The C2C Podcast on Smash Notes

The C2C Podcast podcast.

December 28, 2019

Marketing is changing.

With internet advertising now 20 years old and traditional media dying a slow death, where do marketers turn? Meet Customer-to-Customer (C2C) Marketing. C2C transforms your most loyal customers into your greatest advocates. C2C powers your brand through in-person connection and genuine community. This podcast will teach you to build your own events community, using C2C, before your competitor does.



Recently updated notes

Ben Winn of Catalyst Software joins the podcast to discuss his role as Community & Events Manager at the company. Ben recently joined the Catalyst team and we chatted further about his strategy to start making an impact at a new organization immediately, why you should separate growth and success when measuring the health of your community and how he is approaching event strategy during COVID-19.

Who is this episode great for?

Community new hires, Virtual event managers, In-person communities

What’s the biggest takeaway?

Ben shares his strategy of cozying up to the sales team when starting in a new community role. This allows you to have an org-wide impact on revenue which ultimately is what matters most while also learning how to adapt your strategy to meet your team’s needs. Ben also shares his theory on the importance of separating growth and success as community health metrics.

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Valentina Ruffoni joins the podcast from Madrid. She is the Founder and Host of the CMX Connect Madrid chapter as well as the Founder of Eat Out Madrid, a 7000 member community of foodies. We talk about Valentina’s unique strategies for growing a team of community leaders, how to approach event sponsorships, along with how she has adapted her events during the pandemic. 

Who is this episode great for?

Community team builders, Virtual event managers, In-person communities

What’s the biggest takeaway?

Valentina elaborates on how she’s grown her chapter exponentially by putting in the time, dedication and hard work to individually connect with local industry leaders and invite them to attend her events. She also illustrates how important it is to continue to reinforce the benefits of the community to ensure members feel empowered to evangelize it themselves. 

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Please visit here to find how you can help: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/

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Our next guest Scott Dodds is a Customer Enablement Leader and Community Strategist! He’s had a historic career in the community industry, starting off launching Khoros’ first community, the Lithosphere and then went on to build community and engagement at Zenefits, LivePerson and Box. In today’s episode, we will cover why SaaS is driving community growth, getting early adopters, measuring ROI and so much more!

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  • 3:04m - We had to first drop our preconceptions and listen to our community. We invited a range of currently active folks on the site and asked them what they liked, what they want more of and what they would change. And the biggest thing we learned was that customers didn’t see us as a community site or a support site or a knowledge base or training. We weren’t the sales team or customer success team or product team. We were all Box to them - one brand. So the first thing was to reimagine it as one experience that customers could engage with. And by giving customers one place to go, it also became easier to start integrating this one place into other parts of the experience, like our customer marketing campaigns, our product contextual help, our product news and updates, etc. This drove greater awareness, greater traffic, and greater engagement with the community.


  • 8:13m - What you measure needs to either be the same metric your organization cares about the most. So you need to thoroughly understand your business and what numbers your boss, your VP and your CEO care about and why. For instance, deflection is important to support when they need to reduce costs and improve efficiency, but at a certain point your VP may stop caring about deflection because they are more worried about renewals than cost savings. So you need to find out how your community is impacting customers to renew, which means you need to understand what metrics in the customer lifecycle most impact renewals.


  • 10:07m - If you are only meeting your community members online or in virtual spaces, you are missing out on so many opportunities to build greater connections and learn so much more deeply than you could otherwise. Would you limit your personal and professional contacts to online? Of course not. So much more valuable connection and communication occurs in person.

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Tina Roth Eisenberg, the founder and CEO of CreativeMornings, joins us today. She currently oversees a worldwide chapter-based organization that brings creative professionals together monthly for community and learning. We talk about the challenges of adapting creative-based in-person events to a virtual platform, consistently maintaining connection and empathy with community members in a time of stress and how reaching new audiences is now possible.

Who is this episode great for?

Non-profits, Virtual event leaders, In-person Communities

What’s the biggest takeaway?

Tina illustrates that it’s not always as simple as transitioning an in-person event to a digital one exactly as is and expecting the same results, especially during a time of crisis and when your community members are likely experiencing extreme stress. Tina says community organizers need to take into consideration what their members are going through and find unique ways to keep engagement and empathy strong when producing digital events.

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This has been a tumultuous time for community builders, especially C2C community builders. Everyone has had to turn on a dime and adapt to this new world and figure out how we can still give people the community experiences they know and love.

Bevy has not only raised a $15M Series B round but has also built out an entirely new virtual experience that goes beyond the basic webinars. Just like in person C2C events the new tools will allow your brands biggest ambassadors to host potentially thousands of evens a year, not just one big conference. Even better, this interview was recorded on Bevy's new tool!

We are joined by Ryan Smith from Qualtrics and Ryan Sweeney from Accel who have both led this round, they will share why they believe in Bevy's concept of community and how they see Bevy helping community builders everywhere create world-class communities.

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Todd Connor who is Founder and CEO at Bunker Labs. Bunker Labs is a chapter-based organization that helps military veterans start and grow businesses. In today’s interview with Todd, we will talk about the strategy behind different types of events, metrics for community growth and adapting your in-person events during COVID-19.

Who is this episode for?

Non-profit, Scaling, In-person communities

Key Takeaway

There are 3 schools of thought for organizations running C2C events in local cities all over. First school of thought is to wait it out, the second is to just switch to virtual and third is to take a step back and completely rethink the strategy. Instead of just putting your event on a zoom call can you change the activities and content of the event that works better remotely? For instance, you could have larger more interest-based events since anyone can join.

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Our next guest is Mindy Day who is currently the Senior Community Manager at Patreon. She has worked as a community builder for over 7 years for brands like Imgur. Today we are going to talk about how to actually measure trust in a brand through community, the path of becoming an engaged member and so much more. Take a listen!

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  • We kicked off by talking about how at Patreon they are measuring trust in a brand through communities. Mindy and her team spent six to eight months to measure this important metric through a trust survey that goes out every month to a random selection of creators in their communities. It asks the same question every month and calculates a trust score. Through this, they can find the creators that are active in their communities and forums against those that aren’t.

  • Mindy also shares the interesting spectrum that they use for their Patreon creators which shows the stages of the commitment of patrons. At one end of this spectrum is pure altruism, meaning people support creators because they love their content and want more of it. And on the other end is pure transactional scale where people want value for their money. Mindy believes this spectrum also holds for communities as different members have different needs. Some come looking for an answer and never come back whereas some become active members and want to get involved, helping others and build better communities.

  • Talking about people that go an extra mile in communities, Mindy talks about how important it is to encourage those that are most active in the community. She believes that giving them recognition for their work, like a badge or sticker or even a message that you love what they are doing can go a long way. It’s all about letting them know that you appreciate what they are doing and making sure they are not ignored.

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Nicole Saunders is our guest in this episode, she is the Manager of Community Engagement at Zendesk. She oversees all of its community programs to help set strategy, define policy and promote their support communities to their users. Today, we’ll be discussing how to get support internally for your community, how she looks at growth and how she’s adjusting her strategy during COVID-19.

 

Who is this podcast for?

B2B, Scaling, Online & Offline Communities

Key Takeaway

Coming up with content ideas can become a major challenge for your local group leaders running events. As well as any content and events the HQ community team is creating. To help that and better serve the community, Nicole and the Zendesk community team analyze support tickets to see what customers want to know and  the language they are using. They take that data and turn into not only event topics but articles, newsletter and other types of content.

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Adrian Cohn of Smartling stops by the podcast this week. As the Director of Brand Strategy and Communications at Smartling, a B2B language translation company, Adrian started as an Operations Analyst at Smartling almost 5 years ago. Now he oversees brand and creative for the whole company. We’re going to talk about community’s role in growing a brand, adjusting your community strategy with COVID-19 and much more.

 

Who is this episode great for?

B2B, Scaling, In-person Communities

What’s the biggest takeaway?

Adrian dives into how brand strategies as a whole need to adapt in order to survive and thrive in a post COVID-19 world. While in-person events are on the backburner a longer term strategy to build community should be put in place. While trying to weather the storm, Adrian believes that companies will make it out on the other side if they focus on planning more creative community strategy, relevant content, adjusted sales tactics and strong customer success teams.

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Our next guest is Dan Brostek who is Director of Digital Experience at Team Red, White & Blue and a Veteran of the United States Army. Team RWB has about 200 local chapters bringing together the veteran community. In the interview, we will break down how Team RWB was able to grow their C2C Community so large and how their chapters and members stay so active.

 

Who is this episode great for?

Non-profit, Scaling, In-person Communities

What’s the biggest takeaway?

