I have never known anyone as passionate about community as Suzanne (she/her) and I was lucky to get her on the podcast to chat about why she loves community and how do to online community well.
Suzanne loves working with emerging and growing online entrepreneurs, to help them establish and grow their online communities. She loves all things online community, writing listicles, reading chick lit/romantic comedy, and relaxing in her hammock!
She's been married to James for 20+ years and has four amazing girls, two cats, and a greyhound. They live by the sea in North Wales, are novice family travelers, and long-time home educators.
I hang out on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alexisbushnell/
Find me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SocialMediaForHumans
Join the club to learn more about ethical and effective social media marketing: https://socialmediaforhumans.club/
Voice over by Hawke Wood: https://www.spotlight.com/3490-9081-8844
[Hawke] Hello and welcome to Social Media for Humans, the podcast that empowers you to do social differently. Your host, Alexis Bushnell, and her guests discuss their experience of social media as business owners, users, and ultimately humans, with insights and advice to help you find an effective and ethical strategy that works for you. Grab yourself a drink and join the conversation. [Alexis] Hello hello! I am here with wonderful Suzanne, would you like to introduce yourself and tell us what you do? [Suzanne] Yep i'm glad to be here with you Alexis well as you said i'm Suzanne I basically I work with online entrepreneurs and business owners to help them to run their communities successfully and smoothly so yeah a little bit about me, excuse me, I knew that was gonna happen, yeah i'm known as Suzanne she or her is fine by me, thank you, and my business is called, i've just chased the name so it's Suzanne Buckley Online Community Specialist so that's very exciting and I love everything about community so social media is a huge part of my life, i've always loved community, i've been involved in offline and online communities since I was little really so I remember as a child I loved going to, I know it didn't, it wasn't everybody's thing but I quite enjoyed school and I love things like guides and you know that sort of thing, I was part of a church i've always been part of a church community and even with the ups and downs that come with those sorts of communities, i've always found that communities somewhere that I can really kind of dig in and be an encouragement and bring something as well as receive something from other people so community's always been really important to me, and over the last sort of 10 years 10-15 years maybe online communities become such a huge part of my life so, yeah, it kind of it, was always something I suppose that I dreamed that I could do as a job and never really saw how that could happen and then one day you kind of like "oh actually this is a thing now" technology's allowed us to do these things that we love to do and to get paid for them and and to bring that sort of experience and that passion to somebody else's life and business so, yeah that's a little bit about me. I'm married, i've got four children, all girls uh, we live in north wales in the UK and yeah that's me - Very good very good. It's interesting actually that you say about you've been a member of communities since you were a child because actually, so have, I was in like brownies - No way - School was like Church of England - Okay - So actually I kind of have the same situation now i'm thinking I wonder if that's where it started - Yeah I definitely think there's something in it that, as a child you see the value in, so I was I grew up with a cousin with profound learning disabilities, and my other cousin his brother has quite severe bipolar disorder, and i've grown up, we live next door to them so they were a huge part of my life, and I love being part of a community for me it was a faith community, but I know it isn't for everybody, but I love being part of that community that was really inclusive, and you know we had families in the church who fostered, we had families in church who adopted, we had families with one child, family who's experienced infertility, families who had multiple children, older generations, younger generations, everybody kind of mixed and was one big family, and yes they were difficult of course they were, and nobody's perfect, and you know you hear stories about faith communities that are really not great and you hear stories from faith communities that are brilliant, and I think my experience was kind of, you know, towards the brilliant end, I was really fortunate, really blessed, and and I think it did sew something in me as a young age that actually this is a really key part of life, and if I can help other people to experience those things I experienced then that's got to be a good thing, and I think when you translate that into sort of online community particularly, so I work for two entrepreneurs at the moment and they're both people who run communities that help people to launch something, so whether that's a freelance career, or a maker's community, so one of my clients is, she hand makes soap and her community is around sort of hand making products and all different types products, but I think it's they're facilitating the improvement and the kind of the growth of somebody else's life, I think that's really exciting for me, you know, seeing these people kind of come in and they don't know where they're going, and what they're doing and how to start or what they need to do, or what they shouldn't do and I think actually that's a real privilege to be part of that I think - It must be, yeah, it must be really lovely because I have, most of my experience is actually as a member of communities like that before I recently launched my own, but I do find that a lot of the sort of, a lot of I want to say the magic that sounds really but you know - No no - I think a lot of it is from seeing people grow like that because there's always people in those communities at different stages of whatever it is they're doing in them, so you have the people who come in and you see where they're at when they first start and they're like lost, like you say, they're like "I have no idea what to do, I have no idea what's going on, I don't know" and then you also have the people who are towards the end if you like, they are they have achieved whatever they're there to achieve - Yeah - And they have so much to offer as well because there's also people at every single stage in between - Yeah - There isn't that disconnect that I think you can get in especially in sort of public social media platforms and posts, where it's like you are looking at this one person's post, who has achieved whatever you want to achieve, and you don't see how they got there - Exactly - So how do you find that, do you find that is an important part of it - Yeah definitely, I think facilitating conversation is really key, so one of the communities that i'm part of or that I manage the community, they're freelancers who are trying to get sort of launched and established with, and some of them come, so we've had people coming in chunks, and at the moment we have people coming in, sort of as and when, it's sort of in dribs and drabs so to speak, but you see people who arrive at the same time and one person maybe has been a copywriter for a year but is struggling to get clients on a consistent basis, and then you have another person who comes in and who just needs to earn money and has to be at home because they're caring for a grandchild, or they've just had a baby or they've just been made redundant, you know, coming off the back of the pandemic that's quite a big issue for a lot of people and I think you see those two people, and the initial kind of weeks you see the panic in the person who's not even chosen a niche, you know, they're kind of like "Well how is she or he so far ahead of me?" and, you know, facilitating those conversations is really key because you're helping the person who hasn't chosen their niche to see it's actually, it's not about their further on than you or you know, i'm behind that's a big thing, so in that particular community we're really big on kind of just dampening down that "Oh i've got behind, i've fallen behind" and you know I think because what you want is for people to see success in the steps that they're taking