B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast
B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast

Episode 1708 · 1 month ago

The Rise of Community and How to Build One, with Sara Pion

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode, Benji talks to Sara Pion, Senior Growth Manager at Voiceflow.

B2B businesses hope to create a strong spirit of community with their clients and customers. However, this is far easier said than done. Voiceflow both built and migrated a large community of users and today Sara shares what she's learned through this process.

Conversations from the front lines and marketing. This is be tob growth, coming to you from just outside Austin, Texas. I'm your host, Benjie Block, and joining me from Louisville, Kentucky, our creative content lead, Emily Brady, and in Nashville, Tennessee our director growth here at sweet fish, Dan Sanchez. Welcome in to the show and here about ten minutes you're going to hear a conversation that I did with Sarah. She's the senior growth manager over at voice flow. We talk a lot about community. Actually we're on a group call together where we were just talking about how you create community and foster community and she had so many good ideas that I was like we need to have her on b Tob Growth, and so I'm excited to share this one with all of you for we get there. You guys know, Monday's, Wednesday's Fridays, the three of us, Dan, Emily and I are here to do some show and tells talking about things we're seeing in and around marketing, and it's my turn today. So I kind of want to turn the tables on emily a little bit, because she posted about the return we've seen on our linkedin evangelist program. Emily, give us some context. It's been a year of really doing this thing. So maybe just a high level overview on what we've done and, like I mean, I guess congratulations. A year is is a long time and marketing world right. You've I know you've learned a lot from this. Yeah, thank you. Yeah, so that we've seen a lot of benefits from a program for our companies and also for our employees. And one of the things we've generated over three hundred Tho and revenue, and that's just what we were able to attribute. And hub spot. We had twenty, twenty plus team made team members go through the program and so we were able to help them grow and build their brands, which is really exciting. That's one of my favorite benefits of the program. And then also just another cool aside is like having invites to podcast because of the content we're posting, or some of gone on to get jobs outside of sweet fish that are really good because of what they've posted. So just a lot of cool and a lot of brand awareness, obviously in recognition for that. So those are results that we've seen. We're gonna have a lot of people like sort of all over the map with how they engage with Linkedin. So just talk a little bit about what this has looked like to get. When you say I mean helped twenty plus employees build and grow their personal brands. They those aren't all marketers, those aren't all people that might naturally just be like active on Linkedin. So talk about some of the inner workings, I guess, of what this program was and how it set people up to be so active over on the platform. Well, I mean the first step was creating a framework to make sure that we had a strategy in place that would make this thing go and like give it momentum and and then we on boarded whoever was interested. We had this open invitation and we just said, if anyone wants to be active on linkedn't build their brands, like we want to help you do that. And so we would on board people and help them flesh out their their content pillars. I like to ask them like what they're passionate about, knowledgeable about and curious about, and then from there, obviously something that's refined over time, but you need something, some sort of springboard, and so we talked about their personality as well as their content and just we give them training so they're confident posting, because a lot of people haven't posted ever on linked did and I hadn't either before I started this and it was kind of terrifying. So that's a huge part of it, is equipping employees and giving them that training and giving them the confidence to post. And we were really fortunate that we had Dan already had been posting on linked in for a long time, so he already had proved results and I think that just added to the excitement that our employees had of like, if Dan can have these results, then we can start working on this and see these as well. So that's how we got started with it. Yeah, Dan, I mean you've been on this for a while but also been alongside, you know, in Emily's journey over the last year. Would if, from your perspective, your vanae point some of the benefits you've seen, as this is kind of taken off for sweet fish and been a core part of our strategy. And I actually wasn't the first, that's say, James was the first, Logan was the second, but they were kind of going independently this program first started. In it they invited like just the leadership team to post, but of the whole leadership team, James and Logan included, they were the kind of the only ones already posting and I was brand new. I just been hired and threw me into the mix with a few others, and...

