The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

Why creative communities work: a look at Vimeo and SoundCloud — February 23, 2014

Why creative communities work: a look at Vimeo and SoundCloud

feather“As creative humans, we tend to always reach beyond our own limits. We want to keep learning and defy past accomplishments. In essence, we want to transcend ourselves. But we are most fulfilled when we push beyond what we can do alone. Whatever our goals, working with others may be the best path to happiness.” ~Scott Belsky (via 99U)

When do you feel most creative? Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, I bet that it’s often either during or right after collaborating amongst your peers. Community is incredibly important to the process of creativity, and often to the livelihood of creative people. Just look at how Quirky has created an opportunity for makers, bringing their creations to life and into the market through the power of community. Or, how creative talent is discovered through communities such as Behance.

Community is also a key aspect to creative production. According to Leo Babauta of ZenHabits.net, the No. 2 habit of highly creative people is participation. Leo says, “This can come in many forms, but it requires connecting with others, being inspired by others, reading others, collaborating with others.” The No. 1 habit is solitude, but he makes it clear that the key to creativity is balancing the two.

That’s exactly why creative people gravitate towards communities – for the collaboration, inspiration, and encouragement that they offer among like-minded people who share similar tastes, values, and creative processes. This is also why creative communities formed around an artistic interest (such as music or video) tend to be successful in engaging their members, especially where technology and art intersect.

Beyond the community-driven nature of creative people, the success of creative communities can often be attributed to the design of the community itself, its engagement strategy, and management technique. Two of my favorite examples of creative communities that have been successful, especially in terms of niche growth, are Vimeo and SoundCloud. Here’s why:

Vimeo

Vimeo is a video platform exclusive to people who create their own work, and is designed with community in mind. Unlike other video communities, Vimeo’s content is held to a high standard of quality by the community; the videos submitted to Vimeo are works of art crafted to tell a story. From the site: “Vimeo is perfect for showcasing personal moments, creative projects, professional work, and more.” To get an idea of the quality of Vimeo’s community content, check out the Staff Picks channel or the Like Knows Like channel, which we’re also huge fans of at Loyal.

Vimeo could’ve easily just been a video platform for creators to share their works and for consumers to view them, but they’ve gone beyond that. To foster a sense of community and engage their members, they actively encourage commenting, questions, and conversation. They’ve also created Groups, “communities and conversations around videos and other things people like.” Taking just a brief look at the Groups landing page, you’ll see that some of the most active groups have anywhere between 5k and 30k members with videos seeing up to 2,800+ comments – real, quality comments, not spam!

Vimeo also engages its community with its Video School – a place where members can learn to make better videos through lessons, tutorials, and “sage advice,” as well as participate in community challenges that recognize all participating community members for their work. Vimeo even holds festivals to celebrate their community as a reminder to members that they’re appreciated and to why they’re involved with the community in the first place.

By celebrating its members and offering value beyond a place to host videos, Vimeo is creating a sense of belonging and personal investment in its members — two of the psychological attributes of community membership. Although some people might say their 75.3 million unique visitors (Aug. 2012) can’t compare to YouTube’s 800 million (2012), Vimeo’s “small” niche community of engaged film enthusiasts is high-value for the platform, making it a destination for creatives.

Finally, as any well-designed medium-to-large size community should, Vimeo has implemented simple and clear-cut community guidelines that help set the tone for community conduct and interactions. Basic community guidelines such as these, along with an explanation of what happens if they’re broken, sets the tone of a community and pre-emptively creates an open culture.

SoundCloud

With 40+ million registered users as of August 2013 (growing 700% within 2 years), SoundCloud is another great example of a healthy, viable creative community that puts its members at the center of their work. According to Alexa Global traffic Rank, the site has led all major Internet streaming music services in global web traffic — including Pandora, Spotify, 8tracks, and Songza – with 200 million unique visitors per month. From the site: “The heart of SoundCloud is its deeply engaged community of creators who share the sounds they create with each other and the world. SoundCloud is not only about sharing sounds, but also about sharing common interests, attitudes, goals and connecting with people who share your passion.”

A major part of SoundCloud’s success can be attributed to the fact that their product was clearly designed with its community in mind. When viewing a sound clip or song on SoundCloud, you can easily follow an artist, explore similar content, and read comments made by other community members at any point in the song.

