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How To Build A Community Strategy That Attracts, Engages And Retains Your Tribe (with Noele Flowers from Teachable)

Ben Aston chats with Noele Flowers, Community Manager at Teachable about how to build a community strategy that attracts, engages, and retains your tribe. 

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Audio Transcription:

Ben Aston

So today I’m joined by Noele Flowers. She’s based in Brooklyn, New York. Currently, she’s an artist and a musician and a public high school teacher, but yeah, she’s turned ed-tech pro at leading the community team at Teachable. She created and now runs the community program. So keep listening to today’s podcast to learn how to build a community strategy that attracts that engages and retains your tribe.

And Hey, can snag a copy of Noele’s. Community launch framework. Hey, Noele, thanks so much for joining us.

Noele Flowers

Hey, thanks for having me Ben.

Ben Aston

So I’m really curious if this journey, how you went from high school teacher to a and I was stalking you on LinkedIn trying to kind of work out what happens. Uh, you were teaching music at high school and then ended up a Teachable.

How did that, how did that happen and how did you kind of get involved in the community side of things?

Noele Flowers

Yeah. So it’s funny. Cause I think that a lot people that are in the community field have these sort of like bizarre ways that they got into the field or, um, like it’s not a direct path where when you’re growing up, you’re like, Oh, I’m going to be a community manager.

In fact, I don’t think I knew what a community manager was including up to the point that I applied for the job at teachable. I, um, Started off teaching because I really loved music in school. And I think like a lot of high schoolers, I didn’t have a good picture of. What the available jobs were. So I was like teacher, doctor, those are the jobs.

Um, and so then I went to school for that. And when I actually got into the flow of it, I found, Oh, this is really not a good fit for my lifestyle. I don’t like waking up super early in the morning. I don’t like performing five hours a day. I don’t like working outside of this. Um, so I started looking for something new after a couple of years teaching.

Shall I close my window? Can you hear some background noise?

Ben Aston

Yeah, a little bit, but it’s not

Noele Flowers

That bad. Okay, cool. Just let me know if it isn’t I’ll pop it closed.

Um, so anyways, I started looking for a new job and. Part of what I learned as a teacher that I wanted to kind of keep in my job was that I really like love, um, like bringing people through a journey is I like those moments of.

Realizing that you can do something together. And I like talking to people, that’s something I’m very comfortable with and, and enjoyed when I was a teacher. So I was really looking for a job that would help me kind of flex those skills. But at the same time, I have a lot of friends that were in, um, software startups, just as living in New York.

A lot of my friends worked in that industry. And so I started looking on angel list just for stuff that seemed like. I can get my foot in the door. And ed tech seems like a kind of nice next option where I could apply some of my passions and skills, but also learn something new. So that’s how I got into it really without knowing what, what I was in for.

Ben Aston

Yeah. And so had you, I mean, you’d obviously got teaching experience in a school is kind of a community, but to take on a community management role at teachable, like. Yeah. How did that, how did you convince them that you, uh, that you have the experience, or what experience did you have going into that?

Noele Flowers

Just my charm and wit I guess, no, I don’t know. I think, you know, the, I often feel like my experience as a community manager sort of mirrors what the industry of community management was going through at the time, where, when I started. A lot of communities, like companies, were just starting to explore this idea of community.

And a lot of them were very like thrown together using the tools available, just kind of like picking low-hanging fruit. So when I first started at teachable, um, we actually just had a Facebook group. So it wasn’t like this big scaled-out program that anyone was thinking, we’re going to need this like subject matter expert to tackle this.

It was like kind of this. Program. That was just on the side that was taking up a lot of time for people. And they were, I think, just thinking let’s bring someone in who can respond to people’s comments on Facebook. Like that’s pretty easy. Right, right. Um, but then being like somebody who likes to tackle a project, I wasn’t going to go into that and just kind of fulfill that expectation.

