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Episode 67: Building Productive Online Communities with Diana Tower

An expert provides tips for managing a strong online community and reveals how to establish—and increase— engagement.

Listen to Episode (40:21)

Synopsis

Why are so many business owners building online communities? Is it really worth the time and effort it takes to build a successful one? What makes an online community successful?

Diana Tower is a community engagement strategist who specializes in helping entrepreneurs create engaged online communities. She joins the podcast to explain why online communities are important and what makes a community successful.

Listen in to hear her top tips for managing a strong community and increasing engagement. And to learn more, check out her free resources here.

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Transcript

Chris Davis: Welcome to the Active Campaign Podcast. I’m your host, Chris Davis, and today my guest is Diana Tower. [00:00:30] She is a Community Strategist. She specializes in building community online. If you are an entrepreneur that wants to leverage the power of community, she is here to discuss exactly how to do that. And we also get to talk about platforms. Where should your community exist? And give us some tips on engagement. All that in today’s episode. Dive in. Put your headphones on, and enjoy.

[00:01:00] Diana, welcome to the podcast. How are you doing?

Diana Tower: I am doing awesome. I love the warm-up for this. Too much fun, Chris.

Chris Davis: Right? Tell us a little bit about how you became what you are today.

Diana Tower: Well, first of all, I guess what I am today, just so everyone kind of gets a good idea of it-

Chris Davis: Yep.

Diana Tower: … is, my label would be a Community Engagement Strategist. But basically I help A list [00:01:30] entrepreneurs engage their communities. And so how did that happen? Like I literally did not wake up thinking, “Ah, I’m gonna be a community manager. I’m gonna engage communities.” When I was in high school or University, they didn’t really exist back then. I mean-

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: Facebook was all the rage.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: I’m totally aging myself here guys.

Chris Davis: They were, you know what, Diana? They were like forums. They were like scattered forums throughout the internet, right?

Diana Tower: Exactly. This is true. Like the old school forum, [00:02:00] you know, like everything’s separated. Which is kind of nice.

Chris Davis: Yep.

Diana Tower: I’m not gonna rag on the old school forums. But I mean, back then, I didn’t really know what I was doing. I studied English Literature at university. Got my BA and my honors in that. And actually, the path to how this happened was I was an ESL teacher in Spain, in Madrid. And I wanted to-

Chris Davis: Oh wow. What is ESL?

Diana Tower: ESL. English as a second language.

Chris Davis: Ah, got you.

Diana Tower: So I was working with [00:02:30] you know, the business professionals in Madrid-

Chris Davis: Yep.

Diana Tower: And like helping them learn English for their jobs.

Chris Davis: Interesting.

Diana Tower: And I was working with this academy or this company, and I wanted to start my own business. I wanted to do it myself and take out the middle man, right? And so I signed up for  Ramit Sethi’s Zero Launch Program, to start my own business. And so I started doing that, and I was like the typical kind of overwhelmed student. And I knew I needed more accountability, so I signed up for their coaching program, [00:03:00] which is the Accelerator Program. And what happened was when I joined that, it was live coaching and also a Facebook community.

Chris Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Diana Tower: And so I got in there, and I don’t know what happened, but I just, I loved helping people, and so I would be like answering questions, and like editing people’s work, ’cause I was really good at editing.

Chris Davis: Sure.

Diana Tower: So I was just helping so many people. And long story short, the company noticed, and they offered me a job. They offered me the job-

Chris Davis: Wow.

Diana Tower: … of Community Manager. [00:03:30] And I also became one of the coaches. And so down the line, I’ve been consulting with them for, or working with them for two years, just over two years now. And so, this kind of has expanded to me helping other entrepreneurs and their community managers and their teams engage their course communities. Usually it’s like a flagship course.

Chris Davis: Sure.

Diana Tower: So that’s the one thing is I don’t really do like the free Facebook groups. I actually wrote [00:04:00] this post for Growth Lab, which is basically Free Facebook groups aren’t the magic bullet that you think they are. ‘Cause they’re really not. There are a lot, like there’s a lot of people that say, “Oh, like create a free Facebook group and grow your list, and sell out all your products, and-“

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: They kind of, they make it sound like this magic bullet, and it’s really not. Like it takes a lot of work and a lot of understanding [00:04:30] of people and psychology and this sort of thing in order to manage and maintain a quality group.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: And so, that’s something that I’ve really kind of focused on, this idea of just like community, at least like for businesses, community for your clients.

Chris Davis: Yeah. Yeah.

Diana Tower: When there’s skin in the game, there’s green on the table basically. And so that’s kind of where I’m at right now, just kind of helping, working with other entrepreneurs, and just really helping people with their communities and bringing people [00:05:00] together.

