It’s nearly the end of the conference, and I’m flagging. I’ve tried to distill the essence of the advice from three community-driven businesses and keep this punchy. Here goes:
Jovoto – Bastian Unterberg
I found the first talk the most difficult to get value from. Unterberg talked about the problem of disposable coffee cups used by most coffee shops, and their huge environmental cost; 16bn gallons of water, millions of trees – they’re the cost of disposable coffee cups. The average in-use life spans is seven minutes…
So, they launched a competition – betacup – to try and resolve the problem. They reached out to Starbucks who had an interanl team working on the same problem. They connected multiple communites – threadless, Instructables, core77
The result? 430 ideas in 1600 versions, with 13k votes on them. And a tonne of brand exposure for Starbucks. But, uh, as far as I can figure, no actual solution as yet. And surely, unless something actually comes from this, all that goodwill will turn bad…?
Etsy – Matt Stinchcomb
Like so many startups, Etsy was born, 6 years ago, from an idea in a flat. And that idea took $100k in its first year, then $7m, then $27 to $600m now. 96.5% of that money stays in the community. It’s not an eCommerce site, but a marketplace, says Stinchcomb. You don’t just go there to buy, but to join in with the community. Once you knew the cobbler who made your shoes, you knew the baker who baked your bread. You supported them because you knew them – and they supported you back. So Etsy is about the community.
They publish all their revenue and traffic details – the community is a partner. They hold meetups wherever they go in the world.
They grow primarily through word of mouth. They need to give their community tools to bring more people to the site. The desire to use them comes from the relationship. Community curation and activity determines the home page, rather than the traditional metrics of what sells when.
SoundCloud – David Noël
Everyday, we choose a user as SoundClouder of the day, says Noël. They started sending back stories about how the site has changed their lives. Site was built from the group upwards to encourage participation. People can put comments at particular moments in the track. Community people can tend to talk too much – do too much. It’s important to listen and absorb. The first thing you need is support – the faster, more personal and more friendly the reply, the better. It’s the foundation of the community team. When things go bad, be totally transparent and keep communicating until things are fixed.
Other community initiatives: SoundCloud Local – picking a city a week. Meetups. Old-Skoolers – took them on board and talked to them, along with QnAs. Sessions on their roof in Berlin.
Be patient and place dots – you want too much too fast. It’s extremely hard, and you need to be patient. See how people respond to your dots.