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Community, Women in Tech

Happy International Women’s Day 2018

Happy International Women’s Day, friends! ❤

This isn’t just a day for celebrating women – but heck yeah, break out the cupcakes! – for me, it’s about celebrating women who lift each other up.

So I wanted to write a special note that gives a shout-out to a women-led community I’m so proud to be part of: The Shine Crew.

The Shine Crew is made up entirely of female founders, consultants, and experts in their fields of CRO, SaaS, and more.

The eight of us came together to support each other, help each other, bounce ideas off of each other, and be each other’s biggest cheerleaders. And it has been a profound experience being part of a group of women who are brilliant, driven, and so incredibly generous.

A community doesn’t have to be big to have a powerful impact.

Community, Content Marketing, Startups

How 14,500 marketers are creating the future of content consumption ft. @ZestisApp

Yam Regev is CEO, CMO and Co-Founder of Zest.is, a platform that delivers extremely high-quality content about marketing to marketers. In this interview, he talks about building a company with tribes, launching by word-of-mouth, and the big idea behind Zest that could change content consumption as we know it.

Zest.is addresses a problem we’ve all felt when searching for useful, informative articles online that tell us what we need to know – only to find fluff, misinformation, clickbait, and fake news. Social Media filters, Google’s algorithms and machine learning are currently no match for people who have learned to game these systems and manipulate readers into clicking into useless articles.

The nuts and bolts of Zest are simple. It’s a new-tab Chrome extension where marketers can share and discover high-quality, genuinely informative articles about marketing. All of the content on Zest’s feed is suggested and manually moderated by its marketer community members. In fact, less than one percent of suggested content makes it to the feed – a point of pride for Yam Regev, Zest co-founder, CEO and CMO.

Why sift through content manually instead of just developing better algorithms and machine learning? The thought had crossed their minds – before they dismissed it as just not good enough.

“When we thought of doing it that way, we thought we’d be only creating another manipulatable type of platform, like Google. We needed to create a human-based model, a vote-based type of platform. But even an upvote system can be manipulated, and there’s no guarantee upvoted articles contain valuable content – it can be like a popularity contest. We went to a Seth Godin Ted Talk in 2009, and he talked about the Tribe-based model.”

Seth Godin’s Ted Talk sparked an idea for Yam Regev and his co-founder Idan Yalovich, who didn’t plan on just creating another content curation platform. They wanted to start a much larger movement.

Seth Godin’s Ted Talk sparked an idea for Yam Regev and his co-founder Idan Yalovich, who didn’t plan on just creating another content curation platform. They wanted to start a much larger movement.

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Enjoy this article? Sign up for my Sunday Brunch newsletter.

My newsletter is strictly about building online communities, in places like Facebook groups and Slack channels (to name but two), around your SaaS product and brand. Communities help promote higher lifetime value, lower churn, happier customers, and – my favorite – customer success. But it’s not enough to just invite people to join. Creating a genuine sense of community is a little more complicated – and that’s what my newsletter is about.

Community, Content Marketing

Forget content – pro-blogging is all about networking ft. @mtnsidebride

Christie Osborne—bride blogger at Mountainside Bride and marketing consultant for wedding professionals at Mountainside Media—talks about how today’s bloggers are banding together to make a living.

Blogging has changed significantly over the past seven years. Algorithms and banner ads rose and fell. Blogs grew from personal journals into serious business, as bloggers and brands learned how to work together.

Christie Osborne has been blogging about weddings since 2010, first with Hindsight Bride, then transforming that into Mountainside Bride and her marketing consultancy, Mountainside Media. She’s also been on the other side of the blogging world as the media director for Visit Mammoth.


Image Source: Mountainside Bride

In blogging, as in much of the tech world, seven years is a lifetime. In wedding blogging, where most bride bloggers last for one or two years before finding they have nothing left to say, you can count Christie’s tenure in dog years.

To say she has a valuable perspective to offer on building a sustainable blogging business is an understatement. She’s got it on lock.

And the secret to successful, income-generating blogging isn’t at all what you’d think.

“Everyone thinks blogging is about the content. Great content just gives you parity. Publishing your content on social media just gives you parity.