So it’s something that I really kind of like took upon myself to learn more about the industry and start to. Kind of like push at boundaries, I guess. And that’s how things grew for me and my career, but also for, um, for the teachable community.

Ben Aston

Yeah. And so, I mean, tell us how then your role then as a community manager for, you know, a fairly large company, how has that transforms from being the.

The moderator owner of the Facebook group to something that’s now cause something very, very different. What does it look like now and tell us about how that transformation happened?

Noele Flowers

Yeah, for sure. So, I mean, one thing I’ll say is when I started, we weren’t a big company. We were, um, I started four years ago at teachable.

Um, I actually had my interview for teachable on. The day of like the election day of 2016. So I went right from the polls to my interview. Um, and when I started, there were only about like 25 people there. And it was in a WeWork office, very kind of like small operation, not a lot of kind of duplicates of people doing the same job on teams.

Very like. Spread out-owned channels. And, um, and yeah, like when I started, it was very kind of customer service oriented. So. I sat under the customer service team. And I did a lot of learning about the software and how to troubleshoot things and how to answer people’s questions on Facebook. And that was like really what it was for the first couple of years.

Um, and I had some awesome mentors there and just like everybody, a teachable is really smart and interesting. So they’re always kind of open to, uh, People bringing new ideas and it’s, it’s an envelope that we were always pushing a teachable to be like, okay, we have this community. Are we getting the most out of it that we actually could?

Is this the best version of a community that we could provide? Um, and you, you asked like what. Does it look like now? Um, very different. So in the last year we actually moved our community off of Facebook and onto an owned platform, um, which we use circle for and really in the process transformed the entire community program.

So for me, I really wanted to shift away from this sense, like. Community equals Facebook group or community equals forum. And into this sense, that community is like anything that we’re providing to our members to help them succeed. So like anything that helps them plug into each other and learn from each other and not reinvent the wheel.

I wanted that to kind of feel like is under the umbrella of this really cool program, um, that I’m, it’s still growing, but I’m very proud of where it is now.

Ben Aston

Cool. And so, so the components of the community then, so if the community is about helping people succeed, the circle platform is one part of that.

But how did that, how did the other components of helping people succeed? How does it? How does it kind of all fit together? So I guess part of that is the customer service component as well, actually, helping people solve issues. Um, and then you’ve got this more, the forum type thing on, on circle, but how to, how does that all kind of fit together?

And did you plan that out or has it kind of been quite organic the way that that has evolved?

Noele Flowers

Um, me, I planned it out. Like I planned every detail. I’m the kind of person where I like to really like layout the plan in advance. And obviously, you have to have sort of this testing and iterating mindset as you grow.

Like, there are things that you would guess would work and that just don’t work, but, um, or that you add something else in or shift your strategy, but. It’s something that I spent probably the better part of like two quarters working on the strategy for, and did a ton of research on our existing community to try to figure out why people were using it and what a better, um, outcome would be.

So one of the first things that I did when we decided, Oh, we’re going to move off of Facebook and we’re going to do something else. We didn’t have this really clear picture of what that something else was. Um, but one of the first things I did was audit the, um, existing community. So I actually went through on a spreadsheet and logged every post that had been made in the community over the past three months.

And that took a lot of time, but basically what I would do is I would log, um, Like basic stuff. Like the number of comments that it got, but then I would also tag it for what it was about. So just trying to figure out, like, what are the categories that people are talking about? Why are people coming here and do we like it?

Like, is that what we want it to be like? And then I also logged the posts for, um, for sentiment and whether they got responses. So I. Analyst a lot of different elements of them. And one of the things that I learned was that people were using the community quite a lot, um, to ask really like basic questions that we actually had easily accessible resources to answer them in our knowledge base.

So that was a pretty big moment to realize, Oh, people are, I think it was like, 40% of the time or something like that. The questions were like, how do I do X thing? And they could have gotten the answer so much faster from searching our knowledge base. So. One of the big shifts that we made in thinking about community was like, okay, what do we actually want people to talk about here?