...of the few new others that I got added, I was pretty much the only one really posting other than like they were writing and posting, but like they weren't really engaging with it. They were just kind of checking off the box, but I was going all in. But the fact that James and Logan had already been there, had already created momentum, it made it so much easier for me to kind of like draft behind them. You know, if you're into like biking, you know how right behind him, to like draft to it's kind of what happened. Like they had already been before me and would honestly, if they commented on my my post, my post would get way more reach because they already had reach, which, if you don't know, and Linkedin comments are like tapping share. If you comment on someone's post, it's almost as if you had hit the share button. In fact, even more so, I think, then just tapping share. It goes out to all that person's or a lot of their friends, followers and people they're engaging with. So every single person you can get to comment ex boost your post. And James and Logan were commenting a lot of my post early on and because they already have momentum, we brought it with and we're able to accelerate my growth and reach within the platform and I'm like, oh my gosh, if we could scale this out and ad a couple more people and doing the same thing I've done, even if not to the same degree of intensity that I put it put into it, it would work. And that was kind of like the whole idea behind launching it, as can we do this more, and obviously we needed even more help doing it. With more people came more work, and that's why we brought emily full time on, because she was so good at helping with my work, my post, and James and logans that I'm like, let's let's do this even more, and it freaking work. I appreciate the variety in that. It wasn't like everyone has to do this one way, and we've, I mean you tried multiple things and I wonder, emily, like what have been as you've done this and tried to scale it and then we've gone through all these different seasons of it. Essentially, like, what have been some of the biggest challenges for you in doing this? And I know there's so many people that come to you with questions, like we're interested in it right, but like biting the bullet and actually doing it is pretty hard. So what are what were some of the biggest challenges you've kind of encountered over the last year? The biggest challenges are usually centered around getting buy in from either leadership or from your employees, and a lot of companies that I've talked to who have tried similar programs that's been true for them as well. And so I think again, we were just fortunate to have James and Dan and Logan already posting, but I think that's kind of a misconception, is that you have to get the CEO posting. That's obviously it's valuable, but I think really you just need a channel champion who is commit yeah, who's committed to Linkedin and who will help other people do it as well. And so you know, for us we hired me on. I'm not everyone's able to do that. But if you have a channel champion, that makes a huge difference and then that helps getting employees to buy in as well, because a lot of companies will try and give employees content to repost, but that just that's not a strategy. We've also read content. It's all ignored. That content here's to read it. Yeah, nobody wants to read it if it's not coming from a person, and then they usually don't engage at all on Linkedin. They post and ghosts. So I think that's important to recognize as that. Employees need training and they need so much more than just giving them content but giving them the ability to engage on linked in as well. HMM, yeah, because, I mean we've gone through some phases, even though you know you've always done the like what are you passionate about, and you try to hone it in on like the niche that the person that's posting wants to be involved in. But we've gone through seasons where it was like, okay, we're writing full out posts, all right, now we're giving ideas for topics that you can talk about. We've gone through we have a ton of people in this. Now we have a smaller group that's really thinking through who and how we're engaging. Like you've tried these different methods. Do you just feel like in different seasons it's worth trying different things, or do you feel like you now have an approach that you say, Hey, you should like, this is the way and you're pointing in a specific direction that you think people should try now? It definitely depends on the season. I know Dan and I, when this first started, our conversations usually were like, how do we motivate people to post, you know, like no one's posted this week. How do we motivate them? And there are several different ways to do it. I know that like refine labs as a game of fight their experience and that's brilliant or rewards or something like that. And I think for us that at the fundamental level it was giving people a permission to post about what they were interested in, and so that meant like posting about the things that they're passionate about again, but like also posting things in addition to posting things close to their role and giving value. So I think and I think it also became just like a collective fun thing, because we have a slack channel where we're all we were all sharing our our posts and like celebrating Lens and that kind of thing, and so that became just sort of a rallying cry that people gathered around, and now, since we've done it for a year, it's changed a...

...lot this last quarter, but it had we had enough momentum because people had been posting for one quarter, two quarters like after that, they just they had it. They knew what they were doing, unless they you know, we're new to the program, but those people were able to like carry them that momentum along and so that freed up a lot of time for me to focus on other things, to focus on creating things like monthly training or the editorial calendar, stuff like that. So it does depend on your seat, on your season. In the beginning it's a lot of like kind of hand holding and then once everyone's got it down, it's more big picture framework type stuff. All Right, last question that I have. But do you go in with like specific this is what a win looks like for the evangelist program like these are whether I mean the things we highlighted was followers. You talk about how many people we had in it. You talked about traffic. That was driven money. You know, three Hundred Eleven Tho in annual revenue directed directly attributed to Linkedin. where any of those like numbers clarified from the beginning, or did you go and going we just want exposure, we want you like what were the goals? Yeah, definitely, you know, exposure. Definitely wanted more brand awareness for the company, but also we promoted it as a benefit to our employees, to the as brand building, and so that was a big, a big motivator for us. I think as far as goals, those maybe we're too like really broad ones and we were able to zero in as we went along. But Dan Dan built the program before I came on, so I'd love to hear your thoughts on that. I think we'd been doing enough of those things to demonstrate that it worked and that it was actually measurable. Like people were coming in and telling us where'd you hear about us? I heard about you from linkedin. Sometimes it was specific people on Linkedin. So we knew it was working because that's where all the views were coming from. It's not like we could like technically track attribution, but like it was coming straight from their mouths. They knew where they came from. So I knew if we could just get more content posted, I mean I think it was a guess. It wasn't for for sure known, but it was a pretty safe assumption that if we can get more voices out there, because different people are going to have different personalities, different points of view and create more diversity of thought to attracted wide array of customers, that it was likely to work. And one so and they certainly did increase the reach. One thing that I wasn't that I didn't anticipate that it also did was increase the depth of which people would get sucked into like this sweet fish funnel just within Linkedin, because all of sudden, you know, we would start interacting with a certain account and then account would interact with maybe just me or maybe just logan or maybe just emily, but because they'd start engaging with one of us and we were engaging with all a sweet fish, all the sudden they'd start seeing multiple post from sweetfish and all of a sudden the whole feed was full of sweetfish people. And they could tell because all our profile photos have a matching ring color and we all have the same by line and are similar by line. That shows our the company's position and value proposition, that it just starts to create momentum and impressions of just value and good content and interesting people with interesting perspectives. So lots of people would get pulled down even farther because of the diversity of thought. Well, there's a lot there and if you have follow up questions, say reach out specifically to emily or to Dan on this topic, because they both been thinking about it. And Emily again, congrats on a year of this and know it's been a huge benefit to me come in on the team back in November and so many on our team. So I'm sure this is extremely valuable to our listeners, who are definitely thinking on on how they can be present on Linkedin as well. We're about to dive into a conversation I had with Sarah. She is the senior growth manager over at voice flow. I wanted to remind our audience of one thing. Throughout the month of May we are doing a survey here on be tob growth. Just takes less than five minutes but gives us an idea of what you like about the show right now, what we can cheek and continue to make better. Topics we can cover. That would hit home for you. So we will pay you twenty five dollars to fill it out. That is free money, essentially money. Twenty five bucks for less than five minutes of work. It is fully worth it. So go ahead and fill that out and you'll also be put in a drawing for a chance to win two hundred and fifty bucks. So let's jump in to my conversation with Sarah. Welcome back to be tob growth. Today I am joined by Sarah Pyon G is. This senior growth manager at voice flow. Sarah, welcome in to be to be growth. Thank you for having me. Yeah, it's going to be fun to draw on your expert TASA. Know you spent some time...

