Driving Engagement - In conversation with Thirza Loffeld

Thirza Loffeld, WildHub’s community manager, joined me to discuss how to drive engagement in online communities. The interview is broken down into three sub-topics: Building a successful community, The launch and Post-launch, what now?

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Interview structure:

  • 00.00 min    Introduction
  • 02.09 min    Structuring your online community
  • 03.52 min    Pre-launch: Thinking about newsletters
  • 06.06 min    Where to find your users
  • 08.32 min    Things community managers should do to prepare for the launch

  • 12.22 min    The launch: Making users feel welcomed and engaged
  • 15.31 min    Converting visitors into registered users
  • 19.53 min    Encouraging the production of organic content
  • 23.31 min    Most popular types of content
  • 19.53 min    Helpful Zapnito features
  • 28.20 min    Initiating room conversations

  • 29.22 min    Post-launch, what now? Furthering engagement
  • 31.28 min    The importance of regularity
  • 34.21 min    Tools to measure engagement
  • 37.10 min    Thirza’s advice to community managers
  • Hi Thirza, thank you so much for joining me in today's call. 00:00
  • We're going to be talking about driving engagement in your online community. 00:04
  • This call is going to be structured in three different sections. 00:08
  • We're going to be talking about building a successful community. 00:12
  • Then we'll talk about the launch. 00:15
  • And finally, we're going to be talking about the post-launch. 00:17
  • What happens then? 00:20
  • And you are there founder and the manager of WildHub, which is a community of 00:22
  • conservation professionals that come from over 80 countries and they frequently 00:28
  • interact with one another in 24 rooms. 00:33
  • Thirza, would you like to briefly introduce yourself? 00:36
  • Sure I do Georgina. 00:40
  • Thank you so much for this opportunity. 00:41
  • Well, um, so, so I started my professional career focusing 00:43
  • on the behavior of great apes. 00:47
  • Um, so mainly gorillas and also chimpanzees. 00:50
  • And then whilst I was doing, um, a master course on private conservation, 00:55
  • I gained some experience, um, with the capacity development side of things. 00:59
  • So looking at those who work in the fields, um, how training can actually 01:04
  • help them do their jobs even better. 01:10
  • Um, but also the social support that people need when, um, they work, for 01:13
  • example, in a very isolated circumstances. 01:18
  • So that sent me kind of on the path of, uh, looking at the people that 01:21
  • actually work in conservation more than, um, the great apes or other animals. 01:24
  • Um, and this was, it was a really fascinating path for me. 01:29
  • Um, and this is also why I chose the topic of, um, professional 01:33
  • learning within conservationists. 01:37
  • As a topic of my PhD research. 01:41
  • So next to WildHub, I'm still finishing that research and the 01:43
  • two go really well hand in hand. 01:46
  • So I'm also the WildHub, the manager, community manager, 01:48
  • of WildHub at the moment. 01:51
  • Yeah. 01:54
  • And it's amazing. 01:54
  • Just one look at the community and you can just tell so much work has been put 01:55
  • into it because it just flows on its own. 01:59
  • So one of the things that I just guess that people ask you 02:02
  • about is "how did you do it?" 02:07
  • And what I'm very curious to know, which relates to this question is why 02:08
  • did you structure the community in the way that you did before the launch? 02:14
  • Okay, it's a good question. 02:20
  • Well, so I have to give you a bit of the background origin of WildHub. 02:22
  • Um, because I was hired as a community manager by WildTeam UK 02:26
  • and WildTeam UK is, um, a charity. 02:31
  • Conservation charity that focuses on the capacity development of 02:36
  • those who work in conservation, but also those who would like to start 02:39
  • a career in wildlife conservation. 02:43
  • So, um, Adam and the team, they hired me in this position and 02:45
  • they had already done a survey among prospective members in 2019. 02:50
  • And so they asked people what they thought of, um, a prospective community 02:56
  • that they wanted to start, um, which topics they would like to talk about, 03:01
  • how to engage, how to interact. 03:05
  • And if we could get back in touch with them, basically, um, when 03:07
  • this would materialize a bit more. 03:11
  • And so when I started in January, 2020, um, I started my journey with the Zapnito 03:13
  • team and we kind of looked at those results as well as a way of structuring 03:18
  • the channels and also later the rooms. 03:24
  • So that was kind of the basis for, for how we structured the platform. 03:27
  • Um, additionally too, when, when I started, I also looked at other 03:32
  • providers, so we, we have some communities already in conservation 03:36
  • profession and I looked at how I can compliment, compliment their efforts. 03:41
  • So we don't reinvent the wheel. 03:45
  • Um, Yeah, that's kind of how we structured it. 03:48
  • Nice. 03:52
  • And also before the launch, had you set up newsletters so that when, you 03:52
  • know, people go into the community and they register, they have these 03:58
