M. V. P. Principle most valuable people is the one thing that you need to consider. And just so I say it again. So people here, it's not talked about in the book but it's thinking about the internal stakeholders and what do they care about? What keeps them up at night, right? Cause just as community people are feeling the pressure of maybe losing their job with the recession and these people are also concerned about it. So if you can come to them and say hey we have this space that we're building that can help you look good and let me work with you to make you look good and let's work together and figure this out. And also working with the people that are in your community and having the conversation about like what are the things like you were talking about intentions and things that people want.

Like we all have things that we care about, you know, especially in in in economic trying times, right? People want to, you know, um increase their education certification professionalization things of this nature, right? So if you can trade a community AB two B community where people can up skill and learn new skills and and showcase them and get accredited. That's great, right? So that there's, you know, for me being part of a community where I can profession, you know, advance professionally. You you've done something really good for me and then internally at your at your company maybe in turn for getting these accreditations. People are doing a case study or they're doing uh you know, reference calls like every reference call that you do. You get 10 points and those 10 points are redeemable for certification. Like that's what I mean. There there are ways that you can work together and and solve for both. You're giving people in the community that value professional advancement and you're giving the company uh you know, case studies, Reference a Ble calls advocates reviews on G two, whatever those things are, right and then you're it's a win win for everyone.

It's just you have to think creatively in that way and yes I know it's kind of ugly because you have to kind of be a translator where you you're taking you know you know what people are saying and then not twisting but rewarding it so that it's understand because you can't go to a community and say hey you're gonna help us get more sales by being a reference mobile customer like it's kind of a thing. But if you are able to say like we're gonna help you upscale and and and and future protect you in terms of where your career is going Well that's a much better um offer right? And and so that you can get people on board with. Cool thanks thanks so much Adrian for being here and sharing all of your amazing wisdom uh for everyone listening, what's the best way to get that book? The accidental community manager? So it's available all fine bookstores. But the easiest way is actually just if you go to Adrian spire dot com uh there's a button with with icon for the book and it's available at amazon chapters, Barnes and noble even at libraries if the library is connected with the digital um you can get a copy at the library.

Um but you know I also have a newsletter where I share tips and tricks and um you can find me on linkedin and all the various other spots but inspire dot com is the home of all things related. Yeah. Makes it easier from Canada. I'm glad to be uh be your friend today in this uh this day. Um thank you so much for sharing your time and wisdom with us um for everybody listening. Thanks so much for tuning in today. If you found value out of this episode, please share it with a friend, fellow community, accidental community manager maybe. And until the next time. I hope you're finding calm in this day, evening, afternoon Or Tuesday or Wednesday at 3.30. Uh take care until the next time. See you later. Bye. Hi, this is Deb Shell and I'm super excited to let you know that I'm writing a book. Yes, it might be not be a big deal for you, but it is a big deal for me. Um as I work through writing the creators community builder book, I've decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign and I'm super excited to share with you that this is where I'm asking you for your help.

I need to reach $5000 and at this moment we've raised about 100 $1,110. So thank you so much for all of the people who have um supported this project. To this point, I wanted to let you know with updating you today that I'm extending this campaign to the end of the year. So by December 31. My goal is to raise $5,000 for this book. The estimates are about Um $10,000 of cost of public publishing printing a limited, you know, amount of copies and um paying for a designer. So I've just uh I just started um reconnecting with our book designer. He's going to be getting me some proposals next week and I'm going to start with a new cover designed for you hopefully before the end of the year. So that's my update for today. Thank you for supporting me so far.

If you haven't supported this project yet, please go to the show notes and check out the I Fund Woman crowdfunding campaign for the new book creator to community builder. I'm super excited. Thanks so much for all who have supported.

Episode 96: Becoming an Accidental Community Manager with Adrian Speyer
Episode 96: Becoming an Accidental Community Manager with Adrian Speyer
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