Should you outsource community management?

It’s an argument that arises for just about every area of business operations: to outsource or not to outsource? There’s an external company that can handle just about every task you’ll need taken care of in the workplace for a reasonable price, from development to HR and administration. This same is true of marketing and community management.

So how do you know what to choose? Every situation is unique, to be certain. Some may find outsourcing their community management work to more efficient and more effective while it’s absolutely essential for others to have an in-house community management team to take control of things. Each has its advantages and disadvantages to consider before making a final decision.

In-house

Community management is something of an art form, and all works of art – while based on the same techniques and principles – come out different depending on who created them. An oil painter, for example, will use the same techniques and tools as any other oil painter, but his paintings will be wholly unique. Why? His personal character shines through his work and the choices he made when choosing a subject and what message he wanted to convey.

This is perhaps the biggest advantage of in-house community management – staying close to and reflecting company character to produce a strategy and ultimately a community that is unlike any other community out there. Companies paid to do this work certainly do their best to recreate this effect, and the difference is often negligible, but they have other clients. That means not only is their time and focus divided up between projects, but they justifiably use similar strategies and tactics across the board, making your project appear just slightly less unique.

Outsourced

That being said, outsourcing the task of community management is generally a smart thing to do for several reasons. First and foremost, you’re saving yourself the trouble of hiring and building your own community management team. Community management is a full-time job for an entire team of employees. Outsourcing gives you an entire team of professionals at your disposal immediately and generally for lower cost than hiring your own people.

But you’re also paying for unparalleled expertise when you outsource community management. Companies dedicated solely to marketing and community management have been doing it for years and worked with dozens if not hundreds of different clients. If you’re a CEO, you’re probably more concerned and knowledgeable about your product and internal operations than you are about the finer points of community management. An outside team can handle that for you.

All-in-all, the possibility of outsourcing your community management efforts provides opportunity for more businesses to build communities and market themselves effectively. Sure, your Googles, Amazons and Apples can always create a new in-house team and take the time to shape and mold them exactly as executives see fit. Slightly smaller or newer projects would be wise to consider outsourcing community management to be both effective and efficient in an ever-changing market.

How our Telegram bot can make your life easier?

Telegram is an anonymous messaging platform with awesome features that have come to dominate more and more industries in the last two years. Above them, all is the crypto industry. Telegram is considered to be the best channel for startups to raise awareness for their initial coin offering. But it’s not just crypto – Telegram also has groups for discussions on marketing and sales, groups to purchase flights and travel packages and even groups for immediate updates about and from politicians. You name it and it’s there.

That’s because Telegram brings several advantages to users over competitors like WhatsApp. For businesses, Telegram has channels and groups, which can host thousands of community members. Telegram’s secret chat is one of the most technologically secure ways to communicate over the internet. Phone numbers can be kept private through Telegram’s username feature and various bots are compatible with Telegram, expanding its functions.

Why not bot?

But Telegram isn’t all sweet-smelling roses. If you maintain a Telegram group of at least a couple hundred members, you’ve almost certainly encountered a number of problems that make your life more difficult.

First of all, most groups need moderators. No one wants their group to turn into a spam magnet, so they have to delete every message that isn’t on topic, block people who misbehave and make sure that members are generally following the rules. Secondly, they have to answer questions and have discussions with group members – that is the goal here after all. What’s more, if you want to make sure there is continued activity in your group, you also need to be active yourself by posting topics for discussion, playing games, encouraging conversations, welcoming people when they join and more.

All of these requires manpower and time. That’s not bad, that’s just the work. But what happens when you have hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of people in your group? Maybe you have Superman working for you, but maintaining groups like this once took up 85% of our community manager’s time until she threw up her hands and said, “What is this? I feel like a robot!” So why not free up her time by assigning these tasks to a real bot?

All about bots

Telegram allows for the creation and connection of bots. These beyond-useful tools function as Telegram accounts that are operated by AI rather than a person. But users can interact with bots similarly to how they interact with people (within the bots’ functional parameters of course).

Looking for the perfect image reply? Just message ImageBot and tell it what kind of image you need. Want to create a poll for members of your group to participate in? PollBot is the perfect tool for that. Telegram has made bots easily accessible and even offers tools to create new bots, growing the number of possibilities and expanding Telegram’s usefulness.

A bot of our own

There are lots of bots on the market for free and others you need to pay for. Either way, they offer many comfortable functions. Besides images and polls, there are game bots, bots that find music for you, bots that help you trade in currency, and yes, bots that help moderate your groups. You can search for bots here.

Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to using existing bots. On one hand, they are ready to be used! The developers who built the bots have already tested them, fixed them, improved them and made sure they work without any glitches. Some bots even have technical support to help you in case you encounter a problem.

Building a new bot requires at least basic knowledge in how to create and add bots to the platform, a programmer who knows how to write the proper code, an internet interface developer who can make the bot easy to use for people who aren’t developers and a rigid process of quality assurance. But on the other hand- the big advantage is that the resulting bot can do exactly what you want.