  • like emails that are sent out to them. 04:02
  • Where these newsletters created on the site? 04:04
  • So our stories may be a little bit, um, non-standard in that. 04:08
  • Although we started our journey, um, developing the platform or 04:13
  • tailoring the platform with the help of the Zapnito team, with you, and 04:17
  • then your colleagues in January. 04:21
  • We weren't actually, um, finished by the time we, we opened our fair chill door. 04:24
  • So when we opened registration and the reason for that was because of COVID-19. 04:30
  • So in March in the UK, the lock down happens. 04:36
  • And, uh, I noticed so many other platforms of social media, for example, 04:40
  • that my colleagues in the fields, they, they were asking each other 04:44
  • for help and advice on what to do. 04:49
  • Should they send their staff back home? 04:52
  • Should they, um, continue building donor relationships? 04:54
  • What, what were the donors be doing in this situation? 04:58
  • Can they continue to work? 05:01
  • And so, I felt it was really timely to provide a space for conservation 05:03
  • professionals to come together, to share information, but also 05:08
  • to socially support one another. 05:12
  • And this is very much in line with our goal or aims as, as a community. 05:14
  • So instead of waiting for perfection, um, to happen on our platform 05:19
  • we actually decided to open, um, open registration a bit earlier. 05:25
  • So that was kind of where we started. 05:31
  • And so when we started registration, the daily digest was already 05:33
  • available to people, so they could kind of cherry pick what they 05:39
  • wanted to be updated on via email. 05:42
  • Um, and then two weeks later we started the highlights. 05:44
  • Um, so I think the reason for that was that we were already gathering, 05:48
  • uh, soliciting contents, uh, leading up to opening the registration 05:52
  • and, um, and we just needed a few more weeks to prepare that. 05:57
  • So we had a few more pieces to publish in the weeks to come. 06:01
  • I see. 06:06
  • And you mentioned earlier that, you know, you were hired by WildTeams 06:07
  • to build a successful community. 06:11
  • Um, the more than 1000 conservation professionals that currently 06:14
  • interact with one another there, did they also come from WildTeams? 06:18
  • Did you know them or were these new people that registered on the community? 06:23
  • Well, I was really lucky in that. 06:29
  • Um, I could build on my professional networks. 06:31
  • So I felt, as a community manager, what is a better than to actually reach out 06:34
  • to those that already know me and I know them and there's already a relationship 06:40
  • in place because those people, you know, there's already a trust between us. 06:44
  • They know who I am, what I stand for, what my values are. 06:48
  • And so it's easier then to communicate what our vision is for WildHub, but also 06:51
  • to invite them to join this and discuss this vision and make it their own. 06:55
  • So become an advocate. 07:00
  • And so we started these weekly conversations with, um, a small 07:02
  • group of members initially. 07:05
  • Um, and we just discussed what they wanted to talk about, whether, you know, what 07:07
  • we got from the 2019 survey was actually in line with what they're thinking, 07:12
  • what their needs, where their needs lie. 07:16
  • And, um, but also how to interact and how to grow our community. 07:19
  • So how then to reach out to others that might be in need, um, the technical 07:23
  • and the social support that we want to provide as a, as a community. 07:27
  • Uh, and this happened before the launch, this meeting where you d scussed. 07:31
  • I guess, you know, our launch was not as official, um, in terms of 07:35
  • when we opened our virtual doors. 07:40
  • So when registration started in March, uh, we didn't quite, um, call it a launch yet. 07:42
  • So we were open to, uh, you know, those who knew us, who we reached 07:49
  • out to and we steadily grew that. 07:54
  • And, um, I think when we did. 07:58
  • Um, manage to have like one event that we kind of, we wanted to celebrate 08:02
  • our community, which was in June. 08:06
  • So that was our first festival, our WildHub festival, which 08:08
  • was completely member led. 08:12
  • And I think that's something that, you know, that was for us the time 08:14
  • to really celebrate our community, see how far we had come already. 08:17
  • By that time we had 500 members, so quite a few already. 08:21
  • Um, so yeah, that's kind of how we grew. 08:25
  • We grew quite organically, if you will. 08:28
  • And is there anything that community managers should do in preparation for 08:32
  • their launch that you found helpful? 08:38
  • Yes. 08:44
  • Um, there are few things I think, well, from our perspective, so we're a member 08:44
  • led, a global member led community. 08:50
  • For us, um, it's really important that the community members 08:53
  • feel, um, involved in there. 08:57
  • That they have a voice is basically in how we grow our community or we develop. 09:00
  • And so, um, so engaging members and prospective members from the, from the 09:05
  • first moment was really important to us, um, to become really truly member led. 09:11
