Tara Hunt

CEO at Truly and Phlywheel
August 12, 2020
AMA sticker
Tara Hunt - CEO @ Truly & Phlywheel

Mac - I’ll kick us off with a question - where do you currently see the intersection between marketing and community, and what (if at all) do you see changing about that intersection in the next 3-5 years?

Good Question! You know…community leaders have been arguing for years that community is an ESSENTIAL part of the marketing toolkit.It works so great for building loyalty and repeat customers. It increases cart sizes. It boosts word of mouth.But for too many businesses (big and small), the long term investment in community seemed daunting, so they did that thing…they opted to buy ads (very short term thinking) instead.
But 2020 has shed a light on the issue with short term thinking and more brands are realizing that community building is essential to win in the long term.
I’m really hoping that the next 3-5 years sees a renaissance of sorts in community building. It’s up to us marketers who love community to keep the case studies coming!

Katrine - Hi Tara Hunt appreciate you being here! Very general question - but what's the most unique community you’ve ever seen?

Hi Katrine! Thank you! As for the most unique community I’ve ever seen…

…I still love the example of the Moleskine community from many years back.
I believe that it emerged organically at first and then Moleskine adopted it and raised the profile of the artists and creators participating in it.

Ben - What's the most ‘non standard’ piece of advice you have for first time community builders?

I think the best non standard piece of advice I’d have for first time builders is to not build a platform first. Stay away from it as long as you can.Instead, spend time connecting where people are at, then slowly build ways for them to gather and come together.If you try to shoehorn people before they’re ready, everyone will get frustrated!

Katrine - I think everyone here can agree that we truly believe in the importance and value of community, but for those that struggle with proving the importance to leadership/C-Suite executives at their companies, what advice/suggestions can you provide?

This is a VERY important question and a constant challenge!

I don’t like convincing anyone of anything, frankly. Instead, I find the champions within an organization and build an alliance and the case before needing to pitch something that won’t happen.
It’s sort of a combo of:

1. ask forgiveness, not permission; and
2. show, don’t tell.

Katrine - What are the types of metrics you like to show?

Time on site (time in community). Frequency of returning. Participation and contributions (in percentages).

Jacob - Hi Tara. What is your boldest community prediction for the next 3-5 years?

I’m terrible at predictions, but I’ll give this a whirl…That building communities on rented platforms (ie. facebook, Linkedin, etc) will fall incredibly out of style. We’ll, instead, be focusing on building smaller, more meaningful communities on our own turfs.But that will start to get too fragmented, so we’ll need to invent a more “federated” model of community.
What that looks like…I’m not sure. But Slack and Discord and Mighty Networks are platforms that somehow start to move in this direction…with our “channels” all in one general area. I’d love to see an Amazon (without the monopoly issue) type community discovery hub.

Ankita - Hi Tara, Appreciate you doing this! Having 20+ years of mixed experience around this, you can answer this best: One thing you think is still far-fetched in the community building field?

Good question…I think it’s still far-fetched that community is the answer for everything. It isn’t. And it also won’t work for everyone or every brand.

Cole - Audience or community first? Seems to be a lot of differences of opinion on this one.

I’d say audience, but not in the “I want to amass followers” sense of the word.

I still answer every comment and reply and check out everyone who likes or shares something I made and posted. I try to engage more deeply. I’m growing an audience…on the way to deepening that relationship and building that community.
In fact, Phlywheel is mostly filled with people who I’ve been engaging this way for YEARS.

I couldn’t have just whipped up a community without having attracted this audience first.
Though I have seen people with pure audiences make the transition (big YouTube stars, for instance), their communities aren’t as tight.

Katrine - In your opinion what are the most underrated/unknown tools useful to building a successful community and why?

I love live events…no matter what the platform. Stuff like this. Zoom meetings. Livestreaming on various platforms. Twitter chats! It’s where you can build great energy with a group of people.

One of the most powerful glues when it comes to community is how much you bring the members together.

Douglas Atkin once said this amazing thing…I’m going to butcher it a bit , but it went something like:

Community is what happens when you take a group of people and rub them together.

Okay…that sounds bad. But the idea is that community gels the best when you can bring the members together to connect…

Arpit - Hey Tara, thanks for doing this. Do you have any suggestions for B2B companies in the Enterprise space looking to break into community marketing? (Referring to B2B SaaS businesses selling to other large enterprises)

The first thing you’ll want to do is gauge the appetite. Perhaps start with some live events for your customers. Encourage interactions in these events and see how the relationships go.
The investment doesn’t have to be enormous. You’ll just want to make sure that you create that interaction. See what conversations come up. Then follow up with questions for the attendees about their desire to come together on a more regular basis.

Sana - Hi Tara! Thank you SO much for this. I've found everything so valuable already. How important is creating a niche for your community? I'm building a digital social club that is for growth minded people who are curious about people unlike them. It's very broad but I feel the diversity is our biggest strength. Is that going to be an issue?

It may be challenging to narrow who you’ll want to start to build those early relationships with, but I’d imagine that you’re looking for a profile of open-mindedness.

One of the most important parts of early community outreach is understanding your audience and where they are currently hanging out (and discussing). What are they looking for? What would motivate them to join?

Do you have ideas around this profile? Are they listening to podcasts? Reading specific newsletters or blogs? Participating in hashtags?
Start with trying to find out answers to these questions. Where do open minded people who want to explore learning from other growth/open minded people get their fix today?
There are some great tools out there…try www.sparktoro.com (Rand Fishkin’s app) to start to explore. I think you get 10 free searches per month. You’ll need to know some starting points.

David - What do you define as "Community Marketing"?

Community Marketing is the delicate intersection of building a community of interest while also reaching your business goals.
You can’t tip one way or the other too far or you’ll just be community…or just be marketing!