Like Vimeo, SoundCloud also offers Groups for its members to engage with each other (there’s that sense of belonging again), and creates opportunities through unique challenges (and personal investment). They’ve also embarked on some very cool partnerships that allow members to interact with well-known (indie) artists, providing an incentive for being involved.

Among Soundcloud’s greatest community assets are its IRL meetups. By creating an offline component to their community, they’re offering their members an opportunity to build deeper connections and more meaningful relationships face-to-face. Who wouldn’t want to make a new best friend? However, the SoundCloud Meetups and Groups are very difficult to find; you have to really dig within the site to discover them. SoundCloud might consider highlighting these meetups front and center on the homepage, showcasing just how community oriented the company is.

SoundCloud also has clear and concise community guidelines. Take a look at them – overall, they’re reasonable and fair, and they definitely set the tone for the community culture. All of these elements  groups, IRL meetups, blogs, challenges, guidelines – combined with people sharing their work and interacting with each other make for a sustainable community of creatives.

Are you involved with a creative community? Have you noticed specific elements that have contributed to their success?

About our contributor // Sarah Judd Welch is the founder/head of community design + BD at Loyal where she designs communities for startups, brands, and Fortune 100s. Find her on Twitter at @sjw.

Image credit: astylizedhysteria

7 reasons why you should focus on building a community around your startup — January 21, 2014

7 reasons why you should focus on building a community around your startup

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A community comes in many forms. It’s greatest form, some might say, is a movement. David Spinks elaborates…

I know, it’s a bold request to ask a startup to focus on anything other than their product and growth.

I know, because I’m a startup founder myself.

Time is our most limited resource and that you have to say no to a lot of things in order to maintain your focus, and sanity.

So why am I writing a post telling you to focus on community? Because I’ve seen first hand, and in the example of many other startups, the power that community can wield even at the earliest stages of your growth.

Lyft, Airbnb, Eventbrite, Lift, Foursquare, Soundcloud, Skillshare, Udemy, Github, Binpress, Yammer, Hootsuite, Buffer… I could rattle off startups all day who have invested a great deal of time and resources into building community. Social products, B2B, B2C, technical products, toys, fitness, non profits… name the kind of company and I can name several companies building a strong community around their brand and products.

Why is that? With all the things a startup has to figure out, why do they focus on community?

7. Create highly engaged evangelists

The simplest and most valuable thing you’ll get from a community is highly engaged customers or users.

When done right, your community creates a sense of belonging. Members feel like they’re part of something important and they’re proud, they feel special. Their experience with your brand then becomes so much more than just products and features. They develop strong emotions around your brand. They build relationships with other members.

My mentor Aki Sano once said something along the lines of “You’ll know you have a great business when you can find just one person who’s absolutely in love with your product”.

I’ve seen first hand how building a strong community can create an environment where your members do in fact fall in love with your brand.

This high engagement leads to the rest of the benefits…

6. Stay close to your customers

Perhaps the most important value is that you get to stay very close to your customers.

Your community = your customers.

By creating a community where your users/customers can interact, converse, share and help each other, it gives you an opportunity to be a fly on the wall and learn more about who they are.

There are things you’ll learn from watching them talk to each other that you’ll never see in a survey.

And when you have a highly engaged community, you have a pool of customers that you can call on individually to give feedback, test features, hop on a call or whatever else you need to do to learn more about their experience.

5. Support network for reviews and rebuttals

For many companies, getting good reviews early on can make your product. Your community will jump at the opportunity to support you and show you some love.

They’ll also be a great resource for testimonials. When we needed some more customer quotes for our homepage, it was as simple as posting in the community and asking for volunteers.

At the same time, there’s a good chance if you’re building up some steam that there will be trolls out there to pull you down. Your community can be the people who stand up to defend you and call out their bullshit.

4. Build the foundation for a movement

A community comes in many forms. It’s greatest form, some might say, is a movement.

You’re an entrepreneur, which probably means you’ve set your sights on a real big vision. You’re not looking to just make a quick buck. You’re in it to change the world.

Well, community is what can help you get there. All of the massive companies you know today started with a small, loyal community. That first community serves as the foundation for growth for years to come. Look at Facebook, Instagram, Ebay, Pinterest, Craigslist, Couchsurfing, Meetup, Yelp… I can go on. They all started with a small, loyal community that developed into a larger movement.

3. Improve your customers’ experience

Humans need community. It’s helped us evolve and survive since the beginning of our time. It touches on a basic human need.