  • And, um, and so think about, you know, I would say as advice, maybe 09:17
  • think about your community's name. 09:22
  • Um, does that actually connect with the professional identity of your 09:24
  • members or prospective members? 09:29
  • Is that, um, a name that, you know, that kind of inspires belonging? 09:31
  • If that makes sense. 09:37
  • So I think that's something I would like to share. 09:38
  • Um, I think also it's vital to listen to your members. 09:42
  • So, you know, both the positive and the negative feedback and, you know, 09:45
  • do they, can you make them feel heard? 09:50
  • So a big part of my job as a community manager of WildHub 09:52
  • is, um, to really listen to our members, listen to their challenges. 09:55
  • Um, How, you know, which technical support or social support 10:00
  • they could use at the moment? 10:05
  • Or maybe it's a combination of both. 10:06
  • And, um, we also received. 10:09
  • So based on our experience, some concerns on our initial name that we 10:12
  • suggested, and not everyone felt really strongly connected with that name. 10:15
  • And then we decided to act on those concerns by starting a brainstorm in our 10:20
  • community for alternative, um, uh, names. 10:24
  • And we ended up with a vote so WildHub is very much chosen by our members 10:28
  • that they feel it's representative. 10:34
  • They like to connect with such a name. 10:36
  • Um, and we also adjusted our brand colors based on the member feedback. 10:39
  • So that's one thing I think, you know, but that's coming from 10:43
  • the angle of being member led. 10:47
  • And other thing is that, um, you know, asking for feedback from a select group 10:50
  • of your members, or maybe when you start small, like we did, you could ask 10:55
  • them to test your platform and improve the user experience before you launch. 10:58
  • So this really helped us prepare better. 11:03
  • And I guess a third thing that I would recommend is to review, really take 11:07
  • some time to review your terms of use, your community policy, um, uh, privacy 11:11
  • policy or privacy policy, cookies policy. 11:18
  • All these documents, they're official looking documents. 11:21
  • Cause I noticed that, um, because we're a global or international 11:24
  • community and not everyone has English as their first language. 11:28
  • Same, like, I, I don't have English as a first language, is, are these 11:33
  • documents actually accessible to them? 11:36
  • So I know that in the UK, for example, we are very used to going through the terms 11:39
  • of use, privacy policies, all of those things, but that's not necessarily in 11:43
  • every country or for everyone the same. 11:47
  • So some people might feel a bit daunted by that by, you know, what's this 11:50
  • text and what does this actually mean? 11:53
  • So we had help with other community managers, one in particular 11:55
  • from the conservation community. 12:00
  • And we looked at their terms of use and also their community guidelines. 12:01
  • And we adopted some of their work with their permission and it really helped us 12:06
  • to become more accessible and to not scare people off when they, when they sign up. 12:10
  • So there's something I would like to give as a, as a piece of advice 12:15
  • that was really important for us. 12:19
  • Great. 12:22
  • So we've spoken about how you build a successful community, what 12:22
  • you can do in order to prepare. 12:27
  • Now, we're going to be talking about the actual launch and this question links 12:29
  • really well with what you just said, which is, is there anything that you do, 12:34
  • the moment a user registers, to welcome them to the community and to encourage 12:38
  • them to, as you said, to have a voice and participate and engage with others? 12:43
  • Yes, absolutely. 12:48
  • So, um, we use GoSquared and, um, so I see when the new, um, new members sign up. 12:50
  • Um, and, um, also if there are still certain settings that I need to 12:57
  • give them, some permissions before they can actually publish content. 13:01
  • And so, uh, this is part of our verification process. 13:06
  • That I reach out to them and, um, you know, I welcome them to the community, 13:09
  • let them know once the registration or the verification process has been 13:16
  • finished and also that they then can publish content and how to do that. 13:19
  • So basically, I give them one simple action that I invite them to do. 13:24
  • And this depends a little bit on the, on the member. 13:28
  • But in general, it would be, I would ask them to introduce themselves in 13:31
  • a room that we have set up, which we call "Let's welcome our new members". 13:36
  • And so it's something simple in a way that, you know, an 13:40
  • introduction is easily written. 13:44
  • Um, but it also allows them to try out our platform straight away. 13:47
  • So they get, they become familiar with how to publish content. 13:51
  • And then later on when they want to do that again, they've already set, they've 13:55
  • already, taken that first step, basically. 14:00
  • So that lowers the threshold a little bit in my experience. 14:03
  • Um, sometimes, I also ask people to, um, instead of writing an introduction 14:08