individually, and yes we need to see those people, so for them, for that community I was actually plucked out of that community to run the community, so that was my freelancing community that I joined when I decided I need to do this and this is something I would like to get into, and I was really fortunate my coach saw something in me and said "Okay you know how, do you fancy doing this?" and I was like "Oh that sounds amazing, are you allowed to do that, is that a thing?" so there are students in that community who've been there since then since I joined, who kind of look at me and go "Oh you've made it!" and it's like well no actually this isn't, I haven't, i'm not making a full-time income yet, you know i've got a couple of clients and i'm doing well, i've got a few clients i'm doing well with it, but there's always something to learn and actually i'm learning things from you, so there might be somebody make a post about something and you'll say "Oh that's fantastic, i've never thought of that", you know we've been having lots of conversations about imposter syndrome and confidence, I know in the community that we're in as well that's a big thing, and I think for freelancers, that is a self-employed people, that's a big issue isn't it because you're relying on you for everything, so yeah we've been having lots of conversations about that and there's a few posts that people have put and i've thought you know what, that's so right or that's so clever or that really speaks to me right now, and I always make a point of saying that's me, that I couldn't have put it any better, thank you for sharing that, and I think when you, I think in any community, and I found this very much even for my personal social media accounts over the years that when you're vulnerable and you're honest and you have integrity and you're kind, those are the things that people are attracted to and those are the things that speak into other people's lives, it's like you give them permission to speak to you and that, then is accompanied, however long that takes, that is eventually usually, not always, usually accompanied by them giving you licence to speak into their life, and I think that's a real privilege and as a community manager specialist I think I would, I don't ever want to take that for granted and I think it's important that we do share our steps along the journey, and we do support each other and encourage each other, and call each other out and, you know, i've had one of my clients has been like "Well i'm not sure about this, can we just revisit this and talk you know obviously privately" and it wasn't anything inappropriate I said, it was something that I said off the cuff and I can't remember what it was I said now, but she was like "Oh actually we need to be spin that round and make that an encouragement rather than the negative", it was about myself it wasn't about anyone else she said "You know because then people will pick up on it and they'll say oh okay yes" so that mindset I flip that on his head and it becomes this, so I did a follow-up post about it and it resounded really deeply with the people in the community and I think those things can be quite key, that people are seeing that progression but they also see that we're all in the same boat at the same time, you know, alongside that - Yeah yeah, and I think it is it's really empowering I think to when you're in communities where the the leader of the community is prepared to say like "I'm not perfect, I don't have it all figured out, yeah I might be a few steps ahead of you but I am still i'm learning from you, you have things to offer that are going to help me improve, I am not perfect" - Definitely - And I do think that that helps to facilitate those conversations and sort of that compassion for the members as well to have compassion for themselves to see that it's not somebody sort of standing up and going yes and this is how I achieved success, and here's my list of things to do and when you get here you'll understand - Absolutely - It's somebody going like "I am kind of figuring this out as I go along and you can do that too let's all figure it out together" - Yeah I definitely and I really I find that the the social media adverts that resonate with me are the ones I say this is what i've learned so far, it's not i've made it, it's not I know all the answers, it's not 10 ways to be a complete success, those things just don't resonate with me at all, i'm kind of like well let's give it, you know it's like people who are parents to babies and they say "Here's my parenting guide!" I'm like well give it until they're sort of 12 and then let's see how you tackle the teenagers and you know, but not that you've not got anything valid to say but just kind of frame your experience in reality, and let's just be honest and have integrity with people, so yes this is what i've learned so far in my sort of journey to being a success, right, you know that you may be I don't have that desire to be this, you know I want to be comfortable financially, I don't want to be a six figure or seven figure business, if that happens then I want that to be because i've done things well and i've brought people along with me, but you know if so if somebody was doing the whole oh yes i've got a successful seven eight figure business this year and this is how you two can achieve it, I want to know well okay so who's stuck with you and what have you learned along the way, what can I do, where I am right now as a four figure a month business, you know which i'm happy with and i'm growing very slowly because that's what I can cope with because I have four children that we home educate, as well you know I don't want to be doing seven figures tomorrow, I want to know what did you do next, and I think that's really important and like you say you know it's having a visibility within your community but also an honesty, I think that's really important because it's very easy to skip steps when you're at the other, when you're further on down the journey and I think if you skip steps it becomes difficult for other people to follow you, you know they miss the directions and they get lost and and that's that's almost as sad as not starting I think - Yeah yeah yeah i'm interested into sort of how you fight, because part of the power of communities is that it's not just the person or the people who are running the community who are giving the advice and support and stuff, it's the whole community - Yeah - But how do you find the sort of balance, I guess, between how much the person running that community needs to be there, or what they need to offer, versus how much you rely on the community itself - I think so, the communities that i'm part of as a community manager are quite small at the moment so I think there's there's an ease to being able to run it from the top down almost, now that doesn't exclude member to member engagement of course, that's really important, so the communities I mean we engage members sort of the horizontal and community sort of aspects by making sure that we're keeping ourselves accountable to each other, we're celebrating each other's wins, we're supporting each other in losses or stresses or difficulties, I think that's very much the horizontal thing, and for my clients how much they engage with that is down to them personally, and they're very different individuals and it's quite fascinating watching that, and so i've got one of my clients who's very engaged even at that level, which I think is important you know, I think it's lovely to have that, and that increases the community visibility as well so I think people see her around a lot and I think that's brilliant. I've got another client who is a little bit more hands-off but he's very much about celebrating, so when one of the clients gets a big win, one of the members sorry, has a big win, she's there celebrating it when people share their wins weekly she's comments on them all, and she celebrates that, in that community we also have a separate sort of channel within the community purely for coaching, and that's all about her so that's where the members know that they need to go if they want a direct answer, so they have a direct email access as well but within the community forum. I don't get involved in that because i'm not a coach, i'm not a you know a freelance coach say, that's sort of her domain, and then the rest of the community she's engaged kind of very much with the wins, and then when people get stuck