Chris Davis: Great. And it’s really good to have you one, because a few episodes back, we had our internal community manager Jessie on-

Diana Tower: Oh yeah.

Chris Davis: And she was talking about everything that it takes to manage the community.

Diana Tower: Right.

Chris Davis: So there were so many elements, especially for a company, right, that you don’t even-

Diana Tower: Yeah.

Chris Davis: … think of as the community grows and everything else. So she highlighted that. So when you came across, I was like, “Oh this would be great to couple it with now understanding [00:05:30] like what it takes to grow an engaging community.” Nobody wants that cricket community.

Diana Tower: No.

Chris Davis: I think that’s the fear.

Diana Tower: Oh it is.

Chris Davis: I think that’s the fear of every entrepreneur, right?

Diana Tower: This is the thing. I wrote, what was it, a while back. I wrote, I’ve actually written like two ultimate guides on … One is on How To Build a Profitable Online Community From Scratch.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: And the other one is How To Engage The Members In Your Communities. And like the number one thing, it’s like this weird like pendulum of [00:06:00] everyone is terrified that there’s gonna be tumbleweeds and crickets, and nothing. And then the pendulum will swing, and they’re like, “Oh my God. It’s gonna be engaged and crazy, and like thousands of people are gonna be bombarding. It’s gonna be way too much.”

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: And so there’s this weird back and forth between, “I wanna do this and it’s gonna be great.” “No it’s not. It’s gonna be awful and it’s not gonna work.” Versus, “Oh my God. It’s gonna be amazing, and then I’m not gonna be able … It’s gonna be out of control.”

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: I think that that’s [00:06:30] what people really worry about a lot is the amount of time that they have. So for example, if you were maybe a newer entrepreneur and you’re starting your business, and this is just one piece of the pie that’s contributing to your business, realistically speaking, you can spend like 30 hours managing, engaging, maintaining, and sort of-

Chris Davis: Right.

Diana Tower: … crafting that experience for people. And so that’s why, for example, I don’t really recommend doing that free community, because [00:07:00] it takes so much time.

Chris Davis: Takes time.

Diana Tower: I mean, in the beginning, you need to be focusing on helping and serving your audience, helping them solve their problems.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: There’s other ways that you can grow your list, and get yourself out there and get publicity, that don’t require consistent you in there.

Chris Davis: Yeah. And you know what, Diana, it’s leading with value. You’ve done it. You doing that is what got you to where you’re at.

Diana Tower: [00:07:30] Exactly. What did I do? I was in a Facebook community, and I offered massive value.

Chris Davis: Yep.

Diana Tower: And I got noticed. And it’s so funny because I think that there’s this misconception now, because this is what everyone says. They’re like, “Offer value.” And so then people are like, “Well, how do I offer value?” And they start to like deconstruct, “What does that mean?”

Chris Davis: Right. Right.

Diana Tower: Or even worse, what’s even worse, is that they will ask the person directly, like, “How can I help you,” or, “How can I offer value [00:08:00] to you?” So I’m gonna go and make that person do the work for me-

Chris Davis: Right.

Diana Tower: … so that I can help them. That’s probably not the best approach, especially if, maybe it’s an influencer-

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: … or somebody that’s a little bit higher up than you-

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: And you kinda wanna connect with them.

Chris Davis: Right.

Diana Tower: Asking them to do the legwork, probably not the best approach. But that’s the thing is like, you can really, you can learn a lot, I mean, by just looking at social media. I mean, trying to kind of connect with other people. And it’s not in a creepy [00:08:30] way. Like I don’t wanna be like, “Hey …” go and creep on someone.

Chris Davis: Yeah. Right.

Diana Tower: But you can see what’s important to them. You can see what people are sharing. And you can just really see what’s important to them, so you can do some of that. Or if you see a problem, solve it for them, without them asking.

Chris Davis: There it is. That’s that proactive.

Diana Tower: Right.

Chris Davis: Proactive marketer and business owner. So let me ask you this. Community, and like you said, the pendulum swings.

Diana Tower: Yeah.

Chris Davis: But overall, [00:09:00] for business owners, is community required? What role, like why is it, why are so many people what it appears to be fixated with communities? And is it worth the wait, right?

