INBOX INSIGHTS, November 30, 2022: Weakened Communities, Twitter Ad Targeting

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How to Fix a Weakened Community

How do you fix a weakened community?

A few months back, I wrote this post about learning how to run a community. You can read the post here:

I focused that post on starting a community. Chris recently posed the question, what happens when things break?

“Well, in the context I was looking at, it was a community (not this one) where the culture was foundering because the moderation team was at odds with each other. Factions had broken out, and infighting was common – and very public. As a result, the community itself was significantly weakened. A lot of valuable members left.”

And then his follow-up question:

“So what do you do to [a] prevent that from happening in your community and [b] how does a community recover from a massive, public split?”

How do you prevent a weakened community?

1) Set roles and responsibilities

For Analytics for Marketers, I own and run the group with Chris and John. We are responsible for setting the guidelines and the culture. We’ve worked hard to have a single voice for daily posts and to create a space where asking questions is safe. If any of us were to suddenly leave, or if we brought in more leadership, what we’ve built would inevitably change. There would be a new variable. To keep the community status quo, we would need to revisit roles and responsibilities. From there, we would create a communication plan for the members. As members, they have expectations of us and we should be forthcoming with them of major changes.

2) Be consistent

This is a piece of advice I find giving most often. Since we started asking a Question Of The Day (QOTD) almost a year ago, we’ve seen engagement increase substantially. I schedule it to drop on weekdays at 10 am EST. This way, community members know when to look for it. When things are shaky or uncertain, people look for predictability in their lives, things they can rely on. By staying consistent in your community you are providing predictability to your members that count on you. If you change the cadence or the culture without any warning, you’re likely to see attrition.

3) Don’t take yourself so seriously

We have what is now known as the great pineapple debate (thanks, Justin!). We can’t be all business all the time. We need to give people a chance to breathe and laugh. In this instance, we took a moment to ask people about unpopular opinions. I had no idea it would devolve into a debate about whether pineapple belongs on pizza (it doesn’t btw) but yet it turned into one of our most engaging posts. If your leadership team is in crisis, give your members a reason to stay, even if it’s to talk about food. I still see members reference the pineapple debate a few months later. This is a great way to gauge how strong your community is, even if the leadership can’t get their act together. If you start losing members over pizza toppings, take the loss and move on.

How do you revive a weakened community?

Now, if you find yourself in a situation where the members are being disrespectful and the moderators are fighting you have a larger issue. Just like an organization, culture is set from the top down. You need to lead by example.

Let’s say you find that your moderators are causing the issues. The easy solution is to get rid of them. However, you still need someone in charge and the community still needs structure.

1) Community Ambassadors

These are people that are high profile, engage with your content, and encourage and help other members. Ideally, you would have these members identified before things go sideways, but if not, you can seek them out during the aftermath. Give these ambassadors expectations around their roles and responsibilities. Make sure they know what your ground rules are and that they have the tools they need to help other members adhere to them.

2) Givers and takers

One of our community members, Hannah, mentioned that you need to be aware of different types of members – givers and takers. When you’re trying to re-energize a community after some kind of scandal or crisis, be aware of those that show up just for the drama. These aren’t going to be valuable members. These are the takers. To the above, your ambassadors are your givers. They are the folks that will help you keep things moving forward, focusing on the positive and quieting those that just seek the car crash. If you see an uptick in members right after a public crisis, they are probably there for the wrong reasons. These are the members you need to pay attention to as they may try to perpetuate the issues.

At the end of the day, a community is a living breathing thing. It’s comprised of people that are watching and waiting, hoping to find a place to express themselves. If the culture turns toxic you’ll have the people that want to watch it burn, and the people that up and leave. Make sure you have some kind of contingency plan that covers the scenarios listed above so that you don’t find yourself with a fire that you can’t put out.

Have you seen a weakened community turn things around?

Come tell me about it in our free Slack group, Analytics for Marketers »

– Katie Robbert, CEO

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In this week’s In-Ear Insights, Katie and Chris tackle how to present analytics and data to stakeholders in a world where opinion and emotion increasingly triumphs over data and basic facts. How important is accuracy? How do we stay true to our commitments to be data-driven when decisions are made with emotions? Tune in to find out.

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Data Diaries: Interesting Data We Found

In this week’s Data Diaries, let’s dig into something fascinating: Twitter advertising targeting. In a recent discussion, Jeff Emtman pointed out that within the Twitter data archive that every user is permitted to request from the service, ad targeting data is included. This data, unique to each user, shows what ads you’ve seen, who the advertisers are, and most important, how they found you. Let’s take a look at my personal ad data.

To start, all the data comes in JSON files, which requires a bit of wrangling to turn into tabular data:

JSON data export

In the R programming language, the jsonlite and tidyjson libraries are the go-to tools to unpack JSON data and turn it into something easier to interpret. Even still, we can get a sense of what data is available to us.

Let’s unpack the data into a few basic charts so we can see who’s doing what.

Twitter ad targeting types

We start with the targeting types; advertisers target me most using keywords in tweets I post, followed by look-alike audiences, then locations. These aren’t mutually exclusive; companies can target by multiple criteria.

What are the keywords companies chase after?

Twitter keywords

These are a peculiar set of keywords; I do talk about things like podcasts, and some finance stuff but it’s not the majority of my tweets. The health tweets I share are largely around COVID, so in general this targeting isn’t super precise.

Let’s dig into who’s advertising to me:

Twitter advertisers

Bank of America and Abbott are trying really hard to reach me. Now, let’s dig into Bank of America and see how they’re trying to target me, and what the ad campaign is:

Bank of America ad copy

This entire campaign is targeted at people of my age group and location, people who are 18 and up in the metro Boston area who have shared content with #smallbusinesses. That’s the targeting, and the campaign is around two sports mascots, the New England Patriots mascot and the Boston Red Sox mascot.

How successful are these ads? Well, one look in the ad conversions JSON file tells us all we need to know: it’s empty. Not a single Twitter ad shown to me has converted for anything, ever.

These broad assumptions don’t fit me at all. I had to Google who these mascots were, I’m so out of touch with anything sports-related. I don’t follow either sports team, nor do I particularly care about what they have to say or who they endorse. It’s no wonder that I have zero conversions of any kind in my advertising profile data.

So what? What’s the point of this exploration? As a consumer, it’s helpful to know how advertisers are finding you, especially when you start to see ads that don’t make a lot of sense. As a marketer, this is a fantastic example of how a series of very broad assumptions can lead to ad targeting that’s… well, off target. If your ad performance isn’t what you expect it to be, take a hard look at your targeting options and match that up to what your market research is really telling you about your audience to refine your targeting. You might get fewer basic KPIs like leads, but your quality should improve substantially.

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