Dan knew tracking success was important so he created a metric for “enrichment”. This is a 40-question survey is used to measure physical health, mental health, supportive relationships, sense of purpose and other valuable information. Dan learned that events is the best way to bring people up on the enrichment scale and tries to find points in the member journey where events would be useful for the community.

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The future of education is becoming more and more remote. Few know that more than our next guest, Kelly Neilson who is a Community Growth Manager at Lambda School. Lambda School teaches people the tech skills they need to launch a new career in just 9 months. The whole program is completely remote. We will talk with Kelly about how she grew their C2C community to over 50 chapters and why bringing your customers together is so important with remote learning. Take a listen!

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Former VP of Community at Salesforce Erica Kuhl joins us on this episode, Erica started the Trailblazer at Salesforce which has become the gold standard of both online and offline community. This is one of those episodes that you need to relisten to with a notepad because there are that many strategies we covered. We will talk about the key to growing an in-person community, building a community team, the best metrics for community and so much more. Take a listen!

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Welcome to our 50th episode! Since this is our 50th episode we wanted to do something special, this interview from Startup Grind Global 2020 is with the cofounder and CEO of Reddit Steven Huffman. We dove into some really unique perspectives we haven’t talked about before like what is the soul of community, and trying to figure out what a “healthy” community is beyond basic metrics and of course how the largest online community looks at building C2C communities.

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2:28m- The way Steve looks at community today is a group of people with a soul. Instead of approaching it with the view of a product builder he approaches it as an anthropologist and trying to understand the people that make up that community rather than optimize for vanity metrics.

8:24m- Reddit now has 100,000 active communities and Steve talks about what other metrics are actually meaningful for a healthy community. He has looked at time on site, votes, comments, length of comments but they are constantly evaluating what a “healthy, interesting community” is internally so they aren’t just chasing a number and can actually achieve that. 

21:10m- When he watched other platforms that are also roughly “community” based in being social networks blow past Reddit, he realized they are based on different values. Whereas instagram is looking at monthly active users through vehicles like influencers, Reddit is based around quality discussion which inherently lends itself to less growth. So focus on their on values not growing as fast made sense and that focus also kept users happy.

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Elizabeth will share with us how two things are most crucial to creating a successful community: tools, and resources. Tools that allow you to monitor your community leaders, help answer their queries and manage your community. And with resources, she refers to the “how-to” guides that have all the information that helps in fostering communities.

 

Elizabeth will talk about the biggest mistake people make: assuming they will be able to measure ROI as soon as they start the community.. It’s better, in her opinion, that community managers focus on impacting one area of the business first and then move to the next area of impact and so on.

 

An interesting part of the episode will be around the choosing chapter leaders, who are integral to spread the community. We learn how at Slack she is recruiting new leaders and what characteristics appeal to her most when selecting new ones. Enjoy!

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Coronavirus is now a pandemic, how should community professionals respond? If I'm running events for my community what steps can I take? Today's episode is here to try to answer those questions, we sat down with David Spinks, Founder of CMX & VP of Community at Bevy. Even with all the downsides, Derek and David talk about the tangible things we can do around taking events virtual, collaboration with other community professionals and more.

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6:39m - Greg describes what he thinks community builders should focus on; allowing creativity and flexibility is key

8:01m- How to go about getting internal financial support for community programs when there might not be much funding

9:27m- Advice on using Reddit as a medium to build out your community

You can find the podcast on Apple, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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2:53m- The interesting organic growth of Twitch meetups prior to any formal program

7:39m - Erin discusses the inherent beauty of meetups and how they connect people that share similar interests

12:33m - How to go about empowering their current communities and also collect behavioral data to further empower communities in the future

14:39m - Erin brings up a fun fact about her that has helped tremendously with her career at Twitch

You can find the podcast on Apple, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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5:33m - Jono discusses the three different community models and how they further subdivide into two categories

8:26m - Provides insight on how he approaches and maps out achieving objectives

10:14m - Explains how the relationship between brands and consumers has changed; from online interactions to in person activations

17:52m - Speaks about two communities that have caught his attention

You can find the podcast on Apple, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

 

 

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Celina’s job is all about building communities. She manages and supports Atlassian in-person communities within the Americas by working with community leaders, offering support and steer them. Her work involves engaging the online community by creating avenues for customers to easily connect with others like them.

With Celina onboard with us, we are going to learn how Atlassian built an online community where developers, content managers, project managers and others came together where they collaborate, connect and share valuable insights with each other.

It’s not easy to explain the value of having a community and Celina understands this all too well since she saw how everyone was apprehensive towards the idea of having them.

But today, Atlassian product teams see great value in these communities where they get to enjoy actual face time with users, learn about their problems, offers them real time feedback and hear customer stories.

We will also be inquiring about the metrics they are using at Atlassian to gauge the effectiveness of these community events.

Also, Celina shared with us how they are scaling their communities by building everything with heart and balance. They do this by focusing on where their customer is in terms of the platform they are using and how they are using it.

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  • Jeff shares he’s the CMX Connect organizer in Austin, TX (3:05)

  • Jeff talks about the part of being the Austin CMX Connect leader (4:47)

  • Starting a community from scratch and the best place to start (7:58)

  • The most important type of metrics to focus on when building a community for a SaaS company (12:01)

You can find the podcast on Apple, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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Next on the show is Kevin Lau who is the Global Head of Customer Advocacy at Adobe. Kevin has made a career in community and customer advocacy. Before he went to Marketo, which was acquired by Adobe, he worked at AOL, Google and NetBase. We are going to go in depth on how to create raving fans out of customers, his strategies for running events, the growth of their Marketo User Groups and much more.

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Today WordPress is powering over 60 million websites, and it is the most popular CMS in the world. It is being used by one third of the internet. This has created a global community that includes business owners, developers, digital marketers, students and more, who are all contributing to its Open source project.

What is both impressive and astonishing is that this community is closely knitted together and connects through locally organized, in-person community events known as WordCamp. Here participants mingle with each other over one thing – their shared love of WordPress and open source.

We are lucky to have with us Andrea Middleton from Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com. Andrea is part of a team that includes fourteen individuals who help WordPress community organizers. They are offering these organizers planning support for events, connect the community and contribute to the WordPress project. Her role is specifically focused on these in-person community events, meaning she is the best person to share with us how this all works.

With Andrea, we will get a complete walkthrough of how WordPress has today 700 groups across the world since their first community event back in 2006 which was Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Automattic. Together, we will trace back how Automattic ensured these communities were fostered by offering them support from full-time professionals dedicated towards these community events and gatherings.

The biggest challenge here is obvious: how do you bring together so many diverse communities together and ensure the events are engaging and interesting? Andrea shares with us how at WordPress.com and Automattic the goal is to offer guidance, training and freedom for anyone that wants to host these events in their local community, creating events expressive of their localities.

It’s a classic “bottoms up” approach where organizers are supported by WordPress while given freedom to do what they want to do: to bring WordPress enthusiasts together, inspire people to contribute to the Open source project and encourage participants to do more with WordPress.

With over 2,000 volunteers and organizers all working independently, in coherence with Andrea’s team, WordPress has truly achieved something wonderful: a community of individuals that not only love WordPress but are working to make it better.

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Get ready to take some notes because our next guest is Rosemary O'Neill. Rosemary has been in the community space since 1998 when she co-founded Social Strata. Social Strata’s flagship platform, Hoopla, lets you build a branded online community. In this interview, we walk through the process of starting a community and cover topics like getting internal champions, legal buy in, content calendars and more. Take a listen!

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  • 4:27m- When it comes to metrics, Rosemary starts with making sure NOT to solely focus on engagement. It’s what bosses ask for but the community should tie back to deeper goals like the corporate mission and goals, monetization and getting new customers for example.

  • 6:44m- It is crucial to get your community goals wrapped into whatever your corporate process is for setting goals and talking about what you want for the next year. If you can get those incorporated into that process naturally it will help your community get prioritized instead of being off on it’s own island.

  • 14:06m- Business needs can sometimes diminish creativity, which means us community managers need to always be thinking about what fresh content we can provide, like C2C or in-person events.

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  • 3:04m - We had to first drop our preconceptions and listen to our community. We invited a range of currently active folks on the site and asked them what they liked, what they want more of and what they would change. And the biggest thing we learned was that customers didn’t see us as a community site or a support site or a knowledge base or training. We weren’t the sales team or customer success team or product team. We were all Box to them - one brand. So the first thing was to reimagine it as one experience that customers could engage with. And by giving customers one place to go, it also became easier to start integrating this one place into other parts of the experience, like our customer marketing campaigns, our product contextual help, our product news and updates, etc. This drove greater awareness, greater traffic, and greater engagement with the community.


