Founder of CMX, David Spinks, dropped by Bufferchat and shared his thoughts on the future of community, including how to connect offline, what tools are great to use and more!

Catch our weekly Twitter chat, #bufferchat, every week on Wednesdays, 9 am PT/Noon ET/4 pm GMT, for valuable industry insights and networking with nearly 400 other smart marketers and community managers.

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What’s the difference between community and marketing?

From David:

  • Marketing is about engaging an audience. Community is about that audience engaging with each other.
  • To take it a step further, I’d say it’s about developing relationships *between* the members
  • A community is a group of people who interact with each other and have a common sense of belonging and identity.
  • Marketing is how you get people in the door and community is how you take care of them once they’re in.
  • Marketing and community have different goals. If you say they’re the same, you’re misleading your team and customers.
  • In many ways community is becoming the new marketing. There difference is you’re building from the inside core group outward.
  • A community is not an audience. An audience is a number of people listening to a single person or group.
  • No community platform has really taken over yet. A few new players to check out are

From the community:

  • “Marketing = selling. Community engagement = bringing people together. They can/should be combined when appropriate.” @mlbeckbridge
  • “They can work hand in hand… Building a community THROUGH great marketing efforts.” @Pearl_Capital
  • “Solid blends perfectly with , benefitting both the community at large & the community engaged.” @catalysttalk

See all the great answers to question 1 here!

 

What are your favorite tools to interact with your community online?

From David:

From the community:

See all the great answers to question 2 here!

 

How do you connect with your community offline?

From David:

  • Most businesses either host events, or empower their community to host their own local events.
  • Offline community building can be as small as a dinner, or as big as a conference. They serve different purposes.
  • Use offline community as a way to create intimate experiences for members, which will enhance online interaction.
  • For , we host two big summits, our community hosts their own events in 17+ countries and we do small, focused dinners.

From the community:

  • “WHERE that is depends on your brand, your audience, and the context. Different between retail and B2B SaaS IRL interactions” @WeintraubL
  • “I have invited community members to hang @ my booth during trade shows to share their knowledge & perspective” @Toby_Metcalf
  • “I host evenings built on 1-2 topics that interests everyone or then just invite people for a coffee” @LamminenEeva

See all the great answers to question 3 here!

 

What are the best ways to build engagement within a community?

From David:

  • Building engagement in a community is all about making people feel special. How do you put the spotlight on members?
  • In the early days of a community engagement won’t happen on its own. Facilitate. Email people. Pull them into conversations.
  • Give your members the opportunity to share love with each other. Ask things like “Who inspires you”.
  • Members first experience in the community is arguably the most important. Every member should be welcomed and feel heard.
  • For some really interesting insights into community engagement, check out the Sense of Community Theory

From the community:

  • “The best way is to keep them interested, curious & hungry. It applies to all areas.” @privateteacher
  • “Follow campaigns, target people who share your interests, understand your community, speak their language.” @Di_Mulan
  • “Be human & give people the space to be themselves. Amazing things can happen when people feel comfortable with opening up!” @lifeofaworkgirl

See all the great answers to question 4 here!

 

How do you picture community communication and engagement in 5 or 10 years?

From David:

  • Community will be the new marketing. You won’t be able to build a business without it.
  • Community is becoming a real profession and a discipline. There are many thousands of people in the field already.
  • I think we’re are going to see a burst in demand for community professionals, followed by a burst in supply.
  • There will be robust tools that help businesses understand the value of community, and measure the health of their communities.
  • If you need proof that community positions are becoming more legitimate, browse the job board
  • Community = Business

From the community:

  • “In 5 years, every community that launches will have access to the tools, frameworks, and strategies it needs to thrive.” @cmx
  • “Community will be at the heart of any successful communications strategy. We’re going back to talking over the garden fence.” @lisamasiello
  • “There will be more people on-line & more ways to connect to them, but it all still starts with really listening to them.” @northcuttHQ

See all the great answers to question 5 here!

 

What sets up a community for success to last long term?

From David:

  • The first 10 community members are critical. They’ll set the culture and example for the next 10 million.
  • Always listen to your community, but don’t always do what they tell you to do. You set the vision.
  • To scale management/moderation either build a bigger community team or empower your community to self-manage.
  • Your community will change drastically over time. Original members will leave. Culture will shift. You have to adapt.
  • Here’s a good model for how communities mature over time, from

From the community:

  • “Long term communities thrive when there are shared values, discussion, and things change/evolve as needed.” @Kbaumlier
  • “To last, a community needs members who truly care about it and feel connected to each other” @ariellemargot
  • “At it’s core, communities are bound by love and mutual interest. Keep the love coming, stay relevant and helpful = success.” @AmandasAbroad

See all the great answers to question 6 here!

 

What’s the business value of community?

From David:

  • Community drives business value in five main areas. FACTS: Feedback, Acquisition, Contributions, Team, Support
  • Community drives feedback so your members can help you define a better and better product.
  • Community can drive acquisition/marketing through ambassador programs, referral programs and WOM.
  • Community drives contribution when your members ARE your product. ie. Airbnb, Yelp, Facebook, Instagram, Duolingo etc.
  • A huge trend right now is that companies are rethinking HR and focusing on building community internally for employees.
  • Community can drive support. Your members can answer questions for each other and become more successful together.
  • If you’re interested in this whole community thing, please do join the community
  • And you can find tons of community strategy case studies and research on our site at

From the community:

  • “Everything. Without support and a community behind your product or service you will go nowhere.” @idmloco
  • “Community strategies fail when businesses have not aligned their community with ONE business value. This is a serious issue.” @caremjo
  • “Value is huge. Instead of just customers your community can help you grow and improve.” @calbachand

See all the great answers to question 7 here!

 

Thank you so much for everyone who joined in on this great chat!

Catch #bufferchat each Wednesday at 9 am Pacific/noon Eastern and join our Google+ community for the latest news. We also have launched a brand-new Slack community to continue these awesome conversations all week long! Join 500+ people there!

Do you have any comments or answers to these questions? Leave your thoughts in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!

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Written by Nicole Miller

Community Champion at Buffer 🙂 When I’m not connecting with amazing community members, you can find me writing, reading or blogging about my urban homesteading adventures with 15 chickens, four ducks, two dogs and a horse.