...at Alice and at drift as well. But I want to start us with a buzzword. In the buzz word is community. It's a hot topic and V to be and last time I checked, I think everybody wants to have one. So I you and I. That's kind of and actually how we initially connected. We were on a marketing squad called together just like this pop up zoom, called Zoom Call, with people that were curious, specifically marketers that were curious about this and you were saying a bunch of stuff that I was like, I want to just jump on a separate call Sara and I want to pick her brain on this, and we kind of did that and then I'm like all right, let's let's jump on an episode. Talk to me a little bit about what it was that initially prompted your passion around community and why your head is sort of in that space. Yeah, I think community was always implied by a lot of the the work that I did in my last two roles at drift and Alice. At drift I started in support, so I just had a very high touch with a lot of drift customers and up until I left, if there were something like there were still some customers where if they came into chat like I would hop in and talk to them like they were they were my people, I was like, Oh yeah, just like shoot him over to me, be happy to chat with them. And also I got to be involved in a lot of like pre and postale conversations because I was the one leveraging drift for drift, so I was like customer number one in a sense, and I loved having that proximity to customers, to get a better understanding of like their thought process with a tool and how they would use it and then have that sort of imply the work that I do and I was I was doing customer marketing when I was at Alice, so I got to have that same sort of proximity the customers, personal relationships with customers, but voice flow was the the company that had built this this mote of a community around themselves before I got here, and so I was really excited because I think having that personal connection with customers just gives you really great product insight but also gives you like free marketing copywriting at all times, just taking the customers words that they're saying and using that and leveraging that and internal conversations and external conversation. So I was really excited to join a company and be a part of building and fostering and engaging a really tight knit community that already existed, and so that's one of my main like focus areas at voice will. Yeah, it's school that you bring in experience where it's like some level of customer in like community engagement has been across three companies, because you've seen it from multiple different angles. I know with voice flow. Specifically, that occupies an interesting space because you have this large community and then you're feeling this tension that we'll talk about with this need to migrate and like we need a more capable platform and how do we actually engage with and do this in the right way? What were you guys experiencing and talk to me a little bit about what prompted the internal conversations and the tension in the need to migrate. Yeah, I think as is our product evolved and as our ICP evolved, we realize that if we were ever going to have like an enterprise motion associated with our our tool, which like we have a dual go to market function where we have a fremium product but we also sell into an enterprise, a lot of enterprise employees are people, yes, but they can't generally log into a social network platform like facebook, like from their work computer. It's not always a platform that's just like white listed, essentially for customers. And we also wanted to have better recognition within our community and didn't have that in facebook. We didn't own any of the customer data, we weren't able to recognize people in the way that we wanted and we could only have like one never ending updating news feed of conversations. We couldn't split off any sort of conversation or try to initiate any smaller group conversations, which I think is like where the power of community really comes in, is being able to facilitate small, like minded groups of people to have a conversation and connect organically, but also, like, with your with your help, and facebook was really the platform for us to do that. We had no way of getting people back into the community since we didn't own any of that data. We couldn't, you know, pull a list of people who were in the facebook community and send them updates in terms of what was happening, and we didn't just want to send all of our all of our sign ups like a weekly news letter. And what was happening in the community is they couldn't even act sess it because it was behind a firewall or something like that. So that was kind of the inflection point of we need to start to really own where the conversation is happening and like have a have a better definition for what kinds of conversations we want to have happen within our community, because voice, well as a product, has evolved so much over the last three years, where initially it was first just to build Alexa and Google skills, which has a very specific audience type, but has evolved into not only election Google but...

