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!

Comments

Go to the profile of Charles Thiede
about 1 year ago

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