Diana Tower: This is, yeah. This is such a good question, because it’s one of those things that I sort of battle with because for example, when I’m working with a client or I’m talking to someone about the importance of community, sometimes people don’t understand it. [00:09:30] They kinda think, “Well, I need to be investing in this area of my business,” or your sales page or copywriting, or something that’s a little bit more, like that you can directly measure in terms of your bottom line. And so the thing with community is that it’s one of these things that people know is important, but it’s very difficult to measure and to be able to say 100% where the community came in-

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: And provided something of value so that, [00:10:00] for example, people will talk about, in a membership community for example, like churn. You wanna make sure your churn or the level or the number of people that are leaving or canceling is low. So it’s kind of thinking, okay, well what is influencing that? Is it what you’re doing in the community? Is it the way you’re interacting? Is it that people value coaching more? Maybe you need to be … What are you actually offering people?  And so, to answer your question, I think that with community, [00:10:30] it’s important, but you wanna be careful when you pull the trigger on it.

Chris Davis: Okay.

Diana Tower: So for example, when I would say, when you’re starting out, like if you’re like a solo entrepreneur, and you’re just starting out, I personally would avoid community in the beginning, just so you can focus on your clients and focus on solving their problems, and really figuring out what’s the best way to do that. So for example, like maybe it’s getting coaching clients. Or maybe it’s working with people one on one, or [00:11:00] creating some sort of maybe it’s a group program, depending on what you’re doing. And so, once you do that, then you can take a step back and you say, “Okay, well how is community gonna help me do even better?”

Chris Davis: Mm.

Diana Tower: So it’s like, imagine … And I think in the one situation as well is community that goes hand in hand with a course. And so this trend that I’m seeing is that in the past, there might have been a course. It’s a course. [00:11:30] There might be some videos, live training. And then, what sometime you’ll see is people will just add a bonus Facebook group, okay?

Chris Davis: Sure.

Diana Tower: And so, by doing that, it sounds great. It’s like, “Hey, come and connect with other people that are working with each other.” But if they don’t do anything with that community, if they’re not moderating it, if they’re not sort of putting prompts in that connect to the course material, and this sort of thing, it’s probably not gonna add that much value. So it’ one of those situations where it’s like, [00:12:00] if you’re gonna do it, do it right.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: And if not, then just don’t do it yet. It’ not time. It’s not-

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: … the right time for you. And I would say, you know … So for example, some people I know, they’ll have a community that goes hand in hand with the program, and it’s basically it’s an extension of coaching. So that could, if that works for you, then that’s a fantastic way to maybe provide some form of like group coaching.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: [00:12:30] So it’s like, you’ve got your course, maybe with live trainings. And then you’ve got your community where people can come together, they can reach out to you, get access to you, and then connect with each other.

Chris Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Diana Tower: But this idea of just, “I’m gonna add a community because community adds value,” there’s a lot of things that you need to do, like obviously Jessie probably spoke about, like in terms of engaging and managing and policing.

Chris Davis: Yes.

Diana Tower: All that stuff that people don’t talk about.

Chris Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Diana Tower: ‘Cause it’s a [00:13:00] magic bull.

Chris Davis: Yeah, right?

Diana Tower: It’s amazing. You just slap it up, an like it just works.

Chris Davis: Yeah, and well, you know what, Diana, it’s almost like everything in life that you create. Right? You have to have, you have to be clear on the vision for it. Like what do I want this community to do for me, right? You have to be intentional with creating that.

Diana Tower: Exactly.

Chris Davis: And [00:13:30] a lot of times, that doesn’t come early, when you’re still trying to figure out what it is you’re good at, or who your client avatar is, or you know, whatever.

Diana Tower: Exactly. This is actually, you know, before we were discussing what we were gonna talk about on the podcast. That’s what I wrote down is like, when you’re building a community, the first question you need to ask yourself is why.

Chris Davis: Yes.

Diana Tower: What is the purpose?

Chris Davis: Yes.

Diana Tower: Is the purpose … So here’s the thing. A lot of people, they’ll say, “I wanna have a community so I can grow my list.” [00:14:00] That’s the wrong reason, dude. Wrong. Reason.

Chris Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Diana Tower: If the answer or the reason is more, it’s gonna help them finish the course. It’s gonna create a safe space for them to connect with other people. It’s going to maybe help me do, like it’s gonna help me better understand the weaknesses and strengths of my course so I can improve the course for the version 2.0. Those are all reasons where it’s adding value to them. I think that [00:14:30] that’s, that’s the core of it, I think. And the thing too that like surprises people a lot with community is I always talk about strategy. I’m very strategic when it comes to community. But the thing that I love about community strategy is that it’s based on emotion. So what we’re doing, like when you’re in a community, like a Community Manager, and Community Strategist, anybody that’s in the community, it’s our job to make people feel a certain way. And that’s the strategy.

So for example, [00:15:00] when you create a Facebook group, to actually assess a community, one of the things I do, like a community audit. And so, what you do is you look at the foundations of the community and you literally ask yourself, “Is this triggering the right emotion?” And the thing is though too, you have to figure out what that emotion is for your group, ’cause it’s not the same emotion for every group.