...being able to facilitate like chat bought conversations, in car assistance, in toys, like voice activated toys, website chat bots, any sort of medium where you're having a conversation. And so for that the the community was highly focused on election Google only. So we didn't want our our professional users to feel left out, but we didn't want the Alexa and Google builders to feel like they didn't have a place in the community anymore, and so that's kind of all together created this like big need, both internally and within the community, to have a new place to have different topics of conversation happening simultaneously. There's a lot that I want to go into in the what you guys landed on and how you got there, but I want to ask a couple questions specifically on what you think brought the initial success, because we're talking about a large community, eight thousand members. That's not a small thing. Obviously to build that takes time, and I like that you mentioned the evolution of it, as well the Alexa and Google skills, and in the need for like how do we transform this, because now we got a bunch of people here that are here for different reasons. But why do you think sparked the initial success of the facebook? Like take me back to are rewind real quick. Yeah, so voice flow in and of itself started as first a place where parents could design stories for their kids that would like, that would speak these stories and they were going to live on Alexa. And the CO founders realize that trying to build an Alexa skill without like a visual user interface tool was really hard because Amazon didn't make it easy and it was very code heavy and even within the code like Alexa developer console itself, it was very unintuitive. And so they created this this tool that they called story flow that was to build these stories, but they themselves were not parents so interested, which is, you know, fair. So they wanted to bring together their customers to get feedback immediately on okay, like what would you expect in a verbal storytelling tool or assistant? Let's bring a lot of parents together, and we're parents were living at that time was voice. Was Voice, was facebook. So they created a facebook group and had a really strong, like back and forth communication with these parents that would help basically builds the foundation of what voice flow is today, because they were iterating on this like visual interface that they were using just to like build their stories, but realize that could be a product in and of itself. And so from there the Alexea and Google market was was budding and really exciting and a lot of people were really enthusiastic about building on Alexa and Google, but there were there wasn't like a place where they could all come together and kind of like nerd out about it, and so it kind of was started out of necessity in that they're the founders, were building this thing that a lot of people were going to be really excited about, but they didn't have a place to be excited about it all together. So they kind of joined a lot of groups that were like developer specific for Alexa and Google and kind of set the foundation of like Hey, if we were to build a tool that helped you, in a visual manner, create alex and Google skills, would you guys want to join that? Would you guys want to use that? And everyone was like yes, absolutely, so that's they saw the initial success with story flow, which was the the inception of voice flow, and so they just maintained that model as the product evolved and built a really strong mode around themselves when it came to the user base that was excited and passionate about the product and the solution that they got to get to when they use the product as well. So the community wasn't just a place to ask support questions, but it was a place where you could tell people about the skill that you just built that you could get some more usage. It was a place where you could share cool tips on like how you got your assistant to do x, Y and Z thing, and it was like really just like a great place for knowledge sharing. It's unique to some marketers who are listening to this going like we're all put maybe trying to create slightly different communities. What I think is a specific advantage to this is that you're all able to build something and go like Hey, look what I built, and then in that you don't just have the someone that's facilitating community that's having to figure out how do I get people engaged? It's like such a natural thing that I think we can kind of all learn from. I wonder as the number of people grew within that group, did you guys sense any tensions of like, okay, we have a lot of people but not as much engagement, and like how did you go about moderating that and keeping people sort of engaged? Or it was that never even worried because people were kind of creating them? Yeah, engagement was always built into how we structured the...

