Friday Sep 02, 2022
Ep 21 - Community Driven Growth with Shana Sumers, Stephanie Hughes and Nish Nadaraja
Building community creates a unique bond of trust and loyalty between a product, employees, and users. Nurturing and growing that trust has helped create many of the most viral and fastest-growing startups in the world. But that trust can easily dissipate if not properly respected.
We sit down with 3 leaders who’ve built the early communities at Yelp, HER, and Tastemade to teach us how to build loyal communities and how not to mess them up. We talk about the meaning of authentic community, who needs it, and when to start investing in it.
Here’s What We Discussed:
- [04:05] What is community? Community is bringing people together over a common interest that they might not find anywhere else
- [07:00] The first steps of growing a community – Find your niche, figure out how to serve your people, and build authentic connections one person at a time
- [10:02] Nish and Stephanie share their learnings when creating the Yelp Elite Squad
- [14:20] When a company should invest in growth
- [18:28] Shana shares her wishlist of tools that are necessary for building and facilitating a community – Moderator tools, clear spaces of communication, etc.
- [22:22] How to prevent your community from becoming “anonymous” as it starts to grow to thousands or millions of members
- [26:13] Nish talks about the importance of larger influencers engaging in comments and making people feel heard – “That’s how you make evangelists.”
- [29:09] Community moderation from the get-go is key when growing your community
- [31:53] How to make the most of community events – Tips to authentically engage with people through virtual events
- [37:19] Our Panel shares their main North Star metrics – Driving retention
- [39:34] Shana shares how HER users who engage with the community have better retention
- [47:29] Advice on the best ways to get to know your community members better – The importance of testing every avenue and the lucky accident of Yelp
About Our Speakers
Shana Sumers, Head of Community at HER app – Shana is a black, queer woman who is the Senior Manager of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging Communities at HubSpot.
Shana has had the opportunity to speak on multiple panels (as panelist and moderator), podcasts, private events, and stages as both a speaker and a keynote speaker. In her free time, you will find Shana running around a sports field, exploring new restaurants, or getting tickets to the latest Beyoncé concert. She also likes catching up on her favorite shows, attending virtual concerts, and lots and lots of Facetime.
Stephanie Hughes, Former Head of Community at Tastemade – Stephanie is a Community Vanguard for startups. Currently, she is working on building out her own company: The Femps (aka The Female Empowerment Society). They bring amazingly talented women together for professional networking and passion project exploration. Stay tuned for updates!
Prior to this, she’s run community for Tastemade, Need, Kekanto and handled the editorial/community reins for Loopt (acquired by GreenDot in 2012). But all of this community madness and mischief started back in 2006 at a little site you may have heard of called Yelp.
Nish Nadaraja, Brand Consultant and Advisor – Nish works on all aspects of the marketing puzzle (from high-level strategy to content creation to grassroots buzz marketing initiatives). His favorite areas are community, brand evangelism, and customer loyalty.
While a lot of people know him from his work at Yelp, he learned a lot about influencer and lifestyle marketing from his time at Ammo Marketing.
He continues to advise and consult on projects big and small, primarily in San Francisco but has debated going back to full-time on occasion. Currently, he is acting as the interim head of brand and marketing for a wine company that is just coming to market. He is also involved in a few restaurants in San Francisco (Foreign Cinema, Noosh, Padrecito, Schroeders), and just might open his own one day.
About Our Moderator
Anish Shah is the CEO & Founder of executive search agency Bring Ruckus. Anish has worked in-house in Growth roles at Snapfish and Getable. He started Bring Ruckus as a Growth consultancy 11 years ago working with 40+ clients, then re-focused his firm on executive recruiting for Growth leaders.
“I look at community as something that's not necessarily just a membership idea, but it encompasses the entire brand.” – Nish Nadaraja
“Community is something that people can be a part of that's bigger than themselves and gives them a voice.” – Stephanie Hughes
“Every part of community is bringing people together over a common interest… The community is providing something that [people] don't find elsewhere. And so you want to be able to drive people into that space to be able to grow.” – Shana Sumers
“Find that niche group of people that will have instant feedback for what you're about to build… Starting the basics with having the voices of your community when launching your community is the best way to get that party started.” – Shana Sumers
“Sometimes I think of growth as like a hack, in a way. And community is a lot of authentic connections and one member at a time sort of ideas. I've always personally found it a challenge to try to match growth and community together. But I think that’s the holy grail.” – Nish Nadaraja
“There is something to feeling heard. That's how you make evangelists.” – Nish Nadaraja
“ It's really important to have total buy-in on is community important and have a team that will help you build these tools and really listen.” – Stephanie Hughes
We are growth leaders who recruit your game changers. Visit https://bringruckus.com and connect on LinkedIn. Subscribe and listen to more episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify Google Podcasts, Audible, or wherever you get your podcasts!
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