Chris Davis: Wow.

Diana Tower: So that thing, right, [00:15:30] you’ve gotta do the research. And it could be as simple as posting a poll in your Facebook group saying, “How do you wanna feel here?” And here’s the thing. If you know your people, imagine you’ve had a group for a while. Here’s a little tip for everyone. If you’ve had a group for a while, and you wanna make sure that you’re really making people feel how they wanna feel, put up a poll and put like five options of the emotions that you feel like they might want to be feeling. So maybe it’s like, they want to feel proud, supported, inspired, [00:16:00] included, special, elite, like whatever that is. Put some options down, and see what they say. And see if Facebook is enough, or maybe you send an email with the link to it or do a survey. And you’ll be surprised, because I’ve done that in communities, and I think “Oh yeah. It’s totally support.” And then all of a sudden it’s like, they wanna feel proud. Oh.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: And that’s, like imagine you’re writing a post, or imagine you’re replying to a comment. Imagine [00:16:30] how different your response is gonna be if you’re supporting someone or making them feel supported versus making them feel proud. Like the language changes. Maybe the way, like the sense of humor that you use, or it changes everything. And so it applies to what you’re writing. It applies to the images you’re using.

Chris Davis: Wow.

Diana Tower: So think about the images. How do they feel when they see the, you know the Facebook [crosstalk 00:16:52].

Chris Davis: Right. The colors.

Diana Tower: Exactly, right? It’s a lot about emotion. And so that’s why I love … I think that’s why [00:17:00] I love community is just because I am so, like, I’m an emotions kind of person.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: Sometimes too much, like I guess, like I might cry or, you know, like I feel the emotion. And, but it’s, I think that that’s why I love it so much is that I’m in the business of making people feel, I mean, generally, make them feel good, but make them feel how they want and need to feel in a certain group.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: And so it’s just doing that. I think that asking those questions, like when you’re thinking, ” [00:17:30] Hey, maybe I should have a community. Why are you doing it? And then once you answer that question and you feel like yeah, it’s a green light. The second question is how are they gonna feel, or how do they want to feel? And not making assumption, ’cause sometimes we’re wrong. You gotta ask them, right? It’s like customer research.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: Go to your …

Chris Davis: You never, you never turn off that market research.

Diana Tower: Nope.

Chris Davis: You just never …

Diana Tower: Never.

Chris Davis: As a marketer, as a community manager, just it’s always on.

Diana Tower: Always [00:18:00] on. And I think … And that’s the thing though too is that’s definitely one of the perks or the benefits of having a community is because you can, it’s organic, authentic research, because you can … Imagine someone struggling with module two of your program and you’re like, “Man.” Like, “A lot of people are getting stuck there.” You can ask them, you can see what people are complaining about. So then you can go back in and you can say, “Okay, we need to maybe update the video. Maybe we need to add additional PDF. Maybe we need to maybe [00:18:30] completely change the way we’re explaining this.” It’s like, you can sort of look at your program, and then upgrade it so that you can eliminate that struggle for someone. But you wouldn’t know that if you didn’t have a community.

Chris Davis: Yes.

Diana Tower: Right?

Chris Davis: And you know what, Diana? You, I wanna ask a question.

Diana Tower: Oh boy. Sounds [crosstalk 00:18:51].

Chris Davis: I’m gonna try not to load the question, alright?

Diana Tower: Okay.

Chris Davis: And guide you to a specific answer, right?

Diana Tower: Okay.

Chris Davis: So what, [00:19:00] like as you’re talking, I’m thinking of courses that I’ve bought and gone into and engaged in the community. And what I’ve always kinda had in the back of my mind, ’cause you never know what the business side of it is, what they’re experiencing. It could look like 2,000 people, but on the other end, it’s like, “Oh my gosh. I hate my community.” Wish I could blow it up, right? So you never know. So you have to take it with a grain of salt. However, in your experience, and this [00:19:30] question is gonna be more toward where should the community exist, whether it’s on social media or somewhere else. But in your experience, if somebody has, let’s say a course. We’ll stick with the course thing.

Diana Tower: Yeah.

Chris Davis: They have a course, and you can leave comments, ’cause a lot of course platforms now you can leave comments, like under the videos. And you’ve got a Facebook group. And then maybe you even have like a forum or, you know, something else. Would you recommend that person [00:20:00] single, like consolidate.

Diana Tower: Make it one?

Chris Davis: Right? Consolidate the community. Or is it good to have multiple points, like, “Hey, we’ve got Facebook. We’ve got Slack. We’ve got comments in there. Like wherever you wanna engage, engage.

Diana Tower: Oh my God. If people could see my face right now. I’m just like, “Oh God.” I’m like leaning back.