And how can we make it more clear that that’s what this space is? So we’ve really refocused towards. Um, I guess what I would call like an elevated level of discussion, um, and focused on trying to make the community a go-to place for people to like, share their genius, like what they uniquely know and what they’ve learned, um, as business owners and getting people to like, Critique each other’s strategies and share what worked for them, which I think is so much more impactful than like, you know, the same question about how do I add a new lecture to my course, every couple of weeks, things like that.

Ben Aston

Yeah. And so to build out this community strategy, then first you went through the process of auditing the current conversations in your Facebook group. Um, and then. You use that to give you insights as well into the kind of conversations that you wanted to, uh, or people to engage within the new platform.

How else did you build out that community strategy? And I’m curious what the kind of end result was like this document. What did that, what did that community strategy? What did it look like? Like, um, uh, yeah. How did you ideate on it as you went through this audit process, then into some more blue sky ideation?

Noele Flowers

Yeah, absolutely. So I think like this is something that I’ve given a lot of thought to because it’s something that I worked on for such a long period of time, and now I can kind of reflect on it and see what was most impactful. Um, kind of like what I would repeat and what I wouldn’t, but one of the things that was most helpful again, during sort of like research was just like discovery calls.

Like I sort of mocked out a few different, um, Like what the community could look like going forward in my mind. So I had a few different kinds of broad directions in my mind. And then I would have these discovery calls with people where I would just like run ideas by them and just be like, what if we did this?

What if we did this? Like, who do you want to talk to? What are you interested in? What communities are you part of? That was a big part of, um, researching what we should really do. Um, so there was that I also did a lot of kind of competitive analysis to be quite honest, like looking for what other businesses in our niche were doing and where the opportunities were.

And it turns out it’s a pretty open playing field for community right now. Like there’s a lot of space to be claimed for companies that provide really good experiences. So that felt like a really exciting opportunity to pitch back to my team. Like. This is here for the taking for a, um, online education company.

So that was part of it. And just in terms of like what the actual artifact was, it’s, you know, it was a deck, it just was a matter of kind of compiling all of the things that I learned, um, from that community audit from the discovery calls into a deck, and then making suggestion about. What is this, um, point to for us, what does this inform that we really should be doing?

Um, and then from there it was all kind of like, how do we implement this, what software is going to support this vision? And, uh, what’s the rollout gonna look like? So there’s a lot of different elements to it.

Ben Aston

Yeah. And so you had a deck with a bunch of kind of analysis and then some ideas of what you could be talking about in the new, um, community and how you could make that community thrive.

Um, but at that point, I’m guessing really you, you could kind of test your theories in these discovery calls that you had with people. Um, But to what extent did you then try and kind of build test and learn within the community itself as you, as you kind of relaunched it? Cause there was, these are kind of hypotheses at that point, right?

You’re like, Hey, I think this would elevate the conversation. I think we should be trying to talk about this. How did you, I guess, kick that off and then. Try and give it a good punch before saying, or deciding whether or not something was good or bad, whether it was working or not working. Because I think in lots of kinds of young communities, you can have actually good ideas that they might actually be the right ideas, but trying to change behavior, trying to initiate conversations when someone’s not used to having that kind of conversation, that’s kind of hard.

Right. So how did you, how did you work out? Whether or not you’re on the right track?

Noele Flowers

One thing is that I’ve got a siren outside, sorry. In New York City. Um, one thing is that I went, I researched so much before I actually went and launched this program that I had a lot of confidence in the structure that we set up.

And I guess one thing I should mention about. How we relaunched the community is that we really went from only having a phone or I’m on Facebook to having a private community where we had a tiered experience for. So people were accessing different things in the community, depending on how successful they were with teachable.

So they were. They were getting access to people who were in the same phase as they were. They all of a sudden we started providing workshops. We started providing challenges. We started providing more kind of like daily engagement and thought leadership. So I think that I had so much confidence in the fact that what we were providing was better than what we had before.

