TechTalks Live Recap: Building Thriving Communities in Tech


In today's hyper-connected world, no company is an island. The communities which tech brands nurture can play a pivotal role in shaping brand identity and influencing consumer behaviour towards a brighter, more innovative future. 

In CopyHouse's last TechTalks Live of 2023 — held at London Chief Clubhouse — we explored why building and leveraging communities is becoming a cornerstone of successful tech marketing. 

The panel featured CopyHouse CEO Kathryn Strachan, alongside a number of notable tech community experts, including: 

Mariette Ferreira CMO at 11:FS

Gemma Livermore founder of Women of Fintech, and FS Marketing Lead at Seismic

Tom Ridges CEO and founder of Herdify

Read on for a recap of the key takeaways from the event.

Exploring existing community dynamics is the first step in building your own

The panel discussion opened with advice on finding your communities, and how the most influential voices may come from unexpected sources: 

Real-life interactions: Offline spaces wield considerable influence over community dynamics, and can solidify or challenge brand impressions. The connection between real-life interactions and digital realms can act as a force multiplier for brands looking to resonate with a broader audience. 

Creating a sense of belonging (and adding value) is a two-way street: It's not enough to create a group and dictate the meeting spaces, agenda items, and how people should interact within your forum. Participants play a massive role in establishing group dynamics. It's imperative, therefore, to listen to positive and negative conversations and then create discussions geared towards solutions for all. 

Community building for tech brands

Steering the conversation more towards the tech space, the panel offered various insights into critical considerations startup tech brands should take on board to help them foster their own communities centred on their offerings and unique solutions. 

1000 True Fans: Business leaders must explore existing online and in-person tech communities discussing the same problems and solutions as your brand. Within these groups, active members will naturally steer the conversation in new directions and attract new followers. This idea ties in with Kevin Kelly’s concept of 1000 True Fans; the idea being that a small number of influential ambassadors can underpin a brand's success with their enthusiasm for unique brand offerings. 

Data exploration will reveal more clues about successful community building: With all the will in the world, you cannot force a group to form in the geographical or online space you create. Instead, conduct lift analysis to determine if your participants prefer interacting with your podcast, live events, or networking conferences. Try, as far as possible, to take a multi-channel approach to community building. At the same time, however, don't spread yourself too thin. Develop your group's dynamics where people naturally congregate around your subject. 

Effective communication within tech communities

Gemma proposed that the most influential communities are those where leaders can take a step back, and the rest of the group participants can guide their own constructive conversations, remaining engaged with the community's essential purpose. 

Mariette recommends taking a strategic approach to foster this level of collaboration within brand communities. For example, set out goals to achieve across a realistic timeframe and experiment with diverse engagement platforms, to find out what works and what doesn't. Don't be afraid to move on quickly and try new things. 

Kathryn asked the panel to describe the most valuable lessons they learned in tech community building, and (not surprisingly) the lockdown period throughout 2020 provided many opportunities to create and test hypotheses to inspire greater community cohesion. 

For example, brand leaders may find their fintech community space saturated with 20 or so groups discussing the same ideas. In which case, is it wise to start your own community or bounce off other group's ideas and steer the conversation towards your ideas and solutions? 

All the panellists agreed that, in some circumstances, using existing groups to pitch your solution can be off-putting to other group members. However, finding groups receptive to new solutions and lead-generation activities can provide a good starting point for growing brands. 

With that said, B2B and tech brands need to centre their pitches on solving critical community problems and interlocking their solutions with the value the group naturally creates for its members. 

Measuring community success and aligning group purpose with business goals

Towards the end of the webinar (and tying in questions from the live audience), the panel provided tips on measuring community cohesion and attaining buy-in from business stakeholders to ensure prolonged community building success. 

Tom recommended the audience read Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini, as it provides an academic perspective alongside real-life examples and tips for measuring influence and attracting your first 10 to 1000 community participants. 

He also recommended that tech companies start small. They should demonstrate their community's value by winning over early adopters — those most willing to try new things — and see positive results before showcasing the value to other stakeholders. 

Gemma added that community leaders should focus on building up engagement in the long term to avoid conversations from fizzling out. She proposes viewing each group member as an individual who will grow and change roles over time. 

So, while you may not be able to establish concrete lead generation metrics in the short term, you may find years later that a group member has become a purchaser or leader of their own tech community and can contribute to groups in new and innovative ways. 

Mariette agrees, believing that patience is a real virtue in community building alongside sticking to your community's purpose in tech. Have a plan for where you want to be in the broader tech community space, and double down on your efforts while keeping an eye on the changing media landscape. Doing so means that you will be better placed to adapt your communication methods as and when required. 

Watch the recording of the panel here:

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