Chris Davis: Yes. Yes.

Diana Tower: So I think my natural gut response there kind of answers that question.

Chris Davis: Yep.

Diana Tower: I think [00:20:30] it’s sort of like the approach of any sort of person that is building a business online, and they’re trying to figure out how should I promote myself? How should I get myself out there? So I think, “Okay, so I’m gonna be on Twitter, and on Facebook, and Instagram, and have a podcast, and I’m gonna write blogs, and I’m gonna do this. And I’m gonna dance around in the street, and I’m gonna do …”

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: It’s too much. So like, I know that with that, it’s like focus on one thing, and like nail it. If you’re gonna do a podcast, do a podcast, and own that.

Chris Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Diana Tower: [00:21:00] And then there’s always time to expand to other things. So I would say, like from my experience with the communities that I’ve been in as a student, and also just that I’ve managed or that I’ve consulted with, I would say having one place where you can go and you can find information and it’s easy. It’s less overwhelming.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: I think that was the thing, when you were saying, “You can go to the comments. You can go to Facebook. You can go to Slack.” I was like, oh my God. It’s too many choices.

Chris Davis: [00:21:30] Yeah.

Diana Tower: And it’s almost like we want to give choices because “Aw, like you have so many options.” But I feel like in today’s day and age, we have too many choices, and so it’s almost nice to just be like, “Go here.” That’s it.

Chris Davis: Right?

Diana Tower: One option. Like one type of butter. You go to the grocery store, and there’s like five types of butter. I don’t know why I’m talking about butter. But you know, you’re just, like there’s too many options.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: Or cereal, for example. That would be the other one. [00:22:00] Like just tons of options. And so I would say, when you’re thinking about the platform, and this is kind of a controversial question in terms of-

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: [crosstalk 00:22:11] build it, because like with Facebook, for example, it’s not really yours. It’s, you don’t, you control it. You’re the admin. You manage it. It’s yours, with the bunny ears. But Facebook changes things. And so for example, recently, with the whole [00:22:30] Facebook and the data, and this sort of thing, they’ve actually changed something, and they, it’s made it so that what is it, third-party apps can no longer get specific data about people’s names, profiles, and photos. So might, that sounds good, right, like protecting people’s data and this sort of thing. From my perspective, it’s made it really difficult because there’s this one app that I use. It’s called Griddix. It’s a really weird spelling. But it’s [00:23:00] like statistics and analytics for Facebook groups. It’s fantastic. So of course, I go in, I can get a spreadsheet of all the members that has a direct link to their profile, and then I can kind of create this awesome spreadsheet that I use to reach out to people personally. So I’ll send a little video message or a click message. But I can keep track of it, so it makes it really, like it’s a system. It’s really optimized. It’s fantastic. And of course, now that this rule has changed, none of those spreadsheets [00:23:30] work. I can’t click to the direct [crosstalk 00:23:33].

Chris Davis: Oh wow.

Diana Tower: So I’m like, “Oh.” One of my best awesome like strategies and optimizations to really save me a lot of time, has just been eliminated, which was really like, “Oh, okay. I can’t do that anymore.” But the thing is though, I can’t really complain ’cause it’s Facebook. It’s their rules.”

Chris Davis: Yeah. It was never really yours.

Diana Tower: Exactly. So I [00:24:00] think that this is, you know, that is something to consider, to think about. And also, with Facebook, I think the number one complaint, I think, that people have with Facebook with groups is that it’s not like a forum. It’s not, you can’t organize kind of channels or have conversations, like module, this sort of thing. It’s one wall, okay?

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: I do have a hack, though. So one thing that you can do is you know, if you have a course, and imagine you have specific [00:24:30] posts that you have planned for your modules, what you can do it, once they’re posted, you can actually just collect those links, and you just create a Facebook document or a Facebook file, and you can just put all, like you can create like a roadmap. It’s basically a roadmap to your program.

Chris Davis: Oh. I see what you’re saying. And it would link to the-

Diana Tower: Exactly.

Chris Davis: … post within that group.

Diana Tower: Exactly.

Chris Davis: Oh.

Diana Tower: So it’s like, [crosstalk 00:24:57], and here’s the check-in. Here’s the resource. Here’s this, module [00:25:00] two, do do do. So you can hack the system, so you can make it-

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: … a little bit more organized. And of course, the files section is super easy for your members to find.

Chris Davis: Yep.

Diana Tower: And so that’s one way that I sort of hack that system. But yeah. That would be like the number one sort of complaint is that it’s messy. It’s kind of like, it’s on the wall, and it’s based on who’s commented or posted recently. It’s not separated into different channels. [00:25:30] But one thing, so for example, if we’re talking about different places, is that’s Facebook.