“What’s the X factor that allows some people to grow really quickly? In my experience, as a small niche blog and a consultant who quit her job a year ago and got work immediately – it wasn’t my blog. My blog was there as a testament to what I could do, to build authority, to be there at the review phase, but I wouldn’t have been able to grow my business so quickly without people referring me.

‘Yes you need SEO, a great website, to blog regularly and be on social media. Yes you need to be a real person in your email marketing. But unless you have a posse in 2017, you don’t exist.”

Did I mention that Christie is blunt? She’s blunt.

But that’s why she gives such good advice.

Bride blogging has come a long way

Christie started Hindsight Bride (now Mountainside Bride) in 2010, after planning her own mountain wedding. She felt alone, without resources. And mountain weddings can be unexpectedly difficult. Vendors can be unreliable, and if you’re stuck halfway up a mountain without port-a-potties, you’re not just up a mountain, you’re up a creek.

“Back then there was neither information nor inspiration for mountain couples. So I dove in to help people like me to learn from my mistakes, and to find the resources and information that are so specific to mountain weddings.”

From the beginning, her bride blog was “all about The Pretty,” but supported by information.

“I run between 25 to 40 images per real wedding and often support my advice posts with 5 to 10 images.”


Source: Mountainside Bride

In the early days, she says growth was easy – and exponential.

“It was easy because there was no one else in that particular space. And you feel like that’s never going to end. But when you stick through the slumps and plateaus, you find that your audience (and it’s a little easier with weddings – our audience changes every 6 to 12 months) gets burnt out. And your message after two or three years doesn’t seem shiny, new or exciting. Not for you, not for anyone.”

Part of Christie’s success in growing her blog into not just one, but two businesses, is sheer staying power and professional drive.

“If you’re going to be a blogger for more than 2-3 years, you’re going to have to get used to the fact that you won’t always be that special internet snowflake and a huge part of your audience will churn. You have to understand that you’ll have to drum up new businesses, and you won’t feel like it, and it won’t be as easy as it was in the beginning.

“That’s when your huge plateaus happen.”

That’s a natural hurdle any blogger, in any industry, comes across sooner or later. But there were other obstacles that came clear out of nowhere that hit the bride blogging industry especially hard.

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Community, Content Marketing, Curation, Guest Posts, Tools

Six Underrated Ways For Startups To Curate Great Content by @TheCoolestCool

One of the keys to great content marketing is the ability to curate great content. Click To Tweet

There are myriad approaches to content curation, from leveraging Facebook and Twitter to using tools created specifically for content curation. Some strategies, like trolling your LinkedIn feed, are old hat; others are still relatively unknown and underrated.

Let’s fix that. I’ve taken the time to write up six underrated ways for your startup to curate great content that your competition is likely ignoring.

But first…

I want to ensure that you understand the role of content curation and what it means. In my ultimate guide to content curation I describe the process as follows:

“Content curation is the act of finding information and resources that your audience would find value in and sharing it through appropriate marketing channels.”

The important thing to note about curation is that it is not content creation. (I’ve also written an article that outlines the differences between curation and creation and why both play important roles in the content marketing mix.)

You see, content creation is like the role of an artist, while content curation is like the role of an art gallery—one creates the art, the other determines which pieces to display. This difference often leads startups to undervalue content curation when in reality it can play just as big a role in driving results.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way… Let’s talk about some of those underrated content curation ideas that could give you an edge over the competition:

Finesse Your Facebook Searches

Facebook is a staple in content curation, with thousands of content marketers flocking to the site to find hot topics and trending articles in their industries. But you can optimize your curation process by making a tiny tweak to the way you search for content.

How so?

Instead of doing a Facebook search and browsing the first results that pop up, do your search and then click “Links” at the top:

It’s as simple as that. By finessing your search, you’ll get results from relevant, share-worthy sources instead of photos and memes. In the example above, I searched for Bitcoin-related content and sorted the results by Links rather than People, Posts, Videos or Pages. As a result, I got articles from top sites like Business Insider and the Wall Street Journal.

