David Spinks

David Spinks

Founder and CEO CMX Media. Helping community professionals to thrive

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON September 18, 2015

Discussion

David Spinks
David Spinks@davidspinks · CEO, CMX Media
Hey, everyone! I'm David Spinks, founder of CMX, the hub for the community industry. I'm a lifelong community builder, 3x startup founder, below average beat boxer, pretty average basketball player, above average THPS4 player. We started CMX with the mission of giving community professionals the opportunity to thrive. More and more companies are building a community every day and we've made it our business to help them do it right. Ask me anything! (="
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
@davidspinks if you had to make a 10 commandments of community building, what would it be? (not to put you on the spot or anything....;)
David Spinks
David Spinks@davidspinks · CEO, CMX Media
@eriktorenberg haha 10??? Lets give it a shot... 1. Thou shall start by building personal relationships and doing things that don't scale 2. Thou shall not grow the community too fast 3. Thou shall set the example for how you want members to behave, for that is the only way they will truly understand 4. Thou shall not be boring and marketing-y in your communication... be real in your communication 5. Thou shall communicate openly and proactively with your community for that earns their trust and respect 6. Thou shall create ongoing shared experiences for your community to come together 7. Thou shall not rely on gamification to drive activity because it won't work if there isn't an existing reputation dynamic 8. Thou shall distribute control to your most loyal and active members, for that is the only way you will scale 9. Thou must tie your community to business goals to justify the value of community 10. Thou must use your community building skills for good for as we have seen, it can also be used for great evil
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
I love these
Lyle McKeany
Lyle McKeany@lylemckeany · growth marketer
@davidspinks I think you should just mic drop with this one!
David Spinks
David Spinks@davidspinks · CEO, CMX Media
@lylemckeany haha shortest AMA ever ^_^
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Pretend you were now in charge of running PH Community - what would your 30-60-90 day plan be? Asking for a friend.....!
David Spinks
David Spinks@davidspinks · CEO, CMX Media
@eriktorenberg hahaha I'll send you my hourly rate ;) I think you guys are doing a lot of things right already. At least for the product line, you nailed it. I'd be paying a ton of attention to how the community is adjusting to the new segments (games, books, etc) and be thinking about how the community experience will be different for each of those segments (and where they overlap). I'd be looking to create more traditions and rituals into these groups so the community knows what to expect and how to participate.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Spinks! Two questions: 1) Who are the top 5 community builders (people or companies) you look up to and why? 2) How do you maintain such amazing, flowing hair? 💁
Melissa Joy Kong
Melissa Joy Kong@melissajoykong · Content, Product Hunt
+1 to @rrhoover's second question. I just can't get mine to grow very long without getting split ends, and I'd love your advice here. :-)
David Spinks
David Spinks@davidspinks · CEO, CMX Media
@melissajoykong coconut oil. haha no actually I don't have great advice here, just great genes I guess ^_^
David Spinks
David Spinks@davidspinks · CEO, CMX Media
@rrhoover Thanks Ryan! This is always a tough one to answer since it's kind of my job to know everyone in the industry and so I meet people who are working on amazing communities every day. But here are a few that immediately come to mind... 1. You - for real, you're one of the most authentic and efficient community builders I know. Since startup edition days you have a talent for communicating, bringing people together and making others feel special. I've learned a lot from watching you. 2. Ligaya Tichy - built community for Yelp and Airbnb. She's been doing this thing since way before it was a thing and has pioneered a lot of the strategies that we all use today. 3. David Noel - also an OG in the space who built the community program at Soundcloud for many years and has now transitioned into an internal community/people/culture role, that we're seeing become a big trend. 4. Evan Hamilton - previously at Uservoice and Zozi, now at Coursera, the guy has been pushing the industry forward for a long time and is one of the people pushing really hard to prove the ROI of community (and push others to do the same) 5. Erica Kuhl - she's such a trooper. She's been at Salesforce for 12 years and has been focused on community for 7 of those years. She built the program from the ground up, got it moved from the marketing team to the product team (not easy in such a big company) and is one of the only people I've seen figure out how to tie community directly to the bottom line. The hair is just a gift (=
Austin Smith
Austin Smith@awwstn · GM @ inside.com
@davidspinks What do expect to be the biggest shifts in the way online communities launch, grow, operate, and interact over the next five years?
David Spinks
David Spinks@davidspinks · CEO, CMX Media
@awwstn hey Austin, thanks for kicking it off. I think we're going to see more and more companies leveraging collaboration to scale their products. Examples like Duolingo where all of their language courses are developed by their community is a good example. You can now leverage the power of communities to scale your operations for product development, marketing, support, hiring etc. That means we're going to see a lot more online communities launching, which means more tools, products and processes are going to develop around the community discipline. We're going to see the "community industry" grow exponentially as a result.
