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Your Email List Is Your Community, Here’s How to Engage Readers

Your Email List Is Your Community, Here’s How to Engage Readers

Do you have a large email list? If so, that’s where your community lives and it’s time to start thinking of them as the community they are. They are not simply people waiting to hear whatever content you push to them, they are your fans, your customers, and the foundation for your business. Even more, they are people and the more you work on building a relationship with them, the more your business will thrive for it. However, since an email community is different than the more common places where communities live such as forums, Facebook, Twitter, etc, I wanted to give you some advice for making the most of your email list. Here’s how to treat your email list like a community: Write About Them. Your email list can include a shoutout area for your readers to share their struggles, ask for advice, or talk about their breakthroughs. When you give them space to share you open it up to let them build more relationships. Hold Events. You can have a webinar, a Facebook live, a Twitter chat, or a Hangout on Google. These events can be regular, such as once a month, and can feature other readers from your email list sharing their expertise. For example, one of my favorite coaches is Jenn Scalia, she has a phenomenal Facebook group, email list, etc, she knows several wonderful coaches who specialize in different areas and sometimes she tells her community about them, what a wonderful way for us all to learn about other coaches and possibly share our own businesses someday. Share A Calendar of Events & News. There’s plenty of space in your newsletter to share upcoming events, allow members to submit their events (your approval is necessary) for the newsletter. Offer A Place To Followup Online. If you don’t have a site or Facebook group you can offer a Twitter hashtag for your community to connect. When you do this, ask people to share their comments, points of view, and favorite links with the hashtag, announce this in your newsletter and follow up by sharing in future editions what people have said.

Why Have An Email Community Instead Of A List?

It’s actually really simple, when you sign up for an email list and you receive newsletters all about the writer, it just isn’t as fun, engaging, or inclusive as when you join a group and actually get to connect with the owner and others they value. Think of it this way. Would you rather be invited to join Steve Job’s personal email list or get invited to a Facebook group of his closest business confidants you can connect with? Simple choice, right? Now offer that choice to your readers. I guarantee they are hoping to connect with you more, and build important relationships for their businesses and lives, give them the opportunity to do that with you and they’ll stick around a lot longer. As a reminder, think of what you’d like to get out of following someone online, and when you can provide that to your followers, they’ll appreciate it, and the results will speak for themselves.
10 Tips for Building & Managing Your Facebook Community

10 Tips for Building & Managing Your Facebook Community

It’s super easy to start your own Facebook group and since it is THE place to be online, why not? But once it’s started, how do you keep it active, keep people from leaving, and grow it for your business? That’s what I hope to share in this post.

Your New Facebook Group

If you’ve just started your Facebook group you need two things; people and content. Content is simple enough, you can find links, images, blog posts, products, etc and just share your comments. You can even just ask questions to get your members to comment.

AND…

People, on the other hand, that’s sometimes more difficult. You can find people in other groups, your email list, friends, social media sites, etc. I suggest having at least 3-4 when you start your group. And you’ll have to work hard to keep them interested and engaged. You see, people want to see that there are a lot of people in a group before they join, that shows that it is active. When they do join they expect interesting content. And, when they engage with the content, you MUST engage with them. For example, if you post a question about what books your members love, you better be ready to answer every single comment, uniquely, and with interest. This is more difficult in the beginning because a large percentage of your group won’t take action on what you share, so you JUMP on every opportunity to engage with a person possible. For new communities, I suggest actively recruiting new people to your group every day. As for content, add new content 1-3x per day, at least Mon-Fri. Answer EVERY Comment!!!

Your Established Facebook Group

Once you get a few comments on each of your posts, you are heading in the right direction. Don’t be surprised if this means you have 50-100 people. However, if you engage with these people personally in messenger as well, you’ll see they are much more likely to participate in the group conversation, so you may have as few as 10 people. At this point, it’s important to keep the momentum growing. Keep adding new members and make them feel personally important to the group. You’ll want to do this for as long as possible because a member that feels important to your community will stick around longer. Keep adding unique content, but plan it in advance. You can plan ahead at any time and you can spontaneously add additional content, but the important point is to make sure there are no holes in your strategy. Recruit an additional admin. Since people love to get immediate responses, it helps to have someone who can more closely monitor for comments and new applications. Set a schedule. Check in with your group at least twice a day. While an additional admin will be able to keep things running in your absence, your group is there for YOU. They want a piece of you, your brilliance, your expertise, your knowledge, so you must deliver.