Some marketers undervalue Facebook search, but I’m a believer that it could eventually give Google and Bing a run for their money. But that’s a topic for another blog post. 😉

Search Hot Topics On Reddit

Reddit has always been the ugly duckling of the content curation world—and the marketing world as a whole. The site can be confusing at first, and there are a lot of incorrect assumptions flying around about its marketing potential.

But when used correctly, Reddit can give you the edge on your competition. You see, most people think Reddit is simply a place to upload a handful of memes, submit links to their website, run a few ads, and hope you’ll be successful. In reality, the world of Reddit marketing is a lot more complex.

For starters, Redditors hate marketing. As a Redditor myself, I can tell you that I’m 100% with the folks who hate marketing, because most marketers who use Reddit to promote their brands do so really, really badly.

Which is why I’m a huge advocate of two simple steps when it comes to curation:

  1. Understand the community’s interests
  2. Look for content that is on the rise or already popular

To start this process, visit a subreddit and sort the content by top posts, which will help you understand what your audience wants. For example, if you dive into the subreddit /r/Futurology and sort by top posts, you’ll see this:

Now, ignoring the ad at the top, those first three posts are quite interesting if you want to connect with people who are passionate about the future. To me, these results present three obvious opportunities: (1) share these exact articles, (2) visit their source websites (Vox, Inverse) to find more content worth sharing, and (3) look for articles on these topics and brands (clearly Google should be on your radar).

Another way to leverage Reddit as a curation source is to ask Redditors straight up: Where do you find your best content? What are the best newsletters for someone interested in XYZ to subscribe to? Podcasts? Blogs? You get the idea… You might be surprised how helpful communities are to people simply looking for resources.

Subscribe To Industry Newsletters

Just like a magazine subscription, an industry newsletter subscription delivers niche content straight to your inbox. Once you’ve subscribed to a number of newsletters that are relevant to you and your audience, you’ll be regularly receiving articles to share on your social networks.

The key to leveraging industry newsletters as a content curation tactic is finding a few that aren’t necessarily subscribed to by the masses. Look for industry newsletters with fewer than 1,000 subscribers so there’s less of a chance that your audience is already receiving their content.  

Use Existing Content Curation Tools

Content curation tools have recently blown up, and rightfully so. These tools make it 10 times easier to discover and distribute content that your audience would find interesting.

Tools like Crate allow you to find and share content within minutes. By uploading a handful of relevant keywords, you’ll get a feed filled with content to add to your Buffer queue or send out in a newsletter.

Scoop.it is another great curation tool that you can use to quickly and effectively curate your content. Scoop.it is a free site where users can gather information about any topic they want—think Pinterest, but for industry professionals.

Want more? Here’s a list of my favorite content curation tools for your curation toolkit.

Find Goodreads in Slack Communities

Slack communities are filled with passionate people discussing everything from the latest tech to last night’s football game. That means these communities are a great place to find interesting content on just about any topic.

In many Slack communities, there’s a channel dedicated solely to goodreads, making it easy for you to find content worth sharing on your own networks. To take it a step further, some communities even have channels where members are asked to share their content. While this isn’t a thing in all communities, if you can find one where people are encouraged to #ShamelessPlug, why not leverage this opportunity to find content for sharing—and to share your own content?

Dive Into Your Niche In Industry Forums & Communities

Yes, I know that forums and online bulletin boards are straight out of the ’90s, but I’m here to tell you that they are just as relevant today as they were back then. In fact, it’s possible that they’re even more relevant now—because they are more focused.

Passionate people talking about their passions with other passionate people. That’s the best and only way to describe the current landscape of online industry forums.

As such, they’re gold mines for new content—after all, they are filled with people sharing content assets that they believe others LIKE THEM will find interesting.

So if you’re targeting chefs, why not join a forum for chefs and see what they’re sharing with one another? If you’re targeting small business owners, it only makes sense to join a small business forum and see what type of content they’re sharing.

If you want concrete examples, take a close look at Inbound, Designer News, Hacker News and GrowthHackers—all communities that marketers and startups often rely on to find interesting content. Here’s the rundown of what each site is all about:

And trust me when I say this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to forums you can leverage for content curation.

Curation Isn’t Easy. But It Doesn’t Have To Be Draining.