Ashley Laurel
Ashley Laurel@ashleylaurel · Analytics & SEO @ Accenture
What's the hardest challenge you've found with starting a new community (say for a new product) and how do you overcome that challenge?
David Spinks
David Spinks@davidspinks · CEO, CMX Media
@ashleylaurel hey Ashley, great question. I've really struggled when I've been asked how to build a community for a product that sucks, or a company that doesn't have a clear mission/vision. Communities are formed around value and values. If people aren't getting value out of a community/product, they're not going to participate. If there aren't core values that people identify with, you're also going to struggle. So it's one of those things where if your core is flawed, there's little you can do to build a real community around it. If you have a strong vision/mission and a product people love, the community almost builds itself.
Elise Ramsay
Elise Ramsay@eliseramsay · Head of Community @ Eyegroove
@davidspinks Hey David! How do you think Community as a department/job title/etc is going to grow and change in the next few years? Will it increasingly break off from Marketing and Support in more companies? Will it primarily focus on choreographed musical numbers? Is there another option I'm not thinking of?
David Spinks
David Spinks@davidspinks · CEO, CMX Media
@eliseramsay Hey Elise thanks for jumping in. Great question. I think we're going to see community really mature as a professional discipline over the next few years. As more companies are investing in community, there will be more examples of how to launch, grow, track, measure and most importantly, prove the value of community. There will also be more resources available like training, events, case studies, research, etc. I'm sure of that because that's what CMX is doing. Yes, I definitely think it will find its own department in some companies, while in others it will depend on the intention and goals of the community. Look at marketing. It can be product marketing, ads, influencer marketinge etc. Same will happen for community, it could be community marketing, community support, community driven products, etc. And yes... many many more dance numbers are to be expected.
@davidspinks Hey David, how do you typically measure Community ROI?
Margot Mazur
Margot Mazur@margotcodes · Partnership Co-ordinator, Wistia
@hambalia To piggy back off of your question, Anastasia, I'd love to know which Community analytics folks are measuring and how that helps your overall goals.
David Spinks
David Spinks@davidspinks · CEO, CMX Media
@hambalia thanks Anastasia, that's the big question of the day in the community industry! There are a couple schools of thought here: The first school of thought is that the ROI of community is inherent. It's like design. You know it's important to have a well designed product/website, but you can necessarily track the revenue results of the look and feel of your product. You just know it's important and you know whether it's good or bad. That's great, but it doesn't solve the problem. The reality is community is being used as a business tactic and so it has to achieve business goals. So you HAVE to be able to tie it to your business goals. That doesn't always mean the bottom line (though if you can do that that's great). But if your company goals is to improve the support experience, focus on those metrics. If you're trying to increase product retention, then track your community efforts based on those metrics. If it's marketing/acquisition goals, you should be building community programs that can bring more people into the product and track the results there.
David Spinks
David Spinks@davidspinks · CEO, CMX Media
@margotcodes Hey Margot, great to see you here! There are two kinds of metrics a community pro should be tracking: 1. Community health metrics - how healthy is your community? 2. Business metrics - how is community impacting your business? I touched on a few metrics and ways of thinking about #2. Basically, you have to look at what the goal is for the business and focus on community programs that will achieve those goals. Tie it to the existing narrative in your company and develop a report that will show how it's impacting the company goals. For community health metrics, some of the most common ones are: - community growth and churn - post and comment activity: per user, per day, per thread, over time - happiness: NPS, surveys, interviews (can be more qualitative) You can also get more detailed: - time to first post after joining - % of members who introduce themselves - network density
Margot Mazur
Margot Mazur@margotcodes · Partnership Co-ordinator, Wistia
@davidspinks Hey David! What's your process for creating new community projects? What kind of a weight do you put on physical vs. online projects and community experiences? Thanks!
David Spinks
David Spinks@davidspinks · CEO, CMX Media
@margotcodes i take a really hands on approach when launching any new community project. I talk to as many potential members as possible and learn as much as I can about who they are, their needs, where they're already going to solve their problem, etc. I usually form a value proposition for the community, kind of like the business model canvas but for community. I'll share that sometime! Physical vs online really depends on the community, their culture, lifestyle, where they live etc. Almost always, it's a combination of both, and just about choosing the right platform/event style.
Tys Bradford
Tys Bradford@tysbradford · App Developer & Founder of BlueTropical
G'day David! I am wondering what considerations must be given when attempting to grow a strong but small community of initial core users to a wider audience without spoiling the magic that attracted the initial members in the first place? What's the best way to encourage existing community members to welcome this growth?