...community, because we call ourselves like a community led growth pro platform. We Are Road Map has been determined by our community since our inception, and so our CEO used to record weekly vlogs of himself. They were like thirty minutes long of just him with the founding team and some of the early team, just like what are we working on this week, what's going on in the voice flow sphere, talking to people who were building the product in real time and then posting that in the community to basically keep people updated in like build out loud. A lot of people on social media we'll talk about building out loud when it comes to their products, and we kind of did that, but within the confines of our community. So they felt like they had some exclusive look into the product, that they were sort of like the first customers to be and so in that sense, engagement was built into the founding of the community and the growth of the community. It started to taper off for sure on the voice flow side because the team was growing, priorities were shifting, there were just fewer hands on deck that were a hundred percent focused on the community. But that's kind of when the community started to moderate itself, which was really cool to see, where we had people trouble shooting in the comments, we had people continuing to share what they were working on, we had people going out of their way to talk about how they solve the specific problem, and that's when we knew that this community was definitely something special. But we wanted to make sure that they they still felt it, and that was kind of the inflection point that I came on to voice flow, where it was self. It was a self moderating community. It was maybe not daily engagement, but definitely a weekly engagement, and we wanted our community members to feel like they got that exclusive access to the voicebook voice flow team once again, and that's that's when migration conversation started to happen and when we started to think about like actual programming on the community side of how are we going to engage now that the persona has shifted a little bit? Hmm, okay, so let's go there a little bit. You kind of grow, grow, grow, and then, as we kind of mentioned, it's time for something new. So what were you looking for in this new community platform? Because I think they're only people that go. I've thought about a facebook group and now there's probably less thinking that way, but it's like Linkedin has some options with some bad features. People are trying slack channels and whatever it is. So what were you looking for? Yeah, we were looking for a community that we could own, we could white list, so that people could easily remember how to find it if we were going to remove ourselves from social media, which is really hard because that's in people's like regular notification checking habits. We wanted to make sure that it was an easy place to find and so, in that sense, we weren't sure that slack communities were going to be like the best channel for us. A lot of our professional users are on Linkedin, for sure, but we still have a lot of students who use our platform and a lot of individual builders who use our platform, and so we didn't want to just move it on to a professional platform where the group functionality is quite for and so we started looking at like proper community platforms and we landed on one called circle for a few reasons, in that we could white list the domain, we could add as many user tags or user badges is as we wanted and automate the application of applying those badges so that when you reach US finite milestone, you do something, you get a badge and then you get a little personalized message being like Hey, congrats, you've got the showcase or badge because you shared three of your projects in the showcase space. Congrats to you. Here's to the next one something, something along those lines, where we with some of the default community platforms that we see right now, which are slack Linkedin facebook, you don't really get that level of automation that still feels personal. And so whenever anyone joins our community, they get a personal DM from me. They have is a three Edm like kind of drip sequence throughout your first twelve days of don't forget to turn your notifications. What are you working on right now? Can I help you with anything? Can I shit? Can we are you comfortable with us sharing that in specific channels and people respond to those dams all the time. They don't know that they're automated. So it feels like a personal touch from us to the communities that we maintain a level of brand engage want that we had before,...

...but we do it a little bit more scale. HMM, okay, so I like that. I think that's always going to be a tension right as we scale, like how do we continue the personalized touch? I think even badges makes sense. That something that we probably all struggle with, like how do we honor those that are really engaged here, and it's hard to do on certain platforms. I wonder, like do you have some core foundations to the way that this community kind of functions in inter acts, like are there? You're taking yourself out of some things right, like by automating, but in other ways, like do you have moderators or leaders prompting interaction, or is that just mostly at this Point We got a well oiled machine and people are kind of automatically posting and the communities just going yeah, we have a few internal moderators to start on our CS team, on our product team and within the marketing team as well, to facilitate different kinds of conversations. We have a product advocate who we hired from the community, so everyone already knows his name, everyone already knows me go, but he also has moderator privileges where he can, you know, make sure that he's facilitating conversations around the area of expertise that he has. But some of the founding principles that we made sure were defined before we did any sort of migration. If we were going to basically create this new community, that was where this like the source of truth of community for voice what was going to live was is it's going to be a community of practice or community of products? Is this for any conversation designer or is this only for conversation centers who use voice flow? And so that delineation we made before we did any sort of migration. And we are a community of product. So if you are in our community, you are you have used voice flow, and that made it easier to then focus programming conversations and who can join an easier conversation and who can moderate an easier conversation. Because was there was there debate? They're like, did you guys go back and forth on practice your product or did it feel pretty easy? It felt pretty easy. We did a procons list, essentially of like if we had a community of practice, what would the pros and cons look like? Food of community of product, but with the pros and cons look like. And if we as a company had a community of practice but all of the announcements were voice flow specific product features, it would feel very self serving and that wouldn't be the kind of vitual conversations we would want to set an example for within the community. And so by no means is our community a content distribution channel. I have a whole lot of hot takes about that. But it is a place where you can have direct access to the voice flow team as a voice flow user, and I think that's part of the benefit to being a part of it when you are a member or when you are a user of the product, is that you have all of this historical knowledge from other users, as well as the CEO, who posts our post and asks for product feedback on a quarterly basis. And so that was like one of the the set found founding principles of okay, are we going to change up the way that we position this community? Are we going to let any conversations that are in as sort of a prospecting technique, and the answer is no. It's more so a great place to have customer engagement where we can set up private spaces for customers to have group conversations with their own colleagues, but then also have the larger community to network and ask their their questions to people who may have also done this before. So that was those were the kind of principles that we look to. Of We want to have a community that allows us to recognize and celebrate our users and have this community be for our users. Okay, so let me ask you a question there. Then you address one of the first things that kind of came to my mind, which is you you want to go to the product side, but you also want to let people know this isn't just going to be an announcement board and, like us, showing off the product all the time. I appreciate that. My second kind of thought would be you're losing out on obviously some that in practice are your ideal customer, but you're kind of going we're going to specifically focus. So was what are do you see any cons now looking at going the product route? I don't want to put you on the spot because obviously you like the community you've created, but like, let's just use it as a thought exercise for a second. has there been any like it would have been we would have had value if we had gone the practice route or winder we thoughts center. I think what's valuable about the way that we decided to host the community was that it wasn't a slack group that you had to be invited into. It's community to voice photocom anyone can go to that url right now and see every conversation that's happening within the community. They themselves can sign up and post, and so, from a prospect perspective, we do have a lot of prospects who, a are within a trial or like...

