Community Building as a Growth Strategy with Vanessa DiMauro @vdimauro #vcbuzz

Community Building as a Growth Strategy with Vanessa DiMauro @vdimauro #vcbuzz

Building a community is something we talk a lot these days, but what is a community and what it means to build one?

Should community building be part of your growth strategy?

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About Vanessa DiMauro @vdimauro

Vanessa DiMauro @vdimauro is a pioneer in the field of online communities and in using digital business solutions to gain customer insight and increase revenue.

Vanessa held leadership positions at Cambridge Technology Partners, Computerworld, and CXO Systems. She is currently faculty at Columbia University.

Vanessa is community head @georgian_io helping execs thrive through collaboration

Questions we discussed

Q1 How did you become a digital marketer? Please share your career story!

I started out as a researcher during early internet days studying digital communication & how it works. I left academia for business leading digital marketing & customer communities.

Was CEO of a digital strategy consulting company called Leader Networks for 15 years… till I met Georgian! Went from operator to VC.

Georgian is a large Canadian late stage PE firm who focuses on emerging technology, Such an amazing company.I have been there ever since running their community.

Q2 What is a community? We use that word a lot but it can mean so many different things…

Love that question! Yes, community is like world peace – everyone thinks it’s a good idea, but it means something different to everyone!

So true!! They are best when people come together to give what they can and take what they need. They work together & collaborate.

Right on! So useful for both avoiding problems but also future products and services. It is a living research focus group!

Q3 Why do organizations need a community? What are they good for?

There are three types of community with three different purposes. They are not mutually exclusive. Some can have aspects of 2 or 3 types.

1) information dissemination where an organization needs to share knowledge in a broad way. Associations are an example.

2) Collaborate and evaporate – these are common among support communities so people can help each other. Help reduce costs and solve customer problems faster

3) Communities of practice – often found in exec circles and among professional groups who need to share information often to grow.

They do indeed help with loyalty – that is a super outcome. Do you run a community for customer loyalty?

Also gets to a great question about success metrics. Curious how folks measure their community success!

Love the fact you mention “find advocates” rather than create them. Sometimes folks get confused and view community and customer amplification programs as the same. I think amplification happens when community serves its members well.

Q4 Tell us about your community. What is the biggest benefit you have seen?

In one of my studies, I researched why people participate in online communities. Can anyone guess the reason?

The answer is beautiful. To help other people. Yes! I love that so much!

So important to meet people where they are and to help enable their intrinsic values and reward systems.

My community is amazing!! It’s called the Georgian Growth Network and it is open to anyone who works at one of our 50 portfolio companies

We have 1500 very active members, 8 exec working groups, publish about 40 articles a month and do 2-3 webinars monthly too!

My community’s goal is to help our leaders unlock and share their knowledge with each other. They are incredibly generous and kind to each other. I’ve built or guided the strategy for over 150 communities and counting and this one is definitely my favorite!

Q5 What advice do you have for anyone thinking about building one for their portfolio?

Be brave – it is really really hard to enable the companies to trust each other and trust the VC. They will only trust you if you give them safe space. They are the experts – which is why you invested in them. Empower them to teach each other.

And whether it is a VC community or a branded company one the best advise I have is to Listen Well. Always! Take risks and seek honest feedback…

And finally – be willing to take risks. Community have human relationships at the core.. You can’t always predict what will resonate so controlled experiments are worth the effort.

Q6 Are there any community building tools you are using?

There are many ways to define a community tool -it could mean methods for engagement and knowledge capture or it could mean technology.

I will venture you mean tech tools. We have quite a stack! My community is built on the Verint platform. We use @Alida Touchpoint for customer experience / engagement. It is amazing!

The rest of my community stack is pretty much what you would expect. Zoom, gmail, etc.. But we are always trying something new!

We’ve also been doing a lot of virtual collaboration activities using Miro boards. And, we have a lot of virtual fun too. We have a virtual pride parade tomorrow using zoom!

Our previous community building chats:

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