Evolving a Support Community into a Community of Practice — with Alex Angel

December 13, 2023
Anonymous Marketer | Content Marketing | Marketing Strategy

Episode Summary

In this episode of The Anonymous Marketer, Kirsti Lang dives into the world of community engagement with Alex Angel. With a rich background in community development at Reddit, Nike, and Commsor, Alex brings a wealth of experience. They explore the transformation of support communities into dynamic spaces for learning and knowledge sharing.

Alex emphasizes the importance of understanding the ‘why’ behind wanting to shift a community’s focus. It’s crucial to align these changes with broader company goals and understand the benefits for the organization. This approach ensures that the community evolves in a way that’s beneficial and sustainable.

The discussion moves to engagement strategies and the benefits of different community types. Alex highlights the value in relationship building, marketing, customer support, and product development through community engagement. They also touch on the importance of understanding community member motivations and whether the current community aligns with the desired changes.

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Featured Guest

Name: Alex Angel
What she does: Chief Community Officer and Strategic Consultant
Company: Angel & Associates

Alex Angel: Over a decade in community development, from Reddit to Nike and Commsor.

Key Insights

The Importance of Understanding ‘Why’ in Community Evolution

Alex Angel stresses the significance of comprehending the reasons behind wanting to transform a community’s focus. This insight is crucial for any organization looking to evolve its community engagement. Alex suggests that before making any changes, it’s essential to align these shifts with the company’s broader goals and assess how they benefit the organization. This approach not only ensures that the community evolves in a direction that supports the company’s objectives but also maintains the community’s relevance and effectiveness.

Engagement Strategies and Their Impact on Different Community Types

The conversation with Alex reveals the diverse benefits of various community types and engagement strategies. Alex highlights how tailored engagement can enhance relationship building, marketing efforts, customer support, and product development. This insight is particularly valuable for companies aiming to leverage their communities for more than just support, showing how a well-engaged community can become a vital asset across multiple business areas.

Aligning Community Members with Community Goals

A key takeaway from Alex’s expertise is the importance of aligning the community’s composition with its intended purpose. Alex points out that sometimes, the existing community members might not align with the new direction a company wishes to take. This mismatch can lead to ineffective engagement and unmet objectives. Therefore, companies need to critically assess whether their current community members fit the profile of their ideal community for the desired evolution. This might involve redefining the community’s target audience or gradually shifting the community’s focus to attract the right members.

Episode Highlights

The Art of Ending Interviews with Open-Ended Questions

Kirsti Lang shares her favorite technique for concluding interviews: asking open-ended, seemingly random questions. This approach often yields unexpected insights and demonstrates genuine interest in the interviewee’s perspective. Alex Angel agrees, emphasizing the value of such questions in extracting deeper, more meaningful responses.

“I often find that random, vague, nebulous question at the end of a conversation will give you gold.” – Kirsti

Building Engagement through Polls and Follow-Ups

Alex discusses the importance of interactive elements like polls and questions to gauge community interest. Following up on these interactions, such as sharing poll results or co-creating content with engaged members, is crucial. This strategy helps in building deeper relationships within the community.

“So a poll, a question, something that people know that you are interested in what they have to say and then following up…”

Identifying and Measuring Success in Community Engagement

Alex talks about the importance of setting clear goals for community engagement, like acquisition, retention, or revenue generation. She emphasizes patience, as it can take months to gauge the success of engagement strategies.

“It may take some time… you may be looking at anywhere from three to six months before you can reasonably say whether what you were doing is actually working.”

Consistency in Community Engagement and Its Impact

Alex highlights the significance of consistency in community engagement. Regular schedules and persistent efforts, even in the face of low initial engagement, are key. This consistency helps in building a reliable and engaged community over time.

“Consistency is huge for communities, so having some kind of schedule is really important because people will come to rely on it…”

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