  • 8:13m - What you measure needs to either be the same metric your organization cares about the most. So you need to thoroughly understand your business and what numbers your boss, your VP and your CEO care about and why. For instance, deflection is important to support when they need to reduce costs and improve efficiency, but at a certain point your VP may stop caring about deflection because they are more worried about renewals than cost savings. So you need to find out how your community is impacting customers to renew, which means you need to understand what metrics in the customer lifecycle most impact renewals.


  • 10:07m - If you are only meeting your community members online or in virtual spaces, you are missing out on so many opportunities to build greater connections and learn so much more deeply than you could otherwise. Would you limit your personal and professional contacts to online? Of course not. So much more valuable connection and communication occurs in person.

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  • 1:47m- Finimize started off as a newsletter, not an app. They focused on building the community through useful content before they built the product which was extremely useful to make sure they were building to solve an actual need.

  • 4:17m- Max shared that while they have lots of community activities events are where people really catch the bug to become a “Finimizer” aka part of their community. The real magic is walking into an event with 200 people who all share the same goal, Max says.

  • 12:04m- When it comes to getting buy in to launch a new in person community program Max said you should take the example of companies like Startup Grind, CMX, Duolingo and TED and present it to your leadership as well as how it could affect the bottom line.

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Tessa Krissel is the Developer Outreach Manager at Pantheon and is incredible at creating normal users into passionate advocates. We broke down how she is building, scaling and measuring the growth of her community while making sure she is giving value back to that community.

Tessa took a standalone slack group and transformed it into the “Pantheon Heroes” which focus on giving back to and lifting up Pantheon’s community. She explained it’s all about relationships when it comes to developer outreach but building the platform for having that relationship is key since you can’t personally chat with 1000’s of people a day. Here is a breakdown of some of the most effective methods that Tessa used in her program to grow the community:

User Missions- Each user decides how they want to contribute with “missions”, each “mission” is based around a certain area and members can suggest new ones that don’t exist yet. This gives each member a “role” essentially, whereas before you might not know what to post about you now have a topic to help take the mental load off of contributing.

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  1. We discussed how to get stakeholders to fully buy into your community program, Serena mentioned the key is mutual benefit. You can go to different stakeholders, get an idea of what their needs are and leverage your community to help achieve that goal. And Serena shared the example of getting stories from the community to give to the marketing communications and policy teams at Alzheimer's Society.

  2. In regards to budgeting, Serena pointed out that anyone who thinks that a community should be free is wrong and that’s a red flag if you hear that from leadership. If you are in that scenario she suggested to find and articulate how your community is providing value to the organization and practice empathy to figure out what really drives them and speak their language to help them see the benefits of community.

  3. Alzheimer's Society puts out a survey every year and they decided to ask if people want to share their story and 38% of respondents shared their story. Serena mentioned the heartwarming story of a woman who didn’t have many family or friends and was diagnosed via a paper instead of the doctor telling her in person. She found Alzheimer's Society and thankfully found the support of people in her area who not only helped her but became her friends which dramatically helped her situation.

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  1. When it comes to metrics, of course, you have your typical indicators which are visitors, new community members, etc but there are more metrics that paint a better story of how healthy the community is. For Emily, that’s interactions which for Product Hunt are upvotes, hunting products, chatting in discussions and setting goals in their maker groups. 

  2. Emily started as a consultant and through her community work was promoted to Head of Operations, her advice for those looking to also get promoted was to take advantage of the autonomy of community work. Community is a lot less defined than something like coding and that freedom means you can look for new ways to build out value for the company.

  3. Now that Emily has hired for her prior role in community she mentioned that the biggest thing to look for is empathy. With a junior hire, she says, it’s pretty simple to train them and have them learn the technical side but hard for them to be effective if they don’t have a strong sense of empathy.

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  1. Since Pandora had never had a community before, Erick started talking to internal stakeholders to see what the needs had and the community could be valuable and fill those needs. He found that he could highlight and educate features to get better product usage, reduce support costs and get the opinions of users for new features. 

  2. Erick touched on the main metrics he is currently tracking with the launch of Pandora’s community. His main metric is user registrations, he also tracked time on site, pageviews versus user registrations and solutions to questions.

  3. At Fitbit Erick helped build a thriving user group program, he mentioned that to start one it’s important to give it time (at least 6 months) to identify the true super users. After that, make sure you have an NDA and everything squared away with legal so you can give them exclusive updates before the public gets them. Finally, think of an incentive that will really get them excited. He used the example of Fitbit giving new Fitbit products for free and shared he’s thinking about trying to give Pandora super users a premium account for free.

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  • We kicked off by talking about how at Patreon they are measuring trust in a brand through communities. Mindy and her team spent six to eight months to measure this important metric through a trust survey that goes out every month to a random selection of creators in their communities. It asks the same question every month and calculates a trust score. Through this, they can find the creators that are active in their communities and forums against those that aren’t.

  • Mindy also shares the interesting spectrum that they use for their Patreon creators which shows the stages of the commitment of patrons. At one end of this spectrum is pure altruism, meaning people support creators because they love their content and want more of it. And on the other end is pure transactional scale where people want value for their money. Mindy believes this spectrum also holds for communities as different members have different needs. Some come looking for an answer and never come back whereas some become active members and want to get involved, helping others and build better communities.

  • Talking about people that go an extra mile in communities, Mindy talks about how important it is to encourage those that are most active in the community. She believes that giving them recognition for their work, like a badge or sticker or even a message that you love what they are doing can go a long way. It’s all about letting them know that you appreciate what they are doing and making sure they are not ignored.

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  1. Mike realized early on that solutions to many medical problems can be incredibly simple. There is an infinite amount of wisdom and knowledge out there as there are people that have gone through what you are going through. They have the experience and sharing that with others easily through their platform really started things for them. 

  2. Storytelling is what defines The Mighty’s success. Mike was curious as to why there wasn’t another platform like theirs already online. What he found was that previous attempts to create an online communities were focused on the tech part. The Mighty was focused on content. To share stories of people living across the world, telling others how they faced their medical problems. This helped others to open up, to empathize and become part of the conversation. 

  3. Engaging your community members is important for building a healthy community. Mike and his team knew this and he shares an incredible campaign they ran. Ensure no one is alone over the holidays, they created a video to encourage their community to send over greeting cards to those spending their holidays alone. Like those that are in rehab centers or in health facilities. They got an overwhelming response! Over 10,000 cards came from the Netherlands alone.

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  • Sarah shared the origins of the different companies she started, before she cofounded FanBase before NextDoor which ended up being not working. She shared it was more a feeling than a metric but she did say that new users coming on, having an experience and not coming back was a big part of the decision. She also shared that that having early power is crucial to building a great community and they felt that didn’t happen.

  • Nextdoor had a few tactics that spurred the growth of their platform which were a bit counterintuitive. One involved creating a very long and though onboarding form which was a test to get the most committed local leaders, they found much more success in a smaller group of heavily dedicated leaders. They also found physically went to the communities to find leaders, while this was slow again it was more important to find the best people and get the deepest understanding possible of how to operate in that neighborhood.

  • As NextDoor grew their user base and optimized their processes an issue of racial profiling came up. They looked to other platforms but didn’t find a robust solution, so they partnered with Stanford Professor Jennifer Eberhardt to combat racial bias. They decided increase the friction in the crime report process to heavily educate users on racial bias resulting in a 75% decrease in racial profiling.

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IndieHackers is a community that helps developers by sharing the strategies and even revenue numbers behind successful software projects. Courtland Allens is the founder of IndieHackers and joins us on today’s episode on how he built a community with tens of thousands of people from scratch.

To start Courtland got inspiration looking through the popular site Hacker News, a site run by startup incubator Y Combinator. He found a community called Nomad List that served as an inspiration, instead of showing you where to live Courtland’s community showed you how to build successful software projects.

Courtland built the site himself, he knew that having a unique site and a great user experience would stand out. Even before he finished building everything he had brilliant ways of testing what features people would want. For example, before he built a forum he put a tab that said “forum” and then had an email subscribe option to join the forum when it was live. That got enough traction for him to prioritize him building it out.

There were lots of things that didn’t scale but helped, when he was interviewing people for his blog he would send hundreds of cold emails every week to try get people to share how they built their business, with revenue numbers!

For people that are just starting their community, he shared that the work might seem daunting at first but once you get in and actually begin it’s not as hard as you think. Also, while it might seem like a lot of manual work that could be automated or outsourced the depth of understanding you will gain from being so in the weeds of the community, at least at the beginning, will help you, in the long run, know how to build and care for your community.