  • blog, to share lessons learned. 14:14
  • This depends a little bit on their background. 14:16
  • If I think, oh, if you know, they have a lot of work experience 14:18
  • in this topic on this topic. 14:21
  • And, um, that would actually be really beneficial for the rest of our community. 14:23
  • Then instead of an introduction block, they can still do that, but I would 14:27
  • then more, um, I would give them the action of maybe inviting them to, to do 14:30
  • a lessons learned contribution instead. 14:36
  • Um, and many of these messages I have, um, it's, you know, it's a personal 14:39
  • touch, but I have, uh, they go out via the automation settings in GoSquared. 14:44
  • Most of them do so, you know, it would be the invitation for the one action. 14:49
  • Then following up, making sure that they know how to do that. 14:55
  • So they get a link with the video in which I show them how 14:59
  • to publish content, for example. 15:01
  • Um, and, and I also offer them if they need more assistance in getting to know 15:04
  • our community and our platform that I can connect them to our WildHub coaches. 15:09
  • So that, so team of, of, uh, some of our core members who, um, can assist them. 15:14
  • And, um, publishing content for the first time, going through that process. 15:21
  • Um, and also making sure that their contributions are aligned 15:26
  • with our community guidelines. 15:29
  • This answer feeds so well into what I was going to say actually, is that I 15:31
  • saw the panel that you did with Charles and with Adam not too long ago, where 15:37
  • you spoke of converting people that are new to the community, into regulars. 15:42
  • And I assume the steps, these actions that you just described 15:47
  • would be really good for transforming visitors into registered users. 15:51
  • Is there anything else that a community managers should, you know, any other 15:57
  • things that you would like to add to that? 16:01
  • If not it's okay. 16:03
  • Yeah, I think, um, yeah, so for us it was, and this is actually from, um, 16:04
  • advice given by another community manager. 16:09
  • Um, so providing that space to welcome new members, I think is really nice. 16:12
  • And however you, you want to do that, we have a room for that. 16:17
  • Um, but also then when they post that introduction blog to make sure that you, 16:20
  • again, welcomed them, um, and build upon. 16:24
  • So they've taken that first action that you asked them to do, right? 16:27
  • And then, um, encourage, um, further engagement. 16:31
  • So, for example, I ask people in that introduction block to also share the 16:35
  • reasons why they'd want to join or where they decided to join WildHub. 16:40
  • And so if a member in their introduction block would say, well, I joined WildHub 16:44
  • because of the network opportunities, then I would connect them to our a monthly 16:48
  • activity, which is called WildHub FECA. 16:52
  • It's kind of an informal way for people, um, to meet. 16:55
  • On a monthly basis basis, they're paired up. 16:59
  • Uh, and then, you know, they have, um, a chance to, to meet each other 17:02
  • for 20 minutes or 30 minutes a month. 17:06
  • And that's, and that's kind of a different person every month. 17:08
  • So they get to know our community members and, um, so I would then give them a 17:11
  • welcome, but also another way to engage in our community based on what they shared, 17:17
  • uh, what their reasons are to, to join us. 17:23
  • Um, so yeah, that's another thing just to make people feel welcome 17:25
  • and also to give them the next step of how to continue to be engaged 17:29
  • And these like meetups that are organized by community managers, how 17:33
  • many community managers do you have? 17:40
  • Like, how does this work and are they sort of like trained to do this? 17:42
  • You mean our coaches? 17:47
  • Yeah. 17:49
  • Yeah. 17:50
  • So that's a new thing that we're, uh, we're starting, we have started already, 17:50
  • but we haven't actually announced it yet. 17:55
  • Um, as wildly, cause we're kind of in this stage where we're recruiting 17:58
  • and that's almost finished. 18:04
  • Um, but I think, uh, know the WildHub coach is basically I, uh, looked at 18:06
  • our members and I looked for people that, uh, have already contributed, so 18:11
  • have shared lessons learned and were really, um, they stood out in the ease 18:17
  • in which they, um, became familiar with our platform like using the technology 18:23
  • or the software, but also, you know, how they wrote their contributions. 18:28
  • That was really aligned with our community guidelines and 18:33
  • didn't need much moderation. 18:36
  • Um, uh, have one of our coaches that we already recruited at, 18:38
  • for example, uh, she also speaks Spanish, so that really is helpful. 18:42
  • So she can actually, we have some multiple languages now that people can, um, 18:46
  • so they can use the language of their preference basically to give, you know, 18:51
  • to get the assistance that they need. 18:55
  • Um, and she is also a community expert. 18:57
  • So that was like a, for me, a no brainer to invite her, to this new role. 19:01
  • Um, and we, yeah, we made sure that we have people from different continents, 19:06