...in the sales process, who are just so freaking pumped about this world of conversation design where if you sign up for the free product, you can join the like the community will be applicable to you, and so it's there is a really low barrier to entry in that sense, where all of the content is searchable both inside the community and like Seo optimized for Google and open so that if you do want to just be a lurker like you can go and you can lurk, and so in that sense it helps so that sales teams can't, like our sales team, can point to it and say look, this is a really active community. These are the kinds of conversations that you could be actively participating in. You can join it right now if you want and get an inside look at what it is like to be a voice flote customer and get this additional layer of support alongside your CSM and your and your account manager. So in that sense it helps later on in the sales cycle or even middle of the funnel, of people have really specific questions about voice while functionality and conversations within the community pop up, they see that firsthand that there is this additional support layer to being a product user, regardless of if you pay us or not, because anyone can join the community. So hey be to be gross listeners. We want to hear from you. In fact, we will pay you for it. Just head over to B TOB growth podcom and complete a short survey about the show to enter for a chance to win two hundred and fifty dollars plus. The first fifty participants will receive twenty five dollars as our way of saying thank you so much one more time. That's be tob growth podcom, letter B number two letter be growth podcom. One entry per person must be an active listener of the show to enter and look forward to hearing from you. They see that firsthand, that there is this additional support layer to being a product user, regardless of if you pay us or not, because anyone can join the community. That's a really interesting way of being essentially ungated dated. At the same time, I love that it's optimized. I love that it's searchable. Those are things that we're all thinking about right you're kind of getting these the commonly asked questions out of the way, like people can still find the answers, but at the same time there's this value add of actually being in the community and I think that gives us a lot of like food for thought. I wonder anything else that you want to bring to the surface here on like how this community functions before I go? All Right, Sarah, tell some like practical takeaways for those of us that are trying to build communities, because we're going to go there as we wrap up. But anything else that kind of paints the full picture of what you what you all have create. Yeah, I think we've moved a little bit further away from from the weekly vlogs from the CEO, but instead how we drive engagement is through a monthly event calendar. So we have the platform that we found also ended up having live streaming capabilities within it, so we can go live at any moment, but we can also schedule live streams for community specific events, and that's how we've created exclusivity within the community itself of join this for community get access to these events, and the events themselves have been really fun and successful. We do amased with customers and we do live bought teardowns. So we'll choose a prospect, usually who has a conversational experience. We will let him know what's working, let him know what we would do differently, and then rebuild their conversational experience live on on the teardown as well, so that not only do the people who are tuning in get to see how we would use the product, but then I get to pass off a deck and a demo project to the sales up to be like here you go, here's some sales collateral. Yeah, hope you hope we close them Nice, kind of a two for one deal. But after those events we see a lot more people going out of their way to ask questions and engage within the community themselves. It's itself. So when we saw more professional users join the community, engagement was a little bit on the lower side and that in that segment, and so being a little bit more manual in terms of their engagement with like live events has helped increase the engagement of that persona and get get more people talking about their specific use cases and getting feedback from other members of the of the community that they know are facing similar issues to what they are internally or trying to solve similar problems within their own team structures. And so that's that's what we've done for community specific engagement. Is will send an invite to like our userbase, will do social pushes for these events,...