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  • How did Salesforce get to 1,000 in person groups? Erica thought the biggest contributing factors were that they made it very low friction to become a leader (especially in the beginning). They also made sure that they had onboarding materials and tools to give them when they become a leader in order to make them effective. As far as attracting them the leaders being apart of the brand was huge, tie leaders into your brand as much as possible. A great way to do that is with swag, titles and even rewards they can earn by hosting more events, getting more attendees etc.

  • One thing most people haven’t touched on is C2C communities will create tons of content for your brand with local leaders hosting in person events. Both that could recorded but also, as Erica pointed out, as a means of people finding out how to use the tool better which reduces how much customer support they need.

  • Erica shared some incredible metrics that her the Trailblazer community generated, here’s what she shared: Deals from the community have 2.5x more pipeline, 2x larger deals, 35% higher product adoption, they stay a customer for 3x longer (share these with your boss)!

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  • Jen touched on a topic from her book called “The 5 Stages of Engagement” (more on her book here), which starts with denial and ends with engagement. She shared how Virgin America enlisted the help of their customers to petition for a new runway for them! The morale of the story is to listen to your customers and learn how to engage them in a way that serves you brand and your customers. 

  • She also shared the unusual community Starbucks has called “The Leaf Rakers Society”, a group of people who are enthusiastic about fall. Jen showed it’s a great example of a company just supports and isn’t overbearing which allows people to build a surprisingly deep connection. If you’re building a community, you can consider using this to create a community associated with your brand that will create a richer connection than a help forum.

  • During her time at Facebook they conducted a survey and found that communities with a true, deep connection usually contain 3 things. The first was intentional time in that group, actively engaging with posts (not just lurking) and being connected with one another. If you’re able to build a community the specifically goes to your group and not only engages but become friends with others in the group chances you will have a very dedicated community!

 

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  • Radical Candor became a cultural phenomenon, Kim shared that ultimately it took off on it’s own but did share 2 reasons that helped it explode. The first was that she was vulnerable and shared embarrassing stories she learned from (quoting Brene Brown’s “The Power of Vulnerability). The second was that she put a simple structure to an unarticulated idea (the Radical Candor Framework) which gave people words to what they felt but could never describe.

  • Kim shared that if you are a community professional looking to get buy-in for your community program you should look at them as a fellow human and not a tyrant to be toppled. Then both ask for honest feedback to genuinely improve and find the things you appreciate about them and communicate with them. After some time, approach them by asking if you can be radically candid with them and share your vision for your community program.

  • When measurement fails Kim suggested not just finding stories but fine tuning them to communicate your point. If you can measure something, find a story that supports your point that could get people to support your vision where they might not have otherwise.

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We have an exciting announcement for the month of October, tune in to hear what it is!

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  1. There is a growing trend of communities getting acquired by companies. Max believes it’s all about providing value to your potential customers through communities. With a community, a company can offer an immense value that in the end, encourages community members to ask about the product. This is the reason why companies are acquiring communities as it helps in their sales funnel. 

  2. Max also shares his advice on what every community manager needs to do when building a new one from scratch, focus on authenticity. Being authentic helps you to connect with like-minded individuals, Max pointed out that the best communities like SaaStr and CMX were built through authenticity.

  3. And for metrics, Max shares with us how they rely on vanity metrics like how many people attend their webinars. But they are also focusing on the deeper side of things like loyalty and engagement. As Max points out, when you spend money and time on creating content, you want people to keep coming back to you and not just read an article and leave. That’s what a community is all about. You want every member to continuously engage with you.

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Udemy has over 24 million students and over 100,000 courses, James Dunbar who is the Senior Manager of Community Programs & Strategy at Udemy shared with us how they look at community and support their huge base of online instructors.

The instructors on Udemy are key to the company’s success, without incredible courses in areas where students want to learn students won’t use Udemy. That’s why they have focused a lot of their community efforts to support the instructors, that’s where James focuses his efforts.

What we’ve seen over all the episodes of The C2C Podcast is the most successful (and most funded) community programs do a great job of tying back to business goals. James shared a way of accomplishing this that we hadn’t heard of before which seemed like it could really be powerful. Most will find a way to tie back metrics like revenue, churn, customer support requests in whatever software is used to track those metrics. Of course, there are many variables that go into making those metrics improve so the needs of the sales, support and other departments aren’t always the same. James will get coffee with key people in those departments and ask them “What are some problems you are running into right now?” and see if the community can help.

He figured out after talking with the person who is running social that she needed help creating more content, James knew the community could help. He turned to the community to help create user-generated content and it was a huge success. This method is pretty manual but the brilliant part about it is it allows you to change your focus if a larger area of opportunity arises for the community to impact the company.

Another tactic that we talked about that we don’t normally cover is appointment content. This is anything that is scheduled like a live webinar or Q&A that is a great way to constantly activate the community. If it was just a video or helpful piece of content there is no urgency, the fact that it’s scheduled makes the community activate. James is someone who has worked at a 2 person startup and a 500 person company, community helps at every stage.

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Episode Summary

We usually talk with community managers on the show, the boots on the ground that sadly usually aren’t the decision makers on budgets and what programs get greenlit and which don’t. Luckily for us we’ll hear from Sydney Sloan who has not only built community programs from scratch but she is also now the CMO of SalesLoft giving her the unique vantage point of seeing knowing how to build these programs and knowing what is needed to get approval from the C Suite (which we talk about in the episode).

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  1. Being a CMO, Sydney knows what it takes to get buy-in from the C-Suite to get funding. She shared how when she was at Adobe an executive  wanted to take their Java Developer community from 1500 to 1 million developers. The audacious goal was helpful and she backed it up with strategy, she aggressively tackled both online and offline community. She found local ambassadors and made sure the company equipped them with what they needed to run events and spread the word.

  2. When it comes to building your in-person community try to go deep with the small handful of your most passionate ambassadors. If you have 2 amabadours in Japan and London meet with them, understand the differences in their culture and their needs. If you get a large group of ambassadors it’s actually good to focus on your top 5 or 10 before scaling up, better to serve a small group deeply then a large group poorly.

  3. When it comes to metrics Sydney suggest first looking at users as a good starting point and then going finding metrics around engagement that are meaningful to the company. She referenced a study from EMC that found direct correlation of community engagement and revenue growth, tying revenue to community engagement is crucial to proving the worth of the program.

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EP30 How Marketo Maps the Customer Journey to Community Driving Retention Revenue & More

 

Joining us in this episode of C2C Podcast is Julie Perino, the Senior Director of Customer Marketing at Marketo and Adobe. Marketo is one of the foremost marketing automation software and was acquired by Adobe back in 2018.

1. Julie loves the idea of companies engaging with their users both online and offline. While there has been an upward trend in engagement online, she believes in meeting customers wherever they are because nobody can deny the value of face-to-face connections. So when Marketo’s customers meet together through Marketo User Groups or “MUGs”, it becomes a community where everyone has something to share and learn from others.

2. She also describes the “Fearless 50” program. This program celebrates marketers from across the globe that are using bold, fearless marketing, out of the box thinking and driving innovation at their companies. Through this program, Marketo helps the chosen 50 individuals because of their marketing efforts, offering them opportunities to learn and grow their career.

3. It’s hard for community managers to prove that their work impacts revenue. For Julie, she has done it with customer adoption scores. It’s interesting to learn how they are connecting the dots with their community work with how customers are adopting Marketo at their work.

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In this episode, Derek is talking to Elizabeth Kinsey who is the Developer Marketing Manager at Slack.

 

Elizabeth knows how to create communities. She first created the Mobile Growth community at Branch Metrics which became the premier community for app developers and marketers. But her streak didn’t stop there,  when she joined Slack she helped create the Slack Developer Communities from scratch, which has been a huge success. Here’s a rundown of what we will talk about.

 

Elizabeth will share with us how two things are most crucial to creating a successful community: tools, and resources. Tools that allow you to monitor your community leaders, help answer their queries and manage your community. And with resources, she refers to the “how-to” guides that have all the information that helps in fostering communities.

 

Elizabeth will talk about the biggest mistake people make: assuming they will be able to measure ROI as soon as they start the community.. It’s better, in her opinion, that community managers focus on impacting one area of the business first and then move to the next area of impact and so on.

 

An interesting part of the episode will be around the choosing chapter leaders, who are integral to spread the community. We learn how at Slack she is recruiting new leaders and what characteristics appeal to her most when selecting new ones. Enjoy!

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Joining us on this episode of the C2C Podcast is Cesar Manara, Community Manager at Stack Overflow. Stack Overflow is a question and answer site for professional and enthusiast programmers

 

Cesar believes in creating long-lasting and meaningful relationships between customers and companies. With him joining us, we are going to deep dive into different facets of creating online communities and learn from him what it takes to create one. 