  • um, that were really motivated. 19:12
  • They're already actively engaging in our community. 19:14
  • Um, and then yeah, tick some of these boxes of different languages. 19:17
  • Ease of, uh, communicating availability of course, as well. 19:21
  • So we started with a small group and then hopefully we can grow from there, but 19:26
  • it's all to increase the accessibility of our community, um, to our prospective 19:30
  • members and our current members, really. 19:36
  • And it sounds like a great way for these, like, users to now become sort 19:39
  • of like managers in the sense that they're encouraging other users to 19:45
  • contribute and engage with each other. 19:50
  • That's great. 19:52
  • Yeah. 19:53
  • One of the things that I noticed from WildHub, is the variety 19:53
  • and the quality of the content. 19:57
  • It really seems like everyone is just posting. 19:59
  • It's not just the community managers. 20:01
  • So I was just wondering how many posts are commissioned. 20:04
  • Versus how many are organic. 20:09
  • So those staff members themselves are posting. 20:11
  • Hmm. 20:14
  • That's a good question. 20:16
  • I only looked at this, uh, in more detail recently. 20:16
  • So we're still developing our, um, yeah. 20:20
  • Our indicators basically to see where we can, uh, gather our process or the, 20:24
  • uh, progress data from, and, um, I think, you know, like you say, most of 20:29
  • the content is published by members. 20:36
  • I would say that the majority of the content though is still initiated 20:38
  • by myself as a community manager. 20:43
  • So it would be me behind the scenes kind of reaching out to people, asking 20:45
  • if they'd like to contribute by sharing lessons learned about, you know, the 20:50
  • job that they're currently in or some work that they did in the past, um. 20:55
  • But I do see, there's been a change in that. 21:00
  • Um, in terms of posting opportunities, I think members have 21:04
  • taken the initiative themselves. 21:08
  • So that's gone, it's grown more organically in the 21:10
  • recent two months or so. 21:13
  • Um, but with the lessons learned, which is, they're a bit more work, right? 21:16
  • They really require some thought to be put in there. 21:20
  • The reflections that could actually be beneficial to the wider community. 21:23
  • So that is still much of it is, um, initiated by myself. 21:27
  • But I think that's because we haven't really reached that critical mass yet. 21:32
  • So although we're a thousand members, we haven't quite, um, we're not 21:35
  • there yet because we only opened our doors, like I said in March. 21:40
  • And so, although we are quite a few months in, that often takes a bit of 21:44
  • time to, to really get the ball rolling. 21:47
  • So I know that you're sort of encouraging your users to publish. 21:51
  • Is there any other like, um, how to say, action that you're taking 21:55
  • to encourage self publication? 22:01
  • Yes, I do. 22:03
  • I, um, I also circle back to our contributors. 22:04
  • So those who have already contributed and, um, I kind of encourage them to 22:07
  • publish the second round of content. 22:12
  • So it becomes a bit more of a habit for them to engage in our community. 22:13
  • And, um, I often build on content that they already shared elsewhere. 22:18
  • So sometimes people share some of their thoughts on, for example, 22:21
  • LinkedIn or Facebook, and that kind of connect with, uh, the topics 22:24
  • that we discuss in our community. 22:29
  • And then I ask them, I say, you know, it doesn't have to be, you don't have 22:31
  • to start from scratch, but maybe, could you elaborate a little bit on 22:34
  • these thoughts or these reflections, and would you be willing to share 22:37
  • them with our community as well? 22:39
  • And so it kind of, again, lowers, uh, the barrier to, to participate. 22:42
  • They don't have to start from scratch. 22:46
  • They already have a direction of how to contribute, which topic as well. 22:48
  • And often people respond really, um, positively on that, you know, 22:52
  • they would love to contribute again cause they know how, um. 22:57
  • And they love how our community is developing. 23:01
  • It's just, you know, it's sometimes just giving them that nudge of, oh, 23:03
  • this is actually really interesting what you just shared over there. 23:06
  • Would you like to share that a bit wider? 23:10
  • And, and because we have the numbers now in terms of, you know, it gives 23:12
  • them a bit more exposure as well that we say, you know, this could actually 23:15
  • be a value to our community, but we're also a thousand members now. 23:19
  • So, you know, it means some more exposure for you and your thoughts. 23:23
  • Exactly. 23:27
  • So it's a win-win. 23:28
  • Yeah. 23:29
  • So have you found that, um, specific types of content do better than others? 23:31
  • So for example, do you find that videos attract more people, more 23:37
  • engagement, as opposed to posts? 23:41
  • Um, well, I can't really back this with numbers just yet. 23:44
  • Cause like I said, we're still, um, looking into these indicators and how, um, 23:47
  • I have to make that overview, uh, in an adequate way that really helps us monitor. 23:52
