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56: Find Calm earning your community members’ trust with Paul Bradley

Welcome to the Find Calm Here Podcast, today’s guest is Paul Bradley. He has over 10 years of experience in the community industry and has led community teams for the last 5 years. Paul is currently the Head of Global Community for Agorapulse a social media management tool to help organizations save time and easily manage posts, reporting, monitoring, and team collaboration. 

A community-leading expert and consultant with a background in the tech industry working for companies such as Higher Logic and ADP, in his current role he is creating a comprehensive education, recognition, and collaboration destination—and management team—for professionals with social media responsibilities. 

Show Notes

2:36: Paul begins by explaining his background in the community, including being a community manager for Intel. He recommends a strategic services team for the accelerated growth of a community management career. 

6:42: If anybody wants to get into something sort of like an accelerated growth of your community management career, work on a strategic services team.

8:44: Paul gives his definition of community managers, that they create a number of offerings to appeal to a variety of users and solve day-to-day problems for people.

23:23: With a background in communications and writing, Paul discusses being able to churn out content, naming it as smoke and mirrors to be able to use humor and create content for people to engage with.

33:25: Paul talks about a challenge for community managers is finding ways to increase appeal to users through content they interact with. He recommends establishing an editorial calendar, having a beta group for a soft launch to have people in there to look around, and do not start as a paid community.

42:28: Deb and Paul discuss two main features of building a community: Appealing to individuals’ inner interests and earning their trust to want to pay for a community.

48:25: The job is to earn trust, and that’s it.

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In partnership with the Community Leaders Institute, Deb Schell, Creator of Find Calm Here LLC and Community Strategist,  is thrilled to announce an exclusive special discount on their upcoming CLI Expo (CLIX) which will take place in Memphis, on April 4-5 2022 at the Renasant Convention Center in Memphis, TN. 

If you register for the event and book a ticket, you will receive $200 OFF of your ticket by entering code Deb200 at checkout! Click HERE to learn more register!

Deb Schell is the Creator of Find Calm Here LLC — As a community strategist, she helps female entrepreneurs and executives find calm in building, launching, and growing their paid online communities. 

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Validating your community concept

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Show Transcript

Okay, hi all and welcome to the Fine Come here podcast. I am your host, Deb Shell on this podcast. I share conversations I have with community builders who offer tips on what’s worked for them and resources that have helped them find calm in the community building process. If you’re a new community builder or just considering a community to bring your clients customers or audience together, but you don’t know how or where to start, I’m happy to jump on a call with you and offer a discovery call. There will be a link in the show notes for you to chat with me for free for a conversation. You can also sign up for our com community newsletter to learn more about resources and tools that will help you build a paid online community and support you at any stage of your community building process. I also lead the Fine come here community inside the community, you will see tools and resources to support you in any stage launching and growing your membership and tackling any challenges with the support of peers in a safe space, that’s affordable and enjoyable, that tons of awesome things happening inside the final column here community.


Uh newly the com guides, I am going to be having a workshop coming up in november for the com guided tech integration and so I’m super excited to um to share that. So I’ll be looking forward to connecting with Fine come here members about that. If you’re interested in finding your community, please reach out to me and let me know um there is a free three month trial to join if you are interested. Um excited to introduce today’s guest at paul Bradley. He has over 10 years of experience in the community industry has led community teams for the last five years, paul is currently the head of global community for gore Paulse social media management tool to help organizations save time and easily manage post reporting monitoring and team collaboration. A community leading expert and consultant with a background in the tech industry, working for companies such as Higher logic and A D. P. His current role, he’s creating a comprehensive education recognition and collaboration, destination. I love that we’re destination and management team for professionals with social media responsibilities.


Welcome paul to the vine calm here podcast. Hello, thank you for having me, I’m glad you’re here. So lovely to see you again. Um glad that we’ve connected over the last few months and tell us a little bit about um what you do and what your background is in community. Oh gosh, okay. Um you know I got into community uh I guess you could argue that while I was working for myself from 2010 to 12 in sort of a haphazard consultancy that I was involved in community in some capacity, we were doing twitter growth hacking and ended up working for some clients who wanted us to do things like sell barbecue sauce on twitter and things like that or they wanted us to sell barbecue sauce and we decided to use twitter to do it um which was inventive, I guess you could say ultimately I was head hunted for a community position at intel and I think at the time there weren’t people with community backgrounds, particularly in Arizona where I was then where I’m from and so they looked for people with social media background and they found me and found what I’d been doing and they said, hey do you want to be a community manager?


And I said I was that like managing an apartment complex or something like that because you know what, I’ll think about it because I’m working for myself and if I get free rent then that’s my overhead, so that’s that’s good, that reduces my overhead monthly and I said no, it’s something else, why don’t you come interview for that? And so I did that and it was a contracting job which meant I came in from one interview and they said can you start monday and after having so much trouble working for myself for two years, giving people to actually pay me for the services rendered and and pay me in a timely way, I was so happy at the prospect to get a paycheck. So I started intel and you know, I wasn’t, I think sure that it was going to be a moment that changed my career as much as it has or at least started a new career for me, but as I dug into just what my responsibilities were, I just sort of fell in love and I I got really into to gaming and Gamification. I try not to say Gamification too much because it’s such an annoying word but I spent a lot of time kind of boot camping myself at that during that time at Intel on just what It meant to be a community manager and there weren’t a ton of resources in 2012 this is 2012.


