Welcome to the latest episode of Three-Minute Marketing, where we tap into the brains of some of the world’s most brilliant growth marketing minds and unlock their insights.
Today, I talk with Megan Cantrell, Associate Director of Digital at Share our Strength. They’re a non-profit whose campaigns (like No Kid Hungry) have a mission to end hunger and poverty in the U.S. and abroad. One of the keys to their success has been building and activating a strong community around their brand.
My question for Megan is, “What is the case for growth marketers to build a community around their brand?”
- A community can humanize your brand by allowing you to showcase the people behind the name.
- Communities create a forum to address misconceptions about your brand and curate the conversation around it.
- To choose the “where” of your community, determine where your market wants to hang out and engage, then plant your flag there.
- Use technology to proactively monitor and identify the conversations around your brand you need to be a part of.
- Relevant content is the “grist” that helps kickstart community conversations.
- The best way to measure success with a community is the quality of conversations (vs. “likes” & more superficial metrics.)
- Another “win” metric: how many detractors did you convert to evangelists?
- Beware of false signals in sentiment analysis (e.g. Megan’s brand is “No” Kid Hungry — the “No” raises false flags.)
– [Chris] Hello, everybody. Welcome to another episode of “Three Minute Marketing.” I’m your man, Chris Mechanic, co-founder here at WebMechanix, our better in performance marketer. “Three Minute Marketing” is all about interviewing the leading growth marketers and getting value bombs, basically chunking them down into three minute, little bite-sized clips for your enjoyment and binging purposes. We love geeky, unicorn-style marketers that go cross-channel. Like, I love a good scrappy marketer that’s like, “Oh, I know SEO; I know PPC.” Like, and I think our guest today is absolutely that. Hi, Megan; welcome.
– [Megan] Hey, Chris.
– [Chris] It’s very, very good to have you. Megan is the associate director of digital at nokidhungry.org, whose mission is to end the world of hunger, which is very admirable. Megan, like, looking at your LinkedIn, it’s just like, boom, boom, promotion, promotion, promotion. You’re just like… How you started, it’s like intern, boom, and now is leading a team, and it’s very impressive. Welcome to the show, Megan.
– [Megan] Thank you; really happy to be here.
– [Chris] Thank you, thank you. All right, so I do have a question for you. I know that you’re… One of your claims to fame is in the community space, community management, growth, et cetera, As a growth marketer, community does come to mind. I mean, there are definitely some… Some people thinking along those lines, but most growth marketers are not. And I’m wondering if you… Like, what’s the bull case for community for, like… For a growth marketer? Like, how would you argue the case for community for a growth marketer? That’s the question.
– [Megan] Community is really important for brand development, getting people to buy into who you are, not just me, Megan, but also me as No Kid Hungry. There are people behind the brand doing amazing things, and us being able to bridge in conversation with an individual has really allowed us to be more authentic, showcase our culture, showcase why we are on the front lines working to end childhood hunger. And as well, as you know, there’s a lot of misinformation. So being able to course correct and engage people in real conversations and address their misunderstandings or, you know, they just didn’t know about something… Bringing them further into who we are as an organization builds that relationship, that trust. And then hopefully they become someone who says, “Hey, have you guys heard…” To their friends, “Have you heard about No Kid Hungry as an organization? This is a cause I’m starting to pay attention to because they talked to me personally. You know, they respond to my questions with kindness. They’re human. And also, look at the really cool stuff that they’re doing to try to achieve their mission.” It could be a Facebook group. It could be, you know, a chat room in a software. It could be members-only. It could be just the Twitter world that is out there using a hashtag just to engage in that conversation. Community is really adaptable to the business at hand, as well as the community you’re hoping to create. We are looking at, you know, AI, trying to figure out ways in which we can connect our supporters as quickly as possible to the things that they need. You know, and how we can use AI to help with that. Not replace the human ’cause it’s always important to ensure that humans are involved at some component. Looking at automating… Automation, not in terms of our responses, but in terms of reporting. How can we build better automation and get the data to people who need it, who don’t necessarily have the capacity to look for it?
– [Chris] That’s a big one.
– [Megan] Yeah. Yes. We’re also looking at… You know, for a long time, our community management strategies have been reactionary. Who’s talking to us, and then us quickly trying to find a way to talk back to them. We are shifting to not only being reactionary, but also looking ahead at figuring out, “What are the conversations that we need to be a part of, and where are those happening?” You know, we can’t just assume everyone’s going to come to us. How can our brand show up authentically in other communities? So we’re shifting gears to do that more effectively this year.
– [Chris] Really appreciate you coming here. Anything you want to say? Where can the audience learn more about you or your organization?
– [Megan] Yeah, please go to nokidhungry.org, and you can learn more about what we do to end childhood hunger.
– [Chris] Brilliant, love it, okay. Megan, stay on; let’s let’s keep talking for a minute.
– [Megan] Okay, sure.