so it might be things like somebody's designing a logo or trying to think of a business name, or you know and everybody chips in with their little bit I think because they see everybody doing that, so there is an element of relying or me drawing in people who've been in the community for a bit longer, so sometimes it goes quite quiet when everyone's really busy with their businesses so what I might do is tag a couple of people and say can you comment on, you know, have you got anything that you can add to this or particularly niche specific questions, or you know worries or they're not sure you know how to make progress, and then in another of the communities it's very location specific so things like tax and legislation and you know those kind of thing, i'm not in that geographical location so I can't comment on those, and that's very much where the community all jumps in because they're all in the same boat, they're all trying to find out what they need to do and how do they follow this law and how do they make sure this is legal, and you know who do they contact for this sort of in government, so the community very naturally, very organically does that, yeah so I think there's an element of facilitating that organically within the community but then also being a little bit directive when you can see a need, and I don't know that i've ever, I think that's just come through being in a community and watching how people do it so i'm in quite a lot of online communities because I just love being part of them, and you watch how people that I resonate with, I watch what they do and I listen to what they say, and I see how they engage in the community, and some of them are seven figure entrepreneurs and they're still, they don't run the community but they're still in there, they're still and they're very clear that it's them posting and then when it's not them posting, when it's one of their team and I really like that I think for me, if the person who's the spear heading or the figurehead is still within the community then, I would say that's quite a healthy community. I don't think you need that to be healthy, it doesn't have to, but for me I would see that as really healthy that actually they're still engaged, they still know what's going on, they're still interested in what's going on and they're celebrating with their community, I think when people see that they engage with that really actively, so - Yeah yeah, I mean from a personal point of view I do think that the more, I do think you need to step away at a certain point, it does get too much, yes, and that is when you you need to be bringing in people to moderate and help and support that community for you, but it always makes me a little bit sad when people vanish from their own communities, they sort of build this thing that is essentially based around them and they build this business or this brand and a community that that is attached to it - Yeah - And then it's like it gets to a certain point and they're like right, okay tick, I can now leave this because i've got a team who will run it - Yeah - And as much as I kind of understand the thought process and the like you know, I can spend my time elsewhere doing things that will help other people, or make me more money, or you know whatever your priorities are - Yeah - I do feel like the value to the community, the value of the community is slightly diminished because of that because you have built the community basically around you - Around you, yeah yeah no definitely and I think it's hard as well for, so my personality clearly lends itself, that's what I enjoy, I thrive on it, I get stressed, I cry over it you know, I love community, I love everything about it, and I think if you're in that big league of six and seven seven figure entrepreneurs, and an entrepreneur by nature is not always a hundred percent of people person, I think they're strategic, they're visionary, they're driven, they're active, you know where i'm quite happy to sit with people and I think when you sit with people and you listen to people and you engage with people, it's that you know we've got two ears and one mouth so actually listening is quite important, and I think in community that's such a cliche, but in community I think it is really important and so I understand why they might back off or why they might shift from, I know in social media at the moment there's a big move from free groups, free communities into paid sort of back end type communities, so I can understand in a way, but I think there's still an expectation and a responsibility on that individual, maybe, to offer like an office hours type engagement so it might be more formally set within the week rather than just in and out of a facebook group or a slack community, or well that kind of thing, so it may be that the team is who you see on, sort of on a day-to-day basis but yeah absolutely, I think it's quite sad when people have created this incredible thing and then don't know how to move it forwards without just going "Okay, there i'll give you my team" and off you go but i'm acutely aware all say that the communities that i'm operating in are small, so I i'm not in the position of operating within a community that's you know got thousands of people in, and the the entrepreneur is kind of going "Okay, well here you go, let's just run with it and see what happens" so yeah, I try and listen to what those people are saying so the community managers of those entrepreneurs are the people who are facilitating those communities, because I think it's on a different scale, isn't it, when you scale something you have to be able to let go of things and as an entrepreneur maybe it's the strategy that you run with and you let go of the day-to-day interaction, but yeah i'm always disappointed when i'm part of, particularly a paid community or a paid membership, when suddenly they disappear, so but I think a way around that is sort of a weekly call or a facebook live or you know something where you can engage, and you're getting interaction with that individual, but yeah I completely understand and agree with what you're saying - Yeah - It's tricky - I think yeah like you say there are there are ways to work around it, because I do think at a certain point you need a break as well you know, if you're running a community, especially if it's a huge community, - Yeah - You do need a break but I do think it's important to put things in place so that you don't just sort of vanish - Yeah - Even if you vanish temporarily I do think that communication is important you know - Yes - Like you need to let people know what's happening, so if you need a couple of weeks off and you're like wow I am about to burn out - Yeah - It's important to let people know - Yeah - And I think part of that comes back to that honesty about, like I have not got it all figured out - Yeah - I am figuring this out together, and I do find that in like the communities i'm in when the sort of leader of their community is like I gotta take some time out, I really, I cannot do this right now, I will be m.i.a for a week or two weeks or whatever, the support that they get from the community is so intense because people get it - Yeah - And so many people are then like actually, yeah, I am in that same situation, why am I still pushing myself - Absolutely - I need to take a step - Absolutely - So I do think that it can be difficult, I think, to hold your hand up and be like yeah, I have got it very not figured out right now, right now i'm not even following my own suggestion - Exactly - It is important to say that - Yeah - Because it opens up those discussions - Yeah - Which will then sustain the community as well while you're not there - Yep, yeah, 100 percent, and I think for me it comes back it's like a visual representation of an intergenerational community I would say, so I learn things from my kids all the time, you know they teach me all kinds of stuff and I think if I was closed off to that there'd be so much that I would miss, you know i'm the adult, i've been here longer, i'm more mature, i'm more wise, i'm more experienced, you know and that's just, it's daft and it's that why, because you're the most successful end of the community, or you're the one that owns or runs the community, why would you not listen to what other people are saying, or why would you, I don't use the word mentoring because I don't think that quite fits, but there's a two-way relationship isn't there, and sometimes