And but I basically just followed john O bacon and and uh you know looked into his resources and at the time it was really aspirational for me to have a team like he had had a bone to at the time. And uh so much so that when I was interviewing a year later at a D. P. I told my mentor and boss laura learner that my goal in five years I think when she asked me as I was interviewing was to have a team of like five or six community managers and we did a lot of ADP I was there for four years. We started a support community that achieved a ton of R. O. I learned a ton about how to demonstrate our oi for support communities, had a lot of success. Is replicated those communities over and over in international markets and really just had a lot of fun with, had a lot of fun with it and you know we’re given where my community expertise was at the time really. I overcompensated with having fun just because I come from social and everything like that and and the technical elements sort of took over my job by the end um and more people were kind of facing forward um but it was, it was really a fun and exciting time and I went from being kind of a baby community manager to a real kind of like team leader, transitioned on to a couple of like a couple of stops.


I was microstrategy for a hot minute and then went to Higher Logic where right on the fifth anniversary of when I told laura I wanted to be managing a team of a handful of community managers because that seems so insane to me the idea that you could just be more than one community manager that you might have five or six um at doing specified varied things I got there, you know, when, when I, when I started the higher logic team, you know, I had deadline people and other people report to me, but I hadn’t had a full on major team and what we got to do with higher logic working with big time client um Fortune 50 clients, you know, kind of functioning as that strategic hive mind for for a community effort of you know, hundreds of thousands of members and everything like that, it was really fun and you know, I think that uh if anybody wants to get into um Sort of like an accelerated growth of your community management career work on a strategic services team. You know it’s it’s so cool to be as your profession and vocation in a room with 8910 community managers who are all doing that for a living and all have different use cases in their background.


You’re hiring people in from different use cases all the time. And you know a lot of these companies like corrosive higher logic have these strategic services teams now there like that and it’s really an awesome way for people to kind of move on. I’ve seen people go from from that that team that we were on to all kinds of awesome places. And it’s been really been heartening. It’s really been exciting to see people like just totally launched community management careers into into new and exciting directions. I’m off topic. We were talking about my path um this year I took a gig at agora pulse. I got really excited in the interview process by the notion of what they wanted to do with community and we’re kind of keeping it close to the vest for now. But I can say that it’s an education and collaboration community. I think we have kind of a new and interesting differentiator that we’re gonna blast out there here as we launch over the over the course of the next 6 to 7 months. You know I hope that we launch actually much sooner. But you know, launches are a varied thing. You launch with a certain an M. V. P. Or an M V C as Erica cool would call it and you go forward with things, you know, and you release features and stuff.


So we’re getting there and we’re building a team, we have like a really cool higher about to come on and uh, so that’s, that’s me. That’s so awesome. There’s so much, there are lots of things there to chat about. Um I wanted to dig in because a lot of the people that are listening to this podcast might not be familiar with what actually a community manager does or what their role is and I don’t know if there’s like an official description, but I was wondering if you could give whatever you would say, if somebody asks what a community manager is. Yeah, I mean, a community manager is somebody who thinks about everyone’s point of view and how to create programs to satisfy as many motivations as possible. Right? So as opposed to taking a hard line on something and saying, we’re going to do things this way you’re thinking about, okay, where is everybody in my audience coming from? And how do I create a suite of engagement based campaigns and services to get prongs into as many of them as possible.


So nothing is gonna work for everyone. Right? Um, so you try varied things That, that will, will bring people in. Mastermind groups, user groups, you know, that they hear the term mastermind group all the time now, call it user groups for years in community. Um, uh, and uh, you know, like blogs conversations am a is learning, you know, you just, you just throw a lot of different things at the wall and that’s really kind of the fun of it is, is uh, a community manager, somebody who throws everything but the kitchen sink at their problem. And maybe other community managers don’t see it that way. There are a lot of people who take it in a lot more literal like point A to point b version of community management. And and I think that there’s something to that, but my thought process as as kind of a creative person is, has always been, you know, just throw as many cells as many, you know, proposed solutions as you can come up with at something and see what happens. And and a lot of the time that’s that’s the fun with it. So, that’s a long winded answer. A community manager to me is an experimenter and an empath who loves people and respects everyone’s point of view.


Not only respects it, but also wants to craft solutions for those points of view. Mm hmm. Yeah. And specifically when we’re talking about community managers and how you’re describing them is is really a position in a larger organization. Um, who is tasked with connecting either customers? I would say a customer base? Is that, is that the main focus? I would say. Yeah. So I went in a completely different like, like ethereal like deep dive into the community. So I want to, I want to bring it back a little bit just so that everybody’s on the same page with us. So just take it back to my first couple of jobs with support communities and intel and ADP intel or ADP or let’s just take it to ADP ADP it’s It’s employee basis. Some huge percentage of of its 60 or 70,000 employees or support people. It’s like tens of thousands of people. Um, everybody is aware of the notion that companies don’t want you to call them, right?