So, and I think the reason I felt that way is because I. Really took the opinions of the community members into account when I was building. So I knew even if I would get some, cause you always do like feedback here and there, like, Oh, can we just go back to Facebook? I loved the Facebook group. I still felt really good about the decision.

And I felt like if you give this a chance, this is going to be better for you. Um, yeah. So that’s part of it is just knowing that. Um, that it’s worth a shot. And I think when you come in knowing that you’ve researched well, um, it gives you more runway to be comfortable pushing on your ideas. Um, so for example, like when we first rolled it out, I did have to do a lot of like, Explaining why, why are we not doing support here anymore?

When we used to use the community sort of as like a backdoor to search the knowledge base. So I would just tell people, Hey, we’re trying to make this better for you. You’re looking for a quick answer and you can get it in 10 seconds, the way to do it is this. And by the way, like, We built this space because we believe that you have this unique knowledge to share and we want to hear it.

So I did a lot of kind of re-explaining and the proof to me that that worked is that I don’t have to do it as much anymore. So it’s something that. The culture does shift over time, but it requires like just like repeated patience and kind of willingness to keep reinforcing the culture and helping bring people into it so that they reinforce it with you.

Um, and yeah, it just kind of happens over time, but go ahead.

Ben Aston

Yeah. So when you’re talking about, um, yeah, it happens over time. Like how long, so you transitioned from Facebook to, uh, to circle, um, and launched a whole community kind of engagement strategy around that. How long was it before you felt like, Oh, this is actually, this is now has got some momentum because I think that’s the heart, the hard thing when building and driving community is getting to the point where it feels like there is some genuine momentum?

So for you, how long did it feel like before momentum was beginning to take hold?

Noele Flowers

Well, right now we’re still in, I think we’re just cresting the six months Mark. For having the community. And because I have our community broken down into these three different tiers, it’s actually interesting. Cause I can see the, um, the different spaces taking off differently.

Um, and I think that one thing that’s a really good sign in communities and that makes them feel like, Oh, this is happening is when your members start to have inside jokes. Um, and this is something that the, the team at comScore is really good at, and that they’ve done a great job, like pointing out and engineering as well in there.

Are you familiar with ComScore and Community Club?

Ben Aston

No.

Noele Flowers

They’re a software platform, but they also have a community for community managers and, um, They do a great job at kind of building the sense of spontaneity. Um, and I think that’s what makes it feel like now it’s moving without me is when things are happening, that you’re not seeing it. So,

Ben Aston

Yeah.

Noele Flowers

That, I think that we’ve sort of crested over that hill more in some communities, some of the, um, segments than others, but it’s totally normal for communities to take like a year to feel like they’re moving. So I would say for any like new community builders, don’t be like discouraged and give up. If it doesn’t feel like it’s happening within the first two months or so.

Ben Aston

Oh, yeah. Yeah. And so obviously in the, in these early stages is where, when there wasn’t quite momentum yet you’re initiating conversations. You’ve created this whole framework of things that you’re going to ask people to contribute to.

You mentioned. Challenges, uh, you’re doing workshops. Um, you’re starting up conversations. Um, what, what are some of your best strategies for starting conversations in a new community? What works? What bond? Um, what can we, what can we learn from that?

Noele Flowers

Yeah. Um, the strategy that has worked really well for me, that I’ve talked about quite a bit and have learned.

I learned from this community manager, Bridget Sauer, who works at Atlassian and they have a really. Really awesome. Like scaled out community program, that’s really tied into their product. And, um, I just can’t say enough nice things about the Atlassian community team, but, um, there’s this idea of a conversation with Flywheel.

Um, and basically how it works is every community manager is familiar with the idea of seeding conversations with open-ended questions. Right? So. Going into the community and saying like, Hey guys, what do you think about X thing? Or what’s your favorite strategy for Y um, that’s something that a lot of community managers do, but I think it’s, um, where the flywheel comes in is not letting it die there.

