Last week, PSFK and YouTube hosted a Good Ideas Salon on the topic of community in San Bruno CA, at YouTube headquarters. It was led by Mia Quagliarello (Product Marketing Manager – Community YouTube) who was joined by Jen Burton (Senior Community Manager, Digg), Heather Champ (Director of Community, Flickr) and Matthew Stinchcomb (VP – […]
It was led by Mia Quagliarello (Product Marketing Manager – Community YouTube) who was joined by Jen Burton (Senior Community Manager, Digg), Heather Champ (Director of Community, Flickr) and Matthew Stinchcomb (VP – Community, Etsy). They engaged in an in-depth discussion on the communities on their respective sites, and shared tips on building, managing, and harnessing the incredible power of vast online audiences.
You can watch the video of the panel in its entirety below, or simply read the suggested takeaways:
Community management is the new brand marketing
All of the panelists recognized their users not only as the ultimate ambassadors for their brands, but also as the engines behind them. “[Community] is the brand; it differentiates us,” said Matthew Stinchcomb of Etsy. “If not for the community, we’d be ‘bad eBay with bad search’.” He also mentioned that traditional advertising (banner ads, etc) were simply ineffective- 90% of Etsy’s advertising comes from word-of-mouth. Embrace and empower your users, and let them carry your messages for you.
Keep it real
Stay focused on your users’ best interests, stick to your core principles, and always be open and honest. “It’s important to be able to make bold decisions confidently,” said Flickr’s Heather Champ. “Sometimes, you know that you’re going to piss off a very vocal minority, but as long you have the vibrancy of the community in interest and are transparent about your vision of the long view, people stay happy.”
Don’t forget the real world
Online may be where most of the interactions are happening, but the real world is important, too: meetups are a good way for users to meet each other and for staff to meet users, and they can help to deflate any negativity that might persist in places like forums. While the majority of these physical gatherings are user-organized, all three sites partake in events big (Digg’s annual SXSW bash) and small (whenever she’s in a new city, Champ will go out shooting photographs with local Flickr users; she says it’s a great way to see a new town). Etsy even has a work space in its Brooklyn, NY, office for its community to create crafts together.
Set clear rules of engagement
If you’re trying to build a community from scratch, it’s important to let growth occur organically, but you’ve gotta have a solid framework while it happens. These usually come in the form of Community Guidelines, and they are a must-have for anyone looking to have passionate communities carry their products forward.
Matthew from Etsy discussed growing the community internationally, and kept mentioning the importance of “micro-communities”- and his hopes for strengthening them in the future by supplying users with tools that bring people with niche interests together (example: a group interested specifically in ceramics discussing topics/projects pertinent to them).