Who hasn’t complained that you can’t find somebody’s phone number 80 PS Business is predicated on people calling in and getting support on the phones. And in 2012 laura learner when she started the communities program said, hey, I have a different idea what if we could get people to call in less. The higher ups were listening at that stage and and we do it with an online collaboration venue. So a company like that would choose to do it to deflect calls. And so the community manager comes in and your job is to get people engaged so that they don’t call support now as a community manager, that’s not typically how you think of it, right? You think of it as I want to help people get through their day and I want to help people solve problems, I want to help them network and get, you know in touch with one another, but at the end of the day when you’re making your presentation to your boss so she can take it to the executive bosses or whatever. Ah They’re gonna talk about R. O. I. Which in that case is you know called deflection. So that’s the reason for a community manager.


And so so that point of view would be then okay, I’m here to make sure that people achieve solutions here um and that’s really the direct outcome. And so, you know, we can even dig into like equations for determining our ally and support community, all based on how many people viewed a solution, right? Um then you know, a community manager might also be something skewed a little bit more towards marketing. There are often corporate communities that function as marketing funnels or brochures. So people can have conversations around product information. A company, a really big software company might have, you know, hundreds of product offerings that’s developed over like 50 years. So they would have a ton of things in their community, just explaining what those were and then people in interact and engage with that and then they’re kind of signing off on the notion that okay, they’ve put themselves into the marketing funnel ah or a community could be basically meant to educate people um in the case of our community, we were looking to educate people, uh not about a product, but just about like something in general, like a field in general, so a community manager could have any number of different reasons for doing what they do, but the end of the day they still just want people to engage, talk about what works for them, talk about how to achieve solutions more effectively.


It’s really just a solutions broker, honestly, yeah, I feel like forums are the best uh kind of quick answer that I would say if people think about a support forum, so if I’m like having a problem with my Macbook Pro and I’m like there’s some error and Apple says, you know, I go to Apple and I can’t find it anywhere, but I type in google, you know, my problem, there will probably be a forum that comes up and then sometimes, for example, there’s communities with people that are answering the questions that might not even work for Apple. Right? There are other people like providing solutions, that’s another um type of support community, I feel like that’s actually community led. Right? I guess that would be description. Yeah, so like one of the things that you kind of tap into something that I use all the time, which is over the course of the last 10 years, anytime I tell people I’m a community manager, they say, what’s that and it’s not really that easy to answer as we’ve just spent 10 minutes going over here. Um, but one of the things I used for, for people who kind of, I know aren’t versed in the technology world or this kind of thing is alright.


So if you’re in your car and for whatever reason, it’s like, it’s not starting, like it’s seizing up or something, but you can tell that it’s not, you know, the ignition or whatever and this actually used to happen to me all the time. That’s why I bring it up and uh, like your steering wheels locked or something and you don’t remember how to unlock it. What would be the first thing that you do? You just google 2014 Nissan maxima steering wheel locked and you end up on a site and there’s people, someone has said, my steering wheel locked, what do I do? And people said, okay, you do this, that and the other and those answers are from five years ago, uh and you say, okay, that’s what I need to do and you do it and it works and you you go to work right. Those are the kind of solutions and that that makes sense to everybody because everybody, for the most part, at least, you know, of certain demographic of most demographics achieve solutions through google at this stage. And it’s also important to think about that user there that never ever goes back to that community or engages with it or logs in because that’s, that’s somebody who’s achieved a solution that you may never ever get credit for as a community manager um, which is still fine because you know, we, we we can’t get credit for everything, but it also speaks to what every single community effort needs to be aimed at, which is solving day to day problems for people.


You can have all kinds of cool, you know, conversations and cool people come in and this is actually echoing a tweet I just sent the other day and I don’t spend a lot of tweets, but it was just one moment, I felt like I needed to say something. You can have a lot of cool conversations, you can have cool people come in and do a M A. S and whatnot. But that doesn’t get someone to work in the morning, right? Like that solution with my car seizing up on my nissan maxima that got me to work and I know where to go. I bookmark that for next time and you know, the next time I need something with my car, that’s probably that’s where I’m going to go. And so a lot of the time I think people open up a community startup before, um, something like that and they kind of just expect people to come because they told them about it. But if people come and they look at it and they think, oh there’s cool converts cool theoretical conversations about the field that working going on. All right. Like I’ll try to remember to come back and then someone mentioned it to them a year later and they’re like, I totally forgot because I never went back because theoretical conversations don’t get me paid, you know what, what gets you paid is solving problems at work, um achieving like, like anything that helps you achieve more in your life, getting a better job, getting a better position, investing in something, knowing how to run a side, like do a side hustle things like that, you know, a community manager has to be focused on alright, how do I get X group of people through today?


And uh I don’t know, I think, I don’t even know if that was prompted how I got there. So I just sort of like we started rambling. I think you made some really great points, but the biggest thing that you mentioned was about the why of of why and and for what we do in fine calm here and what I do with clients um is typically I help people, I built my first community on the money networks platform and I’m familiar with that platform very well and you know, I work with people who are also building a community on the money networks and they have struggles around like how do I do this and what, you know, and that’s how I became consulted a year ago, officially, a year ago. I’ve been in business for a year now. And it’s a challenge. Thank you. It’s a challenge because I think people entrepreneurs are new. I mean, the community in general is a newer concept, right? These tech companies that you’ve mentioned and some of these um larger organizations have been doing this for a long time and they’ve been establishing different um procedures and protocols and all of these things.