So really seeing the, um, The purpose of getting people’s answers to those things is that you learn more about who they are and what they can do and what their special capabilities and ways of thinking are. So when you do ask an open-ended question, you may get. Imagine you just started at the community.

Maybe you only get like three responses. Right. But one of them is really good and smart. So somebody has taken the time to write out like two paragraphs on something that’s really insightful and more likely than not. They’ve mentioned something about like their particular niche or interests. So. Where the flywheel comes in is that then you follow up with that person and say, Hey, I saw that you commented on my question here.

I think what you had to say was really insightful. And I think that it would benefit the entire community to learn more. Can you create a post going into this in more detail? And if you’re type a like me, you might outline what you want to see as well. So I’ll say things like. I’d really like to learn more about X, Y, and Z.

Right? So I’ll specifically say like what I might like to hear them talk about kind of like you do for a podcast recording. Right. Um, and then I’ll say, and this part I think is really crucial if it feels natural. And your post with a question that invites more conversation. And then I always give them an out.

I always say I know that writing takes time. So if you don’t have time to do it, do not worry about it at all. But nine times out of 10, they get back to me and they say like, yes, absolutely. And I think that it feels special when somebody has pointed to you and recognized what your expertise is and told you that they’re interested in hearing more and.

So that kind of does two things. One is that it actually starts a new conversation that oftentimes people will then leave more insightful comments on that. You can then fuel further with this flywheel. And the other thing is that people start to see this type of content as welcome here. So they’ll start to start their own conversations that follow a similar sort of format where they’re giving a lot of really good.

Detail. And then they’re ending with an open-ended question because they recognize that that is the kind of like culture of the group. So this like really just goes back to my teacher days. It’s modeling, you know, it’s scaffolding conversations.

Ben Aston

Yeah. And so. I mean that that’s great. If you can find people who are writing interesting things and then you’re building on that, you’re creating that flywheel.

Um, let’s talk about though, I mean, within this kind of engagement, strategy and engagement plan that you have for the community, Getting people to write kind of value bombs, um, on certain topics. Um, that’s, that’s great. If you can get that, how do you create different, um, I guess different levels of, um, effort to enable different people in the community to engage in different ways because.

For example, one of the things that we recently tried was we put poles into the community because we thought, Oh, that’s really low-hanging fruit. All people have to do is just to express an opinion. It didn’t actually work at all. No one, no one wanted to vote on our polls. But, um, uh, the idea, I think maybe was right, having different layers or different.

Uh, difficulties for engaging and contributing. So how did you, I guess, are you intentional about creating these different, I guess, uh, yeah. Heights of, uh, difficulty when it comes to engaging, because obviously the higher the bar, the more value potentially other people will get from it. Versus a low bar, which makes easy for lots of people to contribute.

How do you balance that they kind of bars on the value and did you just read my blog? I just published the first on my blog that is about this exact topic, which I will talk about.

Noele Flowers

But one thing that I want to say first is like, I always kind of like to go back to this idea of avoiding engagement for engagement’s sake.

So I never do anything. Engagement wise in my community that I don’t think has a point to it. So I think oftentimes if I don’t get any bites on something that I say the, there can be reasons for that, like. You know, it’s a busy week or your notification preferences are weird or there, there can be other types of like UX things that cause low engagement as well.

Um, but I think oftentimes it’s just like, people don’t see a point in this or they’re not getting anything out of the conversations that I’m, I’m bringing up. Um, so I always like to think, like, if I’m asking a question, supposing that people answer it, what do they get out of that? Are they going to learn something from this that helps them build their business?

Um, and same thing with like research, if I’m doing, um, if I’m asking people to fill in a poll or something like that, usually there’s like a follow up to it where they get something for voting. So I’ve done, like having them vote on what. Type of workshop they want to have, or having them participate in research.