– [Chris] So like, let’s talk in the context of WebMechanix, our agency. So we’re thinking about starting… We are perpetually hiring media buyers, like, people that know Google ads, Facebook ads, et cetera. So we’re thinking about starting a community of, you know, Google ads professionals, and to share educational content, or maybe have, like, calls periodically, ask us anything-type calls, or whatever to fuel our recruiting engine. Right? Is that the right way to think about community, or like…
– [Megan] That’s a great way to think about community. I think one of the most healthy communities is when you bring people who are passionate about something together. And you pose questions, you can offer initial content to discuss, but then the community is the one who is having the conversation. You as a brand, you as Chris, you as WebMechanix coming in and offering insights and adding to the thought leadership of your company, but allowing the community to talk to one another. That is where I see that the healthiest communities. You know, you providing the space, you prompting the conversation, that is something that is extremely valuable. And as, you know, professionals looking to build networking and opportunity to show my individual thought leadership, that’s a great space to not only invite people to, but also for them to look at you as also, “Hey, this company is doing this for me. They offered me this space, and look what I got out of this.” That is a really healthy community.
– [Chris] A hundred percent. So how do you guys, at No Kid Hungry, measure community? Like, what are your metrics or your KPIs that you look at?
– [Megan] Yeah, that’s a great question. There’s a variety. We have a lot of different types of communities. You know, we have a Facebook group of digital advocates who we rely on to help share the message of what it is that we’re doing at any given time. And we measure a community by the conversations that happen there, their engagement, how they lift up our work as themselves and inspire their own communities. You know, bloggers… A follower of a blogger might trust that blogger more than they may trust a No Kid Hungry as a brand. So their voices matter. We’ve got a lot of community management work and support day in, day out. It’s not just a nine to five. It is all night long and over the weekends. And we measure our quality conversations. It’s not just a like. It’s not just a thumbs up on the comments they leave us. It is, “Tell us more about what it is that you’re asking,” or, “Hey, it seems as if you might be thinking about this differently, Like, let us tell you a story to share a bit more about why this grant for this community was needed,” and having that back and forth. So you can measure impressions. You can measure reach. Big wins are when someone says something not great and you help change their mind and bring them around to saying, “Yeah, you know what? I didn’t think about it that way. Like, thank you for taking the time to talk to me.” Those thank you’s are pretty far and in between, but they are very valuable.
– [Chris] Have you guys figured out a way to measure those things in an automated fashion? Like, by maybe length of text or, like, sentiment analysis or any kind of automated way, or is it pretty manual?
– [Megan] It’s pretty manual at the moment. Unfortunately, sentiment analysis doesn’t really work for us when our brand is No Kid Hungry. That “No” swings, the, you know, typical tools that we have to measure that, but it’s a lot of qualitative anecdotes that, you know, our community managers, they pull out and they add to our regular reporting, if it’s around a campaign, or if we’re trying to reach a certain goal of donations and donor engagement or awareness and people who don’t necessarily know all that goes into hunger and childhood hunger. So we’re really pulling all of that out.
– [Chris] There’s this tool called UpViral that I’ve been meaning to test lately, where, like, you can offer a gift of some type, like a free guide or a… You know, something in exchange for somebody’s, say, email address, but then you get that email address and you… No, I’m sorry. So in lieu of collecting an email address, you say basically, “Hey, here, have this thing. Here’s a link. You know, if you share it with one or two of your friends,” you can say the number… Or you can say the requirements. You know, “Once that happens, then you can get this other cool thing.” Called UpViral; I’ve been meaning to test it for a while.
– [Megan] I haven’t heard of it, but I know that… You know, a community in our world of community is, you know, employee engagement around corporate partnerships, corporate partners that support No Kid Hungry. And one of the big goals is to find ways in which we can build a deeper community within those employees of that corporate partner. And some of the ideas that have generated are like, what is the incentive to them to be as bought into No Kid Hungry as the brand is, you know, the corporate partner is? And these are… From what you described, UpViral sounds like one of those tactical things that we’re like, you know, “I wish we could do something like this that is linked to, ‘You do something, and here, this is something in return.’” I know P&G, they have a do-good website, all kind of linked within… If you read an article, if you share this, or if you, you know, have some of those actions, they then take those actions, and they turn it into funds for the non-profits that they support. Or actual deliveries, like, “You helped us give X amount of product to a community in need.” So I know that those types of things do work, and I’ve seen a couple of iterations of that. Yeah.
– [Chris] Yeah, and there’s also a Pay With a Tweet. I don’t know if they’re still around.
– [Megan] Oh yeah.
– [Chris] We tried that one time. It didn’t work at all.
– [Megan] Yeah.
– [Chris] Well, we were getting lots of email addresses, and we tested Pay With a Tweet, and it just like tanked.
– [Megan] Yeah. I think it’s also like… You know, the things that work for us in our community, it’s all dependent on we’ve conditioned or trained or invested in the community a certain way for them to expect certain things, and not everything that works for our community will work for someone else. And I think it’s really important for testing and risk-taking and being okay with things not working because your audience is your audience. They came to you for particular reasons. Might not be why they would come to No Kid Hungry. Your brand is your own, and who that audience is to come to you, you have to pay attention to what it is that they’re testing, which is where the data comes into play, right? Like, looking at those opportunities and seeing how they engage with certain things. The data will tell you if it’s going to succeed or not over a course of time, but that’s also a great learning to take to the next thing.