Running a thriving online community is no picnic. We often talk about tools and platforms that can help, but what if part of the answer is empowering your members to manage themselves?
Today’s guest, Reina Pomeroy, runs the Good Inside parenting community for Dr. Becky. She has been active at the intersection of marketing, brand, and community for many years and is here to let us in on some of her top strategies.
In this episode, we talk all about leadership programs and sharing moderation privileges with VIPs in your community. By leveraging and formalizing existing dynamics within your membership, you can create new experiences, shine a light on top contributors, and phase out time-consuming tasks.
Reina and our host Jillian also dive into digital etiquette, oversharing, boundaries, and incentivizing good online behavior. Together they explore and zero in on essential tips for community builders at every level.
So how does a leadership program actually work? What are the mechanics of co-creating a community experience with your members? What are the perks and common pitfalls? Listen in on today’s chat to find out!
I'm a trained Social Worker turned Certified Coach, community builder, and social strategist. I work with mission-driven organizations to grow engaged brand communities that are obsessed with the brand and drive higher lifetime value.
I'm all about helping mission driven brands find the human story by nurturing relationships. By highlighting diverse customer stories and nurturing influencer relationships, scalable intimacy can have profound impact toward the brand's goals and metrics.
Strengths Finder: Empathy, Focus, Includer, Woo, Learner
- Connect with Reina on LinkedIn and Instagram
- Find out more about Good Inside
In This Episode
- Defining and promoting digital etiquette
- Co-creating a community experience with your members
- The benefits of starting a community leadership program
- Sharing moderation tasks with your top contributors
- Avoiding the common pitfalls that come with leadership programs
- Growing your community by putting in work that won’t scale
- Setting boundaries and reining in the oversharing in your community
- Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Glover Tawwab [Amazon affiliate link]
- The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker [Amazon affiliate link]
- How to Keep House While Drowning by KC Davis [Amazon affiliate link]
- Connect with @TeamSPI on Twitter
The CX 061: Co-creating Leaders in Your Community with Reina Pomeroy, Senior Director of Community at Good Inside
Reina Pomeroy: If you're thinking about scaling your community, even if it's really small, it's not really about the number of people, but the number of people who are really wanting to stay engaged.And engaging those people relatively early on. I always recommend jumping on calls with people and doing the things that really don't scale at the beginning. While your community is relatively small, even if it's not small, jumping on calls with people to learn about why people come back every day or whatever the frequency is, it can be really helpful in seeing what motivates people, what gets people excited, what kind of things they would want to see, and building a program off of that.
Jillian Benbow: Hey, and welcome to the Community Experience podcast. If you're new here, hello, I'm Jillian Benbow and I host this gig. Today, I am talking to a fellow community manager turned director. I'm talking to Reina Pomeroy, who is the senior director of Community For Good Inside, which is a parenting community through Dr. Becky, who, if you are a parent and use Instagram, you may have heard of.
We're talking about one of my favorite things. I think I say that every episode, but legit love this, and that is community leadership programs and how to leverage, but for good, leverage, in a good way, your members to help manage the community. Really to help be a part of the leadership, to help keep it safe, to help make sure it's a fun and inviting place all in a way that makes them want to do it and love doing it. So we'll get all into that. We talk a little bit just about how Reina came up in community. It's always fascinating to hear how we all landed into these roles and then stuck with this as a profession. And then we'll really get into just whether you want to call it a leader program or an ambassador program or whatever, but just some into the weeds, into the mechanics of running such a program. So whether you run one currently and have issues, or you would like to learn more, stay tuned and we will get into it right now.
Jillian Benbow: Okay. Welcome back to this episode of the Community Experience podcast. And today I am talking to a partner in crime as far as a fellow professional community manager, community leader, which is exciting because we're a growing crew, but we're still fairly small. I don't think I've ever met someone in real life that has been like, "I'm a community manager." So without further ado, I am here today with Reina Pomeroy who is currently the senior director of community for Good Inside a parenting community through Dr. Becky. So Reina, welcome.
Reina Pomeroy: Thank you so much for having me. It's so fun to be here.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah, it's exciting. I was kind of looking at what you do and the community that you run and it's just so fun because I see so many parallels between our roles. So it's always nice to talk to someone kind of in the throes of these sort of what I would call boutique or niche communities that are amazing and so needed. Tell us, tell the audience just a little bit about you and especially just how did you get into this wild world of community.
Reina Pomeroy: Yeah. I love what you're talking about because I also have not ever met somebody who does what we do in real life before besides conferences and things like that, but so happy to be here. I'm Reina Pomeroy and I lead the Good Inside community. A lot of people know Dr. Becky on Instagram. She became a household name during the pandemic as the parenting sort of expert and I get to run her membership community. So it's a really fun experience.
My background, I actually just came from Modern Fertility, which is a fertility company for people with ovaries and building like a customer community. So brand community alignment. And then prior to that, I was a social worker trained as a coach and got my certification in coaching and was doing executive and leadership coaching and working with creative entrepreneurs. So have been in the entrepreneur space for some time, really familiar with the SPI work and love the sort of intersection between marketing and brand and community. So have loved this work and just of fell into the community title, but have always been doing community development throughout my work as a social worker and as a coach.