So when we have the chance to become part of a community and feel that sense of belonging, we’re happy. That means that community can serve as an added bonus for your product. Not only do your customers get access to your features, they get access to a support group, a network of peers.

Most products become better when people don’t feel like they’re alone in the game.

2. Defensibility

Anyone might be able to copy your product, your brand, your design and even your voice. But there’s one thing no other company will ever be able to copy and that’s your community.

There’s no faking community. A true community is built on relationships that can only be formed through genuine interactions and a dynamic of trust and respect. This dynamic can take a long time to develop.

Your community members are loyal, and they’ve invested time into building a reputation amongst the group of peers that you’ve brought together. It will take a lot for another company to take that away from you.

1. Make more money

In the end, it’s just a good business strategy. Your community members, being more loyal and engaged, are more likely to come back and buy again.

Make people happy. That’s what it’s all about. If you can do that, with your product and potentially with a community, you’re on your way.

Now I’m not saying every startup should blindly jump into building a community now. It’s important to understand why you need a community. It’s important to tie it back to your goals and make sure it’s in line with everything else you’re working on.

So take a look at what it is you’re really hoping to accomplish and then think about how a community might be able to help you achieve those goals.

Not sure where to get started?

If you want to become more efficient at building community for your startup, and understand how community dynamics work, come join us at CMX Summit on Feb 6 in San Francisco. (Use promo code ‘thefetch25’ for 25% off.)

We’re bringing together some of the world’s leading minds with completely unique perspectives on how to build communities. Or if you’re looking to hire a community manager, you’re guaranteed to meet the industry’s best at CMX.

About our contributor // David Spinks is the CEO of TheCommunityManager.com and LetsFeast.com. Lifelong student, community builder and writer. Follow him on Twitter via @DavidSpinks.

Image credit: California Pass

Event Review: IWE Friday Marathon: Soundcloud Sound School, Believe.in and The Instapaper — November 26, 2012

Event Review: IWE Friday Marathon: Soundcloud Sound School, Believe.in and The Instapaper

You know what they say about time flying fast when you’re having fun? That’s exactly what Internet Week Europe was all about. An almost Matrix-like daily deluge with one small tweak: switch the falling numbers with a heap of events that delight all tastes and interests in the web, from the savviest to the less connoisseur.

Obviously us Fetchers could not miss it and instead we indulged in a series of events where we celebrated the internet industry and community in style. Friday was definitely the peak for me as I managed to snatch just enough time off to see three out of the many closing parties.

Let the spree begin.

#1 Soundcloud Sound School

Sound School is a 2012 Community Fellowship project to harness some of the knowledge that SoundClouders have about sound. The event that took place at Google Campus marked its culmination with a lively discussion on how new technology, particularly the web, is changing the face of music education.

There were Soundcloud freebies and there were singing games, all captured via tweets on a live sharypic photowall. Overall, a great example of how on- and offline can do wonders together by offering the attendees the opportunity to physically interact and digitally capture the experience. Which is more or less how the new kids are making music nowadays.

#2 Believe.in Launch

Believe.in is a platform that wants to change the way in which people do good. It allows users to connect with over 160,000 UK charities and motivates them to increase their charitable activities using the power of social media and other trackers and aggregators.

The launch party took place at Mother London and they could not have chosen a better place to celebrate GOOD in a more creative and engaging way. The space is famous for its multiple adventures with culture in art and beyond and, progressively, in the digital space (check out their cool Tech City map here). The event was a great opportunity to mingle with creatives of all kind and chance made so that I come across the IWE festival director as well. Lovely lady for an lovelier week.

#3 The Instapaper #Edit1 Book Launch

I know what you’re thinking. Cool, a chance to meet the guys who built the app that helps me organise my reading better. Nevertheless, #edit1 of TheInstaPaper is actually a book that celebrates the new instant visual movement in photography. In the lines of the Sound School project, the Instapaper invites you to reflect on the integration of traditional photography within the new, fast-absorbing digital scape.

In spite of the name confusion, the event was no less interesting as it offered a chance to blend with some of the hip’est boys and girls in town. Taking place at L’ATELIER in the heart of Dalston, it brought together quite a different slice of the digitally minded public. From fashionistas to edgy filmmakers and avant garde musicians, I had an incredible evening refreshing my perspective of modern art.

Cheers to you Internet Week.

About our Ambassador // Written by Andreea Magdalina, Community Manager @enternships/@mixcloud and yogurt addict. Follow her on Twitter @trrpaipai.

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