And so now you have like not just one community manager but teams of community managers and organizations, which is really awesome like you said. Um but still I work with and most people I’m assuming or listening to this podcast are actually people that are a one person team. They’re not just they don’t have a marketing team, they don’t have an advertising team, they don’t have the support team, they are the person. And I found that it’s super interesting to find all of these structures and things that have been created by the large organizations and community management cmx and all these large organizations. There’s ways to customize those frameworks and structures to be able to support these entrepreneurs in different ways. But the biggest thing that you just said that kind of um, I wanted to point back to was the why? Because a lot of people see a benefit in, Oh, I could have a membership model and that give me some reoccurring revenue, right? But they don’t necessarily know well, what is that going to be and what does that mean and why would people come and there’s this whole building and they will come kind of, and that just doesn’t, we’ve learned and it doesn’t work.


Um and and that’s because you have to be solving that immediate problem, if you’re helping me get to work, that’s an important thing that I need to a solution. So if I know that I can go to your community and do that, then that’s great or whatever the solution is. Um and I think that’s so valuable to really hone in on what problem, the biggest challenge I see community hosts have right now is they don’t know what problem they solve or how they uniquely solve it. And that goes back to like, business structure of like how you create your value proposition and what differentiates you against a different from other people. But in regards to community management, I think it’s, it’s a fascinating conversation to have around what, when you’re talking about a community manager as far as implementation they want to have some kind of structure vision, like the community had the the creator of this space has to have some kind of a vision and then the community manager kind of implements that vision that’s kind of, how I see it.


I don’t know if that resonates with you at all? Yeah, well, I mean the creator and the community manager could be one and the same, you know, it depends and particularly if you’re, if you’re trying to achieve something specifically specific to your business. But yeah, I mean a community manager could be a mercenary, Somebody can just come in and solve problems for you regardless of what they are or oftentimes it can be somebody who is an expert in that field, hiring for like developer communities, you know, so often they’ll be like, if you’re not a developer, we don’t want you to manage our communities. They just have nuanced things that, you know, if you’re not part of that tribe then you know, it’s not something that they’re interested in. So um yeah, I mean, I think, I think the line between the vision and the and the community manager can it can, it can be one and the same, but for sure it’s it’s it’s something that you have to get aligned either way right to align that business, the business goals or whatever the the what is that key objectives or it’s a term of china Yeah, yeah.


What, what, what is that called? Um I’m new with it, I just started with it people where I’ve I’ve seen people on twitter like complaining about it for years, like high level community people at places like Reddit um and I didn’t know what they were personally until recently at agora post, we use it okay. Rs and it’s like, it’s it’s the google model for tracking people’s, you know, progression and achievements and whatnot. And I’ve been working on them myself for for yeah, very cool. I think it’s interesting to um just how community managers have so many, so many different tasks that, and as a community, like I know you and I talked before about how your background, um you know, experience comes into community management in so many different ways and it’s kind of a lot of times merges really well together. Um Have you found like something in your background really helped you in your roles as community manager when you were doing that?


Yeah, well I think that, you know the dragon that I was always chasing early as a community manager was content. And my background was communications and writing and I got an english degree and all that and I’m relatively verbose as, as we have evidenced here. I just was able to, any time we needed content turn it out And sort of do that. I remember we had this around the bridge in 80 days thing that I did in the summer of 2014 I think. And the idea was there was new content every day for every business day of the summer. 40 or 40. Yeah, like 80 business days. Uh and so the book into the summer maybe, and I ended up writing like 60% of its 70% of it at first, I was like, okay, I’m gonna, I’m gonna get all these people to come in on it and of course people agree to it and everything. And then when it comes time to it, they couldn’t do it. Um and so the editorial calendar became me. And so it was something that I used kind of as a stopgap, as I figured out in later years how to actually motivate people to create content or create backup plans for when they won’t and everything like that.


But writing definitely helped me out, I think just being overtly social, I’m kind of an introvert, extrovert personality types. So I in my downtime will will kind of just like go within right? But as when I’m on I’m on and my ability to kind of be gregarious and connect people and whatnot was helpful. I created sort of a persona in, in my first major community at ADP of just being Goofy all the time. So, I was just writing Goofy blogs, you know, we created like, just silly collaboration areas for people to like share recipes and talk about Goofy stuff and everything like that and was able to create kind of a core, loyal group of people in that community at the beginning And the sad part about that is when you have success and scale out 225,000 people like we did there. That core of 200 people who are sharing recipes and and and sharing jokes, you like stop being able to have time for them.


Like it’s you achieve success and you stop being able to have time for for what’s fun. Um, but I was able, I think as a community manager to smoke and mirror a lot as I figured things out with just writing a bit, with writing and uh, and just trying to be funny, I love the content piece because I think that’s a big challenge for me and for a lot of people that are launching a new community, they feel like they’ve got to have all this content and um, they want to have users create content, but they don’t necessarily, they try to maybe create posts or put some questions out there or reach out to people, but they struggle. So I was wondering if you could share a tip on how to get people to create content. Well, there’s gotta be something in it for them, right? You know, quid pro quo is a big part of the community game and a lot of us who’ve been in it for a little while ended up learning that just because we didn’t have budgets, you know, it wasn’t like we wanted to do things to try to get people to do things for no money, we just had to. And so when you talk about throwing the kitchen sink at everything, that’s what you did just to see what mattered to people.