Jillian Benbow: That's so interesting too, that you bring that social worker lens to it because it very much can be human service on some level. I mean, you're trying to connect people for some goal, some cause, and it sounds like you have planted yourself, at least for now in the children, having children realm, the first two, the helping people who are trying to conceive. And then now, now you've got the kid and it's like, "This is hard."
Reina Pomeroy: You got it.
Jillian Benbow: I need support. Which as a mom, yes, props to everyone in the thick of toddlerhood because yeah, it's a thing. So I'm interested just from the transition from Modern Fertility now to Good Inside, I'm curious, what you've noticed is the main differences from running the community and just the branded community for customers versus the more focused parent support community. What have you noticed?
Reina Pomeroy: Yeah, so something that I think about with community strategy, if we zoom back a little bit, there's always two goals for any brand community. It's the why do we have this community for the business side, and then why do we have this community for the customer side. No matter whether or not people are paying to be in that community or not, we should be thinking about both of those schools simultaneously. And if it's too heavy on the brand side, too heavy on the customer side or the community member side, it just sort of skews the work. And so I always like to have those sort of intention so that we can be really holding steady on both of those things. So I think that your question about what's the difference between a free community and a paid community, I think it's that the level of intent of use is very different, but I think people are always craving to connect with other people.
And so whether it's free or paid, it's just the amount that you can put into a community is a little bit different. And the reason for having the community is slightly different. So what I mean by that is that Modern Fertility, the goal of that community was more about top of funnel. It was about driving those conversations and potentially driving to conversion down the line and with community Good Inside, it's really about keeping the people who have chosen to be here really excited and really engaged and giving them the best experience inside the experience itself.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. That's a beautiful definition and yeah, totally agree. It's interesting too, I'm curious just from being a parent and back in the day when my now teenage, terrifyingly teenage daughter is ... when she was much younger and needing that peer support and the like, "Oh my gosh," whether it's a baby or a toddler, I'm curious how you deal currently with things like boundaries and just the guidelines of your community. Because I know as a parent being in those parent groups back in the day when it was all on Facebook, there was a lot of shenanigans in those peer parenting groups, a lot of pictures of rashes and medical advice and things that it was just like, "This is not the ... No, no, no. Call your doctor." Or even just what I've been coining is digital etiquette, lack of digital etiquette. And just maybe being a little too honest in a internet forum environment when there should just be maybe a bit more boundary, like, "Whoa, slow down." I'm curious how that all works.
Reina Pomeroy: Oh my gosh. I mean what a great question. And I think that the thing that you said about rashes made me laugh because so much of that actually happened at the beginning at-
Jillian Benbow: I bet. Yeah.
Reina Pomeroy: ... Modern Fertility. When we started that community, people who were ... The biggest offenders are the people who don't read your community guidelines or the people who post first before they do it because they have an urgent need. And so I have a lot of empathy for people who are like, "I really want an answer for this thing that I have." And you're like, "Okay." And also we have to protect the rest of the community. So it's both of those things all at once. I don't know. It's tough. Oftentimes, if you build a community that has pretty strict boundaries, has pretty strict guidelines and you have community leaders and people who are moderating your community kind of know the rules, it actually does a pretty good job of policing itself. And we didn't have a ton of those violating photos or too explicit things in the community. Although we did have some, so if there's bodily fluids in the photo, we're going to delete it immediately. And we added those community guidelines as the posts were made, right?
Jillian Benbow: For sure.
Reina Pomeroy: We couldn't have expected that before it happened. And so being flexible, being in tight communication with your team, as well as community leaders that are members of the community who are VIP members can be really, really helpful. So I don't know. The boundary thing is so interesting. So often you can put as many parameters as you want on the community, but so often it's tested by the community and you have to be flexible and adjust accordingly.
Jillian Benbow: It's so true. I have stories that would be better told over cocktails of just the situations where you're like, "Is this even ... am I being punked? Where's Ashton? There's no way this is real." And yeah, I think that's something, especially when people are creating communities and they're more of a creative or a solo business person, your community guidelines are not stagnant. They should evolve with your community. And as lessons are learned, it's like, "Okay, so we need to add something about bodily fluids. Didn't know that a year ago. Know that now. Let's go ahead." Because it is. You'll start seeing and people, whether it's malicious or not, they'll test the boundaries. And it depends what kind of community it is. I find paid private communities to be a little more easy than the free brand communities because been there and those are like ... They're fun. You're definitely busy, but it's a lot.
Reina Pomeroy: Yeah. I mean, I would say that at Modern Fertility, when I left, we had a community of 60,000 members. So pretty big and also pretty engaged for it being a free community. And I think that what we're going to talk about next, which is our community programs and having leaders, those folks were critical in making sure that we had this sort of policing, non-policing of mentality of boots on the ground support being a critical part. And they would give us open feedback. This is not working or why don't we do it this way. And that's really important to us to be able to have that type of community atmosphere. And I think that word that I often come back to in community is this idea of co-creating this space together. It's not just me as the community leader dictating what this community ought to be. It's really an opportunity for us to collaborate with the members who are using it most often and the newest members as well.
Jillian Benbow: Of course. Same. I worked at a company called RealSelf was my first big community manager role. And it's this huge, it's medical aesthetics, but this huge, huge community. I forget how many uniques and all the data, but just big. It's very big and just busy and same thing. It's just with that many people teaching your community to be on your side and know what's cool and what's not. And what sort of parameters as a member, they have to take, what actions they can take and how to escalate things to the community team and all that. I mean, that was part of survival because when a fight goes down about Botox, you best believe people are dropping the gloves, it gets nasty quick. And so any community member that you have that can help diffuse and having that toolkit.