And then there’s like the promise of a guide at some point that will kind of sh they, they get something out of participating in it. So that’s something I always like to think about. Um, like what’s the point. And in terms of this like varying levels of. Uh, like barrier to entry. This is actually something I have a name for, which I would love to tell you, and I call it sort of an engagement ladder.

Um, it’s, it’s a nice visual, right. And it’s nice because, um, when you start to think about like on one side of it, there’s like your lurkers at the bottom and there’s your super users at the top, but then there’s also these different. Like you alluded to levels of how hard it is to engage with something.

So like filling in a poll is super easy. Something else that’s super easy is talking about yourself. So when you ask people to introduce themselves or share, um, their own website or their own project barrier to entry is super low because they know how to participate. Um, and then right at the top, like, I don’t know, give a workshop to the community, like really hard, really scary or weigh in with your opinion on something niche that you may or may not know about.

Right. Super high barrier to entry. Um, so I think it’s really important for community managers when they plan their content to try to vary those levels so that you have things for people to participate in throughout whatever week it is. Um, So one of the things that I do consistently that has a low barrier to entry is like a weekly goal post, right?

Like everyone has goals for the week. So you have a chance to contribute if you want to. And it’s a recurring theme, so people know others are going to participate. So they’re not as much like, uh, I’m going to be the only one and people are going to ignore me. So yeah.

Ben Aston

That’s cool. And so how, I’m wondering how that these kind of, uh, that ladder of engagement works with the different tiers that you’ve created within the group because this is now sounding increasingly complicated, where we like you have different tiers, different groups, and then with each, within each one of those there’s, uh, I guess you get a different engagement out of it that’s happening.

So how do you decide. Um, I guess with the T as you have, and the kind of levels putting people in a place where they’re going to find value, but also trying to encourage people to, I guess, be successful. So they get to the next tier. How does that work with the engagement ladder or are those two totally separate things?

Noele Flowers

No, that’s an interesting way to think about it. So the tiers are actually automated and they’re, um, They’re quite concrete. So it’s just like, you’re in one tier and then you advance to the next, then you advanced to the next, like grades in school. Um, and it’s based off of, um, again, like something that’s really genuine for teachable creators, which is like advancing their business.

So it’s based off of metrics that we have about them and their business. Um, and then when it comes to the engagement ladder, it’s not so much about needing to know. Where every person is on the ladder because it might change every week. Like I might this week be a super user in a community and next week, the alert because I am moving house and I’m too busy to participate.

So it’s nice if there’s still something next week for me to do, if I want to kind of stay involved. Um, but what I also do is I, I keep this sort of. Like stoplight spreadsheet. I call it my like community Rolodex and I’ll just categorize, like, basically I’ll choose like 30 random people and I’ll try to categorize them like where they are in the community and be like, are they.

Always chiming in no matter what are they like in and out and super inconsistent, or have they never opened the community before, since they made a profile. And then I’ll just try to focus on getting to know them and activating them more. But yeah, for those types of like, Identifying where specific people are.

There’s really no automation or scaling of that. Like we’re human beings. And we can only get to know so many people at once. So it’s something that has to be certain taken in little pieces.

Ben Aston

Yeah. It seems like there’s lots of moving parts to this, um, yeah. To engaging, managing, retaining, uh, engagement within the community.

How would you, how have you, I guess, created and formalized your framework for managing all this? Uh, because now you’re not the only person doing this and managing all this right. There’s other people involved as well. So how did have you? Um, I was just here. Okay. So how have you, how have you been kind of like, wow?

That’s when you go on vacation. So how have you, have you pulled it all together in such a way that there’s a framework work? Um, or is it, I mean, it sounds like you’ve thought things through and there’s a plan and you’ve got these engagement, flywheel engagement ladder. Um, there’s, there’s. Challenges that you’re creating, you’ve got a plan in place, but how kind of concrete is that plan and what does that plan look like?

