Build a Community & Grow Your Standout Business

 

Lesson Info

Craft Your Member Support Plan

Every interaction with a member is an opportunity to document something new. If you've been following along with these Grow a Standout Business classes, I've been talking a lot about documentation because 2017 was pretty much the year of documentation for me. (laughs) My business is so well documented now, thanks Rosie and Shannon. So, this is when you are supporting members actively, you're in there, you're answering questions, you're showing people how to do stuff, you're dealing with those technology concerns. Every single time you support a member, you should be documenting what you have done with them because lack of direction and information is the enemy. The more you document things, the more you put it out in public, like, oh, so-and-so had a question about changing their profile picture, I bet other people do, too. Let me make a quick Lume video for that and I'll add it to my community, and then all I have to do is share that post with someone the next time they have a questio...

n, or I can bubble it up in my newsletter, or I can talk about it in our member orientation. And so, you know, little bit by little bit by little bit, you're documenting literally everything somebody needs to know about your community. We keep all of those things in Asana. We literally have an Asana project that's just procedure, procedure, procedure, procedure, how to, how to, how to, how to. It is very long. This is a very small snapshot of everything that's in it. It's almost like an FAQ for our team because there's a lot to keep track of and sometimes, you know, a new question will pop up that a different team member has already handled, but that team member that's got that question hasn't handled it before, they can go into this section, maybe there's a Lume video that already exists, maybe there's a post for that that already exists, there's a script that already exists. That stuff's all documented here. Again, this does not have to be perfect. This is little bit by little bit by little bit by little bit, but the more you do in the moment, the more you say, oh, hey, I gave a great answer to that question, let me copy that over into my Asana board or my Trello board or my Wiki or my FAQ Doc in Google Drive, the easier it will be every other time you need to answer that question and the easier it's going to be to hire someone to do it for you in the future. You do that documentation now, you don't have to hesitate in the future when you wanna hire someone because it's easy. There's a question, there's an answer. There's a question, there's an answer, it is beautiful. Plus, that stuff can get documented inside of your community as well, so you can have a policies area, you can feature posts that link to FAQs, you can have... I try and come up with three things, those are the things you're gonna wanna do. There's two. (laughs) But document, document, document. So, in order to do this, or in order to get a jump start on things, you can just start brainstorming now. What are all the things that members might have questions about? You have technology concerns, list all the technology things people have questions about. I've already talked about changing your profile, adding a link to your profile. Maybe it's a billing thing. How do I cancel my account? How do I pause my account? How do I change my credit card on my account? How do I add a link to a post? How do I add an image to a post? Just because you're on Facebook does not mean you don't have to have the answers to these questions, too because not everyone knows how to use Facebook. Right? Yes, of course. (laughs) Maybe it's questions about what is appropriate to post. What are your answers to those things? What is appropriate, what's not appropriate? Once you've done that, I want you to list as many of the idiosyncrasies of the platform that you use as you can. We're gonna get more into what platform you should choose in the future, but if you already have one in mind, you can start brainstorming this now, otherwise, you can wait and come back to it. Mighty Networks has some idiosyncrasies, we document as many of those as we can. Facebook has some idiosyncrasies, Slack has some idiosyncrasies, BuddyPress does, Vanilla Forums does. Doesn't matter what you use, there's gonna be something there that's called something different than people expect and you wanna have that documented so it's easy, either for them to figure it out on their own or for you to help them when they ask for help. Then I want you to list as many things that members might be concerned about as possible. Things like privacy, things like self-promotion, things like harassment, diversity, inclusion. Those are all things members might have concerns about and rightly so. What's your answer gonna be? How are you gonna address that? The more you write down in this section and the more you front load these things into your community as you're building it or ramping it up, the less work you're going to have in terms of member support. The more you can turn it into a document, a Lume video, do you guys know about Lume? No, some people don't? I will share with all of you. Lume is this super cool just screenshot video app, I think is the easiest way to describe it, where it's a plug-in for your browser and you say okay, I'm gonna record a Lume video now, you show somebody how to do something, makes it really easy to see where the mouse is, you talk over top of it so there's this very human, personal aspect of it as well, you can show your face. And so, we have a library of Lume videos that Shannon's made, Megan's made, Kristen's made, that just show people how to do certain things on our platform. And so, yeah, it took five minutes once to do that, but now we don't ever have to do it again, unless the platform changes. So, that takes a lot of our work off. The difference between making a five-minute video and taking 30 seconds to shoot someone a link to a five-minute video, that's a huge, huge savings of time. So, the more you document, the more you document in public and the more you document in private, the less work you have to do as a member support person. And I also want you to keep in mind that every single interaction you have, whether it's in private, whether it's over email, whether it's publicly in your community, is an opportunity to solidify your vision, values, and purpose for your members. As community managers, as community leaders, we do customer service in public and so you wanna make sure that your community and that your customer service upholds your vision, values, and purpose. That the actions you take, that the communication that you're engaged in doesn't undermine your vision, values, and purpose. That every single time you respond to a question, you respond to a complaint, that you respond to a concern in public, your members say that's why I'm here. That's a huge opportunity for us, it's also a huge burden, so this is worth getting right. The documentation piece, the member support philosophy piece, it's worth getting it right, it's worth taking time for. But also remember that member support is an ongoing process. You're not gonna get it all done before you launch your community or before you open your floodgates. Get a good chuck of it done, front load that stuff into your community, but remember that it's ongoing and the same thing with documentation. Documentation is an ongoing process. Your Asana board is not gonna look as beautiful as my Asana board because we've been working on it all year. (laughs) But eventually your Asana board will probably be more beautiful than my Asana board because I'm sure I'm constantly messing it up. (laughs) Alright, it is an ongoing process, but get started. Just because you only have one procedure documented doesn't mean it's not worth documenting that one procedure or the next procedure or the next procedure. So, the key to reducing your workload as a community manager is documentation, both publicly and privately.