Chris Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Diana Tower: And I would say that Facebook is easy. It’s kind of a no-brainer.

Chris Davis: Okay.

Diana Tower: You don’t have to set anything up. You just go in, you put your information, and you’re off to the races.

Chris Davis: Okay.

Diana Tower: Another option though is Slack. Have you ever used Slack before?

Chris Davis: Yeah. We use Slack internally here.

Diana Tower: Exactly.

Chris Davis: And I see, I honestly see more and more companies using Slack as a community. I personally have never engaged [00:26:00] with a community via Slack yet.

Diana Tower: Okay. So this is interesting because I also use it internally for some of my clients. And it’s fantastic for communication. And somebody who’s done this really well is [Premars Brajic 00:26:14]. He created this, his ultimate guide system program, so it’s How To Write Ultimate Guides.

Chris Davis: Okay.

Diana Tower: So his community is in Slack. And what’s really awesome about Slack is you can create the channels. So you can create Module [00:26:30] One, Module Two, Module Three.

Chris Davis: That’s right.

Diana Tower: You can create, like the water cooler, or the winds channel.

Chris Davis: Yep.

Diana Tower: So he’s got this all set up so you’ve got these separate channels for all of his modules, all of the different sections. And then when you go into it, imagine I ask a question, people can reply to my question. It’s threaded. So it’s-

Chris Davis: Oh, that’s right.

Diana Tower: [crosstalk 00:26:54] Right? You can just [crosstalk 00:26:55].

Chris Davis: You’re actually getting me excited to use Slack as a community. Oh, [00:27:00] I was not expecting that Diana.

Diana Tower: Seriously. In term of organization, it’s simple to use, and it keeps things contained. You do have to sort of train people how to use it. ‘Cause if you don’t, people don’t do the threaded replies.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: Or they do these other things and it kinda messes things up. But the thing is though, for example, at the beginning, what you do is you set expectations and you show people how to use the platform. Like you can create little how-to videos and just [00:27:30] really explain some of the basics for them, so that everyone gets it. And then once everyone gets it, they start using it properly, and then if you, for example, if you’re doing a launch model, when the new cohort of people come in, then the alumni are going to teach them.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: They’re gonna say, “Hey, actually, maybe reply here. It’s a little easier.”

Chris Davis: Yep.

Diana Tower: Or if you have guidelines, that sort of thing.

Chris Davis: That’s a … You know what I really like about that too is as you were talking about Facebook, I was like, “Yeah.” You know, you don’t own it. It’s got some drawbacks. [00:28:00] But at the end of the day, it’s so convenient, right?

Diana Tower: Yeah.

Chris Davis: So convenient for people to use. When it comes to Slack, I mean, it’s an app that you can put on any phone.

Diana Tower: Yep.

Chris Davis: You can log in from any computer.

Diana Tower: Yeah.

Chris Davis: So like, the access point is there, and it gives you some more control. You’ve got me thinking, Diana. You’ve got me thinking. Alright, so the podcast is not the time for me to be doing my mental exercises.

Diana Tower: Like I need to take a moment to write some notes. Just one second. Don’t worry. We can wait.

Chris Davis: [00:28:30] Right.

Diana Tower: But this is the thing. Slack is, for all of those reasons, it’s great. I think, for example, the reverse though, the advantage that Facebook has is just that feeling of being able to connect with people a little bit more. So it’s like, you’re in the group with them, but then you can see their profile.

Chris Davis: Right.

Diana Tower: So you see that they just celebrated a birthday, or they have a dog. Or, you know, there’s a lot of pictures. It’s very visual. And I feel like that really does lend well to people [00:29:00] sort of connecting with each other.

Chris Davis: On Facebook.

Diana Tower: It’s a little more visual.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: But that’s the thing. In Slack, you can have people put a profile picture. And they also have like a profile section they can add some information.

Chris Davis: Yep.

Diana Tower: But yeah, there’s definitely, there’s pros and cons. And I think that, again, what’s gonna be best for your audience?

Chris Davis: Your audience. Keywords, right? Your audience.

Diana Tower: Your audience.

Chris Davis: Just don’t be … Like, Diana, don’t be a copycat. It drives me crazy when people look at somebody and [00:29:30] they say, “Oh, okay. Course. Community, a Facebook community, and a sale. If I get those three things, a sales pitch, a course, and a community, I’m good.” It’s like, you don’t know.

Diana Tower: No.

Chris Davis: Until you start engaging with people, you don’t know how they prefer to engage with you.

Diana Tower: Exactly. And that’s the thing too.

Chris Davis: Don’t jump ahead.

