Creating an intentional, exclusive community, like a VIP experience where your community members and your audience can come into a space, and they can have conversations about your product, and they can further advocate for you externally and bring more members into your community.
It’s like a marketing cycle, and spreads by word of mouth, which is less expensive than marketing.
Welcome to the State of Customer Storytelling podcast. The show that is all about helping you, as a B2B marketing leader, get the info on the most current practices related to customer marketing and customer storytelling, so you can make customer stories your competitive advantage.
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Our guest today on the show is Jephtah Abu, Community Manager at Meritas. Jephtah is a community consultant based in Lagos, Nigeria. He’s also a public speaker, and an advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion.
Jephtah, it’s a pleasure to have you on welcome to the show.
It’s a pleasure to be here. I was waiting for you to say, “Lay-gos,” because most times everyone always messes up thepronunciation.
So yeah, it’s awesome to be here, Sam.
You’re the first person from Lagos we’ve had on the show, so I appreciate that correction. That’s super helpful for me.
To kick things off, I know you have a ton of experience in the community space. Where does community fit into the overarching umbrella of customer marketing and customer advocacy?
Awesome question. The thing about customer marketing and customer advocacy is, you’re creating marketing strategies around what the customer wants.
Community creates a relationship. In the communities I belong to, they always say community is bi-directional. Brands want to have that bi-directional communication with their audience. They want to know what their audience thinks.
I’d rather do my research on social media. You have loyal followers or loyal users in your community, in your space. You’re able to ask these customers what exactly they want, what exactly they need, and what exactly they want to see, and it’s cheap, too.
Like you don’t need to spend so much money. Like you can’t just create a community. You can create a slack. Let me tell you this God culminating. He does a quick poll or a quick survey. I able to get back so much responses. So community plays a big role for any brand that wants to have that sort of close knit relationship with your audience.
Or we don’t use us.
it’s such a good point in, You know, you mentioned, you know, the, the market research potential you know, especially as well, it’s like the customer story potential, right? Like one of the biggest, challenges I think we can run into in customer marketing is like, in customer advocacy is, you know, well, surfacing, surfacing the stories, you know, identifying them and then actually, you know, making the ask and, you know, having that, that community.
Right there makes it so much easier to do all those things.
Yeah, definitely like, think about how much Google ads, Facebook ads cost. I think about how much are spending the community. You’re not spending on mostly your engagement, your keep your comments and engage with the amount of money spent on Google ads alone just slash half and invest in your community.
And the returns. The ROI will be so crazy, but most brands are just starting to realize the power of community. Like, especially with the emergence of like where three crypto companies, like there’s a need for community. There’s a need for a space for you to, advocate. Thank you, Mitchell use us and they save Nita space.
So yeah, sort of creating like an international now exclusive community, because it’s sort of like a VIP experience where your community members, not just community members, but your audience community space, and they can have conversations about your product and they for advocate for you externally, I’m bringing more members into your community.
So is that a marketing cycle or should I say community cycle or. Were more members, entire community that were kids for more members to join. I sort of gives like a word of mouth, which is less expensive.
Such a good point. And I think one thing I know that where I’ve been hung up on, we, you know, cause we, we, I participate in a lot of communities, full disclosure. We do not have a, a community yet. know for myself, I’ve kind of felt like, oh, like we sh we can’t start a community until we have like a plan to.
You know, creative add value in the community. Like there’s got to be this really well thought out plan. And like, there’s gotta be a reason for people to join, is that, I mean, is that something you run into and am I overthinking it or, you know, how do you think about that? Just like broadly, like this, this idea that like, you know, cause people people’s time, you know, is, Steris.
They’re probably like. You know, a couple of communities already, you know, if I’m starting a new community, how do you think about like th this concept, this like value add and just making it like, worth it to participate? Or am I actually just overthinking it? They get it. I just need to go out there and start.
I feel like a lot of things. Like I think those three words, I would say that’s the minimum viable community. So I think we know what, I don’t know if we know what the minimum viable product. Like sort of remove the P replaces the community. So minimum viable communities, like it, tests, communities to see how results will engage.