Take this list of underrated content curation resources and go uncover some awesome content to share with your audience. Ideally, you’ll end up with a consistent stream of content that you can rely on month after month (and make your life easier!).

I know firsthand that content curation isn’t easy…that’s why I built Crate. I also know that content curation is one of those things you get better at the more you do it. So wherever you choose to troll for content, keep at it, and know that great content can come from anywhere.

On that note, I’d LOVE to hear your underrated sources for curating content! Did any of these help you, or do you know of a strategy that I might be overlooking?

Let me know in the comments or get in touch over Twitter.

Community, Email Marketing

It’s not marketing – it’s making friends at scale ft. @bythepartygirl

Most bloggers use Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter to cultivate their audiences. But lifestyle and party blogger Ashley McAllister has a knack for making friends (and clients) through email subscriptions – something very few bloggers, or businesses, get right.

Canadians party differently than their Stateside counterparts, according to Ashley McAllister, blogger at The Party Girl and Etsy store owner. Americans seem to take things further, creating epic events out of weekend girls’ brunches and balloon-festooned birthday parties for toddlers. Part of the reason, she suspects, is that Americans have so many more resources, including multiple craft stores and Target. Canada has Michaels… and the internet.

Before Amazon, life for a party girl was a lot harder. Especially in a small town just outside of Toronto. Ashley says, “I felt like all of this really cool stuff was out of reach.”

But that seems to have only made Ashley more creative. This woman can make a cake topper out of just about anything.

In a country where the population, outside of a handful of urban centers, is spread out over 3.8 million miles, it can be hard to find people who share your passions. Especially when the dominant culture is a bit more understated.

“There are people up here like me. But I couldn’t find them.”

That began to change with Instagram.

“You see images people are sharing and that creates a following, and as people see images of what other people are doing, that style of party throwing is growing here. Having a theme and different elements and DIY projects. I didn’t used to see that very much. DIY wasn’t that big here except maybe for weddings, and that’s changing.

“But there has been a bit of a gap up here. People thought the DIY projects were out of range.”

The Party Girl blog began as a desire to share her crafts with friends and family, but the more she crafted, the more she felt there was a gap to fill.

“I thought maybe there are other people out there who would like to see this type of thing, or feel like they could do it if they saw someone else do it. The blog began as a way to create that community, where people could see what other people were doing and see that it isn’t crazy, that they weren’t alone, and that it’s not insane to DIY everything for your wedding or bridal shower.”

And it’s in creating community where Ashley McAllister truly shines.

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Community, Product Management

“Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré on creating a customer-centric community for your product” ft. @Autopilotus

Building a community around your product can be both a quick win and longer term customer retention strategy.

They’re easy to create—as simple as a setting up a Slack channel or Facebook group. Plus, they’re a powerful asset not only for customers, but also for your marketing, support, success, and product teams.

Above all else, they’re a way to prove that you really are customer-centric—because the whole point is that you’re right there to answer their questions, share ideas with them, listen to their suggestions, and give them a place to communicate with each other about how they’re using your product.

ProdPad has been having great success with their Slack channel. Their UX team uses it to share mockups and sketches for things they’re working on, find suitable users for research and interviews, and collect voice-of-customer data. But that’s nothing compared to what it has done for their customer retention.

As ProdPad’s Head of Growth Nandini Jammi notes, “Slack has quietly become our strongest retention channel at ProdPad.”

“As time passed, we started seeing a pattern we really liked: Customers who join our Slack community were not cancelling their ProdPad plans at all. In fact, 99% of our cancellations were (and still are) coming from customers who weren’t part of our community.”

But they’re not seeing results because someone took 5 minutes to set up a Slack channel. They’re seeing results because of how they’re using it: They’re committed to transparency, have a policy of “never saying no” to a customer, and log every single conversation as customer feedback because it’s important to them.

“We can handle all kinds of feedback because we engage with it and actively work to find our solutions for our customers.”

How to create a customer-centric product community

1. Establish your philosophical framework

You need every member of your team to understand what your community is—and, just as importantly, what it isn’t. ProdPad’s community works because they’re 100% committed to transparency and welcome the customer into their process. Yes, you’re doing this to drive retention and referrals. But if you aren’t primarily doing this to help your customers succeed with your product, you won’t achieve either of those outcomes.