Diana Tower: I think that’s a really good point too, when you’re building a community, or even when you’re building a course. So imagine you’ve got this course, and you’re like, “Alright.” You’ve made all these decisions based on what you [00:30:00] think. First of all, go ask your audience or the people that you’ve pre-sold it to. Go ask them.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: And then the same thing with a community. Ask them. Well here’s the thing too. Do you want a community? Because here’s the thing. Some people don’t want a community necessarily. Maybe they just want coaching. Maybe they just want something else, like maybe it’s the course content and like a 30-minute call with somebody. There’s other ways to package it. So [00:30:30] if you create a community, and they don’t really want it, they’re not gonna use it. So the community’s gonna kinda suck. And you’re gonna be like, “Why isn’t this working?” So it’s always good, like we were talking about before, customer research at ever step of the way.

Chris Davis: Yep.

Diana Tower: Don’t make assumptions. Don’t assume how they wanna feel. Don’t even assume that they want a community. And don’t assume, like just don’t assume anything.

Chris Davis: Right.

Diana Tower: Just ask.

Chris Davis: Yeah. Yeah. You got me, I’m a little … I’m getting a little carried away here, [00:31:00] and I’m running a bit … I’m close. I’m close to running over, but I have to ask you this question. I have to, ’cause I feel like this is a burning topic and question amongst the minds of all marketers and business owners alike. But if you had a few tips to increase engagement, or the keys to establishing engagement, what would you say they are?

Diana Tower: Okay. This is a great question. So without [00:31:30] knowing anything about the community-

Chris Davis: Right.

Diana Tower: … which is usually kinda hard.

Chris Davis: Which I guess is the first tip, right? 

Diana Tower: That’s the first thing. Right? Know the community. Figure out what it … Well, for example, the first thing is figure out that emotion.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: Do a poll. Send out a survey. And then what do you do with that? You apply it in everything you do. Make sure that the images you’re using are triggering that emotion. Make sure the way you respond to comments is triggering that emotion. The group description, the welcome post, the module [00:32:00] announcements, everything is triggering pride, everything is triggering support or inspired, or inspiration.

Chris Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Diana Tower: So just do that. That alone is gonna make a big difference. Some other more tactical things that people are probably thinking, “Come on. Give us the juicy stuff.” I would say the first thing is, for your welcome post, make a video. So have both, because some people don’t have time to watch videos. But if you [00:32:30] are, imagine if you’re running a course community, and you really want to make people feel like you’re there, and that you care about them, and you’re sort of on this journey with them, and supporting them. I mean, yeah, you can write a post. Yeah, it’s great. But if they can see you, like you’re sitting in your apartment, or your office nook, like I am, or you know, like … And you’re like, “Hey! Welcome to the program. We’re super excited to have you here. This is how things work. You can point things out. Imagine it’s maybe a combination of video you [00:33:00] and screenshots.

Chris Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Diana Tower: To explain how to use things. That along is gonna make people feel pretty taken care of.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: And it’s human, right?

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: That video element can really make a big difference.

And then, having that roadmap, like make things easy. Put everything everywhere. Okay. This is a really good point too.

Chris Davis: Whoa, put everything everywhere. I like that.

Diana Tower: Everything everywhere. Like links everywhere. Guidelines, they need to be in the pinned post at the bottom. [00:33:30] Create like a quick links legend.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: Like the guidelines, the roadmap, the welcome post, whatever’s important and that they need to know where it is, put it in the group description. Put it in the pinned post. Put it everywhere, because people, they’re kinda lazy. They’re not gonna … Let’s be real. That’s like a community manager being real. People-

Chris Davis: Yep.

Diana Tower: Like the amount of times I get messages from people like, “Hey, where are the community guidelines?” Or, “How can I do …” You know it’s like, “Where can I find this?”

Chris Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Diana Tower: It’s like, “It’s right [00:34:00] here, and here, and here, and here.” Or you can use the search function.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: People don’t seem to know about the search function.

Chris Davis: Across the board. Across the board.

Diana Tower: Across the board.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: So I would say that those would be some of the big things. But I think, also, be really intentional with your engagement. So let’s focus on community guidelines for your members. But community guidelines for you as a host or a community manager. You cannot be in there all the [00:34:30] time. And also, you need to think about like when people see that you’re being active, how is that making them feel? Again, with the emotions.

Chris Davis: Yeah. Right.

Diana Tower: So it’s like, if I’m commenting on somebody’s post, and maybe it’s like, “Okay, it’s a pretty good post.” And like they’re celebrating a win that they’ve gotten. That’s great. But imagine that there’s somebody else over here who is supporting another member, who is doing an amazing job. And imagine I go over there, and I say, “Hey. Thank you so much for taking the time to [00:35:00] support John. And we really appreciate you. And thanks so much for taking the time to do that.

