A portrait of Pete Heslop
07 Dec, 2023 2 min read

Digital Community Leaders - Nicole Saunders

In this weeks podcast, we chat community leadership with Nicole Saunders, Director of Community at Zendesk, as we delve into strategies for sustained community engagement
Digital Community Leaders - Nicole Saunders

This week on the Digital Community Leaders Podcast, we're excited to chat with Nicole Saunders, the Director of Community at Zendesk. Nicole is a pro at bringing people together online, and on this episode she shares her wisdom on how to make digital communities thrive.

Investing in the Top 10%

In my chat with Nicole, we explored a vital strategy for community managers - taking special care of the top 10% of users. Nicole stressed the importance of focusing on these dedicated community members, who act as supportive moderators, reaching out to others and answering questions which may be discussed among community members.

She shared Zendesk's Community Moderator Program as a key initiative for engaging these top users, where active and knowledgeable individuals are invited to collaborate in a special space.

Nicole highlighted the organic growth of the program, with moderators playing a crucial role in providing support and solutions within the community. In return, they gain access to exclusive perks, like private discussions and expedited support.

This strategic focus on the top 10% became a key part of Zendesk's community approach in 2022, resulting in positive impacts on both users and the overall community, fostering strong relationships and contributing to the community's growth. Nicole's insights highlighted the transformative power of investing in and nurturing the most engaged members of a digital community.

“You may not be able to go through and engage tens of thousands of people, but if you can identify those top people and really invest in them, they can help all of that. So, like ripples in a pond, they will help reach out to all of those other folks.”

— - Nicole Saunders, DCL S2 E8

Value Banks

During another valuable part of our conversation, we discussed the concept of a "value bank," where regular investments of time and effort into a community or audience create a build-up of trust and goodwill.

This idea likens community interactions to a bank, emphasising that making withdrawals, such as asking for feedback on a new beta release, becomes much smoother when consistent deposits of value have been made over time.

Nicole elaborated on the importance of trust in this dynamic, noting that when a business has built trust with its community, even if a release is met with initial skepticism, the community is more likely to offer constructive feedback and stick around for future improvements.

This idea highlights the significance of ongoing engagement and relationship-building as crucial components of a successful community strategy.

“One of the things you have to remember as a business is sometimes that withdrawal is going to be, you release something and people don't like it. ”

— - Nicole Saunders, DCL S2 E8

This episode of the Digital Community Leaders Podcast was packed with insights and advice for anyone working in the community industry. Be sure to check out the full conversation - now available on all platforms, as well as a video version on YouTube!