David Spinks
David Spinks@davidspinks · CEO, CMX Media
@tysbradford that's a really good question and it's a tough one. Your early users join for the intimacy and sense of importance. You can maintain those things for those people while still growing the community. Intimacy, you can't maintain in the larger group, but you can create unique experiences for them (sub groups, events, dinners, etc). The feeling of importance, you can maintain by giving them credit for being first (I'm proud to be member #50 on product hunt) and by giving them the spotlight. All that said, the reality is your original members will not all stay. The culture will change and a lot of them will leave. It will happen and you just need to be okay with that.
Mike Coutermarsh
Mike Coutermarsh@mscccc · Code @ GitHub
@davidspinks hey! anything you do everyday to keep your energy up? What keeps you so productive?
David Spinks
David Spinks@davidspinks · CEO, CMX Media
@mscccc hey Mike, thanks for the question. I wouldn't call myself a productivity expert but I am constantly experimenting with productivity tactics for myself. For me it's all about habit and routine. Because I work for myself, I used to have a different day every day. That made it impossible to be productive every day. I try to be consistent every day now, I run in the morning which gets me outside and gets my brain going, I eat breakfast, I bike to work. I now bunch all of my meetings to the morning/before 1pm. That leaves 1-5pm open for getting real work done. Our whole team has also moved to using asana which at first I hated, but now I love because it keeps me on track, and accountable to due dates. Managing energy is a huge challenge but again it's about creating healthy routines. I exercise every day, sometimes twice (I ball with Erik a lot). I need a full 8-9 hours of sleep to feel really rested and ready to rock. I need three meals and so I cook in big batches and bring lunch with me to work so I can control what I eat and when I eat it.
Matt Jensen
Matt Jensen@mjensen · Gig Economy Guy, Working at Fiverr
Hi Mr David! Facebook company pages seem to be great for amplifying marketing messages and support feedback from customers. What, if anything, would you like to see from Facebook in order for it to be a more community friendly platform?
David Spinks
David Spinks@davidspinks · CEO, CMX Media
@mjensen thanks for jumping in Matt. Yeah pages are okay for marketing, but awful for community. Actually facebook groups are perhaps the greatest simple community platform available right now. They're highly engaging, simple to set up etc. I actually think facebook has a MASSIVE opportunity both for b2c and b2b to invest heavily in groups and flesh them out into a true community platform with analytics, CRM, subgroups, etc.
Zach Solomon-Beloin
Zach Solomon-Beloin@zachsb · Community Manager - http://zachsb.com
Hey David! It was awesome meeting you in Chicago. Come back soon! Say you had a countrywide community and local sub-groups. What suggestions do you have on working with those community managers to 1) build their communities 2) collaborate to grow the countrywide community?
David Spinks
David Spinks@davidspinks · CEO, CMX Media
@zachsb Thanks Zach! 1. Be flexible. You can't control everything. Distribute control. 2. But control some things. Be super clear about your vision, your messaging, your brand so that those things stay consistent across your communities/events 3. bring the community organizers together regularly to share best practices, give feedback, give advice.
David Spinks
David Spinks@davidspinks · CEO, CMX Media
Alrighty looks like my hour is up! Hope everyone got their questions in. I'll make sure to answer all the questions that have been posted to this point. Thanks so much for having me Product Hunt crew. If anyone is really interested in this stuff, check us out at cmxhub.com where we have tons of articles, content, events, research etc all around building communities for businesses. Cheers!
David Spinks
David Spinks@davidspinks · CEO, CMX Media
@davidspinks If anyone has more questions, I'm @davidspinks on twitter. Always happy to help!
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
HUGE thanks to @davidspinks for joining us today and definitely check out CMX conferences, events, and great content on their site cmxhub.com!
Nabeel Hanif
Nabeel Hanif@nabeel_hanif · Tech Entrepreneur
@eriktorenberg i spent 20 mins going through all of the above and i threw my question very late aawww man :(
David Spinks
David Spinks@davidspinks · CEO, CMX Media
@eriktorenberg thanks so much Erik! Honored to be invited.