And so you’re constantly doing that math right? Like you know, as I try this, does this seem to matter to people? Does this level of exposure matter to people? Do people develop A sense of accountability to they self generate a sense of accountability? And if so if I identify somebody who self generates accountability, like somebody who’s going in every single day to try to solve people’s problems at 4:00 and you notice that they’re always going in there, right, then you’ve not compelled them to do that. How can you harness that? Because it means something to them to get that exposure to be seen as an expert in that way. Um So keeping an eye out for that kind of behavior but also, you know, if you’re going like there has to be something in it for the person, right? And so that kind of goes back, it’s a different way of saying what I already said, you have to be willing to provide something. And so I think back to my days as, as a sole proprietor, you know, working and consulting, doing growth, hacking and community stuff, you know, that was like the recession in Arizona lasted like a couple extra years I feel like and a lot of small business owners were doing bartering in those days and so it was like I would grow someone’s twitter in exchange for an advertisement somewhere or whatever.


Um I think that kind of process helped me think about what it meant to get people to contribute for me if I’m going to do that, what can I do for this person. And so there’s not any like direct solution. It’s, it’s, you can always do something for someone that they appreciate and it, it doesn’t have to involve money, it can involve exposure, it can involve, you know, some kind of introduction. Like there’s people that you know that could help that person. There’s there’s networks, there’s things, there’s advice and so um it’s just always always thinking about, okay, this person, I want them to do something, why would they do it? What would make them do it? And maybe even just asking them, hey, I’d love for you to write a guest blog for me, what what what would get you to do that? And they might say, I don’t know, I don’t have any time blah blah blah and that it’s like okay well you know, can I can do you have access to various pieces of software like what do you have at your disposal? Like do you have licenses that you can give people just think about it, throw the kitchen sink at it and think about what you can give someone um to create that sort of shared trust and accountability so that you too have a symbiotic relationship going forward and then just replicate that over and over.


The fascinating thing about community is that it’s we want to help people, but then we don’t know how to help them unless we ask them. And that’s how I actually met you was through Discovery, um because you and I worked together um to do some Discovery interviews for your project and you know, it’s fascinating on what we learned, right? We learned so much about what people want in a community, right? But I feel like that’s the missing component that a lot of people don’t do in the beginning of the Discovery part, they put things up because they say, okay, I think this is what I want to do, here’s what I’m going to offer. Um and they don’t really think about, well what am I giving them besides this specific content? Have they asked for that content if I gave it to them? Have have they asked for it already? So like I know it’s going to be consumed and then yeah, how could I get them to participate and what’s in it for them? And I think a lot of people also miss out on that and think there’s still a lot of trading happening.


I do a lot of trading still with other entrepreneurs to this day, I have a a lot of people that I know that that do that or say, hey, I’ll write a guest blog for you, if you know, you could promote my website and I just did a collaboration call with one of the community members carol who has her community and we did a live video where we did demos of each of our communities and talked about what we do inside and so those kinds of collaborative um you know, partnerships are to me what helps entrepreneurs bridge the gap, you know, when they’re starting a community like this is like, okay, well you might not have all of those resources in the beginning, so how can you get them? And that’s I feel like collaboration is a big part of that. And community. Yeah, you need to hack it together at the beginning and and the easiest way to do that is with Discovery. If you can get people to talk to you, that’s great, like what we did Absolutely w were instrumental in helping craft the cadence and the questions that we used in our discovery process, which was hugely successful and taught me so much, and, you know, I think that anybody can do that, you can reach out to enough people to to get, you know, 10 or 11 or 12 to actually respond and meet with you, and then they’ll tell you what they need, and if you start to create what they need, they’ll start to engage, and then once they’re engaging, they’ll be telling you what they need constantly just with their engagement.


So, but you’re right though, as with even just the understanding or adoption of community culturally, like within an organization that first hump to get over is the hardest and things are downhill from there, but it can be daunting and, and I think a lot of people start a lot of communities thinking okay, particularly if they’re gonna charge money for it, I’m going to get people and even even, you know, like I know that you’re heavily involved in in cm X. I think the cmX pro community took years because it costs money to go into to get a ton of engagement and that’s not knocking it. I’m just saying like it’s when you’re, when you’re charging people for a community, like the value proposition has to be even more in your face and you’ve got to be super upfront with you to your point about, you know, engagement. People are showing up when they need to, where they need to, when they’re getting benefits and some something out of it. So um you know, I’m in a lot of communities and my active in all of them, absolutely not, I’m active in a very few ones that I get something out of, ones that are, are relevant to whatever I’m doing or it’s something I’m interested in, you know, interest communities also like, you know, photography for one example and you know, hiking groups, I have a lead, a hiking community on a facebook group that Has randomly grown to 200 and something people and it was a group that I put together for my friends so that we could go on hikes together and now I’ve got random people like asking to join all the time and posting their hike.


And it’s really crazy how like sometimes like I am a community builder and it’s so funny because I was like I didn’t even try with that like I just I do nothing and people show up and then you know and then other places I’m like please come, please come. Well that’s the challenge, right? It’s determining what what rings the bell for people. And and like so in the in the use case that you bring up there and I need to start stop using the word use case in my day to day life. Like it’s I think I say this when I’m talking about buying groceries become corporate robot ties, corporal humanoid. Um to quote community. Um So uh you know in that use case you’ve got people who love hiking, they need hiking right? Like hiking is is in their soul it’s hiking is is what you do that gets you through the day is thinking about the next hike. And so you naturally sort of created a community because that it has that fire for you.