She doesn’t really need to be a high level of community members. Like 10 is okay. Five is okay by interacting with them also to have creates like a test you’re able to like get more feedback because this how most communitys. Started off by having like, use us just like 10 or five people that you regulate your engaging and bringing them into your community, getting feedback.
Are you able to like create more strategies to get more people on board and now say it’s not all? I think the most important thing when creating a community is what is the goal of a community is a goal of your community, customer supports. Is it customer advocacy? Is it for, relationships? Is he for like a lot of things, a lot of brands just open is the trending thing.
Then you have community members or your hobby population of like your community members. I only five people are talking. I wasn’t sure you are not active brown, those issue sort of interaction. So that’s a quick diagnosis tools. But I also use to like measure or I used to like, okay, I want to create the community.
Like, how do I create the community? So it’s called a community. So you C see for concrete, we are creating the community. What is your plan? What is the goal of that community? Like, is it for success? Is it for a relationship? Is it for research? So that’s capital C. Then you have the, a allows for response.
Most active community, like I said, is by direction. You want to have communication in such a way that you and your audience can communicate. So that stands for E then P means as a. No platform so much in your community, because for example, NFTs, our crypto community is most of them on discord while so, tech or SaaS companies they’re on slack.
So having a platform that can relate back to your audience is so important is interactive. One of the biggest things for me to my other jobs. Like everyday activities is interaction. How do you create engagement? How do you create a flow of communication? How do you generate the user generated content in such a way that as a community quality manager, you don’t have to talk so much, your community’s talking for you.
That’s where I might copy to RCAP. So T’s trackable. One of the things you are doing as a community manager is you are creating metrics that sort of relate. So your executive’s okay. This is the important of community. This is a healthy community member versus a non-healthy community member. How do we tie that back to our business model?
What is it? Are we actually making morning? So it’s trackable, then it is allows you allow a platform in such a way that some communities is so difficult to join and it’s so difficult to leave. So you start off creates. is that a safe space? Because sometimes it can get overwhelming then I think where I’m out of coffee.
I think I’m on L Yeah. So Ellie’s levels. So there’s a thing community called gamification. So again, just adding a game element to your community, the creates engaged. So you have some disco channels where you have ranks, you have like levels. So you all go as a commission is to make sure everyone’s on the same level, even though there’s a different rank, might be on the same level.
I mean, like, I want to reach out to see you all of my company and the person is on slack. I can message up. It’s not getting the real-time response. So that’s just a quick diagnosis too. I use before I viewed like any community, like how do I create a the hospital?
That’s awesome. And I love that, that acronym. I want to circle back on one of the first things that you said that I think is so powerful is like what’s the, the goal of the community. And being intentional about that. do think that like, you know, so if I was starting, you know, my minimum viable community, which I also is a great model, you know, cause I’m very familiar with MVP, you know, product, you know, model.
So like, you know, I love that, you know, NBC idea is it, do I really do I need to pick a single goal or, you know, is it okay to have like multiple goals? Because like for example, like the easiest thing to do would be a community of like existing. Customers right. Because I already have those relationships.
and that would have one goal, but maybe if I’m, if I’m kinda, if I want to build an audience, Or if I, if I want to actually tap into my audience and then hopefully eventually convert them to customers and that that’s sort of another goal.
How do you think about that sort of, there’s sort of that relationship you know, do you especially starting out, would you, how do you sorta, you know, think about that and would you say it’s better to just pick a one single goal or yeah,
Okay. Okay. I think, I think so. Let’s say you have the products and enables you to buy groceries.
On. That’s is the goal of the product. Like That is what they are known for. Well, you have that features where you can also sell groceries where you got also like, get budget for groceries. What the goal of that product is just to buy groceries. So think of that, or relate that back to what is the goal?of your community, if it’s possible. That is the main goal. While you still have communication, you see channels where engagement, but you know, the goal of your community is support. South said the best thing is how we go wake up. So booze on that, our main goal, like what is the major goal?
It doesn’t pass. Most Cummins are made for one thing, but they end up evolving into other things. Or you still tie this evolved elements back to the main goal. For example, My community is just for supports. And I see like there’s an engagement platform. There’ll be not be a support channel. There, there would be just an added benefit to my community.