you need someone from within your community, or you need to see what people in your community are doing and you kind of go yeah, you know, it's that thing of bringing on, you know so I know we had a brief conversation about outsourcing and I i'm kind of like well, where do you start with outsourcing, I want to make sure that i'm having that conversation before I need it and I want to be thinking that through and working out the costs of that for myself before I need it, because if you get to the point when you're burning out and you go i've got to have a month off, well what are you teaching your community? Actually you could have brought people on to help with your community before that point, and yes everybody's going to be completely empathetic and sympathetic and supportive but the majority, because they that, you see it happening in your own sort of company, in your business and the work that you're doing, and so I think people will understand, but then why not have somebody who was supporting you before you get to that point, does that make sense? - Yeah - I think sometimes you have to preempt it a bit and it doesn't always it feels like it's the easy bit, to keep ticking over, but actually communities living, and it only takes one controversy or one sort of person in your community to start riling and you know, if you've got no one to help moderate what happens when you're asleep if they're on the other side of the world? And you know it's those kind of things you wake up and suddenly everything's gone a bit pear-shaped and that can be the trigger, that can be the thing that goes do you know what, I can't keep doing this I need to bring somebody in, well bring them in two, three, four months ago, you know and then you're working together and it's a teamwork thing, and I think as you grow then that has to grow with it, I think it's it's important that you have people that can support you in that so yeah definitely definitely, I think it's a good - Yeah yeah, I think it is it is actually I was talking to Patrick on a previous podcast about sort of outsourcing and outsourcing before you feel you need to, because it is so easy to get to that point where you're like no, I absolutely have to outsource, I do not have the time or the energy or the whatever, but at that point you also don't have the time or energy to teach somebody what you need to inform them of your procedures, to do those things, so outsourcing itself becomes an additional task - Yeah - You've got to find somebody, you've got to tell them exactly what you need them to do, and how you prefer that they do it, and maybe teach them the tools that you use it is one of those really difficult situations in any business, I think this especially when you're freelance - Yeah - And you're trying to balance this like, my time is important, what can I actually outsource, what do my clients actually need me specifically for, - Yeah - Iit is really really hard to figure that out - Exactly and as a freelancer, as somebody who owns your own business, there's an emotional weight to that, you know your brains, are they going to carry your values, are they going to understand, are they going to be honest when they've made a mistake and understand that that's okay, let's just figure it out you know, let's figure out what went wrong and how we prevent it from happening again, it doesn't matter we'll clean it up together it's all fine, but let's do it together, and I think that the kind of the way, obviously at the moment i'm on the other end of that, so i've been brought in in the early days and I see my clients going through that they're like oh, but what if you don't get it, and what you know with my initial client, obviously I came out of her community so I understand how that part of her business works, and I carry her values and I love what her business does and it's a part of me because it's got me to where I am today, but you know with another client she kind of she contacted me very early, she's like i'm not even sure if i'm ready for this, but now sort of a few months, five, six months down the road I can't believe that I almost didn't, you know, it's just yes my community's small but actually it was the right time, because now you've you've taken this part and you're facilitating this growth and engagement, and actually for me that's brilliant so yeah definitely - Yeah yeah, I do think that part of the power, especially out sourcing stuff like that, is that you then have the the ability to spend some time promoting that thing - Yeah - And also the members are inspired by the community itself and are then driven to become voices for your community too - Yeah definitely -They're getting so much out of it and they're so involved and invested in it that then they're also going to be on their social media and telling their friends and being like I am in this amazing community, you will never believe what happened in the group today - Exactly - That in itself creates that snowball effect, and I do think a lot of the sort of issue with freelancers and outsourcing is that like is it going to be financially viable, and like you do have to figure that out yourself - Yeah - But I do think you have to consider the overall impact of outsourcing, especially when you're deciding what to outsource as well, and if one of the things you're looking at outsourcing is like community management of a membership, or something of yours, then you have to consider that actually yes that, that is going to create a more active community, a more engaged community who are then going to be willing to shout about that community to other people - Yeah - Which is then inevitably going to bring you more members - Yeah - So it is going to pay for itself, but it is maybe more of a long-term investment - Yeah yeah, and it's that it's where a lot, so if you look online at lots of the work around the research and evidence around community management and community engagement, it's that it's the brand awareness almost, so you you look at companies like Red Bull, who you know their online communities are so active and so passionate and so committed to the cause I can't even smell the stuff never mind drink it, but I love kind of, the branding awareness that they have and that you know their people are, they're kind of like fans are committed and dedicated and they travel all over the world to these events, and you know they raise awareness of these obscure sports and passions and activities and it's about, you know, it's about a drink, it's like well actually their brand awareness is incredible you know you see their colors and their logo and their adverts, you know straight away what it is and you hear people chatting about this or that activity or event that they've got going on, so I think it's very much that if you're if so it's that, for me it's the thing with community engagement is internal, so it's inward focus, so I don't do social media management, I don't do people's Facebook posts and Instagram, you know that's not, that's a completely different skill set and that is not me at all, and I had this conversation with a potential client, I was like oh i'm really sorry but that is not part of what I can do, if you want that you need to bring somebody else alongside to do that, and my job is to engage and facilitate growth and strength and to moderate an internal community, but that community then, because they're a powerful community, becomes outward focused, so that's when they're telling their friends well you know, if so their friends just been told that they're being maderedundant, oh you should think about this course i'm doing, this course and it's brilliant and it's a course, and it's a community and there's coaching and it, you know yes it costs money, but the investment, this is my return on investment, i'm now working full-time in this freelance role, so much so that having had maybe a maternity break I can now give up work and I can do this job full-time, because of the investment I made and because of this community's investment in me, and I think your members or your students or your subscribers become your biggest fans and your most vocal, you know you don't necessarily need to or run an ad campaign as often as you would, because you've got these people who are so passionate about what you're doing, and I think bringing in that community manager who gets that about your business, and who who can be as passionate about you, but you know i've never made, i've made