Here at Yoono, we take pride in putting the user first. With this simple standard for customer service, we’ve built a community that is rich with active members, full of excitement about our company and products, and which spreads the word about Yoono every chance they get. This community did not come easily and it’s not something you can expect to happen magically but the benefits to the company are huge and worth the hard work.
My name is Adam Jackson and I’m the community manager here at Yoono. I was hired September 16th, 2008 and today, view myself as the Chief Yoono Evangelist. Even the way I was hired into Yoono is a prime example of how Yoono understood early on how to leverage and build its community. I began using the product in April, four and a half months before being offered a job and I immediately fell in love with the product. Soon I was blogging, tweeting, live streaming and telling people face to face all about Yoono. I was their first fanatical user and unpaid evangelist. This passion for their product eventually led to my job here. In the hope that it might in some way help others do the same, I’d like to share with you how I helped grow Yoono’s community from the ground up with the support of a tremendous team who listened to my ideas and bought in to them.
The first step obviously is to have a plan – know what you want to accomplish and the type of community interaction you want to foster. Todd Pringle, our VP of Marketing, and I worked together to share ideas and define goals and tactics for our customer support/community building efforts. At a high level we decided on the things we valued or wanted to achieve were:
- Engagement & Responsiveness
- A community that is able to help each other
- Support and community interaction that turns customers into evangelists
Engagement & Responsiveness
Put in the effort to be highly engaged. I vowed to engage as many users as possible each and every day of the week (yes weekends included). It wasn’t necessary to reply to every Tweet, email or blog post about us but I devised a game plan to benefit Yoono and begin building our community.
- Respond to all negative comments with a helpful an positive attitude – they can be even more valuable than the positive comments if you engage
- Respond to all product feature inquiries & general tweets about Yoono that end with a question mark
- Retweet positive comments about Yoono (no more than 3 times a day)
- As time permits, respond to neutral comments where Yoono is recommended to a friend
- Favorite positive tweets that we can use later in marketing efforts on the website, in press releases, etc.
It’s critically important to listen to, highlight and interact with feedback about your company or product that is unsolicited – in these situations the person providing the feedback doesn’t expect anything for it. I find that simply confirming you’ve seen their tweet with a reply makes a great positive impression and those users will trust you and offer more feedback more often.
Respond quickly, even if you don’t have an immediate solution. The other important aspect of your efforts is responsiveness. My career has revolved around Twitter and as a user and someone who provides support via Twitter and other social media I have learned that after a user has tweeted something, the clock is ticking for you to respond. The tweet can be conversational, a question, an idea or complaint, but in many cases that user is tweeting often and they will forget they mentioned it in as little as 30 minutes. Many users with problems will uninstall the product within 15 minutes of sending 3-5 angry tweets. I made it my duty that between 8AM-8PM I would try to respond to all tweets mentioning Yoono within 30 minutes. Often I respond even more quickly than that and users notice! They are happy to know someone is on the other end, they often immediately follow you and after you’ve helped them with an answer or solution, tell all of their friends how awesome you are. Response time is one of the most important things you can offer your users. Sometimes, I don’t know the answer to technical questions but my response time is quick and it may be something as simple as, “let me find out the answer and get back to you.” Responding quickly builds goodwill.
Make your presence known by being where your users are. If users don’t know you exist, how can they start a conversation with you? Find your users where they are – Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere, and engage them. Twitter’s fairly easy but Facebook can be a difficult medium to infiltrate. We had the advantage of being a “Facebook Developer” given that Yoono interacts with Facebook as an aggregation tool which meant that we could have both an application page and a regular Yoono fan page. We now have a growing fan base of over 2,000 on these pages and it’s a great way to let people know what we’re up to and get feedback.