So I think by having the, Algolia also able to create strategies around what you are doing, that community like junior support channel. Do you need that? AMA do you need like a south sea habit, goal or half? So goes the pie box. I’ll leave. That made sense in my head.
No, that, that, that absolutely makes sense. And I can see, and I’ve seen in communities that I’ve participated in that it absolutely does, you know, a great community kind of. Grow in ways that, you know, you never would have anticipated, but you know, it can be very, powerful. you also, one of the other kind of acronym letters, I think it was I for, you know, in the capital acronym for interaction, I think you mentioned, being able to get, to the point where the community members are interacting with each other versus. Yeah. Having everything, you know, spurred by the kind of community manager, which is of course really powerful, what have you seen, too, that actually can enable that kind of more organic, you know, interaction within communities, between members, you know, just that organic interaction.
Okay. Awesome. Awesome questions. So it’s in community is called UGC. So UGC stands for user generated content. So most community members want to have high user generated content. And most of the active qualities I’ve seen, sort of give the community members that see, like you have treads about the it’s mostly asking questions are conversations that makes a community active, like most active community.
There’s always a conversation. There’s always a topic. There’s always something being. On the community community managers, what can we see managers make? Like, because like in mistake, is it tension sort of reply all the posts because they want to like show you’re doing a good job. Well, sometimes all you need to do is just ask someone that you feel knows this, like it’s called retargeting, or retagging sorry, like you talk so long because of creates like link community members to each other, like, Hey, especially my know what she wants.
Like, why don’t you meet. So, yeah. Giving an opinion for coming to the bus to talk like you are giving them the opportunity. Like if someone asks you a question, you don’t ask first, you leave that space for your community members to on-site. I, like I said, the most interactive communities I’ve seen that have high level or high UGC.
Yeah. Always questions asked on all the community members are always asking me, like, we always want to give you information. We always want to know. You always want to like, respond. by creating that trade by giving the community member that space or that Chinese word advocacy, like giving them the opportunity to talk and actually ask a question, sort of like make sure community interrupted.
I that’s just one step. you also have your engagement strategies. Where does having your AMS, your webinars, your, Tonight’s your like basic community strategies too. Cause the idea is you want to create the connection, which each community members are, where this community members feel safe. They’re able to ask more questions and they’re able to give more responses to things you say or things the community sees rather.
It’s interesting that you said, you know, basic engagement strategies because now only now am I thinking, oh yeah, I’ve seen that happen, you know, in communities, you know, I’ve been a part of, and, and, but I never kind of like put it together. you know, for people that have run communities, those engagement strategies are basic, but you know, for people like myself who have yet to, you know, launch a community, they’re still relatively new. So yeah.
Tell, tell me more about that. You know, let’s dive into those engagement strategies, you know, what are the basic strategies and sort of, how do you think about. prioritizing them or sorta layering them on, you know, and of course, I’m sure it’s a question of how many resources you have available as well.
Yeah. Yeah, definitely. So you have your contents community strategy, you have your community events strategy, and you have your community engagement structure. So all these three components from your community strategy content is a very big key for community. What is your community known for? .So you are bringing contents about FinTech products or FinTech ideas to your community.
Also UGC comes to play because you create a log in you where your community members can also like job jar resources, job links, blog, expose themselves, or like MCAT. Then you have your community events, strategy play starting Broadway, Brandeis, starting to commit to you. My best advice would be like, okay, as you plan my community strategy every six months, like, okay, because as a community manager, you just change and be flexible with your plan.
So a week plus can be done weekly. What can be done monthly and what can be done. So your engagement strategies, you know, people get bored easily. If you keep doing the same thing, you’ll definitely get bored and there’s no value being added. So in your strategy, what do you do weekly? That’s people would engage me.
I’m sure. Until you see a Friday karaoke nights, you see a taco Tuesday, these other, some ideas I’ve seen that actually work well. Then you have your. Most monthly engagements strategies COBA around events, like obviously a community event about the particular topic relating to your product. It can be a FinTech.
You get people from volunteer to speak you can have your end of your products coming to party. I think, I think that one community party that was source on last year, like, was it live button? So, the sense, all like ingredients for like a cocktail. And I was in Nigeria and I actually got like the ingredients.
