CREATING RELATIONSHIPS WITH CONTENT, COMMUNITY & COMMERCE
Luke Buckle – Community Manager at Houzz
The intro for Luke’s talk was unpack the new model of community powered startups and the community management techniques they demand for set up and long-term success.
Houzz has become the largest online community of homeowners and professionals in the last 6 years, with 7 CMs across Europe and Asia. It is pitched as “a place to browse and save beautiful home photos. A place to find the right design and construction professionals. A place to connect with others who have been there too.” It is a blended community of B2B and B2C with public and private areas and is monetized through product sales.
I’m currently in the middle of a renovation project and love, love, love Houzz. It is an interesting model blending community (collaboration) and commerce.
I took two main points of interest from Luke’s talk. The first was the balance of marketing and community. At one stage Luke said “The route to a healthy discussion is littered with obstacles and distractions”.
That quote interested me. It was very tongue in cheek, but spoke to the issue that many CMs have when attempting to draw a line between marketing and community. On the one hand it is our job to protect our members from being pummelled with marketing messages, but on the other, we need money to survive. Houzz have managed to find a good balance. They use cute green price tags to indicate items that are for sale (see below). It doesn’t intrude on the community experience, and does actually add value (you don’t have to run around all over the internet looking for something similar, which tends to be how reno projects work).
“The one thing every collaboration needs is a common goal.”
The premise of Houzz is that you go through and choose images for your renovation or project, and then share them with other stakeholders (architect, builder, tradies, your partner etc). The model allows for public and private collaboration. Stepping out to collaborate (privately) doesn’t mean that people need to step away from the public forums. It enables a more focussed environment in which to get help, but the barriers for public collaboration are low. Reviews are public, so people can verify professionals but have to use the public forum for it.
The second thing that I was particularly interested in is how Luke ensures that enough activity goes on in the public facing areas, when people have the option to collaborate privately. His response was that the public forum is the only place to crowdsource ideas on a grand scale, which makes sense.
As an aside, I learned from Luke that Aussies and Kiwis swear more than the rest of the world.