 

  1. So how do you build a community? Cesar shares that it’s important to nail down why you are creating a community. What purpose is it going to serve? What are your business goals? And once you know this, then you have to focus on what your members want. What are their needs?

Consider Stack Overflow where they are focusing on providing tools, resources, and knowledge to programmers so they can do a better job. And that’s not all, the job board on Stack Overflow today is better than LinkedIn.

2. Online trolls and the negativity that spreads easily in communities is a menace that many community managers have to deal with. For Cesar, the answers lie in changing the culture of the community. He will talk about why it is important to change what your peers think is right or wrong. And this can be changed through rewards and punishment. You reward those that act in a way that you want them to be and punish bad actors.


While Cesar knows how to create an online community, he also knows that he needs data. Data that will help him make decisions and drive his community forward.

3. With data, he believes you can figure out what your community members want? What activities do they want to spend their time on? Why are they spending time on your website and so much more? You can then see how those activities can be translated into business needs. Find the sweet spot in between these two and create something awesome.

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So many metrics, so little time! Luckily on this episode Jess Burnham from Unbounce breaks down for us what some of the key metrics and areas of impact community has. If you are in any way trying to show how valuable all the community work you do is this episode is a must!

 

Jess shares that while sign ups and total number of community members is good what you really want to track are ACTIVE members. For example, you have 10k community members but many are attendees at your events? You can easily get lost in the big vanity metrics and end up with almost no one actually engaging so focusing on those metrics makes sure you actually move the needle. In Jess’s case, she tracks the weekly active users (aka return visitors) on her forum.

 

She also mentions that product development is a huge area of impact that the community contributes to the company. Her top community members get direct access to alpha and beta features and give it thorough testing and share the positive and negative feedback that Jess relays back to the product team.

 

She also has created a group for the top 1%-3% of community members called “Unbounce Experts”. These are the people who are sharing feedback, helping other community members, sharing the product with potential customers and sharing on social. Jess knows it’s extremely important to engage and reward the “Unbounce Experts” so she gives them perks like a private slack channel, free tickets to their CTA Conference, access to the early features (mentioned above) and much more.

 

While she has made sure to track metrics and scale to 16k members she also knows that some parts of community are unscalable. She still has regular conversations with the “Unbounce Experts” and remembers fun facts about them that they appreciate. That’s the art of community, creating a system where the community can scale and grow itself while still engaging deeply and meaningfully.

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Derek is joined by Tara Eudy from 99 Designs where she is the senior manager of designer experience.

At 99 Designs, Tara is at the forefront of managing client-designer relationships and representing the designers whenever business decisions are being made at 99 Designs.

99 Designs has a unique idea. It’s a global creative platform that helps in bringing clients and designers together so they can create designs they want and love.

It’s a global community that spans from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe and offers designers an online platform where they can not only share their designs with potential clients but also learn from others.

The folks behind 99 Designs can happily brag that they have more than a million designers from all over the world. So why has this community seen continued growth over the past few years?

Because at 99 Designs, clients can work without worrying about nitty gritty things like what style they want or using the right terminology to connect with a designer. And designers can work on 99 Designs without worrying about getting paid and can focus on their work. They know they have 99 Designs team that will help them out.


To keep their huge community of creative minds engaged, 99 Designs have an awesome awards project known as 99awards, which celebrates the best designers on the platform. And this year they bought in a jury of guest judges comprised of creative professionals from around the world.

At 99 Designs, the key performance indicator that Tara relies on is how much designers are earning and how 99 Designs can increase that. Which means she has to ensure they have enough clients on the platforms that are interested to work with them. 

Starting her career in radio and production and today helping nurture a community of more than a million designers she has seen a lot of success growing and fostering the 99 Designs community which we break down in the full episode.

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How did Moovit create and incentivize a community that provides maps for 500M users?!? That will be answered on today's episode with Leo Chanea. We talk with Leo about how he built and grew the community of "Mooviters" that provide transit map data and how the "Mooviters" contribute that data for their entire user base. 

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Derek sat down with 3 of the best community builders in the world to talk about how they built their communities. The guests were Elizabeth Kinsey (Developer Marketing Manager at Slack), Leslie Lee (Senior Director, Customer Engagement at Atlassian) and Erica Kuhl (VP of Community at Salesforce).

They talked about how they got started and got the initial buy-in to create the program, what strategy they used to gain traction and get people to their events and how they were able to measure their success for themselves and to prove value to the C-Suite. Here are some of the top tidbits from each of our guests.

 

Elizabeth Kinsey (Developer Marketing Manager at Slack)

(starts at 15:21)

Not only did Elizabeth build community with the people attending her events at Branch Metrics but also she did that with the panelists who spoke. She focused on the speakers being extremely knowledgeable in the space to provide a lot of value and being very diverse to show the attendees that the community was like them.

That went a long way in both building the brand and setting the expectation that the events would always provide value and that they really cared about showing that anyone no matter their background could attend the events.

 

Leslie Lee (Senior Director, Customer Engagement at Atlassian)

(start at 12:24)

Atlassian is invested in getting feedback from their users and get NPS (net promoter scores) from their users, knowing this Leslie and her team measured NPS on customers who attended community events and didn’t. They found strong correlation with that showed NPS was higher when customers attended community events.

 

Erica Kuhl (VP of Community at Salesforce)

(starts at 10:30)

Instead of assuming what the community what Erica asked the community “What do you want?”. The answer she got was that they wanted to get connected to each other and get connected and become apart of the brand. The ability to put Salesforce on Linkedin, featuring them at their Dreamforce conference was extremely meaningful and motivating for them.

 

(starts at 18:18)

Erica knew that the future of community would be data-driven so she decided to attach the community metrics with the top 4 business metrics that Salesforce had which were: Pipeline, ACV (Average Contract Value), Adoption and Attrition. By doing that she was able to prove that the already beloved community was irreplaceable to the business.

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Gina Bianchini is a strong believer of in-person communities.

This shouldn’t surprise anyone as she created Ning, an online platform where you can create your own communities on your custom social networks. She then created Mighty Networks, where anyone can create community powered businesses easily.

For her, niche communities have always been fascinating which is why since the early days of social media, she has been observing how people have been coming together online.

And with Mighty Networks, she is kicking ass as she brings entrepreneurs, businessmen, creators and brands together, on a space where they can create communities and share content directly with them.


But that’s not all. With Mighty Networks she is empowering community leaders by helping them monetize their passion projects.

Gina brings an interesting perspective on the table that we usually don’t think about - community building and social media are polar opposites of each other. Why? Because people like to interact and work with those that are interested in the same things and want to learn more about it together. Just like in video games where gamers from across the globe come together, form communities, share tips and tricks with other and do much more.

What’s interesting about Mighty Networks is how they are measuring the success of these communities. Unlike other platforms, Mighty Networks focuses on knowing whether the communities are actually supporting the idea that they are trying to master together and not just focus on blunt performance indicators.

This one is for the books as Gina is the person you need to talk to if it’s about building online communities.

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We had a chat with Celina Zamora, who is the Senior Community Manager at Atlassian. Atlassian is known for its products like Jira, Bitbucket and Confluence. Today, Atlassian is serving over 135,000 customers across the globe. 

Celina’s job is all about building communities.

She manages and supports Atlassian in-person communities within the Americas by working with community leaders, offering support and steer them. Her work involves engaging the online community by creating avenues for customers to easily connect with others like them. 

With Celina onboard with us, we are going to learn how Atlassian built an online community where developers, content managers, project managers and others came together where they collaborate, connect and share valuable insights with each other. 

It’s not easy to explain the value of having a community and Celina understands this all too well since she saw how everyone was apprehensive towards the idea of having them. 

But today, Atlassian product teams see great value in these communities where they get to enjoy actual face time with users, learn about their problems, offers them real time feedback and hear customer stories. 

We will also be inquiring about the metrics they are using at Atlassians to gauge the effectiveness of these community events.

Also, Celina shared with us how they are scaling their communities by building everything with heart and balance. They do this by focusing on where their customer is in terms of the platform they are using and how they are using it.

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Today WordPress is powering over 60 million websites, and it is the most popular CMS in the world. It is being used by one third of the internet. This has created a global community that includes business owners, developers, digital marketers, students and more, who are all contributing to its Open source project.

What is both impressive and astonishing is that this community is closely knitted together and connects through locally organized, in-person community events known as WordCamp. Here participants mingle with each other over one thing – their shared love of WordPress and open source.