As a company that does community management, we wanted a special bot that could precisely meet our specific needs. When we couldn’t find one already in existence, we decided to create our own.

So what does this bot do?

  1. It kindly welcomes new users in a dynamic fashion
  2. It allows us to schedule future messages
  3. It allows us to create a bank of messages that can be sent at random
  4. It gives us statistics on users in the group
  5. It deletes messages with spam keywords we set ahead of time

It does several other things besides, and because it’s ours, we can keep developing it according to new needs that arise and add new features to it whenever we feel like.

Now, our community manager can focus on creating quality connections and having real conversations with people instead of writing the word “Welcome” a thousand times every day.

Want to know more about our bot and how we built it? Want to use it? Contact us!

 

 

How we created a successful gamers’ community on Discord from scratch

Building a community can be tough and time-consuming even when you have intimate knowledge of the brand, topic or field that it revolves around. You know the best forums, groups, and influencers to help you get started. You know the lingo and online culture. But it’s still difficult to know if your efforts are succeeding or to set plans based on any timetables of growth. So what happens when you’re really at a disadvantage and you don’t know anything about the community you’re trying to build?

We found ourselves in this situation not so long ago. We were approached by a client who wanted to build a unique community in the gaming market. Sure, we’ve all played a few games here and there, but we’re far from experts on the industry or the culture and we couldn’t be sure where to reach people who might want to join this new community. The real question was, can community building be broken down into a more quantifiable process that follows patterns and rules? If we know how to build a community around a strictly crypto-based brand, could we apply the same logic to a gaming company?

Well, yes and no. Every project is unique, and in that way, there will always be surprises. But there are some general rules that can and should be followed. These actually apply to projects you feel completely prepared for as well. But just to prove how effective they are, this is the story of how we built a gaming community from scratch even though we aren’t gamers ourselves.

Step 1: Research

Every industry has its own main platforms that play host to active communities. Crypto, for example, revolves around Telegram and Twitter. But the situation is slightly different for gamers. In order to make the right decision of where to invest the bulk of our efforts, we pursued two different tactics:

  • Internet research: We read, searched and asked questions in all kinds of forums.
  • Experts: We contacted people we knew from the gaming industry and asked for their advice (networking is a valuable tool – but more on that in another article).

Eventually, we concluded that Discord was the best place to start.

**TIP – Language is also very important. It turns out that gamers don’t call it the “Discord server” but just “Discord”. It’s critical when working with a specific industry to stick to the appropriate language, otherwise, the community will automatically recognize that you aren’t a native.

So great, now we needed to get set up on Discord. But how do you do that?

Step 2: Finding a community manager from the industry

It’s possible of course to learn everything on the internet from how-to articles and YouTube tutorials, but we wanted to be properly professional. That’s why we set out to find someone from the gaming community to join our team as a community manager on behalf of our client. We looked for someone with intimate knowledge of gaming, who knew others in the industry and was familiar with Discord. This someone also needed to be prepared to accompany us through the early stages and stay on to manage the Discord.

Finding a community manager isn’t always easy, and the qualities you want in a community manager vary from industry to industry. In our case, we decided that the best way to go about our search was to ask for help from another company in the field that isn’t one of our direct competitors. We also asked the administrators of relevant Facebook groups to help us by posting wanted ads. We have a separate article with more tips on the process of finding the right community manager.

So, once we had a community manager to take care of Discord for us, the next question was where would the community members come from?

Step 3: Creating a content plan – choosing content

We then decided that the best way to bring people into this community would be to create something of value for them. This would be accomplished by providing content targeted at gamers. So, we went back to researching. We considered what would interest them and what kind of articles they read before beginning the process of creating content for them with articles like:

How will technology change the future of the gaming industry?

Esports explained – serious gaming for serious gamers

Step 4: What help is content if no one sees it?

This is an issue that any project trying to market itself can relate to: Where do you advertise? Obviously, there are the regular platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and they can all be great places to start if you manage to target your audience properly. But communities exist on all kinds of platforms and it’s worth it at this stage to see if there are other places to take advantage of, even without a marketing budget.

For example, in the case of the gamers, we discovered that they are active on a lot of different subreddits that reach a massive audience of gamers who discuss interesting topics. Because we were trying to provide value before marketing anything, there was no problem posting our articles to these channels. It’s very important to take note of each group’s rules. They don’t always allow certain kinds of posts and new users are sometimes viewed with suspicion.

**TIP: It’s best to develop and nurture your user before trying to post your content, so you don’t get burned right out of the gate. Work your way into the group, make friends and be an active participant so that as soon as you post something it gets more attention and favor.

Step 5: We have friends! What’s next?

We slowly began to see activity in our Discord. The content we provided was interesting for them after all, and they decided to see what we were up to. But we weren’t merely forming a community of people with mutual interests, we had a product to promote. Now, after having proved our capability of providing value, it was time to go ahead with marketing ourselves.