And then we did one of my favorite things I got to do there was launch an onsite ambassador program. So kind of a leadership program we say using the term ambassador, but it wasn't external brand ambassador. And it was lovely to have this group of people that loved spending time on the site and their values were aligned with keeping it safe and keeping it informative and fun. So whether it's a giant Modern Fertility or RealSelf, or it's a small niche boutique community, having members on your side that feel like, like you said, that co-creating that feel like they're a part of it is so valuable. So you obviously have a lot of experience with this. Walk us through just how you started building leadership programs. What's that journey been?
Reina Pomeroy: Yeah. I think it's such an interesting question because it came out of a necessity. It came out of a deep need that I cannot be the only community manager for myself. And then this started actually when I was still an entrepreneur, still working for myself and doing coaching and wanted to create a community around entrepreneurship and creative entrepreneurship and people feeling so alone in the experience. And I saw people who were using it on a daily basis and there were some people who were using it on a more monthly or every couple months basis. And I had a hunch that if we could bring some of the people who were really excited and give them a leadership role, then one, it gives them visibility in their work, but also gives them something to be really excited about and be a leader. Being a leader means that other people look up to them.
It gives them a sense of ownership of the programming and things that they wanted to do. And so that became the first community program I ever ran. We had six different community leaders. They each owned a week and they worked on their own programming. They led their own not courses, but just programming within that week of the community, posting prompts, responding to things. And it became a thing that the community really leaned on pretty hard. It didn't mean that everyone else wasn't participating, but that was just something that we really loved doing.
And then I took some of those learnings and grew a community advisory board program at Modern Fertility. It was something that I was really proud of because we wanted to make sure that we had diverse experiences and diverse demographics of folks that were on this board and making sure that we were providing a lot of feedback to the product team, to the product development team, to customer service and all the other cross-functional partners that we had and making sure that their voices were represented. When we rolled out the app, you best believe that we lean on this community advisory board as the first users.
And we got some tough, critical feedback and we made some big changes based on it. And I'm really proud of this group and them feeling empowered to be able to give critical feedback because they love our product and they love the brand and they held us to a higher standard. So giving us feedback is really, really critical. And then we've done things like channel leaders, which is basically a topic, somebody who has a lived experience. So we have this both at Good Inside and at Modern Fertility.
And if you have a lived experience, you're passionate about a particular topic and you want to go deep with other people who are going through the same thing, you're not an expert, you're not a medical professional or mental health expert necessarily, but you have some experience and you are excited about connecting those people that are in that room together. It's kind of being the hostess at a party. You're the person that opens the door and says hi to everyone and lets them know where the food is and all the things. And so basically connecting people with resources, connecting people with other people and making that new member experience really valuable for somebody
Jillian Benbow: Really it makes me so happy because this is my favorite stuff. And currently in my role working on some similar things. So it's like, "Yes, let's talk about it."
Reina Pomeroy: Yay. Let's dig in.
Jillian Benbow: Yes. So I'm so curious because this is something I think about and just with past or present leadership programs like this, how are you creating guidelines around this? Whether it's how people can join, the expectations once they have training, that kind of stuff. Tell me the secret sauce. How are you running these?
Reina Pomeroy: Yeah, no, such a good question. I think it's I have an aspiration for it to be a full wiki and everything is set up and everything is beautiful. It's not that. I think it's sort of flying by the seat of your pants mixed with flying the plane as you build it. It's truly like this co-creation experience. And I want to say that we've gotten it to a point where there are some standards and really good trainings and things like that from all of the challenges that I have experienced in my career. But I think that one of the things that's really important is that you can set down as many guidelines as you want, but you'll get feedback that works and that doesn't work. And I think that you have to remember that some folks, some of these roles are volunteer roles. You're not necessarily compensating them. And so if that's the case, you have to set your expectations and these folks have to be boundaried around their time as well. So yeah, I think that one of the things that's really interesting is so often the people who want to be most engaged are the people who want to learn. They want to spend their time learning.
They want to spend their time sharing what they've learned because they have at some point felt like lost or confused or not sure where to go for this information. And now they're turning around and saying, you know what? I have learned quite a bit. I'm not an expert by any means, but I do want to share my experiences with other folks. And so giving them the platform sort of to be able to do that and be that sort of designated space expert is really an interesting sort of proposition for folks. And what I've found is that being able to say, you know what? We would love for you to do these few tasks. Let us know how this goes, or do you need more? Do you need less? What resources do you need? And then we can create that alongside them. And what I think works really well is being able to give those folks a digest about what's coming up, what has happened, what they've been able to accomplish and celebrating their contributions and wins.
All of those things keep the ball rolling. And we learn from each interaction and each experience from the various number of people that we have recruited. One of the things that I will say about finding these leaders is letting them show you that they're interested before you recruit them. And what I mean by that is I'm not going out and soliciting for people who are interested in being a leader. We're looking for the people who are really engaged, who are using the platform, who are demonstrating that they are actually really interested and committed to the work that we're doing together and then reaching out to them and saying, we see you. You are doing something really incredible here. We want to acknowledge your presence. We want to acknowledge your contribution. And this was as a regular layperson member. And now we would love to see if you're excited to not move up the ranks, because there's not really ranks, but just move up and learn more and connect with us some more. So yeah, I don't know if that answers your question. It was kind of a circuitous answer, but ...