handmade soap once with my kids, and we did like we grated up soap and we put it in you know cookie molds and we made them and sent to grandparents when they were little it's not my thing and i'm really in awe of people who can do that kind of thing, or who can sew or who can, you know make things smell nice, I can't do that, but i'm so passionate about my clients community because I see people who come in and go well, I make all this amazing stuff, but I don't know how to get it in front of people, you know and her course and her community is about facilitating that growthin her members, and I kind of sit there going you guys are so creative and amazing and I love you, and you know let's just let's see what we can do together to get you to where you need to be and so where are you at right now, and let's take that, what's the next step forward, what goals are you going to work on this week to move your company forwards, and oh hang on a minute you know you're saying you can't do that, or you don't know how to do that, or this is too big, this is too weighty, I can't do this anymore, let's just pop back to your goals from three months ago, when you didn't have a business name and you didn't know who to contact about your business license, and you had nowhere to sell your things, you're selling your stuff now, this is a blip, we're gonna go back to three months ago and look at what you were doing then, and then we're gonna dream about where you're gonna be in three months, so what do we need to do this week to help you get to your three-month goal, and it's that kind of actually, let's create this place where you can come, and you can just blurt it all out and, but then you can get that blurt organized and encouraged and uplifted and strategized, if that's a word you know, so that you can break it down, okay well this is where we want to be in three months, okay so let's split that into three, that's what we're going to do this month okay, so this month has got four weeks, let's break that down into four weeks, these are the steps, and let's plan for a week in the middle somewhere where things go a little bit squiffy, so let's just give ourselves a little bit of breathing space and maybe we need to stretch that goal a little bit further, you know so it's that kind of, it's the nitty-gritty interaction the engagement you know, and that person people are going to say well, how did you get to a point when you were selling five thousand dollars worth of your handmade products every month, oh well this was where I started because I really didn't know what to do, and this person has got everything that you need to get from a to z of launching your successful online business so, and I think there is that, you know there's that passion within the community, and that and it's not, it doesn't work for everybody, not everybody engages, not everybody's at the right point in their life, you know sometimes things come up that are big things that mean that this has to be parked, but for the people that follow the steps and that do the work, you're seeing them coming out the other end, and they're ambassadors, they're you know they're like this is amazing, come and join this community and let's do this together and I think that's really inspiring - yeah yeah, on that point of it's not for everybody a huge amount of marketers and social media experts are very very passionate about the idea that everybody needs a Facebook group, everybody needs a Facebook group or some kind of community i'm interested as to where you stand on this. - I don't think everybody needs a Facebook group at all, I think that's nonsense. I think the thing with Facebook is it's simple so most people have a Facebook account, it's the nature of the beast, like it or not most people have a Facebook account and there's an app that you can have on your phone that's very easy to access, I do miss the groups app, I have to say that I love the Facebook groups app but I know they want me to engage on their community, on their platforms, so that's why they did away with it, but anyway that's a whole different story, yeah so I don't know, I don't think everyone needs a Facebook group, one of my clients doesn't have one so her community is on slack and that works really well because for that community the focus is on getting the work done, so it's about what do I need to get from where I am now, through the steps that I need to take to get my business working successfully and successfully, it means different things to different people, so for some of the students it's they need an extra bit of, they want holiday money you know, they want spending money for when they go on holiday, for other people it's that they've been made redundant and they've got a check that's going to last them three months and they need to have something that is going to bring in, so I think the focus there in that community is on the this these channels are for these specific subjects, yes there's one that's for anything you know, which anybody can post you know, I post pictures of my kids at the beach and that kind of stuff, just kind of engagement stuff but the other channels are very specifically like I said, one of them is about getting coaching from the owner, from the business owner who's a coach and you know they're very specific questions, another channel is about let's celebrate what we've been doing this week, what's everybody achieved, you know there's those kind of things, so there's no Facebook group in that community i get I feel quite sad when I find something that I think looks really amazing and there's no community attached to it, because I think actually a way to dive into, even a product, a digital product is to have a forum for people to interact, but i'm also very aware that i'm probably at the extreme end of wanting a community for everything, so you know I have to learn how to use a piece of software, I go and find a Facebook group for it, so I find a Facebook group of users for that piece of software, because for me that's more valuable than a how to on somebody's website because i'm like, I have a really specific question, how do I do this and your help pages don't tell me and those are usually member-led so there might be an official group where there's official people commenting, but a lot of the questions if you look in those are very much member specific, so I ask a question about how do I use this piece of, how do I create this product in a financial process into a payment processing piece of software, it's usually another member that will answer that question, they'll say well this is what I did, or you know have you have you tried doing this? Or they'll provide a link to something and I really buy into that say, my husband laughs at me because he's like you're in a Facebook group for every piece of software that you use, i'm like well yeah because then if I find something I can't do, i'm not techy at all, if I find something I can't do or I don't understand I pop in one of the groups and go "Help! can somebody help me with this?" and community is powerful you know, and the company, because i'm in the uk and a lot of my client work is from north america, the software support isn't always available when I want it you know, it might, they might be sleeping, some of the software companies offer 24-hour support but some of them don't, and or it can take, you know they're so big it can take two or three days for someone to get back to you, i'm like well this person wants to pay this tomorrow, how do I set up that product with those parameters today, you know, so yeah so I definitely fall on the side of the fence that would rather everyone had a community of some kind, but I also completely understand the resources that that takes, so I would never kind of, i'd never get cross or publicly criticize a company that didn't have, or a business that didn't have a community and I understand that it's not everybody's thing and not everybody needs it like me, i'm just quite needy that's what it is - I mean I do see where you're coming from and I do think there is a huge power of having a community but I do think because for me, the reason I tend to join a community be that Facebook group or a paid community or something else is less because of the the thing it's about, and more the ethos behind it - Okay, that's really cool - So I like. I don't enjoy. I am so picky with Facebook groups and like if I join Facebook groups I will then like clear them out every