David Spinks
David Spinks@davidspinks · CEO, CMX Media
@nabeel_hanif never too late (=
Nabeel Hanif
Nabeel Hanif@nabeel_hanif · Tech Entrepreneur
Hey David, thanks for the AMA and PH guys, thanks for adding this awesome live feature. We've been working on a mental health app for quite a few months, hoping to launch around mid October. We've come to a point where we have to decide our pricing strategy for the app. We could go for a straight few dollars pricing or if we can somehow get it right - make it free and build a very vibrant community around it. The question to you is, What are your thoughts on building a community around mental health, on the more self help / self improvement side and what are the major challenges attached to mental health community? thanks
David Spinks
David Spinks@davidspinks · CEO, CMX Media
@nabeel_hanif Hey Nabeel thanks for the question. I think community building around mental health, or really any health issue, is hugely valuable and often results in some of the strongest communities out there. They work well because they're clearly driven by a good cause, and because the people involved have a very strong commonality that allows them to connect and relate to each other. I'd recommend checking out 7 Cups of Tea as a great example. Here's a case study we did with them: http://cmxhub.com/stumbling-on-c... I'd say one of the challenges is balancing identity and trust. People won't always feel comfortable sharing their personal challenged and mental health issues. So you really have to create a safe environment. You can do that by having barriers to entry, so members know that not everyone can access that information, by having clear guidelines/rules and by setting the example. You might also consider allowing members to be anonymous, or pseudonymous, though that brings a whole additional level of complexity.
Justin F Harris
Justin F Harris@justinfharris · Co-Founder, Beehive
Hey David, A few questions: Are there any systems or processes that you find follow to create a strong community in the early days of a startup? What is your favorite song to beatbox? Are there any attributes of founders or companies you look for when mentoring or selecting companies for 500 Startups? Thanks!
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
@justinfharris he is a pretty good beatboxer...!
Justin F Harris
Justin F Harris@justinfharris · Co-Founder, Beehive
@eriktorenberg We might need David to beatbox on PH Live!!!
David Spinks
David Spinks@davidspinks · CEO, CMX Media
@justinfharris Thanks for jumping in Justin. 1. I wrote this a long time ago and it still applies: http://thecommunitymanager.com/2... Basically it's all about focusing on the personal touch and doing things that don't scale. Stay SUPER close to your members, keep them in the loop about everything, and make them feel really special for being involved early on. It's all about making people feel important/special. 2. Erik Torenberg freestyling. 3. For mentoring I really look for companies that follow through with what they say they're going to do and always come prepared with clear questions. Too often startups reach out and just "generally want help". It's really hard to help those companies and ends up being a waste of time for everyone, so I usually ask a bunch of questions before taking those kinds of calls first to make them think through what they actually want.
Melissa Joy Kong
Melissa Joy Kong@melissajoykong · Content, Product Hunt
David! Good to see you here. Community is one of the hardest things to build authentically/durably. I know you think about this a lot with the work you do. What challenge do you see most community builders struggle with, and what's your response to that challenge?
David Spinks
David Spinks@davidspinks · CEO, CMX Media
@melissajoykong it's funny, while the community building itself is pretty hard, it comes naturally to a lot of people who do this for a living. It's all about being real, communicating properly, distributing control, etc. The biggest challenge that they face though is in justifying their own roles and proving their value. Companies are becoming more and more interested in investing in community but they don't always know exactly what they want. They end up hiring a community pro, ask them to do a ton of stuff that isn't really community, and when they can't prove that their work impacted the bottom line, they switch them to other roles or fire them. It's a tough position to be in. I spoke about how to handle proving ROI in a couple other answers above so I'll refer to those.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
1) What is one of the biggest misconceptions people have around community building? 2) What is CMX in 5 years? 3) What can people learn about community building from watching us play basketball at 19th and Valencia?
David Spinks
David Spinks@davidspinks · CEO, CMX Media
@eriktorenberg 1. that someone without experience can just hop in and do it 2. the community industry will be much bigger. It will be how business is done. CMX will be the central hub that brings the entire industry together and provides the resources community pros and businesses need to succeed. 3. haha love this question. They'd learn that there will always be a troll, that traditions form when you bring people together regularly and that you and I are an unstoppable team.
Geoffrey Weg
Geoffrey Weg@geoffreyweg · Betaworks, TechStars, White House
Shalom David! Curious what you think the tradeoff is with a company using an off-the-shelf community platform; and building an authentic, unique, brand-specific relationship with its community.
David Spinks
David Spinks@davidspinks · CEO, CMX Media
@geoffreyweg Shalom! Todah for jumping in (= By off the shelf, do you mean a community tool like Salesforce community cloud, lithium, jive, mobilize, etc? Or do you mean a free group tool like slack or facebook groups? Ultimately the biggest trade off is engagement vs access and ownership of information. Hosting on an existing platform like facebook has the benefit of people already being there. But you don't know who's in your community, you can't track it well, you can't communciate with them easily. If you own the platform or have it on your site, it's going to be significantly harder to keep people coming back and participating, but you'll have their data and be able to communcate and track them more efficiently.