Deal with the Bad Eggs & Misfits
If you do everything that we've been talking about, you focus on your vision, your values, your purpose, if you build the procedures, the policies, in to your community, if you think about what your member support philosophy and what your member support plan is, if you make your value proposition very clear that it's about access to people and not access to you or access to programs or content, you are going to have a lot fewer bad eggs than you fear. But bag eggs happen. That's probably a good egg, it probably doesn't stink but it's an egg, I mean, what are you gonna do? The most important thing about this lesson is that I don't want you to let the potential for the wrong people to show up for your community stop you from building a community. You guys have already drank the community building Kool-Aid, you are in this to win this, you see the vision, you have the mission, you want to make it a reality, don't let some troll that ran in to you on the internet 10 years ago stop you from...
building this community. Don't let it happen. It may crop up at some time but the only way you lose, the only way this becomes a real problem is if you don't build a community in the first place. In order to do that you need to believe in your policies and use them to your advantage. It's why I talked about those policies and procedures, it's why we spent time on vision, values and purpose. When you know those things you can use them to your advantage. When you create a community culture that supports those policies, that supports the vision, values and purpose of your community your community will police itself. Other members will say, hey, that's not cool. Or other members will redirect the conversation. It's awesome. Community culture goes an incredibly long way to ensuring that you as a customer support person, as a member support person, as a community manager, community leader, don't have to deal with many misfits or bad eggs. I'm not saying you won't have to deal with it, not saying it's not a real possibility, but your community, when you have a strong culture, will start to police itself. Again, remember that your customer service is on display. A lot of times the trolls, bad eggs, the misfits that might wander in to your community will make themselves known publicly. Your job in those situations is to keep your cool, to rely on your policies and procedures, to rely on your company culture and to ask your other members for help when you need it. So remember that, remember that that customer service is on display, every member interaction you have is an opportunity to uphold your vision, values and purpose. Now here's the really great part, not only are policies important and culture is important but that sense of belonging is important. Because people who don't belong don't want to stick around. And so they might message you and they might ask a whole bunch of weird questions, they might complain about something or they might voice their concerns but quite often what's happening there is they're expressing that they don't feel that they belong. And the truth is, they might not. So as you are dealing with those misfits and bad eggs, what you might perceive as misfits and bad eggs, you want to ask yourself, is this someone who really belongs here or not? Can I help them discern for themselves whether they really belong here or not? And if they don't belong it's okay to let them go. You don't have to hold on to the sale if it's a paid community. You don't have to hold on to the member if it's a free community. Let them go, it is so much more worth it to you to have a culture and a community of people who are there for all the right reasons, who belong for the right reasons, who approach things with the same sense of values even if they come from incredibly diverse perspectives than to hold on to that one member. Don't be afraid to let people go. Any questions? That's really all I'm gonna say on bad eggs because I truly do believe if you get the rest of this right this is not going to be a big problem for you. Yes, every so often you're gonna run in to something but it doesn't have to consume you. Mya?
So worst case scenario, what if any legal things do we need to think about? Do we need to consult a lawyer when we put our policies together, when we decide we're gonna let someone go? Like all of that, any thoughts about that?
So this is where I get to say I am not a lawyer. I would say it's never a bad idea to consult a lawyer when you are creating a new product, when you're bringing people together, when you're doing anything with your business, it's never a bad idea to consult a lawyer. I think by and large a lot of these things you can handle without legal support but that doesn't mean it's not a bad idea to talk to your lawyer and see, you know, is there something that I need to do to protect myself here? Maybe you're in a regulated industry, maybe you're adjacent to a regulated industry. Maybe you are dealing with people's sensitive information and that's absolutely a time when you want to get a lawyer involved and just as it's never a bad time to consult a lawyer it's never too early to consult a lawyer either. It's always better to consult one earlier in the process than when you have a problem. I personally don't have experience with anything elevating to the level of needing legal support on kicking someone out or whatever. But I think the easiest way to avoid that too, especially if you have a paid community, is if you really have a problem with somebody. You know, refunding people's money goes a long way to making them happy. And so I'm quick to use, I should not say this publicly but I am really quick to use a refund to say, you know what, this isn't a good fit for either of us. We're gonna give you your money back and here's some other recommendations that we have for you. And that generally keeps people quiet and can actually build a long term relationship with people. I've had people we've refunded for different reasons come back to us later on for something different and love it. And that's great, and become a member and engaged person in our community and totally blend in with the culture. It's happened more than one time. So yeah so that's kind of my approach on that. But yes, it is never a bad time to consult a lawyer. Alice?
I have a bit more of a, maybe, sort of in depth or maybe one of the naive questions. As we were talking about how a community evolves and how it grows and I'm assuming there's a lot of, like, organic things that shift and move. I can well have my policies, my procedure, my culture, everything set up and, you know, these are the guidelines and then obviously there's gonna be people that are gonna question that and, you know, how much do I budge, how much do I move, is that just like a continual organic process or do you have specific things that you say? I mean, I can see myself saying, alright, no these three things are crucial and these five things are kind of malleable, so when is it a bad egg and when is it actually something where you're like, no, maybe I need to consider this?
Yes, that's a great question. So I would say one person complaining about something or having a concern about something is not, it's not that I don't pay attention to it but it tends to not affect my actions or decision making. Now I might say, Shannon might say, hey, so and so has an issue with this, I'll be like, okay, have you heard that from anybody else? And she might say no and I might respond to that, go see what you can find. Because one person may be speaking for a larger group of people and so I want to investigate that a little if it's something that, like, I can see the truth in it, you know? And I might want to just gather more information before I make a change or decide to make a change at all. Yes I also agree with you that there are absolutely non negotiables for me and I would hope for you guys as well. Those non negotiables are going to me formed by my vision, values and purpose and then there are all sorts of things that change over time. In our community it was absolutely true that people would come for my advice and access to me and communicating that change, me acting in that change, them understanding that change, has been a process that's taken, really, a couple of years to go through. And some people left because of it. Well if Tara's not gonna answer my question I don't want to be here. Fine, that's cool, I get it, that's understandable. Go find somebody else to answer your question. And that's not a cut, that's not a dig. This isn't the right place for you anymore. And then other people, as the community evolves, have a greater and greater sense of belonging. And so what I want to be thinking about is who do I value most as members? Not that I, like, rank my membership.
You have favorites.
I don't have favorites, you're all my children. (laughing) But you know, what does the ideal member look like for me? Who are the people who are showing up? Who are the people who are contributing? And how do I continue to form and evolve the community, our policies, our procedures in a way that serves those people? Because I want more of those people.
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.