Last week we attended the two-day CMX Summit, and with a weekend to digest, we’re ready to share the awesome insights gathered in those two days. The lasting lessons of the summit were clear: focus on your audience’s needs, cultivate in-person relationships, and stay curious. Speakers from a number of highly esteemed companies—like Buzzfeed, Etsy, Kickstarter and Meetup—shared their personal stories of harnessing a brand’s community.
A repeated lesson of the event was to deliver what your community wants and make it work for your business goals. “Community is putting other people in the driver’s seat,” said Laura Perkins, CEO of Perks Consulting. Each company needs to discover how to “align company objectives with what your community wants.”
Danya Cheskis-Gold, Director of Community at Spark Capital emphasized research as a key point, asking your community the questions that will help you serve them better.
Robin Dreeke, FBI Behavioral Expert, talked about misplaced judgement, saying that not judging others doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing, but keeping an open mind. “I never tell anyone to do anything. I ask questions. I never use ‘should’. Then you're empowered to do things,” he told the audience. Through this, you can gauge your audience and learn from them.
Keeping an open mind and forming a trusting relationship is the best way to get to know your audience, and therefore serve them as well as you can. “There’s no greater compliment in life than trust,” said Tina Roth Eisenberg, founder of Tattly, Swiss-Miss and Creative Mornings, as she kicked off the event. Trust is what’s behind the success of authentic content from influencers.
Showing respect for your audience will also help you build relationships. Rich Millington, Founder of FeverBee, suggests highlighting unique talents of contributors, pairing like-minded people, and saying “thank you,” as facilitators of community. Scott Heiferman, CEO of Meetup.com, talked about the importance of meeting face-to-face and Cheskis-Gold agreed, advising to “get out of the building. Literally,” to build offline relationship between staff members and with the wider community.
Lastly, the need to let go was a common thread: “A community is not a community until they organize themselves,” said Roth Eisenberg. A part of loosening the reins is also experimenting: throwing things out there and seeing how you community reacts. Jack Shepherd, Managing Editor at Buzzfeed, said that, "Buzzfeed started as a content lab. We had a strong sense of experimentation,” and that mindset allowed them to learn what works instead of assuming. Eventually, they found a sweet spot in connecting with their community on emotion and shared experiences.
All in all, it was an exciting event filled with interesting community management experts and forward thinkers. We can’t wait for next year!