Hi there Femstreet community! I’m Kim Johnson - the Head of Community at Geneva, an all-in-one communication app for groups and communities of all shapes and sizes. Before joining the team at Geneva this past October, I led Community at Glossier for five years. In my time helping two high-growth companies build their community efforts (and chatting with some incredible community leaders along the way), I’ve been lucky to see the unique value that investing in your relationships brings to the business you build and, ultimately, the products (physical or digital!) that you deliver.
Community is quite literally everything for us at Geneva. In my work, I get to support and watch a diverse range of communities and groups (we have every kind of group from school clubs and sororities to professional networks and virtual conferences on Geneva) come together, grow, and thrive digitally.
In my experience, there are always a few existential questions that community leaders face: ‘How do I build community in a truly authentic way?’ and ‘How do I get people bought in?’.
My thoughts on this are always the same, no matter what kind of community you’re building:
Get to know your people—who they are, what matters to them, and why they care about what you’re building. It’s essential. Getting on the phone, understanding the different pockets of people and how they relate to and differ from each other—spending that time will allow you to build something that meets people where they are, instead of asking them to meet you.
Invest in the behind-the-scenes. One of the things that often catches people as they grow and scale community efforts is not having the infrastructure to continue to thoughtfully build and manage relationships. It’s the less sexy part, for sure, but building this as you go makes life so much easier in the long term.
Take your time (in community and all life things!). Community literally cannot be built in a day. Build a foundation and continue to water it and build as you go.
There’s so much more to building with a community-first mindset and I’m excited to chat with you all about it!
Join me for a conversation in the next hour 👇
What's the best way to launch and start a community?
Hey Kim, three questions😁 1) Which do you think a new brand should focus more on: audience or building a community? 2) How do you distinguish between the two? 3) What are your top go-to metrics for measuring engagement / health of your community?
i thought it was VIDEO...
... realized, it's just a CHAT.
... i think?
Second question - how can you build a community for three defined (but different) target audiences? Ie. we're talking about sleep - markets are new mamas, insomniacs, and shift workers. Everyone thinks very differently (specifically moms vs. the rest) - but we don't want to split folks out. Any tips on how to be inclusive and cross these segmentation gaps? Any examples of other brands doing this would be amazing, if you have them!
Hey Kim, if you are just starting out with an intention to build a paid community, have you got any best practices from a market research perspective? e.g number of conversations, questions about intent vs past behaviour, extracting problems to solve? Thanks!
We asked people if they wanted to join our community before we had launched the platform for it. We're about ready now, so sending out our little email invites very soon. What do you recommend including in this? What gets people interested after a short gap of time? Any content ideas or insights would be amazing! Thanks
Can you please share some strategies that glossier used to make the community such an integral part of the business? Where it almost feels like marketing is community led completely.
How would you go about seeding a community with people that'll keep conversations going? What would attract them, how would you access them, what do you look for?
How do you move from a community being between your brand and individuals to being something that is self sustaining between members of the community without your direction?
What are some of the tools you use to manage communities? Also favourite books/ podcasts related to community management
Hi Kim, thanks for your time on this topic of conversation. I think some of us at the beginning were definitely thrown off course with the event format, proving how programmed we are into our behaviours of consuming content at the moment. Was it purposeful/specific to this topic that you chose a written Q&A session, and why did you decide on this format, which is probably more time-consuming? I enjoy these types of formats, as we are then not 'context switching' and we also can remain slightly anonymous if we want to.
Is Geneva fully messaging-based? Can you host Zoom and live video events on there?
Hi Kim! What is your definition of community, and how does that differ at a brand like Glossier (DTC) vs. Geneva (B2B2C?)?
Hi Kim and Team @ Femstreet, This is a very smart and interesting way to host the 'event' and build SEO at the same time👏! I am a Community Builder, I work with startups and small businesses to develop and implement their community strategies. What top 5 tips can you share for community building on a shoestring budget?
How long would you work on buiding community before launching products to them? And how do you get your community involved in co-creating and testing out your products with you? Similar to what Glossier did?
Hi Kim! I am interested to know your opinion concerning how to create a community that talks about (female) tabus - how to build a trust environment where women are open and feel confortable to share and talk? And related to this first question: do you think there are barriers towards an open community on this subject?