Right? And so that kind of goes back to what we were talking about before the visionary and the community manager. Um Sometimes when you’ve just got that fire for it, you’re just naturally going to find the people who also have that fire and what gets them through the day. Finding an awesome hike. You know and you’re talking about an awesome hike and that person can get there this saturday. Well that’s that then come back and they’re gonna share because you have a shared experience because you said something would be awesome. And guess what? It was awesome confirmed. And now everybody else is like damn I gotta go do that one right? And it’s the same idea. It’s the challenge of the community manager. You talked about I go to communities that that that I get value out of the challenge of the community manager is to provide you as much value as possible all the time. So you might think I go there once a month because I get value. If I go there once a month there’s enough there for me to get the value. So that community managers challenges well I got up that to four times a month for depth and I got up up into six times a month for Susan you know and these are all just personas of people and that’s what you’re thinking about is you know I gotta have ways to increase and and that’s the data that you’re running all the time.


Right? And there’s so much there’s so much people can do with data now. Like the data team and your pulse is amazing. The data team that we worked with in higher logic was amazing. They can tell you that stuff. You know we had a we had a smart ai newsletter that we send out a higher logic where um even a user who hadn’t been logged in, they could tell you like what content they were interacting with and then the algorithm could then in the next newsletter that went out serve them stuff based on what they were looking at before, even when they weren’t logged in, you know, So I don’t know, I don’t think I’m off track now but like I just got into data analytics but you know, it’s a really cool um Mighty Networks has some really great analytics. They’re just up there analytics game with some new functionality this year. And I think, you know, it can be very overwhelming to a money network host. Uh But it’s it’s nice to look at some things like content for example, you can see what content is being consumed or not consumed, what polls or questions or members are in there and active versus inactive members.


And it can help you guide The content like as a content creator and a community manager who might be in charge of creating content calendar. They can identify, Okay, here’s the the review from the last three months, the last 90 days and what’s the next 90 days is gonna look like. And then you can start to plan out your calendar according to like this is what’s been really working. We’re gonna try some new stuff, we’re gonna use the stuff that’s been working, we’re gonna, you know, maybe increase that or improve that in some way and then maybe try something new and then see if that’s interesting or not. And that’s a lot of what um you know, I’m doing in a community that I’m a community and I just um doing transactions, I’m a community transition manager currently, but I’m going to be transitioning to a community manager for this for this um community. And it’s just been a interesting to learn about These people. There’s about 7000 people in that community, but most of them are inactive.


Like there’s barely anybody in there talking except for the people that are in like other additional programs, like their unpaid areas of this space of this community. And so I wanted to ask you your thoughts on, you know, somebody starting up a community and what does that look like because I know you’re, you know, you haven’t even launched yet yet and you guys are looking at building out a larger network. But you’re starting I think with a beta group, I think when you talked about starting with a beta group, but I was wondering what your thoughts were on like Um starting and then looking at like the first, you know, 3-6 months and what’s the journey there um that that you’ve experienced or that you hope to experience with what the project you’re working on now. Well, I mean, first of all just touched on one of the core components of it, which is establishing your editorial calendar right? You just went through all the steps of, of having an editorial calendar, which is a huge, huge piece of it and Knowing what’s going to be on your editorial calendar for 3-6 months, Huge.


Like you, you’ve got to get out in front of it, you can’t end up like me in 2014 and 80 days around the bridge, around the bridge, in 80 days where I was up at one in the morning writing blogs, because we couldn’t get people to do it right. Like you’ve got to be better prepared than that. Um, so, uh, you know, I think that first of all, yes, having good content at the beginning, the content is incumbent on you And 90% of it is going to come from you and then that that percentage will drill down as time goes on if you’re successful. But you know, when you’re starting out, you just gotta have a lot of content, a lot of stuff that would interest people, put it on a cadence, make sure that if you have a series of, here’s like tips on how to do this in your industry or whatever, whatever make that monday Wednesday friday or, you know, come up with the cadence that’s reasonable for you to accomplish and achieve. Um, I think having a beta group, having a soft launch is really good, Getting people in there who you can trust getting them toying with things, QA and things are looking at, you know, what, what works and what doesn’t always be getting feedback from people always be improving, and then, you know, don’t be afraid to launch, you know, don’t be afraid to open up and and just let people in and see what happens.


You know, I think in the case of a major corporate community, you want there, you want 75% of your value to be there on day one, and then you want to incrementally over the course of your first year, you know, release 5% this 5% that 5% that, and so that people are getting an idea that, oh, this is building to a crescendo, but it still needs to be 75% awesome at the beginning, if you’re releasing something, uh, you know, for for your individual business or whatever, um, as long as you you’re providing the value at the beginning, um, you don’t know necessarily where it’s gonna go, um, you know, where you want it to go. Um, but, you know, if you’re taking the initiative to actually just have content, I think that you shouldn’t be afraid to launch and just just get people invite people in and see what they do, and, you know, in the case of certain things like, you know, I’m a big proponent of personally, and, and this isn’t gonna be totally unpopular. I’m a big proponent of never charging for anything in the community. Um, but if you’re going, if you’re going to or you think that ultimately you want to, you want to have a model that’s paid.


