Does FeverBee Want You To Become "Part-Time Marketers"?

(Richard Millington) #1

Reading through the SPRINT Survey feedback, this comment - “I think FeverBee wants us to become part-time marketers” struck me as poignant.

My guess it refers to some of the outbound talks during SPRINT - probably the session on paid social, email marketing, and developing audience personas.

I’m keen to riff on it a little as it’s going to impact much of what we do going forward here.

No, we don’t want you to become part-time marketers.

We do want you to consider if there are principles from other fields that could be useful within your own work. Marketing (especially digital marketing) is certainly one of those fields.

One of the big challenges we face going forward is the era of cheap members, like the era of cheap credit, is coming to a close. First broadband penetration peaked in the Western world and then mobile gobbled up almost all the remaining time. We’re about to face a unique situation in the history of building communities; both the quantity of people and time which can be spend online has peaked (or come extremely close to it).

As a market matures, the competition for members will become ferocious (and more expensive). Traditional methods of creating content, directly inviting people to join, and improving your SEO won’t work so well. To stand out and attract a crowd your content will need to become better, your emails come from a trusted source, and SEO is anyone’s guess - but favours the most established. So if you run a big, well-established, community you might be fine. If you’re not, you need new tactics.

What we’re trying to do today is move us away from the traditional, repetitive, advice. We know we need to be nice to members and remove the bad stuff. Instead we want to ruthlessly borrow the best advice from other sectors and use it to build bigger, more engaged, and more effective, communities.

Paid social is a good example. Using retargeting, you can spend relatively inexpensive amounts (say £30) to get members who have participated or visited previously relevant discussions to participate in similar discussions. That has mind-blowing potential in turns of increasing activity, building habits, and perhaps even attracting newcomers. And we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of this. You can even get exactly the kind of members you want to join and grow much quicker.

Many of the other tips were like that. They weren’t in the community field yet, but they certainly should be within our toolkit soon if we want to survive and prevail out there.

What we’re likely to see in the next 3 to 6 months is a big focus on how we can use tips from other fields to drive higher levels of engagement. I think it’s going to be a fun time but also one where I suspect we’ll get a lot of “this isn’t what I do” messages. My response here is relatively simple. It’s not what we’ve done before, but it’s probably what we should begin doing now.

(Michel Vandermeulen) #2

Hello Richard,

I’m so thankful you bring back in the complexity of what it is to create, lead and foster a community.

I agree with you that a community is not only about marketing, it is also about people interested aside from being around your tools. It is about a coming together, a meeting, a convention, a kind of dating, and about bridging the difference between a eye and real person contact and a contact by other means (video, presentations, talk, internet,…) .It is first of all about creating a place that makes sense of being together in and where you want to be part of…, and secondly about real participation and collaboration, each of the participants form her of her well known own interest, and accepting that they have to learn something they’ll get from others (and they miss otherwise) and to give something in exchange. If that is what some people assimilate with “marketing”, well, that is OK for me, but a community is not the sum of data, analytics, marketing group typology (e.g. the millennials vs baby boomers eventually referred by some as dinosaurs). And of course it is about knowing the people you work with, as every manager has to do.

So here are some other inspirational fields I like to suggest:

  •      Teaching  theories (how do you teach-learn something that is accepted by your audience) in relation with personality development
  •      Group and social dynamics incl. trust, norms and intra-group communications and relations
  •      Personality characterization (e.g. used in recruiting and selection, thus in  HR-matters) and in particular  :  external oriented, internal oriented (or if you want : extraversion/introversion)
  •      Evidence based management validation methodology
  •      The GUI (IT interfacing tools))

PS. My apologies for my writing in English : it is not fluently as I would like it to be . I’m 68 years old, and it is my third language to write in.

(Gear Buzz) #3

Now we are all son’s of Buzzfeeds…

(Sarah Hawk) #4

And for that you have my respect! Thanks for your insights.

(Sarah Hawk) #5

I think this message is incredibly important. Without formally discussing it, Rich and I have been both travelling down this path over the last year – Rich because he runs a business, and for me it started when I was writing content for our Growth Club.

I think that ‘community’ has always been a fluid description for a set of skills and that shouldn’t change now, just because lots of people are doing it. It is a field that we’ve all been defining as we work in it, and it’s arrogant to think that we’ve perfected it. As with any role in technology, you have to move with the times (and the audience). If you turn into a ‘this isn’t what I do’ person, then how are you going to find a job when everyone else does it really well?