couple of months. it really is it really is, go and do that now if you're listening, just go and clear out your Facebook group - Have a purge - So I really am really really really picky about some of the communities that I join, and i'm like it needs to be more than like a specific piece of software if I want advice for a software. I like i'm the person who i'll google it, i'll hop on youtube and be like how do I do this, - Yeah I definitely under use that - From a community point of view, I think because I like to be invested in a community - Sure - You know so if i'm going to join even a Facebook group, I want it to be somewhere that I want to actively be - Yes - So I think that's where it comes from, from me it's like I don't want to join a Facebook group that i'm just going to pop a question in every now and again - Yeah sure - I want it to be somewhere that I actually want to spend an hour a week or whatever going through, commenting on posts, getting to know people - Yep - But from a business point of view I think while it is really really good to have a community of some description for all of the reasons that you have mentioned, I do think not everybody needs one and partly because like we were saying earlier, some people are just not people, they're not people people - People people, yeah no absolutely - And I do think that some of the communities that have sprung up more recently in this sort of push for you need a Facebook group, you need a community, - Yeah - Are lacking purely because they have been created because you should have a community - Year sure - Rather than I want to facilitate a community around this topic, or this thing that I offer or whatever, - Yeah - So I think if you're sort of thinking about having a community aspect to whatever you do, you need to sort of ask yourself the question "Am I doing it because I actually want to do it?" - Yep - Or am I doing it because I should?" - It's trendy - It's trendy, it's a good marketing technique - Yeah - Because Facebook pages are dead so groups are the new pages - Yeah - I so hate that - Yeah definitely definitely, and I think there's that thing you know there's this whole thing around the Facebook page algorithm is shot so don't, it's not worth having one, I think for me i've got a Facebook page because I didn't have a website for a while and it was a great place to point people to, i'm not active on it at the moment because I don't have the time, it's one of those outsourcing things maybe for the future, but yeah I said in my Facebook groups I have about eight that I engage with consistently, one of those is a client's Facebook group, so you know that that's not one that I join myself you know, like say I don't make things, but that's one of them, but I have six or seven others that i'm actively involved in and they tend to be so we've got a greyhound dog and i'm in about four greyhound groups because I joined them when we got the greyhound, and i'd left a couple recently, but if there's a problem with the dog, or there's something i'm not sure about, i'm quite one of those people who spends too much time on social media, reading about things that might be or things that might happen, and that information does quite often come in handy at some point you know, because that you know my husband will say to me oh such and such, and i'm like oh actually I read about that in that Facebook group and this, and he's like how do you know that piece of useless obscure information, so we're like oh well it's coming in handy now isn't it, but i'm also aware that lends me to over engaging in social media for the purposes of zoning out so yes, I completely agree that I need to focus down on the community online communities that I want to invest in and that are viable for me to invest in right now, and the software group examples, the ones i'm not a good community member, I literally drop in and drop a question and then leave with my answer, which I know it's not what they want me to do, and you know there's an element of me feeling quite guilty about doing that in the moment of panic when I couldn't get support, I just use it like a question and answer page which is not what a community is about at all, and it's not what I do with the communities that I help to run so yeah definitely, I think I can't see so I was part of a Facebook community that came with a product, so it was you had to buy this quite significantly expensive product to get access to the community, to the Facebook community, and sort of last year they decided to close, to archive that Facebook group and move to a paid community membership piece of software, so it's a website which is controversial in its own right because it doesn't have an app so you have to log into a browser to access it, it's an I think there's an argument for it's another platform that people have to learn how to use, so that's why I think Facebook, going back to your earlier question, that's why I think Facebook works for a lot of people, and that's why a lot of people go on and create a Facebook group rather than go to an alternative platform, like Tribe or Circle or you know one of the others, Kajabi, because it's familiar and people are already using it, and it was controversial because there was no kind of, for the lifetime of this product guaranteed, but there was a sense that this Facebook group, and it was a really good group you know, the people kind of in this sort of senior echelons of the company weren't really, they used to do like a call once a week that was broadcast live in the Facebook group, but they weren't particularly active in the group, but they had a team of people who were, and it was very much an engaged on a member level interaction, so it was really valuable and it's still archived, you can still search stuff in it and find answer to your questions, obviously you can't ask or comment, but it was quite a brave, I found it frustrating as a member because I couldn't transfer financially into the new stuff, it was just too expensive and that was quite frustrating because then it was like okay, so i've got a course that i've not, because i've taken ages to do it, i've not finished it, but I now can't ask my questions anywhere, that's quite difficult, but from their perspective they're leaving everything there, they've created something new for people who want to kind of carry on engaging, they're not aimed at people who, they're probably not targeting people in my financial situation to be completely honest, you know, so we're kind of yeah we're not big earners, and we're not, we don't have the disposable income to buy into these things, normally I would, it was a big investment for us so we're probably not their target audience, and I think a lot of their target audience probably went with them, so I think that's a brave thing to do to go okay, we're drawing a line under this, this has fulfilled its purpose, we're now shifting the way that we deliver this content and what we want to do is we recognize that you want more from these people, so what we're going to do is create a platform where that is more doable and and it's not as openly accessible to everybody because there's thousands and thousands of you and we can't possibly answer all of your questions all the time, so I wonder if, I mean they explained quite clearly why they were doing it and there was a little bit of, I think there's more financial motivation than you're acknowledging, although I don't think they need the money, you know, well from where i'm sitting, maybe they do, but yeah so I think those kind of conversations are interesting as well, when do you draw a line under a community, when do you move a community into a different space because you as the business owners feel that this is a better location, and it also allows you more control obviously, in Facebook if they decide to shut down your Facebook group, you've lost it - Yeah - You know so there's always that I think on the membership platforms, yes it's more finicky for your members to have another thing to log into and another password to remember, and they might not have, you know ones like Kajabi have an app, so it's easy to log into, but there's other platforms that don't, so yeah I think those are quite interesting community conversations, because you don't want to actively irritate people and lose people that way, but at the same time it ensures that you've got a really dedicated community I suppose, that you then take with you who are going