If you walked by a group of people holding up signs that said “We Love Your Web Tools” would you stop and talk to them, or just keep walking?
In essence, when you are selling a web tool, or SaaS product, but browse past digital marketing communities, you are doing exactly this. It can’t make that much of a difference, can it? In short, YES, hell yes!
The biggest reason I see as to why people walk by, is because they don’t know quite how to leverage a community to boost their product.
It’s hard, I don’t know what to say, I won’t be authentic, I don’t have the time, or It won’t work. These are a few of the silly excuses that come to mind. But what if I can help you bypass all of those excuses, and learn how to effectively leverage a community to improve your product, sales, and loyalty?
It might sound like a big feat, but I’m certain I can do it. Let’s get started.
Making Communities Work For You
To start with, choose a community that works for your topics. For instance, if you enjoy topics on SaaS growth, marketing, customer success, product, sales, and business, SaaS.Community is a great place to find others who are also dedicated to the SaaS industry. It’s a small community but the quality is top-shelf.
To find other communities, search Google for forums with your topic of interest.
Next, you have to do the boring stuff: sign up, fill out your profile (you do want people to know who you are, right?), set up notifications, read the rules, etc.
Jump In: I don’t care what the topic is, start reading, responding, and initiating new discussions. You can only reap what you sow in a community.
Let me share a few secrets here:
- It’s super easy to read something and leave a comment, everyone who views that thread will see your comment. And after awhile, they’ll recognize you, too.
- Just pick a topic and start responding, ANY topic will do.
- Not every post you start will be successful. I started hundreds as a community manager and several of them petered out unsuccessfully, just keep trying.
- Get into the habit of checking the community regularly, commenting regularly, and reading what others contribute (their comments, to start conversation). You respond to them, they are likely to respond to you (and this builds relationships and trust).
Participate Regularly: It sounds crazy, but this is a place to get exposure and it works amazingly well. During my time at Inbound, I had several people seek me for side projects, and I heard from the most active members, they had the same responses.
Give, Give, Give: Contributing will ultimately lead to your success in the community. Write content to share on the site, bring in links that you especially liked, share expertise when there is no immediate reward. Think karma, the more you put out into the world, the more that will come back to you, in a community it always does.
Monitor Topics: Many communities offer the opportunity to get notifications about certain topics, this saves you from needing to read through all topics on the site.
Follow Experts: You’ll know when there are popular threads you can contribute to, the expert will attract a lot of attention and you can get more exposure.
Share Content Under Your Expertise: This shows others you know what you are talking about, know where to find the best content in your industry and can talk about important topics.
Optional: Start Your Own Group: Start your own group like Joel Klettke, who started The Pit on Inbound.org. People submit their landing pages for reviews from other conversion experts.
Each community will have its own ways to gain exposure, but you must start by being active, and helping others, the rest will come in its own time.
Community Members Who Make Community Work For Their Companies
Brittany Berger is the Content Manager behind Mention, a social media alert tool that tells you when your name or company has been ‘mentioned’ on social media, blogs, the internet at large, or community sites.
Brittany is an active member on Inbound.org, a community that allows marketers to connect to share their favorite content. Because she is active on Inbound, her content links (not all to Mention), discussions, and comments on the site are popular. Her threads are usually upvoted to the homepage, and she is able to bring traffic back to Mention when she does submit their blog posts.
What you can learn from her: Be active regularly, and you’ll build followers who help share your content.
Patrick Coombe is the CEO at Elite Strategies and specializes in SEO. He is one of the most active members on Inbound.org, where he shares his experiences in owning an agency and helping people with SEO.
Patrick rarely shares Elite Strategies’ blog posts, but he still has quite the following due to his participation, and I know several marketers who have connected with him because of his activity at Inbound.
What you can learn from Patrick: Show off your expertise by answering questions, following specific topics (like SEO) and making yourself approachable.
Eric Willis is the #1 hunter at Product Hunt, a site where new tools and apps are shared daily. He is active on PH and Growth Hackers, and because he was a regular I grew to acknowledge his expertise in web apps, and growth.
But I’m not the only one, he has thousands of followers on Twitter and PH. Last year he was even writing a book called the Product Hunt effect. By just being an active community member, he’s grown a reputation and is often approached to submit new tools. Having submitted over 900 items to PH, he’s sure to have affected many companies.
What you can learn from Eric: Being active leads to opportunity. You might not know what opportunities will come along, but they will, like writing a book.
Elvis Malkic was a new member on Inbound.org when I first welcomed him to the site. Over time he grew highly active, and posted original content as discussion. Tim Soulo, of Ahrefs, saw what Elvis was doing and eventually hired him to write for their blog. Elvis was quickly seen as an SEO expert and made connections that grew his exposure throughout our industry.
What you can learn from Elvis: Leverage the opportunities you have in a community. Start by helping others, then use the platform as a place to further launch your career. The right people will see you.
If you can talk intelligently about your product and industry, a community is a great place to show off expertise, meet others and earn more sales for your business. But it all comes from behaving altruistically. You must be active and help others. Overtime you’ll see the fruit of your labor, and it should be very sweet.