We are lucky to have with us Andrea Middleton from Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com. Andrea is part of a team that includes fourteen individuals who help WordPress community organizers.  They are offering these organizers planning support for events, connect the community and contribute to the WordPress project. Her role is specifically focused on these in-person community events, meaning she is the best person to share with us how this all works.

With Andrea, we will get a complete walkthrough of how WordPress has today 700 groups across the world since their first community event back in 2006 which was Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Automattic. Together, we will trace back how Automattic ensured these communities were fostered by offering them support from full-time professionals dedicated towards these community events and gatherings.

The biggest challenge here is obvious: how do you bring together so many diverse communities together and ensure the events are engaging and interesting? Andrea shares with us how at WordPress.com and Automattic the goal is to offer guidance, training and freedom for anyone that wants to host these events in their local community, creating events expressive of their localities.

It’s a classic “bottoms up” approach where organizers are supported by WordPress while given freedom to do what they want to do: to bring WordPress enthusiasts together, inspire people to contribute to the Open source project and encourage participants to do more with WordPress.

With over 2,000 volunteers and organizers all working independently, in coherence with Andrea’s team, WordPress has truly achieved something wonderful: a community of individuals that not only love WordPress but are working to make it better.

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Building an online and in-person community today for companies is tough. Customers are smart enough to spot marketing even if it’s hidden under layers of personal and emotional messages. But at Asana they seem to have cracked the code with “Asana Together”, an online community of like-minded individuals created around shared interest in teamwork and productivity. 

And with us is Josh Zerkel, Head of Global Community and the brains behind “Asana Together”. “Asana Together” is a success with over 33 countries represented through customers, leaders and certified experts, coming together to learn and connect with each other. 

We will take a deep dive with Josh who will share with us how he kick-started the program by talking to different stakeholders on how he wants to create a community that has become “Asana Together” today. We talk about how they are managing the program, getting more people to sign up for their events and what analytics they are using to gauge their performance. 

Together, we will break down the community program and learn how its involving everyone by ditching the “one size fits all” approach and focusing on creating a multi-faceted community where you can attend Asana events, become an ambassador or even establish yourself an expert through “Certified Pros”.  

It’s no surprise that they could pull this off so amazingly (they make it look easy). Asana is at the forefront of workplace communication, collaboration and productivity and creating a platform that brings together customers, experts, and employees together was only a matter of time for them.

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Today on the show, we welcome the “Dalai Lama of community,” David Spinks. David is the Founder and CEO of CMX – the world’s premier community for community professionals. David consults with top innovative companies on building community, such as SalesForce and Facebook, and is super passionate about seeing his own community succeed.

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Tessa Krissel is the Developer Outreach Manager at Pantheon and is incredible at creating normal users into passionate advocates. We broke down how she is building, scaling and measuring the growth of her community while making sure she is giving value back to that community.

Tessa took a standalone slack group and transformed it into the “Pantheon Heroes” which focus on giving back to and lifting up Pantheon’s community. She explained it’s all about relationships when it comes to developer outreach but building the platform for having that relationship is key since you can’t personally chat with 1000’s of people a day. Here is a breakdown of some of the most effective methods that Tessa used in her program to grow the community: 

User Missions- Each user decides how they want to contribute with “missions”, each “mission” is based around a certain area and members can suggest new ones that don’t exist yet. This gives each member a “role” essentially, whereas before you might not know what to post about you now have a topic to help take the mental load off of contributing.

Points- They have gamified their contributions by offering points to people who contribute to that community. The community can then use these points to buy things like shirts, pantheon sites, access to the team and more.

In terms of metrics, Tessa keeps a close eye on the Users, Missions, and Influence. More specifically she looks at For Users they look at both retention and participation in the Pantheon Heroes platform. Within the missions metric, they track the points-based system. Behind the scenes, they have values that associate to specific mission categories that help them better understand when missions are helping to grow revenue & retention on the Pantheon platform. And the final metric for the Heroes program is Influence. This metric digs into their influence outside of their communities. They work to break down how valuable it is to Pantheon is a user posts on a blog, social media or elsewhere about them. They don’t care how many followers you have, per se, they care more about the engagement of your followers & audience.

Key points in this episode

Tessa Krissel is the Developer Outreach Manager at Pantheon and is incredible at creating normal users into passionate advocates. We broke down how she is building, scaling and measuring the growth of her community while making sure she is giving value back to that community.

Tessa took a standalone slack group and transformed it into the “Pantheon Heroes” which focus on giving back to and lifting up Pantheon’s community. She explained it’s all about relationships when it comes to developer outreach but building the platform for having that relationship is key since you can’t personally chat with 1000’s of people a day. Here is a breakdown of some of the most effective methods that Tessa used in her program to grow the community: 

User Missions- Each user decides how they want to contribute with “missions”, each “mission” is based around a certain area and members can suggest new ones that don’t exist yet. This gives each member a “role” essentially, whereas before you might not know what to post about you now have a topic to help take the mental load off of contributing.

Points- They have gamified their contributions by offering points to people who contribute to that community. The community can then use these points to buy things like shirts, pantheon sites, access to the team and more.

In terms of metrics, Tessa keeps a close eye on the Users, Missions, and Influence. More specifically she looks at For Users they look at both retention and participation in the Pantheon Heroes platform. Within the missions metric, they track the points-based system. Behind the scenes, they have values that associate to specific mission categories that help them better understand when missions are helping to grow revenue & retention on the Pantheon platform. And the final metric for the Heroes program is Influence. This metric digs into their influence outside of their communities. They work to break down how valuable it is to Pantheon is a user posts on a blog, social media or elsewhere about them. They don’t care how many followers you have, per se, they care more about the engagement of your followers & audience.

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Customer to Customer marketing is still new, many are still breaking into this budding industry. That’s why we talked with Justina Fenberg who is a Community Manager at Digital Marketer. Justina herself recently broke into the Community Manager role so we got her take on how she got in.

Those who have “Community” in their title come from many places but one place is customer service. Justina was incredible in her role in customer service but found out that the “Community Manager” was a role and realized she could help customers at scale but still in a personalized way. She was then able to find Suzi Nelson who helped her realize she could break into community. Justina’s suggestion was to find a mentor in the space and get to know the community team or even community-minded people at your company.

Since she has gotten into the role one of the most powerful things she has found that community can do can turn a negative experience into a positive one. She shared how they had some marketing campaigns that were more general or going to people that it might not have been as relevant for. Being a marketing company the community asked why they didn’t have more segmentation in their emails. Then, a VP at Digital Marketer hopped in to address with honesty and transparency saying that they too are experimenting and learning the community was right in their suggested improvements. This really humanized the company and showed people that everyone has room to improve, Justina saw that people really appreciated the company responded inside the community the way they did.

Justina also shared the values that Digital Marketer has as a company and how they shape the community and create a great space for customers to learn. Their first core value is “Loving, Protecting and Respecting the Customer”. That leads to them realizing they needed a space not to sell more but to help, provide value and foster customer to customer connections.

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We talked with a community member to hear how he believes a company should build a community for developers instead of the community builder like we usually do. We wanted to hear from the source what he loves about communities so we talked to Karan Malhi who is Head of Product and Marketing at Datacoral.

He has been a member of the Apache community for a long time, he loves community because you are able to connect with people that do what he is doing and build on technologies he works on. The ability to give back and to learn is something that Karan loves about being a part of the Apache community and others like it.

One mistake he warned companies who want to build community is not to make it strictly about the product, sales and recruiting. The idea is to provide a space to connect and learn about how to become a better developer and help the ecosystem as a whole. He mentioned that you don’t even want to censor talk about other tools in the area because not only is that the natural conversation but the fact that there is no restriction on the content will lead developers to trust your brand.

Overall, Karan’s message is to make sure you are building a community that encourages the developers to work together and learn and they will naturally grow to discover your product and build a relationship with your brand.

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IndieHackers is a community that helps developers by sharing the strategies and even revenue numbers behind successful software projects. Courtland Allens is the founder of IndieHackers and joins us on today’s episode on how he built a community with tens of thousands of people from scratch.

To start Courtland got inspiration looking through the popular site Hacker News, a site run by startup incubator Y Combinator. He found a community called Nomad List that served as an inspiration, instead of showing you where to live Courtland’s community showed you how to build successful software projects.

Courtland built the site himself, he knew that having a unique site and a great user experience would stand out. Even before he finished building everything he had brilliant ways of testing what features people would want. For example, before he built a forum he put a tab that said “forum” and then had an email subscribe option to join the forum when it was live. That got enough traction for him to prioritize him building it out.

There were lots of things that didn’t scale but helped, when he was interviewing people for his blog he would send hundreds of cold emails every week to try get people to share how they built their business, with revenue numbers!