to, they're not going to be the people like me dropping in asking a question and running, you know, and you're going to have the people that are really engaged financially, emotionally, time-wise, you know, so I think creates a different community, a much more kind of, your brand ambassadors are very loud then aren't they, they're very, you know, outspoken and vocal and verbose about you, so yeah there's this kind of, it's a line to tread isn't it, it's quite interesting - Yeah yeah, it is difficult and I think for me I can understand because actually like, one I was in a free Facebook group for which was actually sort of the feeder group for a membership that I did eventually join when I was financially able to - Yeah - And the owner has since closed down the free Facebook group - Sure - And that didn't bother me, not because I joined the paid version, but because the the core stuff that they offered in the free Facebook group, they transitioned to a public platform - Okay - So if people wanted to access the sort of stuff that they were offering it was available, they've archived the actual group so the conversations and stuff are still in there but obviously rather than having that more sort of private area for discussion, it's more like right, well we'll do these public sort of support general questions what have you - Yeah - In public now - Yeah - But if you do need that one-to-one support, that more intensive support, there is a membership for that - Yeah yeah - So for me that felt like a good balance, because it was like look here, we can give you all the support but there has to be a limit, because there is only a limited amount of time - Yeah absolutely - Whatever - Yeah - But there are definitely situations like I think you know, the one you gave where you see this sort of people close things down and you think this is just a case of finances dictating that you just abandon the people who are not financially your target market - Yeah - And it frustrates me even from a business point of view because I think if you support those people effectively they will become financially able to invest - Exactly exactly, you're not leaving them behind so they've got this huge gap between then and now, and it, you know, I would quite have, if it was something that I felt I needed in the future and we could afford it, then I would definitely reinvest in them I don't feel there were people who had very quite strong feelings who were very expressive in their strong feelings about the whole thing, and I can,'t maybe that's just not me, but I can't get into that kind of drama, I just think actually they've made a business decision and whether you like it or not you're not going to know all the details, and they're doing what they think is best for their community, and it's their community, and yes there's an element of it where it's your community as well because you're part of it and you've invested in it and you've helped them to build it into something really successful, but actually at the end of the day it's their community isn't it and if you want, so there were a few people who were posting in the last week who were like okay i've set up this community, so come and join me in my community, which is fine is that okay? That's absolutely fine, they're closing this down, those comments if they choose to leave them there it's still going to be there for other people to find and that, for me, that's that proactive okay, well you don't like it so do something active about it, do something positive so yeah, go and create a community and that's great, and a couple of them are doing, I joined, they're doing really well, they're really active, they're really engaged, they're really encouraging and positive, and there's one that I joined that just has kind of not happened and I just think it's hard, it's hard running a community, especially when you're running the business as well, you know when you've not outsourced it, or when you have outsourced it and it's grown and become something that's quite hard to moderate, so i'm part of a big group, it's a British group which I really love and they closed the group for comments over the weekend to give the moderators a break, and I think it is absolutely brilliant, i've never seen anything like it and I was really shocked, you can still reply to people's comments those are, that's just all left open, but you can't make a new post in the group over the weekend and it's a really, on the whole it's a big group, it's a really healthy group and there's a team of moderators, they've just taken on some more, because it's just grown exponentially as it got some publicity, but yeah that's quite brave - Yeah I think that is I actually, I think that's a really good idea and I do think that that should be something that is more normal as well, because the part of the problem with especially Facebook groups I think is the expectation that there is always going to be somebody there - Yeah - You are going to get like an instant response immediately - Yep - Because you know the moderators are there, people are available - Yeah yeah - Facebook never sleeps - Yeah exactly exactly, now I think it's brilliant, at first I was a bit like oh controversial, because it's not linked to you know like a business or you know like the freelancing group or whatever, it's not that kind of product, and then yeah it, but it really made me think because my clients are quite clear you know, there's one of them that asks for sort of emergency cover over the weekend so can you just bob in on Saturday and Sunday morning, check nobody said anything they shouldn't have done and, you know, that sort of thing which i'm like well, that's fine, but there it's all very quiet in the groups at the weekend and they're quite clear that that's a deliberate thing with new members, so I think there's a, it's the culture isn't it that you create within your community, so it's what are your company values, what do you stand for as an individual, and as a company figurehead what are the ethics around, you know I love listening to your podcasts, because you know there's so much about well is it positive, is it good, is it you know encouraging, is it building, is it adding value, it's not about we're not gonna look at being negative, we're not gonna encourage that kind of culture, we're not gonna knock people down, you know, I wouldn't, i'd hate to kind of, you know I know there's things that that i've said already that are kind of could be construed as critical, i'm not trying to be critical, and trying to be constructive and kind of figure out what it is I think about those decisions that those people made, I would never kind of criticize someone for closing their community because they couldn't do it anymore, or it became too much, or there was something happened within it that they felt actually let's just stop, draw a line and we'll move to a new space but yeah I think there's so much of it, and this is where for me it's about role modeling, it's well what do you model to your community, so how do you talk about other people, how do you talk about other content creators or entrepreneurs or, you know especially the ones that you disagree with, how do you talk about them in your community when that comes up, so if somebody says what do you think about this person, how do you handle that question you know, do you dodge it or do you address it in private, or do you just make a statement that is, has integrity at its center, you know, so you might be saying actually i'm not somebody that would be part of their world and you know i'm not somebody that would recommend that you buy their products, however as a person I don't have a problem with them, you know, I think those kind of things, it's too easy especially in our Instagram heavy days, to put out things that like I could quite easily put statements out about things that I know nothing about, or people I know nothing about and I think it's hard, so one of my daughters is a huge book fan, she's written 50 000 words of her first novel at 16. she's on her fourth draft so, and she wants to publish it, that's one of her dreams, but one of her the authors that she follows has left social media recently because of being, i'm not going one way or the other in stating what I believe about what she should have done, but she was asked to comment on, I don't know if it was black lives matter or something along those lines, i'm not sure JK Rowling, the controversy around that, I don't