And I think a lot of people are amenable to that model. Um, you know, I’ve heard a lot of people talk about it recently where they are much more amenable to it than they were maybe 10 years ago, um, uh, launch without that, you know, start off, build, build something and, and create the value so that people that are saying, you know what to retain this, I want, I want to pay money. I honestly think that that’s what, and I know that like facebook had always pushed back on this, that they would never do it. But I just thought once facebook got us hooked in 2000 and 567, they should have just said this is now $5 a year and maybe we have never seen an ad and maybe we’ve never seen a misinformation. I’m not saying I’m, I’m solving the world of misinformation here, but just like that. What’s that model? If you, if you if you remember, yeah, you remember WhatsApp before facebook bought them, the deal was you signed up And it costs a dollar a year and it went on your cell phone bill and the first year was free. So the idea was you signed up and I’m going to pay a dollar a year from now.


Sure I’m on board with that. And then it had like two billion users or something that might have been later or whatever. But the idea was gonna be $2 billion dollars a year, get people hooked, um then start charging them, you know, get your audience, get your engagement and then you know, you can even talk to people, hey listen, you know, I need to make money off this. You understand that I’ve got to make a living and, and this is a revenue stream. I’ve been looking to develop and this has kind of been a beta for that. You can be up front with that too. This is a beta for me to develop a revenue stream. And if people really feel the value, they’ll tell you, you know what, I would come back, I would do this for seven bucks a month. You put out polls say, would you pay three bucks a month? Would you pay five, would you pay seven? Um and go from there. Yeah, I think there’s a couple things I wanted to point out that are, that are just, there’s different methodologies of community, right? For different reasons because um specifically talking about businesses like corporations or large organizations have the, hopefully if they’re starting a community, have the funding or some kind of budget to support somebody to pay somebody to do this role, to start the community to launch it to do all the stuff um that model there in then you’re getting compensated as a manager and then it’s not so much about how I recovering my costs.


It’s more about now, I need to show why this is an important thing that my company needs to keep investing in. Right? So that’s the, that’s the one path, if you’re a somebody who’s been in business as an entrepreneur or a small business that’s been in business for about 10 or 20 or 30 years or something like that, and later down the road, they’re like, oh, we learned about this thing called community and we want to connect, we want to have a support community for our products and services or something like that. Um It makes sense for them to have a free community because they’re serving their clients in a better way. Like you talked with your example about like having somewhere that they don’t have to contact the company, they can resolve their solution without even talking to anybody maybe on the phone or something like that, and that’s like a support, dedicated community. But then there’s these entrepreneurs that are new to community industry, which there’s a lot of people out there promoting this whole sales funnel and, you know, getting people into the funnel and getting them into that paid uh membership model and that to me is combining tech and what tech has been doing with this new entrepreneurial model of membership and, and so in the middle of their, you have people and you have community and then you’re like, well how do I get people in my community and how do I make this affordable?


And how do I charge for it? Because I need to make some money because I’m spending as an entrepreneur, I’m spending so much time or I’m hiring an assistant or community manager to run this space and so therefore it has to be some kind of profitable and so what am I then offering in there? And so I feel like those are different segmented customers that might consider somebody who’s listening would, would be like, oh, I identify as like a larger corporation, I’m a member of that organization or I’m a, a small business and I would want to have a support community or I’m an entrepreneur and so in the entrepreneurial area and when I talk with clients, I also, there’s when you’re talking about people who have been in business for, you know, 10 or 15 years, they have content, they probably have blogs, they probably have lots of like things that they can repurpose and put together and probably higher, you know, a marketing professional or somebody to go and put all this content together and they have it, but not everybody does have content and not everybody has, um, you know, any concept of, okay, what is this really going to be?


And so the other thing you mentioned and what I recommend to people who are in the bucket of, I don’t necessarily have a lot of content in the beginning and I feel like overwhelmed, how do I help them find calm is saying you don’t really need a lot of content and you know why, because you start with a beta group, you ask five of these people that you think are your ideal members, you talk to them, you do discovery, you figure out what is the problem solving, who am I solving it for, why are they going to come and be a part of this and then decide is this something I’m gonna charge for, how is this going to work, is the value there. And what I did over the last year was I ran Three beta, three beta groups, I had a mastermind last year and then I had a mastermind, had two masterminds in the beginning of 2021 and I learned from that experience, I did it for free, I asked a couple of people to join me, we had weekly meetings and they had homework and we had templates and so now After that I had an exit interview with them, I learned what was helpful for them and what they needed and what wasn’t helpful, so now I just launched the mighty masterminds this week officially in October and have paid members that are excited to work with me for 90 days in a mastermind group and it is great, it’s super exciting, but like, I didn’t had no idea and I think this is the point that I’m trying to ring and ring the bell about a little bit is I had no idea how long and how much effort that was going to take to prove the value for other people to want to give me their hard earned money, and I think that’s a lot of what people misconception around this whole sales funnel thing and entrepreneurial is getting into this funnel and getting them, you know, in there and that capacity is then you’re taking the, the human out of the way you’re talking about community, so I feel like it just depends on, again which segment you’re in and what the purpose is and it all goes back to the vision of the community and what the purpose is and how it aligns with the business or the values, if it’s a self interest community versus a, you know, a support, community versus transformation of where I’m like, maybe I am in a community because I need to lose weight or get healthy somehow, or I’m actually working with a client on a community around um personal development and you know, there’s just, there’s a lot of space is out there for community to be, to be a part of as a member, to be a part of communities and to lead community, so I think it’s just yeah, that was a lot.