...but they are hosted with within the community itself. So it's also an acquisition tactic. Last we could even talk there on the monthly event calendar, because I think what you create around monthly events and like how you interact obviously as a key component of community for you guys. The tear down what a fantastic way of utilizing both the community and then on the backend, like sales, you're offering value by doing it that way. So I think that's a huge takeaway from this episode is how you guys are doing that side of things. Let's paint a picture real fast of what the migration actually like, what the results were, and then I'm just going to hit you with some questions as we wrap up on what you would do for creating community if you were somewhere else. Okay, let's first just say you had a group of eight thousand the migration. Did you lose a bunch of people? What were the results of that like now, being able to see it in hindsight? Yeah, so we had a group of eight thousand and, to be candid, are our transition. Our migration is still ongoing. So there was going to be like a date where we officially are like no more facebook group. Will change the name of the group to say outdated, go here, so that when people do habitually go to that link, they are met with the instruction to not anymore. But we we took our most active participants and we first had conversations with them about what they were missing from the existing community what they wanted to see from the community as well as we took users who had not joined the community and we got their feedback on what they would want from something like this and what they would look forward to in a new sort of place, and we that's that's how we got our first ten users to join this new community. We gave them all badges. They all have a little one next to their name as a founding member, and we ask them, you know who, or ten others, like who's one other person that you would like to have in this community? which feels a little puremody, but if we have active users, we want to ensure that we have as many active users as possible so we can build up density of conversation within the community itself. So we didn't only just have the facebook group, we also had a forum that was for our more technical developer users and in that sort of in that sense, we've we've taken a different approach where that community wasn't very active, but but it was very its skewed more technical, and so we worked with a develop our developer advocate, to beef up documentation, to beef up our like open source, Github repot and to start building out this components library of like re usable like codes, code blocks and API blocks that people can just insert into their projects. So it's a little bit more self serve on that side and they don't have to have as much conversation and back and forth as as they have right now. From a developer perspective, a lot of them just want to tinker and be self serves. So we're trying to make that content as easily to find as possible. But from a from a full migration standpoint, we were totally okay and understood that there would be attrition. About a thousand of our users, we imagine, were would will not be coming over to this new platform with us, which which is a pretty solid like seven thousand out of eight thousand people coming out, incredible, pretty cool, pretty cool with me. And so it's more so now about quality of conversation and making sure that this community isn't just look to as a secondary support channel but a conversation design resource, like a resource within the community itself. The space is still small and developing, so there aren't a lot of products that fall within this category and that's why we can be both a community of practice and product at the same time, in a sense of the content that we create. So yeah, Migracian is still is still ongoing, but we are expecting to see attrition, for sure, but still with a lot of people coming over to join us in the new platform. HMM. Okay, I love the way that you've talked about this today. I think already just in hearing the story and this maybe this is just my personality type, but I love hearing how people are doing their work and then it just internally, I'm internalizing it and turning it into what I would do in my situation. I don't even even like need Sarah to be like, here's the three things now that I would do, but I want to go there for a minute because and I don't need you to give me three things, I just need us to go if we dropped Sarah in somewhere else and she's thinking practice for product community and you're kind of left with this blank space that you're getting to create, I wonder if you've taken away something things from this situation, in...

...this migration and having to think about community at such depth that you feel like these are just things that stick with you, these are lessons you've learned that are going to be vital in any community you helped create in the future. Do you have some of those takeaways that you would maybe give us here as we start to wrap up? Yeah, I would say first, does the company have an existing community? And if they do, like totally different story. But if they don't, then first we're asking ourselves the question of do you need to have a like do you need to have a community at all? Is your product self serve enough? Do you have a really solid foundation of help Docs and tutorials and templates where people might not need to have a community of product, for example? Or is your market a little crowded and are there are a ton of of existing communities. I know marketing technology, for example, there are so many communities for marketers. I think if you want to build a community before joining any community that exists within the space that you want to build it in, you're missing out on on a good positioning statement for your community. I think the biggest thing is so many people want to own their community, but really they just want to have a distribution platform that they own with an audience that will listen to them, versus yeah, versus a place where people can have conversations, maybe about things that they dislike about your product, like to God forbid, but a place where there can be an open sort of dialog between all users of your product or all people within your market, as well as your company being there or not, like or not. You know, and so that that would be the first question I ask is, do you have one already and if you don't, doesn't need to exist. I think a lot of times community is a buzz word and marketers don't want to hear that their own community doesn't need to exist. But you need to understand if there's a gap that you're filling before you go there. I think secondarily, a lot of times companies who say that they want to a community don't hire the necessary resources that are needed to run a relief effective community. Like your social media manager is in a community manager, and either is your customer marketing manager, and either is your demand jet manager, like you need someone who is on your team who's willing to do the very manual work of talking to customers and then putting them into a place to make sure that they are talking amongths, some amongst themselves. Before you can automate anything. You can't just drop all of your customers into a selectionnel and be like you're in a community now discuss like that's not really how it works. And so in talking to some of my counterparts in marketing and talking about the work that it took to to build this platform and then my great people over, the eyes widen and people go, Oh God, that sounds like a lot of work and it's it's like yeah, of course, it's a full it's a job, it's someone it is someone's job. It's not someone's you know, three hours a week. It could be, it just won't. It won't move at the pace you probably want it to. And so, yeah, the first two things I would do is doesn't need to exist. How should it exist? Do we have the resources necessary to make sure that it can thrive? And then lastly, is just what are the customers want? What are the what do the potential community members want? What are they not getting right now, and having those one on one conversations and having a lot of them and seeing where the gaps are and where the commonalities come from so that you know that baseline. You need to have x, Y Z things baseline. For us, we knew we needed to have like a library of voiceful experts who were available to help you with your project, because we wanted to reinforce the work that they were doing and showcase them as as assets. We needed to have a badging system so that people who were active in the community could get recognized for their activity and we needed to have a place where we could split up the conversations in two different topics once we had density of conversation. If someone gets dropped into a community was like eighteen space channels and all of them are empty, they're not going to be super motivated to have conversation. So how could we build up density in two space channels first, until we knew that we needed to break off another another chunk of the audience that they could have their more in depth discussions and in a new space. So that was a lot, but try, I had to can condense it, and so you did. You did, and I think those are three really solid kind of questions to be thinking about. And just I mean, you're going to know if you have an existing community. But even if you didn't have, going back to your first point, even if you didn't have an existing community, you have people that interact with you and your what you guys are doing more than like, more than anything, that's where your community starts is that's the ECOS, that's a water you swimming. Those are the people that are interested. Like, just start there with those and...