I was like caught my hustle to you Like, this is also our, we’re able to Like create a drink with a button that already knows what to do, but as we are making a drink, we’re also talking about community. It was just, I’ll also my experience. So those kinds of events are. So, like I said, then I think the next thing is not community engagement. How do you create connection with each community member? So You gotta have Mitzi. Misty is a great tool to meet up. Like one-on-one I think donuts like is a bot on slack where you get community members, like just meet up, having a discussion that will not want me to, like, if 10 community members are doing one on one.
There’s already a connection. So by doing one-on-one meetups, like each of them each year or each month creates connection. So yeah, like those are just basic strategies. You do both on early brands. You take it slow. What am I going to do weekly? What will be done monthly and what’s to be done yearly. I sort of forced into content events and human connection in your community to create your community.
Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. And I love the idea of just like that cadence and like what’s realistic and also engaging on, on a weekly basis versus, you know, a quarterly basis and monthly, et cetera. let’s talk about kinda like, you know, the technology a little bit, that’s powering communities. and I know you mentioned slack earlier.
I am sorry. part of, a lot of communities on slack, which on one hand I like is very convenient because you know, my main workspace is on slack. On the other hand, it’s like, it’s kind of a double-edged sword because I’m sort of competing with, my main focus of the day, like at my own company.
Right. and so I guess I’m curious, like, how do you th what, how do you think about the technology landscape out there right now for. Software tools to power community. And, do you think, you know, it’s like, you know, generally speaking, like slack is probably the best for most people getting started just because it’s so widely adopted and it’s it’s, there’s like less friction to join it or is it like slack fatigue, like everyone’s into many slack, groups.
So it’s like, we’re almost hesitant to join a new one.
Yeah. I don’t really know, but. I love to hear your take on that sort of balance. Right?
Awesome. Like I mentioned community platforms now, for example, there’s mighty networks I think are doing a great job. Why do you think about slack is that is slack is familiar. Family life brings comfort. People are so used to slack, too many platforms out there. And I less that each platform is sort of related to your goal.
For example, we have forum channels like. You have support channels for community like Zendesk, you have social network communities like slug discord. So how do you relate that back to your community? If your community’s for support, you know, Zen decks is there, you know, communities for like social interaction on like connection, you know, slack, discord telegram is there.
So it still brings us back to the group. Most people don’t know that there are so many community platforms. Like that assuming you based on your Google, like if you support, if it’s human interaction, if it’s connection, if we’ll use it as research. But like I said, slack is familiar, family law, comfort conflict. If I joined slog back to Joe, like most of my
Familiarity comfort, which I feel like some community. I guess because sometimes new technology come, new technology might not necessarily be better way might be more effective. So yeah, a lot of platforms that you can use as a community to now more platforms emerging, like I think I was talking so.
outside the platform, she created the bot for slack, where you can like check out trending topics, trending more jeans. You got to get the member’s health. So people are starting to see like the value of community. I started to make more products to our great community center, more communities.
what do you think about, you know, communities that sort of exist on social networks? Like say like LinkedIn, but sort of outside of those boundaries of, one specific like, you know, platform, I guess, because, well, I’ve, you know, I’ve noticed that. There’s a couple brands on LinkedIn and it seems like, you know, they, they’re really heavy on LinkedIn, you know, B2B, LinkedIn content, and they’re starting to think of their community, you know, more so that there’s like that, you know, you know, 400, 300, 200 people that are always engaging with their posts and there’s that ongoing like community in the comments.
There’s just, you know, it’s sort of like that dynamic, I be curious, like, how do you think about that as like an alternate take on, you know, the sort of like the, private community, right? It’s like this, like semi-public community by proxy on these platforms based more on the fact that.
The same group, of people, you know, I guess, you know, quote unquote community is always engaging with this public content in the kind of community kind of happens in the comment section.
Okay. Awesome. I think this just brings all the debate of audience versus community like social media is audience.
Like those are your audience I might not necessarily be a fan of your products where if I see a comment, I want to talk about definitely I’ll talk about it. I brought up a very good. You said the 400 people actively engaging your products online? like whether it’s on LinkedIn, on Facebook. Well, those are your audience members. Like how do you create, so how do you bring those people closer to you A way that they feel safe. So that’s where. communitys your audience polls, your lawyer, philosophers, your , users, like all in one, but your we would have seen your brand somewhere.