  • Um, but I do think in general, videos can be attractive, um, more attractive 23:57
  • because I know that's something based on my experience with other platforms 24:04
  • like, um, Facebook, for example, that as soon as you have imagery, so 24:08
  • pictures, but also videos, it kind of is easer for people to engage with. 24:14
  • Um, but yeah, like I said, we still need to look at the indicators 24:18
  • to, to really back this up. 24:22
  • I do think that I love how we can do the conversations as a, in our rooms. 24:25
  • Um, in general, I do think, uh, also that posts can be really useful 24:31
  • because you can use the pictures in there or the images and, um, and it 24:36
  • just becomes a bit more attractive. 24:40
  • So that's why I opted for, um, the introductions to be. 24:42
  • Not fire conversations, but I encourage people to publish the post basically, 24:46
  • so they can use some photos and that's always really nice cause then you see 24:51
  • the person who's actually writing it in their natural habitat, you know, 24:55
  • in the field working with elephants or with that or something else altogether. 24:59
  • So, um, yeah, that kind of, um, let's see, that way you can 25:04
  • get to know the people, really. 25:09
  • Yeah. 25:12
  • And also it teaches them how to post so that they can do it again in the future. 25:12
  • Exactly. 25:17
  • Yeah. 25:17
  • Yes. 25:18
  • So Zapnito, as you know, offers a number of features that 25:19
  • can help drive engagement. 25:22
  • Of the following list, which I'm just about to read out to you, which have 25:25
  • you found to be most helpful to building and driving engagement in WildHub? 25:29
  • So the list is: channels rooms, the Q&A, directories, newsletters and GoSquared. 25:35
  • That's a good question. 25:46
  • Um, I guess, um, I received most feedback I received was, uh, 25:47
  • about newsletters, for example. 25:56
  • So, um, I think especially the highlights, people seem to enjoy that a lot. 25:59
  • And so, um, but equally, so actually the daily Digest, so it depends a 26:05
  • little bit, it depends on the, on the individual and on the member. 26:10
  • Some of them really love that daily Digest and they kind of, you know, something 26:14
  • every day, um, that inspires them. 26:18
  • It makes them feel connected. 26:22
  • Um, others, um, they opt for them, the biweekly highlights because it's, um, 26:24
  • you know, content chosen by myself. 26:32
  • And, um, yeah, it's a kind of, um, it's a bit less information, 26:35
  • but good quality as well. 26:40
  • Um, so we've got some really positive feedback on those and I think, um, the 26:42
  • directory is also something that people really love, um, like, um, for network 26:48
  • purposes, they just love how you can select the different countries and with 26:55
  • our custom fields we have also, um, but you have that as a general one and you 26:59
  • have the areas of expertise that's really useful for people as well, I've heard. 27:04
  • Um, and that is also in our rooms. 27:09
  • So having that directory in a room can be really useful, especially cause we 27:13
  • decided to also grow our numbers by inviting existing networks to WildHub. 27:18
  • So we have a few alumni groups on our, uh, within our community 27:24
  • that have their private room. 27:29
  • And so they have that individual directory, which is 27:31
  • really nice for them as well. 27:33
  • And then it's still connected to the wider community as well. 27:36
  • Um, and then I, so I would say thirdly, the GoSquared prompts and 27:39
  • automated messages are really useful. 27:43
  • Like I said, all the messages to new, um, new users are basically via GoSquared. 27:45
  • Um, and yeah, it's just really helpful I think to just have a popup 27:54
  • and, and welcome them instantly. 27:58
  • Um, and it doesn't matter which time it is. 28:00
  • So I don't have to be online for that and wherever they are in the world, 28:03
  • they will automatically be, be welcomed. 28:06
  • And it's a personal, it's a relatively personal message, right? 28:09
  • Yeah. 28:12
  • They have that. 28:12
  • The, you know, it's signed by me. 28:14
  • There's a little photo there, so it helps I think. 28:16
  • Yeah. 28:19
  • And earlier you mentioned room conversations. 28:20
  • Are these conversations that community managers initiate or are 28:23
  • they mostly initiated by members? 28:29
  • They're mostly initiated by members actually. 28:31
  • So we have, um, a few, quite a few of our rooms are also, um, open. 28:34
  • So this is more so for example, our let's welcome our new members room, but 28:41
  • mostly the rooms are based on the topic. 28:46
  • So for example, Marine conservation, uh, is one of them. 28:49
  • And, um, yeah. 28:53
  • And you just notice that people are asking, uh, for advice from one another, 28:54
  • by using this conversation tool and, I think that's really nice to see that. 28:59
  • Um, so I think it's also one of these features that can really help because 29:05
  • it's just, it's like you're emailing someone, but then actually you're 29:10
  • addressing the wider community and I've seen members having, you know, 29:14
  • active, uh, conversations in that way. 29:18
  • Great. 29:22
  • So we've spoken about building the successful community. 29:23