There are aspects of sales and marketing that I dislike viscerally, but there are other parts that I find interesting and challenging. I’m sure that will be the same for all of us. Look for the bits that are interesting, and build your niche around that

(Bas van Leeuwen) #6

As a tech-savvy, jack-of-all-trades type of person, I fully support the direction Feverbee estimates where the space is going. I think anyone working online should have a basic knowledge of things like SEO, Google Analytics, Social (paid or not).

That said, I do question if Feverbee should become the place to learn these techniques.
If I want to learn about SEO, I go to Moz
If I want to learn about inbound marketing, I go to HubSpot or
If I want to learn about Google Analytics, I go to Kissmetrics or Moz
If I want to learn about paid social, I go to marketingland or quicksprout

They are all strong in their (admittedly broader) niche and don’t venture too far from it mostly.

Please don’t turn Feverbee Experts into a place where we’ll discuss an extreme diversity of topics on a very basic level.

(Richard Millington) #7

It’s less about basic or advanced level and more about relevancy.

All of the sites above have a variety of advanced tips in their field.

And if people want to sift through them all to find the ones that are relevant to them, that’s great.

But my interest is more in picking out the relevant ones from these sites, our own experience, and your experience to get to the most relevant material for us.

Long-term, we’re shifting to be less about community and more about behavior change (which is where we see this sector going).

So material that supports that will be a big focus, that which doesn’t - probably won’t.

(Peter Furtado) #8

It may have been me who posted this question in my feedback.

I felt that much of the day was spent listening to marketers telling us the tricks of their trade. Of course it’s beneficial to learn about this, and communities can’t be managed in a market vacuum. As Richard says, you need to attract your audience, and hold their attention. But as Bas has commented, there are a lot of places I can go to learn this stuff. Hence my question.

I must declare my interest – I am a consultant helping organisations make business sense of networks and communities (both internal and external).

But I think there is a really interesting and important issue here, and it has been demonstrated in the approach Richard has taken in his opening post, and that of Hawk in hers. Let me explain.

Richard is concerned that community management may be on the decline (and that communities themselves may be suffering) because of the community mangers’ growing failure to get the attention of potential members. So he wants cty mgrs to build up their skill set to include marketing. To me, this implies that the community is a silo within the organisation, disconnected to the existing marketing team or its objective. So the cty mgr has to act on his/her own.

This may be appropriate for a stand-alone community – but can it make sense for a community in a larger organisation to be separate from customer service, or marketing (if it’s an external community), or from HR and internal comms (internal)?

To me, it makes more sense for the community manager to beg steal or borrow the professional skills of the marketers in their business than to try to copy or replace them. Hence my question.

But interestingly, Hawk’s comment was very different. She talks about community management as a skill set. A skill set isn’t a silo. To me, the future of community will be best assured by letting go of the silo, and welcoming the decline in the number of jobs. But this only works if it’s accompanied by the sense that the skill set can be shared right across the business.

To me, every marketing manager, HR, manager, customer service manager, sales manager, comms manager – you name it; every one of them needs to learn the skills of community management and see it as a natural part of management in the late 2010s. Who can teach them those skills? Us!

(Richard Millington) #9

I think that’s quite a leap in logic. I want community managers to use the best skills out there to build communities. If that overlaps with other fields, great. We have proven lesson to learn. I don’t think this implies a silo at all. Sometimes it will be, sometimes it won’t be.

An interesting question though is what is the opposite of a silo?

I’m willing to bet that every marketing, HR, PR, customer service, sales, and comms manager also thinks every other manager needs to learn marketing, HR, PR, customer service, sales, and comms :slightly_smiling:

I think this goes back to the post recently about discipline, profession, and industry. For the discipline, we need to improve our skillset. I don’t label those skills quite so much. If it helps, I’m swiping it for us. For the profession, we need to talk about the value of what we do and evolve our roles to align with the end result. For the industry, I think it’s probably gotten about as big as it’s going to get.

(Sarah Hawk) #10

Promise. :slightly_smiling:

There is no value in replicating what others do in their niches. I do think there is value (as Rich says) in figuring out and explaining the practicalities of applying that knowledge to our situation though. Some of the best life hacks are things that other people have been doing forever, in different contexts.