What you’re doing is you’re sending a message to everyone. And also, that person A, they feel appreciated, so they’re gonna do it more. B, everyone else is looking at that and seeing it, saying, “Hey. Maybe I should help out a little more.” And maybe Diana, or whoever the host is, might do the same thing for me.

Chris Davis: Yeah.

Diana Tower: ‘Cause people want to feel special and appreciated.

Chris Davis: Right. Right.

Diana Tower: I mean that’s kind of basic human function. [00:35:30] And so, if you want people to do something, reward them for that with your interaction.

Chris Davis: Got you. Got you.

Well, Diana, thank you. I’m just gonna be honest. I’ve got like four or five more questions. They just keep popping in my head the more you talk.

Diana Tower: Well-

Chris Davis: But no. You’ve given more than enough.

Diana Tower: Well I can always come back. You could twist my arm.

Chris Davis: Right?

Diana Tower: You could definitely twist my arm, Chris. I mean-

Chris Davis: You know what? I’m gonna extend the invitation and I’m gonna let our listeners speak. So [00:36:00] if you want Diana back on, let your voice be known. Let it be heard. Let me know. And I promise you, as she has said, she will come back on. ‘Cause I do have question. I have more, that go around gamification, right?

Diana Tower: Okay. I have some views on gamification. That’s for sure.

Chris Davis: So anyways, that’s for another day. But Diana, how can people connect with you and find out more about you?

Diana Tower: Well, people can connect with me, actually, I do have an enchilada bundle.

Chris Davis: Oo.

Diana Tower: So it’s like [00:36:30] all my stuff, alright. So like, I mentioned before that I wrote a couple ultimate guides. I’ve got some great step by step guides for actually setting up … Actually, this one people might love, ’cause it’s a PDF guide of how to actually set up your Facebook or Slack group step by step.

Chris Davis: Nice.

Diana Tower: So it’s like everything. So if you’re thinking about doing that, you can grab this. And it’s all in a bundle. And you guys can go to DianaTower.com/AC.

Chris Davis: Great.

Diana Tower: Super easy.

Chris Davis: [00:37:00] Yep.

Diana Tower: And snap that up. And that’s where you can find me on the internet.

Chris Davis: Alright. And we’ll have that link in the show notes as well. Diana, I cannot thank you enough for spending some time with me on the podcast to talk about community. It is important. And in the digital age, it’s our means of making personal connections. But you have to be strategic and you have to be intentional. So I think you spoke to that perfectly, and far greater than anyone else I know. So thank you again for coming [00:37:30] on, and best of continued success to you.

Diana Tower: Thank you so much, Chris, for having me. It was an absolute pleasure.

Chris Davis: Alright. I’ll see you online.

Diana Tower: Bye.

Chris Davis: Thank you for listening to this episode of The ActiveCampaign Podcast. If you can’t tell, I had a lot of fun recording this one. It’s something about community. I didn’t realize it, but it just kinda gets me going. Because in the digital space, when you sit back and think, it’s the community. It’s the digital communities [00:38:00] that really help bring that human element back into what can be so impersonal with digital marketing and doing business digitally. So I am an advocate of community. Build one by any means that makes sense to your business, your model, your strategy. But let people commune, right? Let ’em talk. Let ’em help each other for the sake of not just your business success, [00:38:30] but for their success. And I hope this podcast and all the resources provided will help you along that journey to do it more efficiently and effectively.

If this is your first time listening to the podcast, listen, there’s more where that came from. At least 60 other episodes you haven’t heard. So what do I want you to do? Go and subscribe right now. We are in iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, SoundCloud. Anywhere where you can access podcasts on your mobile phone of iPad or [00:39:00] mobile device, you can listen to the ActiveCampaign podcast. So do that for me. And while you’re at it, could you do me one more favor and leave a five-star rating or a review, and a review, to let me know how we’re doing. It helps not keep the lights on, but it helps get the word out everybody. Get the word out so people can hear, can listen, and can learn. Okay, listen and learn for the betterment of their business.

If you’re struggling with ActiveCampaign in [00:39:30] any capacity, if you’re stuck, you’re trying to figure something out, don’t stay stuck. We have complimentary one on ones. Somebody from the success team is ready and awaiting your call. Yes. A human being is ready and willing to talk to you personally about your exact issue and ActiveCampaign. You can sign up for your free training, your free one on one at ActiveCampaign.com/training. If you wanna take a more self-guided approach, I invite you to come to the education center, [00:40:00] ActiveCampaign.com/learn. Guys, podcasts, videos, webinars, all of that is easily accessible there. This is the ActiveCampaign podcast, the small business podcast to help you scale and propel your business with automation. I will see you on the next episode.

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