With the pandemic now behind us, community-oriented businesses are still trying to strike the right balance between traditional and virtual community build. It’s clear that there’s a renewed love and appreciation for in- person community experiences yet virtual is something we all need to embrace and enhance throughout our business models, no debate there.
One thing that all communities need to remember is that the best ones are those that are truly loved by their members. That’s the key to community success and longevity.
A great example of such a community is LeadDev. They’ve adopted a set of strategies that have allowed them to achieve exactly this. LeadDev’s community strategies were talked about in detail with Ruth Yarnit, its Founder and CEO and here we dive into the 4 different parts to their approach:
Have a strong purpose and shout about it.
It’s so important for your company to have a well publicised code of ethics and a clear purpose, as this can really help with how much your community can relate to and identify with your business.
For example, in the case of LeadDev, the pillar of their purpose is the principle of diversity and inclusion. They are constantly bringing in speakers from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds, to try and combat the homogeneity still seen in some parts of the tech industry.
This helped them build a community of members that feel they have a partner that gives them a voice and a platform and they in turn give love back to it with their attention, providing LeadDev not only with a strong group of supporters, fans and advocates but also a valuable resource from which they could get future speakers.
So your community purpose and code of ethics not only humanises your business and makes it more relatable, it can also bring other benefits.
Respect your audience
Most community-oriented businesses, especially those that are centered around running events, make the same mistake: they largely focus on their sponsors and their audience and members become secondary. At the end of the day, the audience is the group that you want to add value for and should be who you are primarily catering to.
LeadDev makes it very clear how much they value their audience and their time by following some nice and simple steps:
- Every speaker is compensated for their time, because they realise that not every speaker can afford to fund their own travel and take time off from work.
- Every writer and contributor on their website blog is compensated for their work, showing that LeadDev respects the fact that the writers are sharing valuable IP with them.
- There are certain subsidised tickets reserved for those attendees that might not be able to afford the full price of the conference
Simple steps like this can go a long way, and make the audience feel that they are respected and catered to. Everyone is a VIP in your B2B community. This has to be one of the basic foundations for creating a loved b2b community.
Don't think like an events business
LeadDev says that thinking like an events business can be quite limiting when you’re more than that - you could fall into the trap of believing that the only way to add value to your audience is through conducting events. Not true!
Instead, LeadDev now think of themselves as a media business, which gives them a lot more scope to provide value at every step of their audience's lifecycle. They are now running courses, live broacasts, virtual and physical events as well as a highly engaged content and video channel on youtube.
They realised in the past that conducting events a few times a year would not solve the year-round problems that the community has, so they upped their game and focused on more regular means of communication.
For example, LeadDev uses slack, twitter and email to engage and communicate with the community to help solve the problems they face.
To truly connect with your members and make them feel like you’re in it together, you need to let go of the boundaries that come with thinking like an exclusive events business.
Growth: The impact of pivoting to digital
Lastly, the pandemic has shown how businesses can leverage virtual to compliment their existing offering. LeadDev realised that in the virtual world, people didn’t want to sit on their laptops for 8-12 hours on end listening to speakers. Instead, they were looking for engagement with other community members, a space to exchange ideas, knowledge and troubleshoot. Even now as LeadDev is back running in-person events, they still plan to continue leveraging their online networks to run webinars and group discussions with their community.
Leveraging online channels is the easiest way for any business to exponentially grow the size and reach of their community. For LeadDev, they saw their audience grow from 1500 for in-person events to 12,000 for their virtual conferences, demonstrating just how powerful a digital model can be for the growth of your business.
So, what is community love?
The rules of engagement have changed, so how do you define and more specifically measure community love? Yes it can be pretty subjective, but we think there are some universal factors most communities take into account - above and beyond financials.
This is what community love means in our industry.
- Attention: For me this is the most valued commodity TODAY in the day and age of scrolling culture. How long can you keep someone's attention before they move on or switch off?
If you have your audience's attention you already won
- Engagement specifically creating, posting or participating in discussions
- Showing up to your events, your webinars, your polls, your surveys, your parties, your articles/posts.
- Appreciation via likes, shares and honest direct feedback
- Financial Reward via paid membership fees and/or event attendance (primarily but not exclusively) - and in some cases these are exceptionally well attended, to the point that some of them get sold out! That's love with a capital L.
LeadDev receives all of these from their audiences and they continue to listen to them, develop new products and ways to continuously provide value to them. It is a reciprocal exchange where everyone wins.
Listen to the full interview below, it will really be a good investment of your time.