A portrait of Pete Heslop
02 Nov, 2023 3 min read

Digital Community Leaders - Vincent Boon

This week on the Digital Community Leaders Podcast, community expert Vincent Boon joins us to talk about the changes in community over his extensive years in the industry, among other valuable experiences he has to share
Digital Community Leaders - Vincent Boon

In our latest podcast episode,we had the privilege of hosting Vincent Boon, co-founder of Standing on Giants. Vincent is known for his work in creating PlayStation's first online community in 2006, and since pioneering the field of online communities.

As part of the start-up team at giffgaff, Vincent demonstrated what an online community could do and used his insights to improve other communities. Today, Vincent shares his expertise to provide valuable guidance for companies developing products, services, and community-centered business models.

Gaming Communities for Beta Testing

Vincent took us back to the early days of gaming, where he played a pivotal role in creating online communities on the PlayStation 2. This led to an early form of beta testing, for games such as Championship Manager. These communities allowed gamers to experience the games before their official release and provide valuable feedback.

This was happening in 2006, meaning members would need to be sent physical disk copies of the game, with NDA's and private servers required to maintain secrecy and avoid any spoilers.

Vincent's work in this area was groundbreaking, setting the stage for the role of community management and shaping the gaming industry. The practice of beta testing is now a crucial part of video game development, showing how ahead of the curve Vincent was.

“There was quite a thriving community just for that, which was completely closed off. No one in the public could even see that kind of stuff. It was all very, very early-on stuff.”

— - Vincent Boon, DCL S2 E3

Evolution of Digital Communities

Our conversation with Vincent delved into the evolution of digital communities over the years. Vincent has witnessed first-hand how the industry has transformed, from humble beginnings on a PlayStation 2 to working with world-wide organisations such as giffgaff and Airbnb.

As the community manager for some of PlayStation's first online communities in 2006, Vincent's work is regarded as pioneering in the world of online communities. His insights shed light on the industry's growth, challenges, and opportunities, providing a valuable perspective on the digital landscape.

Empowering Community Voices

One key aspect Vincent emphasised was the importance of giving community members a platform to express their opinions directly to a CM, which could then be brought to the C-suite of an organisation. He highlighted the profound impact that the community can have on shaping products and services, and shared some great examples of this in action.

Vincent's experience at giffgaff, where he brought innovative community management strategies, showcased how involving the community can drive business success. When the business decided a price rise was needed, Vincent liaised with community members so that he could discuss what they thought with the higher-ups.

“I think a great example is from my giffgaff days, where we did a price rise. The fact that you're doing a price rise is never going to be good. People are inevitably going to think, I don't like this right now. I have to pay more. We said, look, in order for us to continue to be sustainable, we do have to increase the prices, right? And we made it a relatively open question, we said to the community, considering that there's either going to be no more giffgaff, or we're going to have to raise our prices, how much do you think raise the prices by? And that became the discussion.”

— - Vincent Boon, DCL S2 E3

Vincent's insights are sure to inspire and inform anyone interested in community management, gaming, or the digital world. To listen to the full episode, check out the Digital Community Leaders Podcast on all podcasting platforms - or watch the video version on YouTube.