Advanced Tips for Facebook Group Management

Now that you are adding new members regularly and (more importantly) keeping them engaged with content, it’s time to start focusing on those business results you need so here are my favorite tips to bring it to the next level. Collect Email Addresses. When a new member applies, use the question option and ask them for their email address. You can easily add it to MailChimp to start building your own email list. (It’s free). Make Sure Members Feel At Home. I’ve actually joined groups where only the admin (a digital course coach) was the only one allowed to post. When I did post it was removed and then they posted the same question to the group. While this seems like a great way to maintain control over the group, it hardly works to build a community that can thrive without your micromanaging assistance. And trust me, you do want it to grow because then the leads and business can flow a lot more freely from it. Cook Up Some Rules. Most communities have rules, just look at any subreddit. Most of them focus around spamming, self-promotion, not giving back, etc. I don’t necessarily agree with no self-promotion, but it’s good to give some guidelines on what is acceptable in your group. Call Members Out In A Good Way. The initial post welcoming new members is lame, at best. Sure, most people do it, but why does it have to be so cookie-cutter? It doesn’t. You can welcome members personally in messenger and tag them into discussions they would want to participate in. This is more time consuming but it shows the members you care about their needs, and since we’ve all seen those posts with every new member mentioned, we know we aren’t special when that happens. Let Members Share. You should choose updates that allow members to share. This could include sharing links to their companies or facebook pages, pictures of their dogs, stories about why they started their business, etc. Do this at least every week. Make Connections Between Members. You are the tie that is bringing your community together, but it’s not all about you. Connect members with each other based on personality, availability to chat, interests, business ideas, etc. Helping to facilitate these relationships will build even more loyalty to your group.

The Secret To Any Community’s Success

As much as any community is about the topic, it is more about people and connection. When you take care of the people following you, they will take care of you. I hope you’ve found this helpful for building your Facebook community. If you have any questions please post them in comments or message me.
7 Elements of A Successful Marketplace or Community

7 Elements of A Successful Marketplace or Community

You have a website where people come together. You might not think of it as a community because users don’t interact in forums and discussions, but make no mistake, if you are providing the place for buyers and sellers/renters/etc to come together it is a community. I’m talking about sites like eBay, Outdoorsy, Airbnb, Inbound.org, Cloudpeeps, Remote.com, Uber, Upwork, and many more dual sided marketplaces. There are hundreds of them, and more are started every day. I’ve seen several that have the innovation to offer a great marketplace, but fall short and the world loses the opportunity to grow from them. There are a variety of reasons why this happens so I won’t assume that it is only about how sites work with members. But I’m going to share my experience in hopes it helps founders build more successful platforms.

Offer A Better Outcome Than Any Competitor

You are competing with Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist and virtually anyone can offer anything on these sites for free and reach thousands of others, so you have to offer a better option. You have to be one of these options:
  • Better
  • Faster
  • Easier
  • Lucrative
  • Effortless
  • Personalized
How does eBay do this? They have millions of users, it feels certain that if I put a popular item on eBay someone will be searching for it, and they will find it. They have the categories and intuitive search that directly connects my product with people who want to buy. Getting Sellers For Your Market It is often easier to get sellers than it is to find buyers because they are happy to list on a site where someone else is working to get the ad in front of likely buyers. But this is only when they know the site exists. Additionally, this needs to be very easy, think of how Airbnb made it easy to post listings on Craigslist in addition to having them on Airbnb. What you can do is find related ads on Facebook and Craigslist and message them to let them know you have buyers on your site. Be sure to follow terms of service when messaging. Getting Buyers For Your Market Why would a buyer come to your site? They can easily search for similar items on their favorite sites. So your marketplace needs to offer something better, it needs to have cheaper options, it needs to offer them a discount for trying the market, it needs to have a wider selection, offer protections for the purchase, etc.

Make Members Feel Important to Real People

This goes beyond a sales call after someone signs up for a software, it goes beyond an automated email saying how happy you are they joined. People want interaction with people. At Inbound.org people liked me because I responded to their comments, I went out of my way to talk to them and I often asked for their thoughts. I wasn’t a bot that was fake and made them feel like someone was pretending to care. I was a real person taking a minute of my day to say Hello, I care that you are here and I want you to know that. How can you do this efficiently? You can hire people for $10 an hour to send personal messages. You can easily set up your company email to work with Groove, and possibly integrate other tools so that there is an efficient way for people to email members and say: Hello Greg, I just saw that you posted your RV on our site for rent. I noticed you didn’t post many pictures, can I help you with that? I’m available on the site in chat right now to assist… A Tool To Help- With a tool like Intercom you can easily integrate chat messaging with people and start conversations. Intercom has in-app messaging as well, that will initiate conversations with visitors. If you need help with these, please contact me, I will get you set up.