Jillian Benbow: Those are my favorite. That's how my brain works. That makes sense. Do you sort of have a baseline criteria? This person should have been a member for this long and done X amount of actions as a minimum, I guess. And I'm asking this because having run programs like this, there's a lot of people who will just be like, "I want to do this thing," and they're just not the right fit or whatever, but then it's a, "Well, how come this person can do it? You're playing favorites." And so having some sort of baseline criteria as far as you don't have any moderation strikes against you, that kind of stuff. I'm just curious if that comes up in these communities.
Reina Pomeroy: So I think it's partially intuitive and partially data driven. So the first thing is our team notices you because of your contributions. And then we have a running list of those folks. And then after a while, we can see in the data how many comments have you made, how much support are you giving to the community, that kind of thing. And so we also noticed people who attend live events and are really helpful in the chat of those live events. And so it's sort of a combination of us noticing you. And then other people nominate members who have been really impactful for them. So if all three of those things stack up, we notice the same consistent members and we can float those up to the top the next time we do a formal training.
Jillian Benbow: So you do scheduled formal trainings a few times a year kind of thing?
Reina Pomeroy: Yeah. It's a new program. At least at Good Inside, that's something that we're rolling out. In the past, it's been like once we kind of validate that this member is somebody we want to elevate, I'll get on a call with them. Talk about the expectations. Does it fit into their lives? Is that something that they're excited about? And then we talk about responsibility of whether or not we want to onboard them.
Jillian Benbow: Nice. And then do you have a set criteria and whether it's universal or customized to each person of expectations to maintain that position? And I'm asking because I've found sometimes when I add people to programs like this, it's the kiss of death. They just disappear for whatever reason, because maybe they agreed and then are like, "I don't want to do it. So I'm just going to disappear." When it's like, "No, it's fine. You don't have to. It's okay." So I'm just curious how you manage.
Reina Pomeroy: Yeah. That's such a great question. Actually, during my first conversation with them, I typically have the prenup conversation. Just if this no longer fits into your life, here's how we would like for you to move forward with us. And please always tell us that it doesn't work rather than us chasing you because that never feels good for you. It never feels good for us. And we want the relationship that we have, whether or not you're a leader or a regular member, you are still really important to us. And I think that just saying that at the very beginning of that relationship can make it really helpful so that they know that that's what they're set up for. I also agree that when you recruit somebody, I've had that experience too, where you're like, "Yeah, we're really so excited to have you," and then they're excited to do it.
And then something happens and they just kind of ghost you. I think that it's not a really clean answer necessarily, but I think that just continuing to stay interested in their lives, beyond the responsibilities that they have can be really helpful. Just leveling with them as a human, being like, "Are you doing okay? What's going on for you in your life?" Versus, "Hey, I haven't seen you post this week or I haven't seen you participate this week." It's like, "Hey, I just noticed that you're a little bit more quiet than you normally are. Is everything going okay?" And having that human concern can be really helpful.
The folks that we had at the first example I gave you where we had these leaders lead a week, that format was really interesting and it kind of came to a natural close and it was very clear from all of the leaders that it just was not working as well anymore. And we changed the model and that was totally fine. And so I think you'll notice as long as you stay in constant contact with these folks, and it's almost even a program to manage this program. It takes energy and somebody's time to manage these relationships and those programs allow for community to scale. So it's an important investment of our time and energy.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah, it's very true. And I think that's something everybody considering something like this should keep in mind, it takes work. This isn't like this thing, "I'm going to set these people up and I never have to do anything in community." They may be helping offset the replying to every post or making sure people are connected or escalating moderation issues. But you, in a sense are ... you're kind of creating kind of this VIP sort of group and you have to community manage that. The worst thing you can do and I've seen it happen is the expectations for these people get too high, the extrinsic motivation. So what they get out of it from not just because they want to be helpful, not the intrinsic motivation.
So what are they tangibly getting from this? Be it getting leadership status or maybe you send merch or whatever it is, but they're not. They're not being paid. So you dance a line of the expectations you can put on these people. And if it's not fun for them, there is no reason they should keep doing it and it can turn into a lot. And sometimes you'll get someone that starts getting a little entitled and maybe a little testing boundaries on that level.
And that can be from personal experience, a freaking disaster in your community when someone like that goes rogue. I've fortunately only had a couple issues with programs like this personally, but I think I've seen some bad situations come out of continuing to lean on members to do more and more and more.
Reina Pomeroy: No, but your point about if it no longer feels fun or additive to their lives, it's absolutely true that they should walk. And why would they want to stay if it's not working for them anymore?
Jillian Benbow: I would hope they walk. Yeah.
Reina Pomeroy: I think having regular check-ins with folks, whether it's just a monthly fun call or we call them community in service days. So we'll have a call about things that they're seeing in the community or things that they've learned throughout their moderation or support time or resources that they need. And just making sure that they have what they need. Plus making sure that they feel like they're being heard is really important. I also think that just having a habit of, even if you're not a community manager in the day to day posting to, commenting on every single post type of person, I think it's helpful to have these relationships with folks because they're the boots on the ground. And they'll tell you things that you might have missed in the past few weeks.