No, no, so I mean what what what you what you touched on that was just that you earned trust and so the job is to earn trust and that’s it. Um and and regardless of what your community is doing, whether it’s a huge corporate thing or if it’s trying to get people in small groups to pay your subscription fee, it’s all about earning trust. You know, one of the things that we found in the discovery that you and I both worked on because people talked about, I don’t know what information I can trust in the, in the social media field. I read it, that doesn’t mean I can trust it, right? And so if you’re sitting there telling me, you know, you should pay me nine bucks a month, I don’t know if I should trust that I should pay you nine bucks a month. You went out there and you actually gave people the reason like you you gave them value and they said, you know this is worth it to me, I’m gonna pay and I’m not saying it’s nine bucks a month, whatever it is a month. Um but that’s that’s what it is, it’s earning trust. And one thing that you said is I think you mentioned self interest communities, like all communities are self interest communities, all those things that you talked about, you know losing weight, you know financial literacy and everybody everything is self interest and that kind of goes back to what I was talking about before, which is how you’re gonna get somebody through their day.


People are self interested. That’s not in a negative way. People are trying to get through the day, they’re trying to pay the rent, they’re trying to, they’re trying to get a better job, they’re trying to do something more for themselves. They’re trying to make things better for their family. And if your community is focused on that is focused on the kind of things that help people make more money next week, get a better job, you know, get get up skill themselves that they’re more valuable, give them exposure so they can book more clients, you know, that’s the kind of stuff that really moves the needle for people you got to get to know, like, and trust factor is the basic foundations of business, right? You gotta have those know, like, and trust factor people uh, and it took me a year and now I’m, you know, I’m finally really seeing the results of the hard work that I’ve been doing to, to, to build that. And I think sometimes we think it’s going to take, it’s going to happen a lot faster. It takes a lot longer than we maybe think it’s going to take thanks so much.


Just tell everybody is, if there’s any last minute thoughts you had or just where anybody can learn more about you, if they are interested in connecting with you, uh, in regards to tech community. Sure, yeah. If you want to connect with me, I’m on linkedin, it’s just paul Bradley. I think you would find me normally. I think it’s paul, I’m on twitter too, and they put that in the show notes, I think probably as well. Um yeah, you can always just like reach out to me. I love to talk about community and, and ramble and whatnot. Um, in terms of what we’re doing at your pulse, stay tuned. You know, if you’re in the social media management field, um, first of all, I’d love it if you reached out to me, if you have any questions about what we’re trying to do, we really are invested in the notion of we’re investing in the, in the industry of social media management and we want people to develop in that field as, as best that they can. We want more people to develop into that field.


We want to help people at earlier stages, you know, whether they’re in college, taking digital marketing classes, learn more, you know, get access to two tools like, like ours and, and others, um, and expertise, you know, experts, you know, we’re bringing, we’re working to bring people together from, you know, the biggest industry influencers, um, down to somebody who is just aspirational or maybe looking for a career pivot, you know, they’re homebound and and they want to become a social media manager as a sole proprietor. They want to work for a major brand. You were really trying to touch the soup to nuts, um, like venue goal and be that place where people can go and get their information, do some learning and some certifications, try to find some, some connections and work that that will help them grow and, and you know, be better. I love it. I’m excited. I’m so excited. That sounds like a really amazing space and I can’t wait to to learn more about what you’re doing there and thank you so much for taking the time with us today.


If anybody is listening to the fine, come here podcast, make sure to subscribe. We have episodes. So officially october we started doing every other week. That’s for me to find calm. So because I’ve picked up with my clients, um, client work has been growing and which is amazing and great like I said, um, but you know, somebody had said, Deb, I can’t keep up with your podcast and I’m not finding calm and I thought, well that’s not really great. And then, and then I’m realizing how challenging it can be to schedule podcast guests and get the content together and write the intros and upload the photos and I um I do have thankfully a lovely podcast editor, but it’s just been um just a massive shift that I’ve just made of just saying, you know what, it’s okay, I’m going to go to every other week and that’s going to be great. So I’m really excited about that shift, which I and then we just announced that today on social media, I just put a post up there about that as well as our one year of podcasting.


It’s fine. Come here. Um so it’s just been an amazing time. So thanks everybody for your support please, if you have the opportunity to put a review or a recommendation or share the podcast with somebody that you think might like it, that would be fantastic. Um upcoming. There’s a lot of great podcast interviews coming up. I’m actually starting to integrate working with Circle. I know I had two people from the past podcast episodes on that have circles and so I’m looking at doing some collaboration with Circle in the future. So you’ll probably hear some more podcasts about that and until the next time, I hope you’re finding calm in this day evening, morning, afternoon, wherever it is, whenever it is for you, I hope you’re finding calm until the next time. Take care and talk to you soon, bye. Okay, Okay. Yeah,