That’s why we added a channel to our Discord about the project explaining who we are, what we do and why it’s of interest to our community members. We decided to base our operations on the recognized 20-80 method.

**TIP: Provide value 80 percent of the time and promote yourself 20 percent of the time.

Step 6: Collecting data

Now we have a home for our community (Discord), we have visitors, we have value and we have a promotion. But that’s not enough. We want to grow. We want more friends and more interest. So how do we move forward? At this stage, we paused for a moment to review everything that we’d already accomplished and we tried to figure out what practices worked the best so far and what didn’t work so well.

What we discovered is that the audience on Discord understands a thing or two. They want to be involved and they live online 24/7. There are so many communities of gamers and competition is so intense that community members have no reason to stay with us if we don’t provide them with the added value that they wouldn’t get anywhere else.

First and foremost, we found that gamers get that value from a community that is very… communal. The group needs to be active, full of discussions, stories and news and its members need to take an interest in one another. We also learned that a significant portion of gamers is young, often too young to have a bunch of money laying around to spend on stuff for games. That’s why game-related prizes and gifts provide excellent motivation for them to complete all kinds of different tasks.

**TIP: A community is made up of people. If you try to understand who the members of your community are, what characterizes them, what motivates them to take action and what they like, it’ll be much easier for you to make decisions and formulate a marketing plan.

Step 7: Gamification

We decided to take the data that we gathered earlier in this process and see how we could use it to meet our goal of growing the community and turning our product into a point of interest for gamers.

gam·i·fi·ca·tion – The application of typical elements of game playing (e.g., point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service.

Generally speaking, we are true believers in the concept of gamification. We believe that it doesn’t matter what field you’re in, gamification is an amazing tool to push people forward and we use this technique whenever and wherever we can. In the case of gaming, we were dealing with people who we could only assume like games.

We created a few different types of games and tasks based on the two points we learned in the previous stage, encouraging involvement and handing out gift cards as prizes.

**TIP: We won’t reveal all of our methods here (we still need to keep a few secrets to ourselves), but we do advise you to study the concept of gamification in depth. You see it and experience it all around you every day without even knowing it. This is one article that we think will help you understand gamification and how to use it in your communities.

Step 8: Creating a community of ambassadors

Entire books could be written about building strong connections with community members and converting them into ambassadors as an excellent goal for any brand. In short, we can explain that ambassadors are community members who believe in your brand and/or your products. They keep in close contact with you and even get all kinds of bonuses for supporting you publicly. In our case, we decided that it would serve our interests well to have a strong community of gamers surrounding us that loved our product and would get excited ahead of its release.

So, we personally reached out to the more prominent individuals in the community and made efforts to bring them closer to us. We offered them gifts and bonuses for them to continue doing what they were already doing: talking about us in a positive manner. We didn’t even hide it from the community. We gave these individuals their own special roles on Discord to let the community know that these were trusted veterans who could answer questions about the product. This also created an interesting phenomenon in which people approached us and asked how they could become ambassadors as well.

**TIP: “One too many” marketing used to be the name of the game (think of one celebrity posting a photo with a product to reach many). But today, that can be revised to something like “many to many”. Why pay lots of money to one person when you can harness many people to help meet your goal? And that goes even deeper: Ambassadors are usually people who believe in your product before you give them bonuses or perks, making their endorsement far more authentic than a celebrity’s photo. There’s no one right way to do it. The qualities of ambassadors vary from community to community, as do the ways you can support them. What’s certain is that you can’t ignore this technic when building a community.

Step 9: Execute, repeat

At this point, we were confident in our position. Our community had a home and was gathering more and more members. We had supporters and fans and we had an active and vibrant community. But that’s still not enough. You always want to continue growing and drawing more attention. And why fix something that’s not broken? So we went back and repeated step 7, collecting data, looking to see what worked and what didn’t and using this information again to create a plan of action.

For example, we discovered that gamers don’t like it when people post inappropriate or unrelated queries. That led us to add moderators to enforce the rules while opening a channel called “Spam” where community members could chat about whatever they wanted without bothering the others.

**TIP: Listen to the members of your community! The idea to open a spam channel, which turned out to be successful, came from a community member. By listening to his suggestion, we found a great solution to our problem and made him and others see that we listen to the community and accept its suggestions, which in turn pushes its members to continue being active.

***EXTRA TIP: Give them credit! That community member, whose name was proudly included in our announcement of the opening of the spam channel, became an especially loyal community member.

As we’ve found out, and as you can see from our story, building a community is like creating a work of art. Each one is different, but certain techniques and templates give us a solid starting point. You can create really good music without any knowledge of music theory, but the odds of stumbling across something good are slim. We learn music theory for a deeper understanding of how music works that shows in the final production. The same is true of these 9 steps that anyone and everyone should be using to build communities around a brand, product or even a personality, whether you’re familiar with the topic or not.