Another question to ask yourself is, what you want to accomplish with your community? Do you want to increase retention by supporting existing customers? Or, do you want to create a space that helps you attract and acquire ideal customers? For example, Pieter Levels, founder of NomadList, created a Slack community that was only loosely tied to NomadList, but cleverly targeted ideal users. It now has nearly 10,000 members, 3,000 of whom are active on a monthly basis.

Fun fact: Growth Hackers began as a community for Qualaroo, and Inbound.org began as a community for HubSpot. Don’t be surprised if your community takes on a life of its own!

2. Choose your platform

The type of community you choose depends on your intended users and your bandwidth. B2B SaaS companies might find that their target customers are already on Slack, making it a natural platform for their branded community. Other demographics barely know what Slack is, but are on Facebook all the time.

If it aligns with your goals and you’re able to allocate the resources, you can even develop your own community and give it a home on your website. If you go down that path, you’ll reap the rewards of increased brand awareness, SEO, and customer loyalty.

As with any kind of marketing, go where your target users already are.

3. Set up your community

To create a community on Slack or Facebook, follow these instructions:

If you plan to develop your own community, take inspiration from these DIY communities:

4. Set expectations

Part of customer success is setting expectations—and you’ll want to set expectations with your customers early on when creating a product community.

The expectations you’ll need to set will differ from platform to platform. For example, Facebook groups benefit from having a set of conduct rules pinned to the top of the page. That way people know what is and isn’t allowed. (Hint: Be prepared to enforce those rules by booting people out.)

Slack presents other challenges. Because Slack enables instant messaging, people tend to expect instant responses. If you have the bandwidth to respond right away, good for you! If you can’t, do like this company did and say so.

“To counter unrealistic availability expectations, we laid out a couple of ground rules together with our clients, such as nobody needs to always answer right away. Although more direct than email, everybody should see Slack as an asynchronous means of communication,” wrote Christian Weyer, Partner, Crispy Mountain.

5. Promote your community

Slack communities and Facebook groups both require users to be “invited” (or at least approved) by admins. The easiest way to discover users to invite is to promote a signup form.

Typeform is an easy, free service that creates simple forms. You’ll only need a few fields: name, email (so you can send the invite), links to online profiles, and why the person wants to join. Check out this guide to integrating Typeform and Slack.

This  is a segment from Autopilot’s blog, 11 Winning Retention Tactics from 11 Remarkable Marketers.

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Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Community

Crush It on Product Hunt: 10 Tips to Reach a Top 10 Spot

I’m a Product Hunt moderator. I also work as a SaaS consultant, growth marketer, and customer success evangelist. Throughout my career, I’ve seen great ideas fail to gain traction and mediocre ideas lift off.

Sometimes, the stars align and a company has both – a great product and incredible growth. These are the products that sell themselves. Think Slack, Buffer, and Zendesk.

Assuming you have a killer product like these companies, Product Hunt is “Tech’s New Tastemaker“ and a way to start your meteoric rise to the top.

How you can join the Hunt

Before we hop in, know that the Product Hunt community has a neighborhood watch program of sorts. Community members are often the ones who keep an eye on the boards. Trying to cheat the system won’t you get anywhere, but following these ten tips will…

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Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.

Community

The Ultimate Guide to Using Product Hunt for Your Startup by @NikkiElizDeMere

the-ultimate-guide-to-using-product-hunt

Product Hunt makes it easy for people to share the tech products and apps they’re into – what they love, what they use, what they’re excited about. It’s like highly targeted social media in which every user is tech-literate and interested in finding the latest smart solutions to their problems.

But more than that, Product Hunt has become a community of likeminded people who are willing to give insights into products, engage with other users, share tips and ideas, and bond with each other over shared interests. It’s a crazy combination of user-generated marketing and old-fashioned “geeking out.”

Does that sound like your target market? Then Product Hunt is where your startup needs to be.

However, just like you wouldn’t try writing a long blog post on Twitter, there are some protocols to keep in mind when interacting with this community. Here’s how to navigate the social waters so your startup company can join the Hunt.

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Let’s Get SaaSsy – I’m offering a limited number of SaaS consulting engagements.