Nurture Both Sides of the Marketplace

You have to spend time building both sides of the market. You can’t just provide things to buy if you don’t have people who will buy, and you can’t just have people with money and no products to buy. Marketing/Business efforts need to be split and that can be a new and difficult obstacle for your team. You are doing double the work. For example: Cloudpeeps is a relatively new site for contractors to get work with cool companies who pay decent rates, etc. As a ‘peep’ I can see 10-15 jobs that are available and I often see marketing efforts for people to join and find work. I rarely see anything for companies to join or buy a package to offer work. Perhaps they have a sales team for this, but it’s something that needs to be considered to keep the jobs coming in. Personal experience: When I worked at Inbound the job board needed both jobs listed and people applying. If jobs didn’t get applicants we couldn’t convince them to pay to post for jobs in the future, and if people couldn’t find positions they could apply for, they wouldn’t visit again. I would seek out companies with job positions on their sites and ask them to add their job to our site (usually for free the first time). Then, I would advertise the position on social media and in email newsletters, as well as seeking out people in our community that were listed as open to opportunities.

Help People Get Quick Wins

We live in a NOW economy, people want results now, they want money now, they don’t want to wait to see what will happen. Basically, they don’t want to take the time to figure out how they can be successful on your site, they just want the success. They don’t want to wade through onboarding that annoys them, they want a thoughtful wizard that concisely explains what is going on, what it means to them, and what they need to provide. Make your platform stupid simple to use. Make it easy to understand what’s going on, and constantly test your interface with new users to see what their feedback is. Chameleon is one option for improving the onboarding experience. They offer an easy-to-use template that allows you to optimize the process. For example, eBay sometimes offers money for items without making users wait for a sale. This is a great approach to helping people be quickly successful. Image how Upwork could use this to help people who want to hire RIGHT NOW. In your marketplace, this means helping people sell quickly and helping buyers find items quickly. For job sites or other communities, it means helping people making connections with new people quickly, such as getting an interview or getting expert advice.

Stay In Touch & Build A Relationship 

One of the easiest ways to stay in touch is email. And you should definitely use it. But let’s talk about how often your users need to hear from you because a lot of companies go overboard and write EVERY SINGLE DAY when it isn’t necessary. Certainly, if the person is listing their RV for rent, they don’t need to come back often, and if a family goes on vacation 2x a summer they don’t need weekly emails after renting an RV on Outdoorsy. Your industry and the customer’s needs should indicate the best schedule for the contact. I recommend 1x a month at the minimum, and weekly at max unless you are offering a course that requires daily notifications. Again, Intercom has the functionality to see all of your customer-facing messages in one platform. Consider using their service for a full view of your messaging efforts. For marketplaces, here are some ideas for messaging both sides of the market. Emails for Marketplace Sellers:
  • Tips for Selling: How to take better pictures, How to write the best descriptions.
  • Tips for managing rentals of vehicles, RVs, home, rooms: Adding amenities, Buying products in bulk for stock, Getting someone to clean in between rentals.
  • Tips for pricing their rentals: What the average charge is per room or sleeping/seating space in a vehicle in their area, What the average charge is for the age of the home, vehicle.
  • Tips for getting reviews: Sending follow up emails, leaving notes at the residence, being available for communication.
Emails for Marketplace Buyers:
  • Seasonal Vacations: It’s summer here are the hottest destinations, Spring break reservations, Offseason destinations. Winter vacations.
  • Saving for vacations, where to take kids on vacation, where you can take pets on vacation.
  • Camping with kids, seniors, or pets.
  • Promotions for off season sales.
For job sites, here are a few ideas that will help with messaging your users: Companies who post jobs:
  • Tips for going through applications
  • Underused features on your platform
  • Tips for hiring local or remote
  • Ways to lower turnover
  • How to improve onboarding
  • How recruiters can help
  • Other places to promote job ads
Applicants applying for jobs:
  • Similar positions just posted
  • Lists of other job boards
  • Free dashboard to see all applications through your platform
  • Jobs in your area that are open
  • Remote jobs all over the country in an industry
  • Articles about how to write cover letters
  • Articles for better interviewing

More than anything, your members are the most important part of your marketplace. Listen to them, make them feel important, make them feel heard, and do your best to make them successful. If you need help, send me a message http://mary-green.com/start

Things That Don’t Scale Have Exponential Effects

Things That Don’t Scale Have Exponential Effects

One common piece of advice you hear while working with startups, or on a growth team is: Do things that don’t scale. It’s a funny quote that basically means go out there, knock on doors so to speak, talk to everyone, etc.

The saying itself is a bit scary, people think immediately “What do you mean do things that don’t scale? I ain’t got no time for that. I need growth and I need it now and I need it to feed on itself and grow by itself, I can’t waste my time on things that ‘don’t scale’.

But calm down, because once you start doing things that don’t scale, you’ll realize something quickly. These things that don’t scale, actually do, in their own way.

Let me explain. Back in December 2014, we started a welcome thread on Inbound.org. We asked new members to comment and introduce themselves. We wanted to see if people would stick around and be more active if we responded to their initial engagements on the site. (more…)