Maybe they like your cute picture or they like a cute photo doesn’t necessarily mean that I will interested in your brand, but for someone to actively join my community, you see value on the system. Now I’m bringing in. So I’ll say like brands would say, okay, maybe we have a community now, social media page.
I will say that. That’s my opinion. That’s not your community. Those are just your audience. Even if they interrupt it’s your product, they are still your audience. But people that are to be joined, like make efforts to like sign up, right? Email address, write their names to join your community. That means they see the value you’re bringing.
And it also helps when you are bringing this community members into your platform. Like I said, it helps you do quick reset. He helps you like on the stand you’re commuting. Like there’s a little hobby fruits that you can take. It’s sort of like, increase the attraction or flow of like connection, which you’re convincing them, that the few volumes and the few, like the brand listens today.
So I’ll say it’s just typical audience versus community and it all falls down to the brand, which is more important for you. You all dance on your commute.
That’s a very important distinction and, That’s, I think that’s, you’re exactly right. and, I don’t know if you’ve ever gotten this question, what about kind of, having competitors in the same community, for example, you know, you’re, if you’re a software company, building a community, you know, you very likely you, you serve some, some competitors, is that, it, can that be a tricky, I mean, of course it depends on how you structure your community for sure.
But like, can that, that be a tricky relationship to, to sort of a dynamic to navigate and or is that just not something that you, you really think about too much? And like at the end of the day, it takes care of itself, but yeah. I’m curious, like, how do you think about this, idea where like, in reality, like if you’re starting a community, you’re a B2B company, B2B software company, you’re probably have like multiple competitors in your community.
Yeah, the first amount I’m actually thinking about that. Like, how do you handle in your community? I feel like you definitely come when you see what you’re doing. So, I feel it’s just a game of, to be honest, because every brand, like most brands would that like, would that be like it or not? You see sort of like.
Four dots. Like some brands are similar to similar if they want to marry or pull up the wheel. So I would say it’s just one of those things that were handled themselves because I always focus on like the human interaction or human connection because we make our customers feel safe. Even if you create.
let’s say the most touch, true body process. Your computer will still join because they want to see what you’re talking about. They want to see what you are doing. I think that that idea is having like a private channel or maybe loyal customers that you knew that okay. They want to test that you can have, I think most communities you don’t really go deeply in like, okay.
We are thinking about these features because the truth is that most active community. The feedback channel where customers can actually come and give feedback on that dark feedback.
Like just put it out there, like thinking. I’ve tried all only Tuesday, which also like setting me in the communities are being dead. So they’ll be like a B testing group. I like get job feedback or then just say, okay, I’m putting it out there for everyone to see. So I think it’s that intentional, like exclusion.
I also talk about like, your communitys are exclusive, but also inside our community, there are now exclusiveness.
that makes sense. That makes a ton of sense. and yeah, like you said, there can be layers, layers to the community and you can have that. Certain private channel for, you know, for your biggest kind of customer is your customer advisory board. And, yeah, that makes it, that makes a ton of sense. this is, this has been great.
winding down just a couple more questions. I wanted to ask you about, you know, diversity, equity and inclusion within communities. Cause I know that’s something that, you know, you’re very passionate about. And, specifically, I know there’s some really, powerful reasons why, you know, to make that, you
Know, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but like there’s like, it’s really needs to be a strategic imperative for, in a lot of reasons.
but yeah. Tell me more about that. Cause I know that is especially something that you’ve done a lot of work on.
Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I feel diversity.
One thing I always say is you call diversity in one spiritual, like being in Nigeria, diversity means culture And tradition, but it means something different to someone in the us or someone in Asia. So as a D I advocate, or a community or evenly a brand that is interested in GI, you have to like understand what diversity official means to your customers based on what’s different. And I think that’s when diaper that’s in intentional diversity comes to please, because the truth is that I’m not a white man. I’m not Hispanic, I’m not Mexican. I don’t know what it feels like to be a Mexican person, but if I actually Mexican pressing, Hey, what else do you feel like to be like you? How does it feel like to be in the U S I mean, like get the perspective of what do you feel like or how they relate to the coming to how they want to be treated?