When you have a small business, you’re always on the lookout for your next customer. They might pop up at a networking event, they could subscribe to your email list, they might fill out the contact form on your website.

Too often, knowing where your next customer is going to come from seems unpredictable at best and, at worst, like a huge gamble.

Luckily, there’s a way to ensure you always know where your next customer is coming from—and that your existing customers purchase from you more often—and that’s by building a community.

All sorts of businesses can benefit from making community-building part of their growth strategy and many can benefit from making it part of their business model, too. Whether it’s an informal community (like an email list or Instagram hashtag), a brand-driven community (like a free Facebook group that brings together people in love with the same brand and values), or a dedicated community (like a local group, interest-based social network, or a support group, your business can cultivate deeper connections with existing and potential customers.

Of course, an engaged community doesn’t just happen. If you want to reap the benefits of community-building for your business, you need a plan.

In Build a Community & Grow Your Standout Business, Tara Gentile, the founder of the small business support & social network CoCommercial, will share the must-dos, nice-to-haves, and compelling extras you need to make the most of the community you build around your business. By the end of this class, you’ll have a plan for making community-building an integral part of your marketing strategy—and always knowing where your next customer will come from.

Tara will cover:

  • Simple ways to generate community without a group or forum
  • Why and how to level up into a dedicated space for your business’s community
  • How to create a clear reason Why for joining or participating in your community
  • The systems and procedures you’ll need to manage the workload
  • How to avoid community management burnout
  • How to plan to earn more through your community—whether that’s through charging for membership, selling add-on offers, or generating more word of mouth marketing

Stop waiting for your next customer to come to you and start building a community that brings new business your way every day. 

 
 
 
 

Reviews

  • This class was exactly what I needed. It clarified, confirmed, and connected SO MANY more of the remaining dots for me. Tara, as always, is brilliant, energetic and a general joy to watch as she shares her immense knowledge and helps others get to "the nitty gritty" - thank you Tara, and thank you Creative Live!!
  • Like I said on air... "Wow!" I've been building an online community for about 4 years now, based on what I thought I wanted to my business to be. Now I realize the value of creating a community around my VISION, then building the business based around the community needs and values. What I thought: 1) What people needed from me was my expertise. 2) Members will naturally bond with and engage with one another based on their shared interests and needs. What I learned from Tara: 1) Members rely on me to FACILITATE conversation and sharing. 2) It's my role to be the a connector and mediator. Tara has an amazing presence on stage and is super skilled at drawing out your vision as a business owner/entrepreneur. She makes community building easy to understand. I'll definitely be watching more of her courses. This one alone has changed the way I think about my business and my plan for building in monetization and community building.
  • I went from a vague idea of wanting to build a community to having a clear path to take to start building it. I appreciated the focus on the member vs the business model. Tara presented a clear path for creating the plan first, from vision and purpose to creating the experience for community members, to helping members take the journey to how to monetize in many different ways. My brain is full and I'm excited to take action and launch a community that consolidates my current varied business offers. The presentation was thoughtful and well presented. Excellent and highly recommended.