Is it like a calendar or, um, yeah. How do you manage all this?

Noele Flowers

Um, sometimes I fail at certain things and Excel at other specific weeks. Um, like any person I think at work. Um, but I think that all of these things are not necessarily things where every day I’m like, Oh, I have to flywheel. Or like I have to go into my engagement Rolodex or, or I have to like, Whatever.

It’s not like every single thing is happening every day. These are all tools that I use. If something seems like it needs tweaking. Right. So it’s something that I might notice like, Oh, this week in the community has felt really quiet and I don’t really know what’s up. I’ve been doing all of my things and then I might kind of go rely back on the flywheel.

You know, I might pull that out of my toolkit. Um, and likewise, if I have. Like my community feels, I haven’t seen any new faces in a while. Then I might be like, okay, gonna to go into my role at X and see if there’s anyone that I can tap on. So it’s all of these things are kind of moving pieces, but you just kind of pull on the lever that, that you have on any given day and try to work on the most high impact stuff.

Ben Aston

Awesome. And so one of the things that we are going to link to is a Noele’s community launch framework. Can you just tell us a bit about what is in there and why people might find that useful?

Noele Flowers

Yeah, absolutely. So this is after I went through this whole process of relaunching our community at teachable.

Like I mentioned before, this took like six months and it, um, had a lot of different moving pieces and this is my full-time job, but I work with a lot of entrepreneurs because of my work at teachable and. I see that a lot of people are starting communities that don’t have the leeway to spend like full-time work for six months launching a community.

So this framework is something I put together to try to distill the best steps are like, what would I not skip if I had like a short period of time to work on, uh, launching a community? And it goes through five steps to launch a community. And I like quickly say what they are. They’re setting goals, validating with user interviews, setting a content cadence, and, um, choosing technology and activating members.

And the guide that I put together. I mean, it’s truly just a Google template that goes through each of these steps and has some sort of pre formatted. Kind of like tricks that you can use to get to the answers quickly. So some suggestions for how you can put together goals that will serve you through the process.

Um, so that you don’t kind of like agonize over reinventing the wheel.

Ben Aston

Yeah. Yeah. I really recommend you check this out. There’s an accompanying blog post as well as it explains how it all fits together. But yeah, if you’re thinking about launching a community, Um, for sure. Check that out. Or maybe you have launched a community and you’re realizing that perhaps it’s not working as well as you hoped it might, I’m going and check it out and you will find that super useful.

But one of the things that you mentioned there was, I mean, this is just one tool in a bunch of different tools that you’re using. So tell us about your stack. I mean, we’ve talked about circle, um, which is a. Kind of like a forum platform that we both using. Um, and, uh, what, what else is in your stack there?

What are some of the, um, tools that you use on a daily basis?

Noele Flowers

Um, for me, it’s honestly mostly circle and email and sometimes also little things. Like I use Typeform quite a bit. Um, zoom, you know, little things that I kind of plugin together. There’s. Some custom integrations to teachable that we have that are making our circle implementation or, um, but other than that, we it’s really quite straightforward.

I don’t have a very complicated tech setup at all. Yeah.

Ben Aston

Um, so one other thing I just want to ask you about is, um, in terms of hiring a community manager, if you are in a place where you’re like, Hey, well, this all sounds great. I want to build a community. But I know I’m not the person to do it. What would you, what would you look for in someone who’s a community manager or someone who yeah.

When you’re thinking about hiring someone, what, what should you be looking for? Um, yeah.

Noele Flowers

Well, I think like any other strategic marketing job, if you are starting a community totally from scratch and you need somebody to put together the strategy, um, hire someone with experience, um, you can hire, I think that there’s a lot of space in the community field for entry-level work, doing moderation, and it’s a skill that is like absolutely learnable.

Through, um, mentorship, but it’s something that I, I see a lot of companies that are hiring people from other marketing positions and hoping that they can kind of like transfer over into community. Um, so yeah, I would just say see it as a hard skill as it is, and yeah. Hire somebody who’s done it before, if you can, and then let them sort of outsource the.