Talk with your users, not at them. Many companies still try to converse with their users in an impersonal and unidirectional way. They think that just talking about the product or announcing updates on their blog is the way to engage users but I find that being personal really improves the conversation. For example I’ll occasionally respond to a Yoono user about what he ate for breakfast or the movie he’s tweeting about. I don’t do this often because it can dilute the overall quality of your Twitter stream for all your followers but I do make a point to engage Yoono users on topics outside of customer support or product feedback. This emphasizes that you are a real human being and not an automated drone and users appreciate that. It’s an obvious point and yet many companies can’t break out of their bad habits in this regard.
So engage often, respond quickly, open conversations, reach out via multiple communications channels and turn off your corporate filter as needed. Being real, personable and approachable is the first step to developing a community & getting honest feedback you can use to make your product or service better.
Build a Community that is able to help each other
You can’t do it all – build a community that can help. Yoono is a small company but even so we have hundreds of thousands of users. Responding to all our users is a big challenge and one of our goals when structuring our support was to make it as easy as possible for users to help out other users. This effectively requires openness – email support just doesn’t accomplish it. All your issues, user ideas, and praise, as well your responsiveness to issues is laid out for everyone to see when you take this approach but we at Yoono think this is great.
Users helping other users is something that often happens naturally but you need a great and easy to use medium for this to flourish. After some comparison shopping, we chose to use Get Satisfaction. It’s a tool that is effectively an instant on community support system for any company. On our Get Satisfaction support page, users can submit ideas, ask questions, offer praise and report a problem. We respond to these as “employees” and other users can respond as well. I can easily see what topics I need to address and ones that have already been responded to. It took around 45 days but now many of the answers I would provide have already been answered by myself or another community member. It’s a community of Yoono fans working together to help each other, help Yoono find and fix product issues, and shape the product itself with user generated ideas. I will often engage a user on Twitter then steer them to Get Satisfaction where I can link them to one of our support topics that has already answered the question. Instead of sending them 10 tweets all at 140 characters each, I am able to help them quickly and also introduce them to our Get Satisfaction page so they can use it in the future for support. Our support forum now has over 2500 visitors a month from all over the world.
Support and community interaction that turns customers into evangelists
A thousand people talking about your product will always be more powerful than one. If you execute well on your community strategy you will turn users into evangelists for your product. We had an opportunity to observe the fruits of our labor recently when we were given the opportunity to exhibit at a cool event for startups in Los Angeles in July. A slot was open for one company amongst several potential candidates but in order to secure it you had to have your users tweet a certain tagline more than other companies.
Through our blog, Facebook groups and twitter profiles, I was able to mobilize our users to help us out. We had thousands of votes from our community and this day of tweets helped us score a table at the event. We owe a huge thanks to our community for this because without them, we wouldn’t have been able to attend the event and show off Yoono.
Another example of leveraging this group for something special was during our 2008 Holiday Party. Yoono bought a few thousand dollars in drinks but attendees couldn’t get a drink ticket without bringing a toy or food item for the local food bank. The event was a success as we ran out of drink tickets (we choose to believe this says more about people’s willingness to give than their need to drink!). In total, we donated 250 cans of food & 75 toys for the holiday season.
These examples are the sort of concrete value you dream of when building your community and we’re very proud of every “win”, big and small.
At the end of the day, none of this matters if you don’t have a great product. Personally, I’ve been asked by friends to give them some pointers or help them brainstorm ways to promote their product but I simply can’t. It’s not my employment with Yoono that prevents that but I rather that their product is usually not at a solid enough level yet. Most PR/Marketing people can start some buzz and buy press/advertisements but when users arrive at your website or download your product and realize your product is sub par, they move on and that’s where the story ends. With Yoono, we have a great product which helps me to build a community, generate downloads, keep users using the product and make them feel like they’re a part of something big (which they are!).
On a related note, Sean of WellOnTop.com wrote a post about us recently that discussed our social media tactics. He clearly observed the entire team working to support the strategy outlined above, which is great! It’s a good feeling to be noticed and I’m happy to come in every day and interact with such passionate users our our very talented team of Yoono employees.
You can read Sean’s post right here [LINK].
No related posts.
Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.