  • We've spoken about the launch. 29:25
  • Now we're going to talk about the post-launch, what happens now? 29:27
  • And I'm very interested to know how, what you're doing, what you and your 29:32
  • team are doing to continue to drive engagement now that users have registered. 29:37
  • We always are developing in that respect. 29:45
  • I think it's so dynamic this work environment, and that makes 29:48
  • my job so much fun as well. 29:51
  • Um, and because we are member led, it's very much up to 29:53
  • the members, how we do this. 29:56
  • So I had, like in one week, I had like two different members reaching 29:58
  • out to me with ideas of activities that they'd like to lead on. 30:01
  • Um, and that they want to organize for our community. 30:05
  • Um, and so one is more on that, on a certain topic that they 30:09
  • feel very passionate about. 30:13
  • Uh, the other member, um, said, you know, I really want to, to create this 30:15
  • space for people, for social, you know? 30:19
  • And, uh, and it's so nice. 30:22
  • So I think, um, those things are in the works right now. 30:24
  • So, so social, like, um, uh, social events basically that will be launched or 30:28
  • that we'll do at the end of this month, probably or early next and, um, uh, kind 30:34
  • of a webinar style, uh, expert panel. 30:39
  • Kind of discussion that is going to happen, uh, soonish as well. 30:44
  • Um, and I think for me, what I'm focusing on right now are the WildHub coaches. 30:48
  • So, to really get us set for that too. 30:54
  • Um, although we're already doing that, um, behind the scene, I want to really launch 30:57
  • this officially and also introduce the members to the coaches, um, and recognize 31:03
  • them for this, for taking up this role. 31:08
  • And that's another thing I guess. 31:11
  • Yeah, that I think is really important is to make sure that people feel 31:13
  • valued in our community and recognized for whatever they contribute. 31:18
  • However much time or little time, you know, everything is welcomed. 31:21
  • And is there something that you're doing on a regular basis, for example, podcasts, 31:28
  • or, um, maybe like a monthly meetup, something regular that's always happening 31:33
  • so that members know what to expect. 31:39
  • Is that something that you're organizing? 31:41
  • Yeah. 31:44
  • So we did in the beginning of, um, I guess starting to from March or 31:44
  • even February already, before we even registered or opened our registration, 31:48
  • we had our weekly catch ups. 31:53
  • So for our communities to add two times in the day on the Thursday, and I caught them 31:54
  • while took weekly and I was just there. 32:00
  • I was on the, on a video panel like we are now, and whoever wanted to 32:02
  • pop by and check in was welcome. 32:06
  • And then two different times a day I did because our members 32:09
  • are, you know, globally dispersed. 32:12
  • Um, and that was really useful to help shape our platform, uh, what you see 32:15
  • now, how we are now as much as my, um, a lot of it is as a result of those 32:21
  • discussions early on with members. 32:26
  • Um, at one point. 32:28
  • I decided, well, let's restructure this a little bit because as we grow as a 32:31
  • community, our needs change as well. 32:34
  • So now, like I said, the social, uh, that will happen at the 32:37
  • end of this month probably is something that will replace that. 32:40
  • And it will be, again, it will be a place where people can just check in with 32:43
  • one another whenever they feel like it. 32:47
  • Um, I think, um, what else. 32:49
  • Is there. 32:55
  • Oh yeah, of course our WildHub fika that I mentioned. 32:56
  • So that's our monthly activity basically, which is based on the fika, 32:58
  • the Swedish fika of having coffee and tea and some snacks together. 33:02
  • And I might not explain it as, as well. 33:06
  • I'm not Swedish, but I do really like that concept. 33:09
  • And somebody else in the conservation community, one of our members 33:12
  • actually, she started out elsewhere. 33:15
  • It was when it was still possible to meet face to face. 33:18
  • And I asked her if we could adopt that same principle and she, 33:21
  • and she helped me with this. 33:25
  • So we started the WildHub fika two months ago, and members have now had 33:26
  • two rounds in which they've been paired up with somebody in the community. 33:31
  • And then they're given the whole month to set a meeting and it's not really 33:35
  • a meeting, it's just a, um, a cath up. 33:39
  • Hopefully they'll have coffee and tea and some cake together. 33:42
  • It's probably virtual now. 33:45
  • Um, and so, and I just, you know, get to know each, uh, introduce 33:46
  • themselves, maybe, you know, share something about their work or, or 33:50
  • just, you know, just hang out together. 33:54
  • Um, and, uh, I've had some really nice feedback on that as well that people have 33:56
  • really loved to get to know new people. 34:02
  • It's good for the networking for possible job opportunities, opportunities 34:04
  • to collaborate as well, I've heard. 34:09
  • Um, and although we're still, yeah, we just started, I think 34:11
  • it's been really positive so far. 34:15
  • So that's a repeating activity. 34:18