For people that are just starting their community, he shared that the work might seem daunting at first but once you get in and actually begin it’s not as hard as you think. Also, while it might seem like a lot of manual work that could be automated or outsourced the depth of understanding you will gain from being so in the weeds of the community, at least at the beginning, will help you, in the long run, know how to build and care for your community.

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With a decade in the game and an extremely sharp and strategic approach, Suzi Nelson is one of the best in the community industry. The main topic of conversation is something that not all community professionals love to talk about but can dramatically increase the resources your community program gets and help everyone at your company realize the value of your community, tying community back to sales.

 

The first step if you are starting a community from scratch and to help people realize the value is to find what part of the funnel needs the most help. What does that mean? Since the basic components of any sales funnel are awareness, consideration, closed/sale and retention/renewal those are the places you want to focus on. Once you have identified which part of the funnel figure out the metric that matters for that, you can talk with the sales and marketing department to find a better idea of that. For example, your company might want to keep customers longer so you can pick renewal rate and lifetime customer value as two metrics to affect. While tying back to metrics directly is always tricky you can tie into your companies CRM or at a minimum make sure you have those metrics before the community started so you can show a before and after.

 

Another key point she touched on was how to get community members to become your biggest advocates. The vast majority of people in your community are passive so the key is to help guide them on a journey to get them active. Suzi references the “Commitment Curve” famously created by Douglas Atkins which, put simply, says you need a series of tasks that get them more engaged until they are ready to help

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Today on the show we welcome Laura Nestler. We refer to Laura as the “community unicorn” as she is the Global Head of Community at Duolingo and spoke at Startup Grind’s Bevy summit earlier this year. If you haven’t already heard of DuoLingo, it is the world’s most popular place to learn a language – for free, from your phone. DuoLingo is currently reaching over 200 million users and one year ago, Laura did something that we have never seen done before. She decided that she wanted to get all of these DuoLingo users together… in person. 

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At the end of the day, the community is about culture. Webster defines community as “the people with common interests living in a particular area”. People come together because they have common interests and values which all combine to define the culture of that community.

Our guest for this episode, Kim Han, is the Global Head of Community at Consciousness Hacking which is a global community of people get together to become more mentally, emotionally and spiritually whole and build a future that helps us instead of harming us. Kim starts off by sharing her description of what Consciousness Hacking is and that each member has their own definition but they are brought together by their mission and values. 

She started running the San Francisco events and got a strong understanding of how the events are run and then iterated to start having other cities host events. When looking at whether or not to take someone on as a chapter director her number 1 criteria is if they are aligned as a person with their values and mission. 

Now that she has 50 cities and continues to organically grow she has and continues to put together a playbook of how local chapter directors should run their events. Kim shared that it’s important to keep that playbook iterative and not stagnant. As the community grows and changes the way chapter directors host events will evolve as well. Making sure that your playbook evolves with the community is crucial to making sure you continue to grow and serve the ambassadors who are hosting events for your brand.

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Udemy has over 24 million students and over 100,000 courses, James Dunbar who is the Senior Manager of Community Programs & Strategy at Udemy shared with us how they look at community and support their huge base of online instructors.

The instructors on Udemy are key to the company’s success, without incredible courses in areas where students want to learn students won’t use Udemy. That’s why they have focused a lot of their community efforts to support the instructors, that’s where James focuses his efforts.

What we’ve seen over all the episodes of The C2C Podcast is the most successful (and most funded) community programs do a great job of tying back to business goals. James shared a way of accomplishing this that we hadn’t heard of before which seemed like it could really be powerful. Most will find a way to tie back metrics like revenue, churn, customer support requests in whatever software is used to track those metrics. Of course, there are many variables that go into making those metrics improve so the needs of the sales, support and other departments aren’t always the same. James will get coffee with key people in those departments and ask them “What are some problems you are running into right now?” and see if the community can help.

He figured out after talking with the person who is running social that she needed help creating more content, James knew the community could help. He turned to the community to help create user-generated content and it was a huge success. This method is pretty manual but the brilliant part about it is it allows you to change your focus if a larger area of opportunity arises for the community to impact the company.

Another tactic that we talked about that we don’t normally cover is appointment content. This is anything that is scheduled like a live webinar or Q&A that is a great way to constantly activate the community. If it was just a video or helpful piece of content there is no urgency, the fact that it’s scheduled makes the community activate. James is someone who has worked at a 2 person startup and a 500 person company, community helps at every stage.

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So many successful companies found their success through their community like eBay, Airbnb and many more. Plato also relies on their community, Plato helps developing tech managers become better leaders, they do that through connecting members to mentors and providing continuous calls, AMA’s and feedback to make sure they are growing as a leader.

They conducted lots of user research to see what the community would want, what they found was that developing tech leaders wanted to connect with other tech leaders offline and online in a structured way. The format that works best for them is events that interview experts in the field and also had networking and breakout sessions where they could dive into deeper discussions. They call this the “Elevate Series”, while they are flying out to all the events currently they plan to build a playbook from what they learn and use that to scale the program with their community.

They look at several metrics from the product and the community that help drive their decisions. For every call that their members have with mentors, they ask for feedback to both improve their product and see what the community needs are. For their events specifically, they track both NPS (Net Promoter Score) of the events and the number of attendees to gauge the success of their events.

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Richard Millington is the Founder of FeverBee, FeverBee is a community consultancy company that has helped companies like Facebook, SAP, Lego and many more. He started his first online community in 1999 and is the author of Buzzing Communities and The Indispensable Community. Needless to say, he knows a thing or two about community!

 

Richard dove right into what communities should be doing today and what communities serve as a good example of what to do. He shared that since the industry has had some years to mature companies are now generally doing a good job of getting engagement in their communities but not a very good job of getting the value out of their communities. 

 

Two examples he shared were FitBit and Alteryx which are both doing a great job having the community support multiple goals within the company. There are so many areas the community can touch and improve like support, recruitment, product feedback, time to resolution, case studies, testimonials and so many more. 

 

Richard also touched on the fact that most brands overestimate just how much their community members want to be apart of the community. If you think about yourself how many branded communities are you apart of? Keeping that in mind, you want to build a community around a practical need, something that fulfills a need of the community. Just because you love a product that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will join a branded community, solve a problem they have and they will be more likely to join and participate. 

 

In the last section, we went into several social psychology strategies that Richard has used building communities. The first was the theory of self-determination which basically means the more you can get what you want out of the community of your own volition, not being sold, the more they will feel a sense of community. Richard also mentioned the “Sense of Community”, a research paper that outlines how to cultivate a sense of belonging that builds a community. Using all the strategies, metrics and material above has helped Richard and the FeverBee team grow some of the best online communities in the world. 

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eBay is one of the longest-running communities born out of the digital age. Luckily we got the chance to sit down with Alan Aisbitt who has been at eBay for over 9 years and has been a community manager since 2013.

 

Community is everything for eBay, it’s a pure marketplace that relies on their buyers and sellers which are the community members. Their C2C community has grown very organically because passionate sellers who want to meet other sellers in their area will host events in their city to help support the local community.

 

eBay knows that support the power members of your community is a smart thing to do so they keep tabs on cities that are gaining traction with their events and reach out to support them. They support them by providing content, news on product updates, swag or even eBay staff going on the road to meet the sellers.

 

As far as what they measure for success they look at a few metrics including unique visitors, overall growth of users, posts and levels of activity. One of the metrics that's unique to them is their “accepted solutions” and “kudos”, an “accepted solution” is when a user marks their question as solved and “kudos” is similar to likes on social media. With those metrics, they are able to see not just quantity but the quality of the activity that their community is putting out.

 

Of course, it’s always good to prove the worth of the community from as many angles and perspectives as possible. One way that eBay does this is through their “voice of the customer” report. They take an incredible story every week from one of the customers in their community and then turn that into a report that they send to senior leaders. Sharing these helps create meaningful change that the community team can then bring back to the community and show that their voices actually matters. Alan strongly suggested any community team create a report like this because it’s a great touchpoint from inside the company and great for the community as well.

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Karin Wolok is an expert at activating her community, she has a deep knowledge of what they need and what makes them tick. Graphs. Yes, graphs. Neo4j is a graph databasing company and work with eager community members all around the world who want to be apart of the community Karin has helped build.

There is something that Karin did that we have seen with many other communities like Docker and Startup Grind that have worked very well to activate your community. When you are running events with local volunteers you will never have 100% hosting events every month (we’ve seen 75% as a high mark for Startup Grind). It’s also seasonal as there are vacations, busy times for different industries ect. All that being said there is a very effective method for activating them in one month that Karin touches upon very creatively.