...then and figure out what they like and what they don't like. I love that you said that. To like, what are they not like? And if we know that, man, how valuable is that information? It's sometimes way more valuable. And knowing that there's you have a bunch of raving fans. So okay, as we kind of come to a close, I want to end on a positive note here. When this is done right, there's obviously a ton of benefits. Leave us with some of the benefits you've seen, Sarah, from doing this and why you would be a huge community advocate, why this is something that has become a passion of yours. Yeah, first things first. It makes hiring really easy, especially on the product support side. Our Support Team in our product advocate came from the community. They were users first. They know the product probably better than us at this point, and so they also shared the passion of the vision and the future of the company as well, where we knew that bringing them on the training aspect wouldn't be hard, but more so like how can we, you know, like make sure that the don't work for your heroes type mentality didn't necessarily apply to voice flow. So how could we ensure that, even if you were coming from a different background but you came on to the support function, like how can we help your career grow? How can we make sure that you get the visibility that you wanted to other parts of the business? What have you always wondered about that you just had questions about from behind the scenes, and how can we expose you to that? And so I work really closely with our our customer support in our product advocate team to be like what, what did you think was going to happen and what happened, and did you like that and did you not like that? And what should we take into account when we have certain things like as a commute, as a former community and current community member, what was most important to you? So that feedback loop is so important and it's like such a cheek code because I have they have the inside knowledge, I have the inside knowledge. We're all benefiting, I would say, also because community is a lift, it is an effort. It is also not something that can be easily copied in a world where anyone can copy your product. They can't copy your brands, they can't copy how your customers feel about you. And so our mote for our business is our community first, and then you know the fact that we have a really complex and hard to copy product. Second, but it's complex and hard to copy because of the impact that that the community had on its development. So super beneficial in that sense. And then there's so much untapped potential to grow exponentially with a community. One Dream Project that I have is we're developing a voice flow course, so anyone can learn voice flow and be certified in voice flow, but we want our community members to then be certified teachers of voice flow so that they can go to their own communities, have a ton of people sign up, whether they're in their community library, their community classroom, their community whatever, and and start to facilitate the teaching of not only conversation design, but like conversation design using voice flow, so that there is like a network effect and exponential growth effect for people who get to be recognized at another higher level than just yeah, og user, like knows their stuff and now like teacher of voice flow and so do a lingo has a great model for that and I can't I that's that's a dream project for sure. I really want to do that. Nobody steal that first. Well, good luck, because now it's out there. So but, like you said, if it's you guys doing it in specifically use there, it's going to be different right than what other people do. I think that is a fantastic way to wrap this up. Is Community is one of those things that you can't just replicate. It's not a copy paste situation. It's the same as the personality of your brand, which we had some conversations around that recently here. I'll be to be growth. It's community and personality are things that people interact with. It's what it's the culture that you've created and cultivated. Really, I guess, whether you like it or not, your lack of community, your lack of personality, is also your brand. If you don't have it, it's still the way that people are going to perceive you. Oh, they don't have it, they don't put effort there. So that is a differentiator that I think we should be all focused on, and that's why, even though it's a buzz word. Like we said on the top, it's a necessary one at this point. It's something we should be thinking about, and so I would encourage our listeners to continue down that road and to be asking some of these really important questions, like do we need one? I think that's an important first question. But beyond that then, like what specific function is the serving and how are we really serving our customers ultimately, and those that could be customers, how are we serving them? Well? So, Sarah, thanks for taking time for being on B to be growth. Tell us a little bit about how we can connect with you, and I know we've been talking about voiceflow. Can all episode, but a little bit more...

...there as well. People want to connect, sure, yeah, I'm on twitter and Linkedin Sarah Pa no age and Sarah so sai a pio N. feel free to connect with me on either one. Pretty active on both. And then voice flow is a great graphic user interface for if you are designing any sort of conversation. So chatbots IV ours. So that's the that's those things where you call CPS and says press one for pharmacy, press two for whatever. That's an IP are. They're fun. If you want to build your own Alexa skill or Google skill for free. It's a really cool weekend activity with like kids. I'm gonna do that with my bookmend's younger sisters and yeah, real for you to just connect and ask any questions. I'm I'm always open to chat. Well, thanks for stopping by, BB growth. I know we learned a lot on community today from you and I know our listeners will reach out and would love to connect. So, for those that are listening and you haven't yet followed me to be grows, be sure to do that on whatever podcast player is of choice. We would love to stay connected to you and you can connect with me over on Linkedin as well. Talk about marketing business in life. Over there to search benchry Balk keep. You don't work that matters. Will be back real soon with another episode. Sarah, thanks for being on here today. If you enjoyed a day show, hit subscribe for more marketing goodness, and if you really enjoyed the day show, take a second to rate and review the podcast on the platform you're listening to it on right now. If you really really enjoyed this episode, share the love by texting you to a friend who would find it insightful thanks for listening and thanks for sharing.

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