Jillian Benbow: Totally. Some of the best intel you can get. Right? Yeah. Depending how you do it and how big your community, and again, you can dance a line of creating a really toxic click or creating a incredibly safe and supportive environment with real leadership. Are there any red flags that you've noticed throughout your career with programming such as this, that like, "Something's going sideways. I got to get in there"?
Reina Pomeroy: Yeah. So I've actually been one of the leaders that was recruited by another company to do some of this work. And it can become a little bit toxic when there's some preferential treatment happening or things are not as transparent as the leader makes it out to be. And I try to use some of those best practices or the learnings that I've had. If it doesn't feel good, I want to be able to express it to somebody so that they don't hear it second hand, but sometimes that's not as easy as you might think. And so I try to make it as easy for our members and our leaders to be able to share that and have those spaces to be able to share transparently even if it doesn't feel good for me to hear it. And I don't know if you've been in those experiences where it's like, "Wow, this does not feel good." And I also don't feel comfortable sharing it with somebody and taking those sort of learnings and making sure that that doesn't happen for our leaders.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah, absolutely. And that's part of even just being in leading a community, you have to be not only open to feedback, but creating an environment where people feel safe to share it, even if it's about you.
There's an art to hearing feedback, not letting your ego jump in and be like, "Well it's because of this." And just be like, "Yeah, valid point. I hear you. Thank you. Is this preventable in the future?" That kind of thing. No one said community work was easy. Did they? If they did, they're lying.
Reina Pomeroy: I think a lot of people think, if they haven't done community work, they think it's easy because it's just like, "You're just talking to people all day. Why is that so hard?" But I think that what you're pointing to is when you have to have those tough conversations, at Good Inside, we call that connection capital. You have to have put in the work to have the connection, to be able to have these conversations where it's not like I'm targeting you and I don't know you at all and I'm still giving you this tough feedback. It's like, "No we've paid into," "paid into," we have spent enough time spent enough connection resources to be able to say, "I care about you. And I got this feedback and I want to share it with you because I do care about the work that you're doing." And being open to hearing their feedback as well or things that I can do to make that easier for them.
Jillian Benbow: I love that.
Reina Pomeroy: Yeah.
Jillian Benbow: So what's your advice to someone listening that's interested in dabbling into creating this sort of program?
Reina Pomeroy: Yeah. I think it's starting with the purpose of whatever it is that you're creating. If you're thinking about scaling your community, even if it's really small, it's not really about the number of people, but the number of people who are really wanting to stay engaged and engaging those people relatively early on. And I always recommend jumping on calls with people and doing the things that really don't scale at the beginning while your community is relatively small, even if it's not small, jumping on calls with people to learn about why people come back every day or whatever the frequency is, it can be really helpful in seeing what motivates people, what gets people excited, what kind of things they would want to see if they were a leader.
I always think about the products that I use most often. And if that brand called me and said like, "Hey, what would you like to see? We're thinking about building a community or we have a community. We want you to be a leader." What would I want from that brand? And being able to articulate some of those things. And it might be different for every community because every brand is slightly different obviously. But if you think about that and the purpose of it and what it does for the brand and what it does for the member, the leader, and building a program off of that and saying, "Here are the things that I want to have happened as a result of this program."
And then backing into that with, "Okay, here are the four things that I want this leader to be able to do on a weekly basis or a daily basis." And that can help you just drill down what you're thinking about and then get feedback on it in other conversations. So that's probably what I would start doing. Just write a one pager purpose, what you're trying to accomplish here, what it would look like to actually execute it and then start naming some people who you're seeing frequently and jump on calls with those folks.
Jillian Benbow: I really like that. So many golden nuggets. I'm curious, so something I think that comes up with these programs especially is boundaries and twofold. So boundaries with your establishing relationships with these people as a professional, they are, for lack of a better term, they're in a volunteer program you run. So it's natural and I think it's good to form personal relationships with them. But at the end of the day, they are volunteering for an organization you work for or some people listening would be a community run as your business. How are you navigating that line of, yeah, we talk probably friends, but to a point and just all of that?
Reina Pomeroy: That's such a great question. I have this come up actually with some of the Modern Fertility community members and you want to care about them as people, as it relates to the brand work that you're doing. And so for sure, I would get to know their family members or their partner or whoever they were trying to conceive with or the issue that they were going through, et cetera. But I would try to stay within those bounds of not talking to them about their favorite movie necessarily. Sometimes that kind of stuff comes up. But I think it's on the whole, it's staying around the topic that is relevant to your brand community as much as possible. And if other things come up, it's not a big deal, but you name it. It's like, "Okay. This feels like we're getting into some other territory kind of thing."
Just naming it for yourself. And you don't have to say it to the other person obviously, but building rapport is one thing. But if it feels like you're getting into too far of personal territory, then that doesn't serve the purpose. And another thing that I asked myself, this is something that I often did as a coach is, am I sharing this because it feels good for me, or am I sharing this in service of the member that I'm speaking to or the client that I'm speaking to? And so why am I sharing whatever it is that I'm trying to share kind of thing.
Jillian Benbow: I think about that all the time. I feel like there's more about this where, and I'm so guilty of this, so I'm trying to not do it is if someone tells you something, shares something and I mean this just in life, not restricted to a digital community and your reaction is to then tell them your experience with that. You know what I mean? And I think most people do it innocently to be like, "I relate to you and here's why," but it comes off as one upping almost, or I know more because here's why, and I find in digital communities too, you see it happen. It's just something I'm personally, a personal goal of mine is to, instead of do that, to just ask questions. "Tell me more," kind of more active listening.