Um, or hire more people to do more of this stuff because there’s plenty of different parts of community, um, that need doing from the kind of like UX setup of it. Like the operational side of it, the actual engagement can be a full-time job. Um, and the kind of like content planning. There’s a lot of different things that can go into it.

Ben Aston

Yeah, for sure. And I’m just as we finish it off, I’m curious what I mean, it sounds like you’ve got this kind of dialogue now. And, um, you’ve been doing this for [00:40:00] a while, but what are some of the biggest challenges you face as someone who’s, um, set up a new community things and are beginning to take shape and things are getting to where, what are some of the things for you there that are still tough, uh, that you, what are some of your biggest challenges?

Noele Flowers

I think that doing, doing it all is a challenge. So, um, just keeping up with content, cadences is hard. It’s, you know, difficult to get enough content in and, and worked out to keep feeding the community. And there’s just so many things that I want to do that, um, it can be kind of tough to get everything scheduled in.

Um, but I think the other thing for me is I’ve. I’ve never worked with a community at a super huge scale. And sometimes I’ll talk to community managers who are working with these like massive communities and they’re having to automate these, um, kind of like trust and safety issues. So like for me in my community, I don’t have an issue where I’m worried that some like bizarre post is going to pop up overnight.

It’s very kind of like dialed in in that sense. And it’s intimate enough. Um, But I’ll hear people that are like, I really need a automated system to catch, like, um, just yeah, trust and safety issues via violations of community standards. So that’s something I’m pretty interested in, like learning more about as my career grows.

Ben Aston

Cool. So we’ll, let’s close out by just doing a lightning round and I’m curious, what’s the best advice you think you have ever received that serving you well?

Noele Flowers

Oh, gosh. Um, trust your instincts.

Ben Aston

That’s good. What, which of your, um, what’s your personal habits? You’ve talked about some of them today, but what do you, which of those personal habits do you think has contributed most to your success?

Noele Flowers

Um, I’m comfortable with failure.

Ben Aston

And can you share an internet resource or tool that you love that you use regularly?

Noele Flowers

I love the community club. That comscore together. I use it every day.

Ben Aston

And what book would you recommend and why?

Noele Flowers

Oh, no. What book would I recommend? Oh, there is a book by a poet Hanif Abdurraqib who it’s called. Oh no,

I’m Googling it. What it’s called? I can picture, I feel like people are listening and they’re like, Shouting out the name of the book. Okay. It’s called. They can’t kill us until they kill us. And it’s a music criticism book. So it has all of these essays on pop music and he talks about people like Carly Rae Jepsen.

Um, it’s very, um, deeply felt

Ben Aston

Awesome. So, for someone at the beginning of their well community journey. What is one piece of advice that you give?

Noele Flowers

Um, talk to a lot of other community managers. That is the thing that will push your career forward is just like networking and just learning from other people.

Ben Aston

Cool and Noele, thanks so much for joining us today. Where can people find more about you connect with you?

Noele Flowers

Um, I am on Twitter @NoeleFlowers. My name is spelled kind of funny compliments of my parents. It’s N O E L E and then flowers like daisies. And, uh, I have a blog and a website that is my same thing at noeleflowers.com again, with my funny, funny spelling. So, and now I’m realizing you may have meant a book about community building and not just a random book

Ben Aston

And it could be either if you think it’s worth, if you enjoyed it, that’s valid, right?

Noele Flowers

I’m like, what books do I love? Oh, no.

Ben Aston

No all it’s all fair games.

Well, Noele, thanks so much for joining us today.

It’s been great having you here.

Noele Flowers

My pleasure. Thank you so much for having me, Ben.

Ben Aston

If you liked what you heard today, please subscribe and stay in touch on indiemedia.club. And please leave us a review on iTunes, but until next time, thank you so much for listening.

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