Hi Kim, what platform for early-stage startups do you recommend for hosting a community in? The target audience is young, 20s mostly.
What podcasts would you recommend to learn more?
What do you see as the major similarities and differences between brand building and community building?
Hey Kim! How do you consistently convert Instagram followers into an active community that you could possibly launch a product to?
Hi Kim. Re: 1 *Get to know your people*: how have you been doing this? surveys, IG Lives? What has worked best for you recently?
Hi Kim! What is are some good platforms/tools to build communities outside of social?
Hi Kim! Do you know any great examples of b2b companies that leverage community?
Hey Kim, Thank you for taking the time out to chat with us!
What are some of the ways Glossier uses to facilitate conversations with their community? Also virtual alternatives since IRL will be difficult for a while! Thank you :)
Has anyone else here tried Diem? They are building community spaces for women, I've been able to find and build one there around menstrual care which has been cool.
How do you think about one-to-many content/platforms vs. many-to-many (i.e., community interacting with each other)? How do you ensure trust & safety in many-to-many communities?
Hi Kim! I love Glossier and Geneva. Thank you for doing this. I have a few questions.
How do you keep engagement and make sure you are constantly providing value to the members of the community?
What's the best way to ensure growth?
What's your opinion on the different platforms out there to build a community on? How do you choose which is one is best? (Slack, Geneva, FB Groups, Clubhouse, Substack, and so on)
Could you share some strategies that have worked for you and that anyone could apply for starting a new community that would lead to possibly creating and launching a product?
Hi Kim, thanks so much for taking the time to share your advice! My name is Roslyn and I'm a co-founder of The GIST, which is a female-led sports media platform. We create sports content in a fun and refreshing female voice and perspective for all types of sports fans. I would love to hear more about the infrastructure you put in place, or in the early days, what existing platforms you leveraged to to build community. At The GIST, many of our channels are more one-to-many (like email, podcast) and socials aren't perfect for building community. But I can definitely feel there's a desire with our audience to have more of a community element, so would love your advice on platform/infrastructure for getting started!
Hi Kim! What do you think about Mighty Networks for building a community and getting customer insight as a new beauty wellness brand?
Hi! Is this the event here -- answering our questions on the comments? I can't see any other link...
Thank you all so much for your questions and thoughts! I loved this! I may have missed a few questions so if I didn't get to you, you have a follow on question, or you just want to chat community things feel free to email me: email@example.com !
Have a great weekend everyone :)
Hi Kim! How much does it cost, budget-wise to stand up to a successful community? How much should you spend on content creation, moderators etc?
With Clubhouse being the main talk of the town atm, it’s becoming clear that any effort to build Community must have a clear focus.
When utilising technology, what is your recommendation for how a Community-builder can best prioritise to define a community; a) with boundaries, and b) in a way that honours and ideally even promotes diversity?
How can you leverage community insight in regards to data and analytics when talking to investors and applying to accelerators? How can you let them know your CPG beauty wellness brand is bigger than products but also scalable via community and data?
This is really cool :) thanks so much!
what do you think about using Discord to build and grow a community of users? Been more popular mean these days.
Hi Kim! Can I reach out to you about where to host a community?
Is a community necessarily paid? How do you decide how to monetize your community ? How should you proceed doing so ?
Hi - me again! Do you have a checklist of things members of a community need to see upon joining that gets them really engaged? Would love to know what elements you think are the most important. Thank you!
Thank you for hosting this AMA. I run a professional network for female entrepreneurs (www.dreamersdoers.com), Geneva is one of the platforms we’re keeping an eye on.
Are custom profile fields (ie being a able to customize member profiles/ask custom questions etc that would be searchable in the directory) something that’s on the roadmap? Similarly, is a shared newsfeed that displays posts from all groups a member is part of something that’s available or that is planned? If not, is there a way to set up daily or weekly email digests (ie a summary email for all groups one is a part of)?
Apologies if this is outside of the scope of this AMA, I can totally send this to someone else on the team in email format.
Thank you so much for building such a fantastic product!
Do we ask our questions here?