Reina Pomeroy: Yeah. I mean, such an important point. It really, really is. I think this is just my coach brain and I think about this all the time, but I think one of the things that's incredibly important about being in relationship is if people don't ask for your feedback, then let's try not to provide it. And it's like just even pausing and saying, "Can I share some thoughts with you about this? Or can I share my experience with you about this? Or are you hoping for," depending on the relationship, you can read this, but are you hoping for me to listen or do you want some feedback or thoughts. Just asking for that invitation can be a really big dynamic shift.
Jillian Benbow: It's huge. I agree. And I think it comes into our work and just community management and the relationships, the relationship management in that in a similar sense. Sometimes, especially if it's something that's, I don't know, maybe it's bordering uncomfortable or too personal, it's our natural reaction to be like, "Yeah, it's relatable." And instead we just have to say, "What do you need from me? How can I help?" I find too, sometimes people, you establish these relationships with these members and it's lovely, but then maybe they kind of push the boundary in a sense of trying to get information also just about company dynamics or coworkers and things like that out of that friendship.
Maybe it's just their natural gossipy friend sort of thing. And so being able to, regardless of what you think of the situation personally, being able to respond in a way that acknowledges the person, but also holds the boundary. This is something I've run into a few times that I have a very hard time with. And I think because it is, it's just well, it's a little audacious and then it's just like, "What do I say to someone? What?"
Reina Pomeroy: Yeah. I mean, that's such a tricky situation and I'm so glad you brought it up. The first thing that comes to mind and I don't know if you're asking for a suggestion, but I think that the thing that I would probably-
Jillian Benbow: I am.
Reina Pomeroy: Well, I would love mean let's tease this out because it's something that comes up for me as I think about it. It's like if they're trying to get the tea from you, I would think about just naming that it's a tricky situation that you're in, right? Saying like, "Oh man, what an interesting question. And I'm caught in between two different things where I am an employee of this company and I know that you're really curious too. And I feel like we have a really cool friendship thing going, and I want to make sure that we're respecting boundaries kind of thing." I don't know how you would say it exactly, but just sort of naming it and saying, "This is really tricky. I'm in this weird position." I feel comfortable saying stuff like that oftentimes, but I understand that that's not always the case for folks. And also you know the relationship that you have with this member.
Jillian Benbow: Totally. Yeah.
Reina Pomeroy: It can be a little bit dependent on who you're talking to.
Jillian Benbow: Absolutely. And I think it gets easier with time, unfortunately, experience because it's bound to happen on some way. Honestly it doesn't happen very much anymore, but when it does, my first thing is like, "Okay, let's reflect. How did we get here? And what did I do?" If anything, sometimes people are just like zero to a hundred. And sometimes it's like, "I see where this might have evolved. So I need to step it back."
It is hard though. I think a lot of people who have communities, especially if it's tied to their business, it's their baby, I think push that boundary a little in an effort to keep people happy, to keep the business running.
Reina Pomeroy: Yeah. I see this with solopreneurs all the time though. People burn out on it, that there's so much of this giving and providing access to themselves, that dynamic is really hard as well.
Jillian Benbow: It is. Boundaries are so important. And just having the confidence to, and I've talked about this before, but having the confidence to set expectations of your availability to be like, "Hey, if you messaged me six times on Saturday night is still going to wait till Monday. Sorry. Sorry, not sorry. That is a hard boundary for me. And if you can't deal with that, this might not be the community for you." And I know, I mean, I personally know other people who have their own communities that are very reactive. They get the notification on their app and are immediately jumping in and it's like, "You're just setting a precedent that is not sustainable."
Reina Pomeroy: Totally. Or like-
Jillian Benbow: Where did you go on vacation?
Reina Pomeroy: Yeah, exactly. Or even setting the standard that you will respond to every single DM. Right?
Jillian Benbow: Yeah.
Reina Pomeroy: I think about communities where people have set the standard that you will get a response within this period of time kind of thing. It's like that can be great. That could be a value prop for that community, but it could be really tricky for actually administering it.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. And it goes the other way too. You should also communicate-
Reina Pomeroy: Set expectations.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. Here's the best way to get ahold of me. If I haven't responded in this amount of time during business hours, please ping me. Depending what platforms you're using and the methods of how people can connect with you determines a lot of how effective, how easy ... Things can fall through the cracks. We use Circle and I get a ton of DMS. It's just the sheer volume that we get I don't think people realize, and this is something I'm actively trying to solve. We need better tracking for DM requests or how do we ask our members to not DM us when they need help with something and go a different route. But then is that too much expectation on them? I don't have an answer. It's real time thing where we're thinking through like is our system optimized. And I think we have room for improvement. So anybody listening, if you've cracked the code.
Reina Pomeroy: Yeah. There's so many ways that we can crack that one. We have a section in our Circle community that's called, I think it's something like help us do better. And there's a survey form directly in that space so that it goes to our Slack or it goes to our customer support and those get triaged in a different way than DMs. Because DMs are not the most effective way. It's not a CRM. So you can't always track them the way that you want to.
Jillian Benbow: No, you can't. Well, yeah. And you lose out on potential customer support metrics, like help desk metrics.
Reina Pomeroy: Totally.
