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The Community Club

'It's About Listening, Not Telling': 3 Industry Leaders on Putting 'Community-Led' into Practice

Kirsti Buick
Writer. Lover of peanut butter, lifting heavy things and too-strong tea.
・3 min read

At The Community Club (and Commsor), being Community-Led is our top priority (which is why it's front and center at our three-day summit in May this year). 

Our community is at the heart of everything we build. The Community team works closely with our Product, Sales, and Success teams to make sure community voices are amplified internally, and everyone is aligned in that mission.

And we're not the only ones who work this way — community experts Tessa Kriesel, CEO at DevocateShana Sumers, Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at HubSpot, and Adrian Speyer, Head of Community at Vanilla, are among those already using the principles of Community-Led within their own organizations

We asked them to talk us through what Community-Led means to them, and how they're putting it into practice.

Start with people, not products

Community-Led means putting people first, Adrian says. "I think that centering yourself in the humanity of the community is 100% the way to ensure you are doing the right things."

Shana has a similar approach. "Community-led to me translates immediately to 'people-led'. To be Community-Led is to understand that your community voice comes first in everything. From the space, type of content, design of the community, product, and marketing — everything that you do is based on their feedback and engagement."

Tessa agrees. "Community-Led to me means leading with customer-first methodologies — which are the exact methodologies that communities leverage.

"It's the idea of supporting your users, providing value through resources and engagement, and interacting on the most authentic levels. The mission of communities is to serve their users."

Make them feel seen — before someone else does

Community-Led is more than paying lip service to a world increasingly searching for human connection. Shana believes it's the key factor for success. "Companies forget that there are real people using their products. And to keep people around, you need to continue to build products that they want to utilize."

We’ve moved beyond just being happy with a product, Shana adds — now we need to be happy with a brand. "Customers need to feel seen, heard, and aligned with your business' mission. What makes your company stand out from others? Your investment in the people who engage with you."

Companies with solid communities have a higher customer satisfaction rate, Tessa points out. "Community is the best path forward for a user when they have needs beyond general support with companies. If your company doesn't have a community, where are these folks finding what they need? Hint: your competitor's community."

At Vanilla, they're on the same page. "In today's world, with so much competition, and such a strong need for connection, not being Community-Led means that you are only making it easier for the competitors who do it first and do it right," Adrian says.

Community-Led in practice

As Head of Community at Vanilla, Adrian asks himself several questions to ensure everything he does is Community-Led:

  • What are the members' needs, wants, and aspirations?
  • Have I spoken with or asked them directly about these?
  • Are we offering them value?
  • Is what we are doing helping and facilitating them?
  • Are we actually doing right by them?

"So the short answer is that it's about listening rather than telling your community how it will be. Take what you learn about them and apply it to how your company approaches the people interacting with you, your company, and your brand," he says.

"You can have your KPIs, goals, and business metrics, but make sure the people are getting their value first. The business success will follow if you fulfill their needs."


Speaking of Community-Led...

Have you signed up for our 2021 Community Club Summit? On the agenda is everything from strategy-focused talks from leaders like Shana, Tessa and Adrian 👀, to small-group networking — all geared towards helping you build a Community-Led future.

May 11-13, 2021. 100% free. 

Learn more and sign up

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