She realized that Leonhard Euler had a birthday in April and decided to build a campaign around it called Global Graph Celebration Day. She was able to activate 50+ cities to host events just by announcing it. She knows the Leonhard Euler is revered in her space and ignited her community into action!

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So many metrics, so little time! Luckily on this episode Jess Burnham from Unbounce breaks down for us what some of the key metrics and areas of impact community has. If you are in any way trying to show how valuable all the community work you do is this episode is a must!

 

Jess shares that while sign ups and total number of community members is good what you really want to track are ACTIVE members. For example, you have 10k community members but many are attendees at your events? You can easily get lost in the big vanity metrics and end up with almost no one actually engaging so focusing on those metrics makes sure you actually move the needle. In Jess’s case, she tracks the weekly active users (aka return visitors) on her forum.

 

She also mentions that product development is a huge area of impact that the community contributes to the company. Her top community members get direct access to alpha and beta features and give it thorough testing and share the positive and negative feedback that Jess relays back to the product team.

 

She also has created a group for the top 1%-3% of community members called “Unbounce Experts”. These are the people who are sharing feedback, helping other community members, sharing the product with potential customers and sharing on social. Jess knows it’s extremely important to engage and reward the “Unbounce Experts” so she gives them perks like a private slack channel, free tickets to their CTA Conference, access to the early features (mentioned above) and much more.

 

While she has made sure to track metrics and scale to 16k members she also knows that some parts of community are unscalable. She still has regular conversations with the “Unbounce Experts” and remembers fun facts about them that they appreciate. That’s the art of community, creating a system where the community can scale and grow itself while still engaging deeply and meaningfully.

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Creating a community with a focus on quality over quantity isn’t something all communities do but Underscore VC focuses on. We talked with Jenni Goodman on the show to hear how they have built a carefully curated community for their VC firm that serves the Boston area.

It's called the “Core Community” which is made up of investors, advisors, and founders that Underscore connects together to so they can support each other. She makes a great point in the episode that by focusing on getting quality over quantity she has members who refer each other to the community.

They have tried many different types of events and have found that the best format for them have been roundtable dinners. They found that this lead to the best conversations with around 8-12 attendees at the event.

They also have an extremely strong incentive for their “Core Partners”- giving them shares in the companies they work with. That a great way for them to keep people engaged, finding new community members as well as helping companies in their portfolio.

The most powerful thing about their community is that while they have a small staff, roughly 70%-80% of their portfolio members have come from their community. Even if you have a large firm people only have so many people in their networks but a community never has to stop growing!

 

 

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Today on the show, we welcome Brent Messenger, the Global Head of Community for Fiverr. If you haven’t already heard of Fiver, it is the world’s largest marketplace for creative and digital services. Brent has also worked for the 2008 Obama for America presidential campaign and has consulted with some of the most innovative companies in the world, such as Lyft, AirBnb and SolarCity.

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Derek sat down with 3 of the best community builders in the world to talk about how they built their communities. The guests were Elizabeth Kinsey (Developer Marketing Manager at Slack), Leslie Lee (Senior Director, Customer Engagement at Atlassian) and Erica Kuhl (VP of Community at Salesforce).

They talked about how they got started and got the initial buy-in to create the program, what strategy they used to gain traction and get people to their events and how they were able to measure their success for themselves and to prove value to the C-Suite. Here are some of the top tidbits from each of our guests.

 

Elizabeth Kinsey (Developer Marketing Manager at Slack)

(starts at 15:21)

Not only did Elizabeth build community with the people attending her events at Branch Metrics but also she did that with the panelists who spoke. She focused on the speakers being extremely knowledgeable in the space to provide a lot of value and being very diverse to show the attendees that the community was like them.

That went a long way in both building the brand and setting the expectation that the events would always provide value and that they really cared about showing that anyone no matter their background could attend the events.

 

Leslie Lee (Senior Director, Customer Engagement at Atlassian)

(start at 12:24)

Atlassian is invested in getting feedback from their users and get NPS (net promoter scores) from their users, knowing this Leslie and her team measured NPS on customers who attended community events and didn’t. They found strong correlation with that showed NPS was higher when customers attended community events.

 

Erica Kuhl (VP of Community at Salesforce)

(starts at 10:30)

Instead of assuming what the community what Erica asked the community “What do you want?”. The answer she got was that they wanted to get connected to each other and get connected and become apart of the brand. The ability to put Salesforce on Linkedin, featuring them at their Dreamforce conference was extremely meaningful and motivating for them.

 

(starts at 18:18)

Erica knew that the future of community would be data-driven so she decided to attach the community metrics with the top 4 business metrics that Salesforce had which were: Pipeline, ACV (Average Contract Value), Adoption and Attrition. By doing that she was able to prove that the already beloved community was irreplaceable to the business.

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Today’s episode is short and sweet! We have announced that Bevy Labs has acquired CMX, which is the premier community for community professionals. Bevy and CMX have been working together for a couple of years now, and have worked together on a lot of projects in the community industry. In today’s episode, CEO, Derek Anderson, will be talking with the CMX CEO, David Spinks, about what the acquisition means for both companies, how Bevy is going to support the CMX community, and how Bevy and CMX are going to be partnering together to help build this incredible new industry.

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Welcome back to the C2C Podcast. Our guest today it Brian Brannon, who is currently a Corporate Marketing Manager over at Gainsight, the leading customer success platform. In his role, Brian develops the Gainsight brand's narrative in order to better connect with their customers, investors, and the public.

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Today on the show, we welcome Patrick Hill, a Community Manager at Sketch. If you haven’t already heard of Sketch, it has skyrocketed to become a staple in the creative community. They doubled down and invested in their in-person communities. In this episode, Patrick shares how building a community is a great way to create a space for yourself within your market and differentiate yourself.

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On today’s episode, we hear from Kobie Fuller, who is a general partner at Upfront Ventures, the largest venture fund in Los Angeles that focuses on investing in software and consumer product companies. Previously, Kobie worked at Accel Ventures and was CMO at REVOLVE, one of the largest fashion e­commerce companies in Los Angeles.

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Today on the show we welcome Elizabeth Kinsey, the Marketing Director at Branch Metrics. Branch Metrics is the mobile marketing and linking platform that powers companies like AirBnb, Target and many others.

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Today on the show, we welcome the “Dalai Lama of community,” David Spinks. David is the Founder and CEO of CMX – the world’s premier community for community professionals. David consults with top innovative companies on building community, such as SalesForce and Facebook, and is super passionate about seeing his own community succeed.

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Today on the show we welcome your very own host, Derek Anderson. Derek is the CEO and Cofounder of Startup Grind, which is one of the largest communities for entrepreneurs in the world, with over 400 chapters in 100 countries.

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Today on the show, we welcome Brent Messenger, the Global Head of Community for Fiverr. If you haven’t already heard of Fiver, it is the world’s largest marketplace for creative and digital services. Brent has also worked for the 2008 Obama for America presidential campaign and has consulted with some of the most innovative companies in the world, such as Lyft, AirBnb and SolarCity.

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Today on the show we welcome Laura Nestler. We refer to Laura as the “community unicorn” as she is the Global Head of Community at DuoLingo and spoke at Startup Grind’s Bevy summit earlier this year. If you haven’t already heard of DuoLingo, it is the world’s most popular place to learn a language – for free, from your phone. DuoLingo is currently reaching over 200 million users and one year ago, Laura did something that we have never seen done before. She decided that she wanted to get all of these DuoLingo users together… in person. 

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Welcome to the C2C Podcast, a podcast dedicated to sharing from the best the world has to offer on all of the great opportunities inside customer to customer marketing. Tune in as host, Derek Anderson, explains what this is all about and how they learned that the most powerful marketing tool of all time is your customers!

Essentially, customer to customer marketing is using your biggest advocates, giving them a platform, and empowering them to be successful. In 2010, Derek held his first event and that one event turned into Startup Grind, a global community for entrepreneurs that has now held over 7,000 events for over 250,000 people! They went on to build an internal tool to run those events and build an incredible community, in the end solving a huge problem for amazing companies like Fiverr, Duolingo, and many more. Inside the coming episodes of this show you will get the chance to hear from these companies because they are running some of the biggest communities in the world today.

This space is still so new, and there is so much left to learn! That is where the C2C Podcast comes it. So tune in for all this and more!

 

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Startup Grind Website – https://www.startupgrind.com/

Startup Grind Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/startup/

Startup Grind Twitter – https://twitter.com/StartupGrind/

Startup Grind Facebook – https://web.facebook.com/StartupGrind

Bevy Labs – https://www.bevylabs.com/

Duolingo – https://www.duolingo.com/

Fiverr – https://www.fiverr.com/

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