Jillian Benbow: Which not that our members particularly care or need to care about that. That's our problem. But it's still like, "This just isn't ideal," but who knows? Maybe someone will crack the code on a programming level and just next level like DMs will revolutionize.
Reina Pomeroy: I love it. Going back to boundaries though. I don't know if you've read Nedra Tawwab's book. Have you heard of her book?
Jillian Benbow: No.
Reina Pomeroy: It's a really great book. It's relationships and boundaries, but it's sort of along the lines of what we're talking about. I would highly, highly recommend it to folks who are interested in just having better boundaries. It's called Set Boundaries, Find Peace by Nedra Glover Tawwab. And she has a really great Instagram as well.
Jillian Benbow: Excellent. I have opened yet another tab so that I can go back to this. Well, that is a good actually segue because it's that time to do our rapid fire. And one question you may have just answered already, gold star, but maybe not. We'll see. So the name of the game is Rapid Fire. I'm going to ask you a series of increasing difficulty ... No, I'm kidding. I'm going to ask you a series of questions. First thing that comes to mind, despite the fact that I will want to ask follow up questions, because they're going to be amazing, I'm going to try not to but no promises.
Reina Pomeroy: Okay. Sounds good.
Jillian Benbow: Because I don't follow rules including my own. All right. So first question, Reina. When you were a wee child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Reina Pomeroy: I wanted to be a mom.
Jillian Benbow: And I think you are a mom.
Reina Pomeroy: I am a mom. I have two kids.
Jillian Benbow: We didn't even talk about that and the fact that ... And the whole boundary of running a parenting community and then being a parent.
Reina Pomeroy: Yeah, I also wanted to be an attorney, but that's not as exciting.
Jillian Benbow: Well, check, check. You did it. Not the attorney, the mom. All right. Next question. How do you define community?
Reina Pomeroy: The community is a place where people have relationships with one another and get connected to resources and other folks.
Jillian Benbow: Yes. Okay. Whether you have an actual bucket list or not, what is something on that said bucket list or just in general in your life that you have accomplished?
Reina Pomeroy: That I have accomplished.
Jillian Benbow: Something you or not necessarily accomplished, but done, a big life goal that has happened or experienced.
Reina Pomeroy: I always wanted to be a scuba diver. I was a big swimmer when I was in high school and I was terrified about open water and sharks, but I wanted to be a scuba diver, both of those things together. So when I got married, I became a scuba diver and we try to go at least once a year.
Jillian Benbow: That's awesome. So follow up, breaking my rules, have you found because same, same, same, minus that I've never been a good swimmer or into swimming, but I did get certified to scuba dive and love it, but I find it's way less scary when you're actually scuba diving and you're like, "I see everything," like, "I see you," versus on the surface where it's just like, "Okay, I'm bait." Do you find that?
Reina Pomeroy: Yeah. It feels like the water is black when you're standing above it and once you're in it's so immersive and it's so quiet. There's something really, really peaceful about the only thing you can hear is your mask-
Jillian Benbow: The bubbles.
Reina Pomeroy: ... and the air.
Jillian Benbow: Yeah. I love that it's just this whole world that's just happening.
Reina Pomeroy: Yeah. You're inside of the snow globe essentially.
Jillian Benbow: Yes. That's amazing. Yeah. It's just a magical escape from reality, but still on earth. That's great. Okay. And then the flip of this, what's something on that bucket list that you have not done, but you hope to?
Reina Pomeroy: Yeah. So two places I want to go are New Zealand and Italy. It's just a travel bucket list because there's something so magical about going places that exist on the same globe. It's so cool that there's such different cultures and different things you can see and do.
Jillian Benbow: Same. I've never been to New Zealand, but I'm pretty sure I want to live there. It's just sight unseen. I'm like, "Yeah, I think that's it." So I should probably go check it out. Okay. This is the question you may have already answered, but maybe not. What is a book that you think everyone should read or you just love?
Reina Pomeroy: Oh my gosh. I feel like Willis said the same book, but the Art of Gathering is a really wonderful one by Priya Parker. I feel like every community person needs to read it. If you're a parent, this is a book that has come up a ton. It's called How to Keep House While Drowning by KC Davis.
Jillian Benbow: I love her so much.
Reina Pomeroy: Oh my gosh. I just cannot describe this book to anybody, but it's two hours long on audible and I've read it, listened to it so many times now. And it really just puts the perspective of keeping house into a totally different perspective. So would really, really highly encourage ... Nothing to do with community.
Jillian Benbow: Although, I mean, I follow her on TikTok and she's just the best. She just normalizes things that we all feel shame for where it's like, "Hey, if this system doesn't work for you, make a system that does. Look how we do laundry. It's crazy. It works for us." And I just love how much she's just ... in such a kind, kind way, just being very open about, "Look, these are the things I struggle with. I'm going to show you and I'm going to give you the confidence to just do things on your level." This isn't Emily Post, just we're all it's drowning. So just-
Reina Pomeroy: There's no morality in keeping a clean house. And I think that everything is a care task. One of the things I loved is what can I do for future me that would be an act of kindness? I love that perspective instead of like, "Ugh, I didn't wash the dishes today. Why didn't I wash the dishes yesterday?" That kind of thing. So I love that book.
Jillian Benbow: Yes. That's excellent. I feel like everyone should just, and I admittedly haven't read it. I forgot she did a book. So that's going to be my next audible credit because I would love to listen.