really know what the controversy was, but she was targeted and they, a group of people went on to her good reads and changed, she's a published author, you know, she's successful, and they've they've put a load of negative reviews on and they've sort of criticized and they've taken posts and created reels on instagram, and my 16 year old i'm trying to work this with my 16 year old, and because she has a Bookstagram account and a Booktube account and, you know, she only got her account, she didn't have any social media until the beginning of the pandemic, and just working through how online community works in that setting with her, well how do we do this wisely, and how do you have integrity as much as possible, and you can't you can't legislate for people who are going to decide that they don't like you, but you can have integrity in everything that you do, including how you interact with those people and hopefully you'll never have to, hopefully that won't be a thing for you, especially at 16 but you can't, you can have an opinion on everything but your opinion isn't always educated or experienced enough to be made public, I think that's one of the things that we have to look at, particularly with her age group, I don't want her going on social media and making statements about all kinds of things that she doesn't understand, you know, you can make a statement and say i'm learning, i'm teaching myself, i'm educating, I don't really understand how this, you know, the current news situations, there's lots that you can, I said but you don't want to put stuff out that you've not worked through or experienced yourself, let's say I don't know, I want to learn, you know, that's a really good position to have, i've got one mouth and two ears I want to learn more before I say more, and I think in community that's really important, that's how we navigate disagreements or misunderstandings, you know digital media is so hard to understand tone and intent, it's so hard and I think trying to work that through with my kids is one of my biggest lessons, you know, don't send that text in, you know, because they don't know what you're saying and teaching them about the nuance in the written word is quite fascinating, quite fascinating yeah Yeah yeah, no I was actually, I was talking to one of my friends over the weekend actually about how things get misunderstood, specifically on twitter, and I think a lot of it on social media generally is that if something blows up, people see that one post, they see your one comment - Yeah - They don't know who you are, they don't know what you stand for, they don't know that you have a history of supporting those people, that you made potentially questionable comments, so because of that you do have to be aware that people are going to make a judgement based on your one tweet, your one comment your one Instagram post, yeah, because most people are not following you - Yeah - And seeing all your content, and that definitely complicates things - Yeah yeah, because community online community isn't, we're not always talking about closed community that's the thing, you know like you say about where things become public community, public content and you can, you know, I was part of a twitter community yeah just around fostering and adoption when we were going through that process, and and it was a great community and it was a public community, and it quite rapidly after a few years became obvious that it needed to become a private community because of the nature of twitter, and rightly or wrongly it suddenly was like this just isn't working anymore, this is too out there, and too public, and too too much at risk from people who have a completely different opinion about that that topic, and I think there's, just there has to be wisdom, you can't always do the well, we've always done this, this has always been fine until now, so you need to change how you interact with us rather than we need to engage differently, it's like well let's listen to what's being said, and let's have a think about the best forum for this and actually, if what that community needs now is something more private then just take it off somewhere else, you know, I don't think there's, I don't think there's any, there's nothing to be gained from going well actually, you're in the wrong and you're attacking us, we were here first, it's like well is that helpful to anybody really, does continuing that argument benefit anybody? Well no it doesn't, because actually to them you're inflammatory and you become more defensive and more inflammatory and then it just feeds itself, and it becomes a huge raging forest fire yeah, so I think it's it's being wise isn't it in public community, and like you say understanding that there is always the potential for somebody to take that post wrong, or that comment wrong, or that response wrong, and it's how you then deal with that afterwards, so for some people it is okay i'm done, i'm not doing this anymore, i'm off, and for other people it's trying to engage with the other side of that conversation, sometimes that's possible sometimes it's just not, and that's, you know, it's that it's that culture that we seem to have at the moment isn't it, in doing community, actually we can be of opposite opinions but still get on, we don't have to agree with each other and everything, you know, I don't have to only have friends who vote for the same political spectrum that I do, I don't only have to have friends who have the same faith spectrum, faith perspective that I have, I don't only have to have friends who've got kids, I don't, you know, just because my kids aren't in school doesn't mean I don't have friends with kids, i'm not, my decision is not saying that they're wrong for putting their kids, that's not how it works, this just works for my family and we're happy and you're happy and that's all great, so yeah it's interesting, and as somebody who doesn't like conflict, community online in a public forum can be quite fascinating, yeah I have lost sleep over online community before now, but yeah I think it's having role models who do it well, so it's looking for people in online communities who are doing it well, and I think that's really, that's the key because when you're in the moment, you know, it's like oh what would they, how would they respond to that, or what have I seen them do in their community that's helped them through that situation, I think that's that for me that's been really helpful, particularly when these people who were being antagonistic personally towards me, and i'm kind of going okay, what do I do about this, because i'm a people pleaser so my response is oh yes that's fine oh that's fine, i'm wrong, oh of course yeah, and actually sometimes that's not the best response, it might be the easiest response in the sense that it dampens everything down, but sometimes you do need to challenge somebody else in a community forum, and figuring out the best the wisest, the most kind, the kindest way to do that I think is the way forward so - Yeah yeah so if people want to learn from you, about your communities and and all of that kind of thing, where where can they find you? - Well at the moment, it's all very early days, so they will find my name and my logo, but i've got a website, a brand new website, you can find me at s-u-z-a-n-n-e Buckley dot com, and i've got a Facebook page, not a group, i've got a Facebook page, Suzanne Buckley online community specialist on Facebook, and she's on Buckley online community on Instagram and i've also got a LinkedIn under my name as well, so they can find me in all of those places, and over the coming weeks there will be content going on there about community and what's so great about community, and how to do community well, yeah so that's my big project for this next sort of two to three months is to get that content out there, so yeah but there's an email address on my website as well, so people can contact me if they've got questions but yeah that's it - Very good, I will put all of the links in the show notes so people can find you very very easily on your new social media platforms everywhere, thank you very much for being here, this has been very interesting - It's been great, thank you so much Alexis, it's a real privilege, [Hawke] If you want more regular reminders to find your own way to use social media, follow Alexis on your social platform of choice, all the links will be in the show notes. Until next time, be a human.