So I think be intentional about diversity is just having conversations on. That’s knowledge gap. So having that knowledge, like urge to learn more about what diversity means to everyone in your community, not just more spectrum, definitely Diaz strategies that you can use. Like I was talking about this earlier, like something that you should most communities can do is how do you create cultural identity?
Like how do you promote that intersectionality in your community? See if we, that your community members feels. So how does discussions freeform like prejudice or freeform like bias? So that’s where D I started just coming to please by asking your community members, by having conversations, by creating a safe space by actively engaging them by enabling them have like embrace the intox.
They should let, that’s just how you create D I started using your community. And definitely there are some communities where I need food access or. I left because obviously, like, I didn’t want, I do feel safe if you call people to activity, culture groups. So by having a diverse community, I would like get different opinions, different perspectives on different fields. I’ve also led more cause you learn. I learned it. Look every day you meet someone from HR, especially with teaching us. Different parts of the world in your community actively, actively contributing. I think that’s, what’s makes very interactive community.
Absolutely. And, as speaking of community, how did you, you know, this is obviously something that your passionate about extremely knowledgeable about. I’ve learned a ton from this conversation. I was like to learn, how did people get into, you know, what, what they got into, how did you get into, you know, community and, in really make it such a big, you know, I guess specialty or your passion of your kind of professional career.
I love this question because I’ve spoken to more than 40 community managers and they all said the same, like it just happened. But at the end, you sort of connect is like connecting dots, connecting, connecting, then it forms like a ship. So I’ve actually been like, I was always involved in like volunteering. I love connecting with people. I love learning. I was a program coordinator for NGO, like I think around 20 15, 16.
And I’ve always been in. I said all my car, money job I moved to cyber security. I was like, I want that to be satisfied. At one point, I realized that I needed a human interaction. I wasn’t so confused with being on my laptop every day. I wanted to talk to people that spoke to back in. And I who thoughtful carriers.
I can’t do whack on tops. People coming to my ligaments came up. I got the job as a social media community manager. And I was like, what is it called? And I’m like, this is what I do for free. Like, I’ve been doing this since 2016. I was like, this is definitely my pots coming to Melinda’s. Our Muslims are just like dots.
Like, I’ll see a butcher that became a community manager. The Musee shot. They always have like, always connect. So I think anybody can be a coming. Some other job. There’s no specialization. Like I have coding skills. I have the stomach at 10 skills, but I’m still coming to manager. So anyone can be coming to me.
I love that. And, speaking of connecting with people, where can, our listeners, if they want to get in touch here, what’s the best way for them, to, connect with you.
Awesome. Awesome. So I think the best way is probably LinkedIn. So my LinkedIn is just Jephtah. Like J E P H T H van space a BU. And I’m also trying to direct somebody to J P H T H E on the score that is Jephtah on the score. So like, if you want some, then if he wants, if he wants to connect to me, you can just follow me or shoot me like a message on all different.
Jephtah, this has been awesome. I learned a ton. I feel ready to start my community. I feel like I have the framework. I’ve got the mindset. I’ve got the understanding of what I need.
So, this is awesome. I really appreciate it. This has been a lot of fun.
Remember, “C A P I T A L” anytime you want to build those habits in your mind, and also create more awesome strategies around building your community.
Perfect. That sounds great.
Thank you so much.
Alrighty folks. That was another incredible episode of the State of Customer Storytelling podcast, with Jephtah Abu. So many great insights there, whether you’re starting a community or you’ve been running the community for a while.
You can also find the full transcript for this episode if you want to review it at testimonialhero.com/podcast. All of the episode transcripts and show notes will be there.
A couple of my favorite takeaways: minimum viable community; this idea that you can test community with just five to 10 users. Then, of course, being intentional about the goal. What’s the goal of the community? Also, the “Capital” acronym, C A P I T A L.
Super powerful engagement strategies, having those, “What are you going to do weekly?” “What are you can do monthly?” “What are you going to do quarterly?” questions.
We talked a lot about technology, the very important distinction between audience and community, and so much more.
I definitely encourage people to check out the transcript, and check out the show notes.
Until next time, this has been the State of Customer Storytelling podcast from Testimonial Hero. We’ll see you in the next episode.