Reina Pomeroy: Yeah. It's really, really good. And then I think Nedra Tawwab's book is really wonderful too. It's like a relatively easy lift.
Jillian Benbow: Nice. All right. So I may know the answer to this. If you could live anywhere else in the world and you live in lovely Colorado, so of course you don't want to move, but if you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?
Reina Pomeroy: Oh man, I would love to live in Japan. My family lives in Japan now. I would love my two little guys, I have two kids and I would love for them to actually be bilingual. So being able to live in Japan would be really cool.
Jillian Benbow: That would be very cool. Okay. And final question, Reina, how do you want to be remembered?
Reina Pomeroy: Oh man, I should have prepped for this question. I want to be remembered as a good parent, as a person who cared about her community and a person who always chose to give back without burning out.
Jillian Benbow: I love it. Well, yeah. Thank you so much. I was speechless. That's perfect. Let everybody know where can they find you on the internet if they want to learn more or reach out. What are your handles?
Reina Pomeroy: Yeah, you can find me on LinkedIn, Reina Pomeroy and on Instagram, I'm @ReinaAndCompany.
Jillian Benbow: @ReinaAndCompany. That is very cute and the word, the whole word spelled out. Excellent. And then anybody looking for a parenting community could head over to it's GoodInside.com, I believe?
Reina Pomeroy: Yeah. GoodInside.com.
Jillian Benbow: So simple. Awesome. Thank you so much for being here. This has been a blast. I love, like I said several times, I love talking to other people who are in this as a professional field and I love just talking shop. So thanks for talking shop with me today.
Reina Pomeroy: Yeah, for sure. Thank you so much for having me.
Jillian Benbow: That was the interview. That was the interview with Reina. Such a wonderful time. Definitely check her out on LinkedIn and on the Instagram. She knows what she's talking about and even just looking at what she posts on LinkedIn, she is worth a follow, if you don't already follow her. This was fun talking to someone who just has similar experiences and the experiences with more of the brand community, the free community versus a paid curated community and just the differences. After we were done recording, we were talking like, "We were just getting into good boundary stuff. We could have kept going for forever," but alas our schedules and for your sake, don't want to make this too, too long. So yeah, maybe, I don't know, Reina, maybe you want to come back and we can dive into that because I will never get tired of talking about boundaries and maintaining boundaries and tactics and we all mess up, but how do we just keep moving forward and honing our skills on boundaries?
So let's talk about different leadership programming you can do within a community. Specifically, a lot of good tips and tricks and just kind of guidance to either launch or improve existing programming you may have. This is something I mentioned in the interview. I have created programs like this before. It's one of my favorite things. I very slowly doing the same thing for SPI Pro and kind of realized talking to Reina, I need to stop dragging my feet. I know how to do this and it's not hard to start. So I really like how she goes about it. Just the one pager and then really taking time to get on calls with people to see why are they in the community? What would they like to see? What motivates them? And then thinking about if I had people in a program like this, what resources would they need?
What would I expect of them? We danced on this, but is it fair? Is it fair to them? Is this free labor or is this a program they get something good out of too? Wanting to give back is fantastic, but it will also start to feel not so fantastic if you feel like you're just expected to do these things and get no recognition or check-ins or events. My actual plan for the program I'm building in SPI Pro is to have semi-regular live programming just for this group. So that's like a call that we hop on, whoever can make it and kind of as an advisory panel, just like, "Hey, how's it going? How can I help you?" And just be there and be a sounding board and let people give feedback and connect, but also have fun.
And then I also plan to have a private space for everyone who is doing this to be able to talk And really just be a fun little group of misfits that are all aligned with just wanting to make Pro the best it can be. And I'm also thinking, she mentioned the topic, people with lived experience in a certain topic, giving them kind of that title, giving them the leadership role to do with that topic. That is also something I am doing, but I'm also looking at having some non-topic based people. Some people are just really good at ... they're very social. I'm dubbing it, just for fun, the social committee where it's like, "Hey, you don't have to focus on this one particular topic, but when people join, if you just reach out and if they have a question, answer it."
So it really just depends what your community's about and where you think you could most leverage people who want to help. And I know for us, depending on your personality and your comfort with a digital platform and all of that, there can be some hurdles that are hard for us as a community team to ensure everyone's getting over. So I think that's a great way for us to leverage the people in our community that helping with that stuff.
So connecting them, how do we connect them to new members and how would they like to do that? How does it work for them? So just some real life examples. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Let me know, @JillianBenbow on the Twitter. You can also tag @teamSPI. I figure I'm just giving mine now because then I know I'll see it. If you haven't already please like and subscribe. We'd love to get a few more positive reviews in the iTunes arena or wherever you listen. I hope you enjoy it half as much as I do because what an opportunity to talk to other community builders about all the things we're working on. Yeah. So with that, I will see you next Tuesday.
You can find out more about Reina on LinkedIn. Just look her up. Her name's Reina Pomeroy, P-O-M-E-R-O-Y. You can also head over to GoodInside.com to see where is this wonderful place she's doing all this good work and see more about what they offer. All the parents, head over there. And of course, if you'd like to follow Reina on the Instagrams, it's @ReinaAndCompany.
Your lead host for the community experience is me, Jillian Benbow. Our executive producer is Matt Garland. Our senior producer is David Grabowski. And our editor is Paul Grigoras. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. Theme music by David Grabowski. See you next Tuesday.