Driving Growth w/ @paulschneideraz – liveblog recap #tech10
Driving Growth: An Online Community Success Story with Ted Simpson & Paul Schneider of Socious
Higher Education User group went from 4,500 to 24, 580 in a few short years. This community has been around for about 7 years or so.
HEUG is a volunteer based organization, meaning lots of turnover, so they needed a content & communication plan. There will be a link to a template (will update).
The online community needed to be completely paid for by vendors. They needed participatory needs for vendors, but not let them control the conversation.
Paul Schneider admits, what they did was not Rocket Science. It’s about consistency, doing the same things over & over to reinforce the use of the community.
Little know fact: HEUG online was the first client of Socious.
10 Early Decisions they made that led to success:
1. Someone needs to be responsible
2. HEUG.Online WAS a destination – downloading files, etc. Everything went through the site.
3. Make information easy to find – easier said than done! Need to refine and redesign per user input.
4. No information publicly available – I have my own thoughts about this point… but they used Guest accounts as a way to find prospective members & market
5. Outpost sites were not a destination, but a marketing opportunity*, Paul cites the Marketing General report
6. Listservs Drove Growth – super smart tactic, use the tools they already ❤
7. Provide information in different formats for different generations – it’s all about integration!
8. No question left behind – while they were launching they would not have a question go unanswered, hard work, but proved very valuable for the growth of the community, this proved critically important for new members to HEUG, reminds me of Holly Ross talking about reciprocity yesterday…
9. Don’t wait for the member to come online – created “favorites”, like a personal dashboard, with notifications even similar to Google Alerts features, they also created a newsletter that tied to the community
10. Have a community manager – need ownership & responsibility, understand goals of organization, have mojo in the organization, they need to be proactive. They made sure this person has clout within the organization, they actually had a 360 view of the org unlike any other employee. (This is what a community manager SHOULD have, #justsayin)
*My point – if you aren’t providing value on your socialCRM posts, why do they exist in the first place? You have to think about the users first and then map that to your goals/objectives.
The community is really the center point of the organization. EVERYTHING goes through there.The organization is the same thing as the community, it is a digital reflection of the community. Now that’s commitment!
They tap into the passion of the volunteers to make it work.
They also noticed distinct communities within their membership – those that interact purely through email and those that avoid email altogether and use search as the way to find what they need. Focus on the experience of these people and figure out how to make it better for each group.
They also don’t use the names like “blogs”, they post the information and talk about it in a way that relates to what the member sees valuable.
On a side note: I’m noticing individuals in the audience saying “I think my members…” and then say something about what they think their members want… Have you ever asked them?
I threw out a question about SEO and for them it didn’t seem to be a concern because they have a finite list of potential members. They know who they are. Search really isn’t a relevant path for new members.
Content plan for success:
If you build it, they won’t come (initially)
What is a content plan?
It incorporates all the different aspects of the types of content.
It takes into account your organization – members, staff, volunteers.
It takes into account marketing channels (FB, Twitter, LI).
Do a content plan for every single day they want something to appear (every day for them).
The content plan allowed for a steady flow of content to avoid fatigue.
Their content plan is spreadsheet driven. He suggests starting with planning out 3 months, test/learn/extend. They also looked at their member’s content consumption and adjusted the plan.
I am impressed with Socious’ reporting functions as well. They have some really great data points, like how many emails individuals sent through the system, how many blog posts were created by the community, etc.
Also Paul has offered up the content plan download at www.socious.com/contentplan
Their non-dues revenue goes beyond just advertising. It balances allowing them to participate but keeping the members from feeling that the community over run with vendors. They decided any vendor benefit had to ALSO be a benefit for the member. They encourage vendors to blog, post their white papers, case studies, marketing materials, etc. They allow a tiered model of surveys for vendors, higher the level, the more surveys they are allowed. They allow vendors to email members (through the system) and reinforce that the reason the community exists is because of the vendors.
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