  • And I was wondering now that you have this vibrant community of engaged 34:21
  • members, are there any tools that you're using to measure this engagement? 34:26
  • So, yes we do. 34:32
  • And I think, um, what Zapnito provides on the platform for statistics 34:32
  • or analytics is really useful. 34:37
  • And I really love that. 34:39
  • It's such a quick overview. 34:40
  • Um, so we basically have a spreadsheet in which I record all these, um, these 34:43
  • indicators every month and, uh, and also GoSquared can help with that. 34:48
  • So some other things that we gained from there and, um. 34:52
  • Yeah, and I think it's really a, it's been really useful. 34:56
  • So we've had definitely some of our events have pushed the growth 34:59
  • and engagement on the platform. 35:04
  • So I've seen a peak with, um, the first event that we organized, which 35:05
  • is part of a wider event, um, by, um, a Smithsonian institution in the US 35:11
  • and which is called, um, um, what is it? 35:18
  • Earth optimism. 35:22
  • So they have summits and I saw a massive peak when we participated 35:24
  • in that, when we organized their event within the wider event. 35:29
  • Um, but equally, so with our first festival, so we became many more 35:33
  • members and engagement, uh, as a result of that, which was like four 35:37
  • days, consecutive days, 10 events spread out over those four days. 35:41
  • And they were all led by our members. 35:46
  • Um, so I think it's really useful to keep an eye on your community. 35:48
  • And we did notice a little bit of a dip after that, but that's 35:52
  • only to be, um, expected right? 35:55
  • Because I think having those, those events kind of drives it, drives engagement up, 35:58
  • and then you have a little bit of a slow again, and then, you know, it will come 36:05
  • back upwards again, but it's just, it's important to, to keep an eye on things. 36:08
  • Yeah. 36:13
  • And these events, where are they happening on? 36:15
  • Uh, for example, Zapnito video panels or on rooms? 36:18
  • How, where did those happen? 36:22
  • Um, I guess with most of these events we used Zoom because there's also the 36:25
  • opportunity to do breakout rooms, but, um, I, we are really keen to, to start using 36:33
  • the Zapnito video panels more and more. 36:40
  • And so, for example, for our WildHub FECA, we have people that, you 36:42
  • know, meet up using, uh, the Zapnito video panels, basically on WildHub. 36:45
  • So I think that's, that's really nice. 36:50
  • Um, you know, for those events specifically, we needed the 36:52
  • numbers or we needed to be. 36:56
  • We had like a hundred participants for the first event and which I think a 36:58
  • few hundreds, um, during the festivals. 37:03
  • So, you know, it was more people in that respect. 37:05
  • Now the last question that I want to ask you, um, is what advice would you 37:10
  • give to someone who is looking to grow engagement in their existing community? 37:15
  • Mmm. 37:24
  • I think, you know, like with any community, I think it really depends on, 37:26
  • uh, on the relationship building aspect. 37:32
  • So next to having a proactive approach as a community member to build those 37:34
  • relationships with your members, um, I think it's also important that you allow 37:40
  • the space for the members themselves to, to interact and build those relationships. 37:45
  • Um, so it's very much providing the space and the opportunity. 37:51
  • So whether you, you maybe say, you know, we, we organize a social every now 37:57
  • and then, and people know that that's a regular, regularly occurring event 38:01
  • and they know where to go or uh, uh. 38:05
  • Yeah. 38:10
  • Or any other activity really. 38:10
  • So they can really connect with one another, although it's virtual, but 38:12
  • it's more like direct communication than via posts and comments. 38:17
  • Um, so that's one thing, another thing, I guess, um, It's kind of 38:21
  • building on what I shared already is to listen, really listen to people. 38:26
  • So if they bring up concerns, whether that's via public comments or it's 38:30
  • in an email yeah, really listening to people, making them feel heard 38:33
  • also, whenever they contribute, to make them feel valued and recognized. 38:37
  • So I think, um, yeah, those are kind of my values that I, I work from. 38:41
  • Thirza, thank you so much for doing this interview with me. 38:48
  • I really appreciate it. 38:52
  • And I've learned so much. 38:53
  • I really look forward to talking to you in another interview or 38:55
  • having our regular catch ups. 38:58
  • Thank you so much. 39:00
  • Thank you. 39:01
  • Thanks, Georgina. 39:02
  • And a big thank you to Zapnito's team as well. 39:03
  • We couldn't have done it without all of you. 39:06
  • Thank you. 39:08

Georgina Sánchez Moles

Customer Success Executive, Zapnito Ltd.

It's a pleasure to meet you! I'm the customer success executive at Zapnito. I help businesses develop their websites, grow their online community and organise events. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to get in touch!

1 Comments

Go to the profile of Charles Thiede
Charles Thiede 30 days ago

This is such a great interview Georgina and Thirza. Some very good tips here for other clients.