Jason Geall: How to build and sustain an online community

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As part of the 2014 Creative, Digital & IT Open Studios week Brightwave and The Student Room teamed up to show how a next generation individual loves to learn/collaborate/share experiences online - and this is no different for students than today's workforce. Brightwave are experts in workplace learning and their award-winning product tessello helps organisations ensure that their staff continually develop new ideas, share learning resources and collaborate. The Student Room is the largest student community in the world - over 1.5m members - where students can discuss anything from universities, health to lifestyle and relationships. Brightwave's CEO, Charles Gould, and The Student Room's CEO, Jason Geall, presented the following: The DNA of a next generation individual? What is an effective online community? What does this look like for the student population? Is a workplace online community any different? What are the barriers to sustaining an online community?

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  • 1. How to build and sustainonline Community#BDF14Page 1

2. Current share of target UK 14-24 student market*Page 2The Student Room Group75% of UK students visit TSRG41% are registered10% are active members4.32M UK studentsin 14-24 core market13.28M21.76M3453K3* TSRG also has 86K UK active users over 24 109k non-UK active users3 3. Page 3Some TSR history The Student Room 2012 10/6/2014 4. Page 4TSR 2001 - 20144 5. Page 5Some thoughts to shareThe Importance of developing company self awareness internally andexternallyConstantly evolving the online community environment and everythingaround itThe importance of combining the spirit of those crazy organic communitydays, with hard ass metrics and performance management culture(GRRRRRR)Creating an environment for constant testing and optimisation #CROLooking to the future!5 6. Page 6Self Awareness Why are we here? The Student Room 2012 10/6/2014 7. Page 7Life as astudent 8. #BigCommunitiesPage 8 9. to facilitate sharingand updating ofinformation amongresearchersTim Berners Lee, 1980Page 9 10. Page 11Lots of funSport clubsPartiesEnd of year promFirst kissPhoto Credit CC- http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ 2006 Will Ellis 11. Plenty of workPage 12DeadlinesExams revisionPart time work 12. Page 13ManychallengesCareer optionsChoosing subjectsBudgetingPhoto Credit CC- http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ 2010 Caitlin Childs 13. Teachingor lawconversion?Page 14A-Levels?Start GCSEsCareer beginsBecciAge 14Internship?BecciAge 18BecciAge 25Who shouldI vote for?Whichuniversity?Mum and Dadare gettingdivorcedWhat do Iwant to bewhenI grow up?Assignmenthelp please!How shall Icelebrate examsending with myfriends?Which bankaccountshould I get?OMG got aninterview!What will theyask me?I needdissertationhelp!Postgrad abroadfor a year? USA?Oz? Mexico?Italy?The Student JourneyHow should Iplan myrevision?Passed mydriving test!Yay Freedom!Get a jobnow?Whatcareer?VocationalRoute?Apprenticeship?Which A-levelsubjects?GapYear?University? Whichcourse?Whichplacement?Whatwork?Postgraduatestudy?How do I dosimultaneousequations!?!What shouldI wear onmy first date?Shall I getan Androidor iPhone? The Student Room 2012 10/6/2014 14. Teachingor lawconversion?Page 15A-Levels?Start GCSEsCareer beginsBecciAge 14Internship?BecciAge 18BecciAge 25Who shouldI vote for?Whichuniversity?Mum and Dadare gettingdivorcedWhat do Iwant to bewhenI grow up?Assignmenthelp please!How shall Icelebrate examsending with myfriends?Which bankaccountshould I get?OMG got aninterview!What will theyask me?I needdissertationhelp!Postgrad abroadfor a year? USA?Oz? Mexico?Italy?Were always therefor studentsHow should Iplan myrevision?Passed mydriving test!Yay Freedom!Get a jobnow?Whatcareer?VocationalRoute?Apprenticeship?Which A-levelsubjects?GapYear?University? Whichcourse?Whichplacement?Whatwork?Postgraduatestudy?How do I dosimultaneousequations!?!What shouldI wear onmy first date?Shall I getan Androidor iPhone? The Student Room 2012 10/6/2014 15. To do our bit for society byhelping tomorrow's leaders,teachers and parentsbecome the best version ofthemselvesPage 16 The Student Room 2012 10/6/2014 16. Page 17We nurture the largest& most useful onlinecommunity for UKstudents with sociallearning at its heart 17. Page 18Our valuesQuestioningSupportiveWelcoming The Student Room 2012 10/6/2014FunIndependentUsefulEntrepreneurial 18. Page 19Evolution Keepstaying loved The Student Room 2012 10/6/2014 19. CommunityDirectorEducationCommunityManagerCommunityExecutiveStudy HelpSection LeaderModeratorsUniversitiesSection LeaderModeratorsCareersModeratorsEditorCopywriters(freelancecurrently)Life & styleCommunityManagerCommunityExecutiveHealth &RelationshipsSection LeaderModeratorsHobbies &Interests SectionLeaderModeratorsDebate &Current AffairsSection LeaderModeratorsCommunityModeratorsTSR Community TeamsStudyHelpersUCAS trained Samaritans trainedEditorialTeamCommunityAssistantsPeerSupportWelcomesquadCommunityAssistantsPS HelpersFull time / employed staffVolunteers / members of the community with a statusOtherGet Revising Moderators- a smaller group of moderators onour other site getrevising.co.ukNo moderation powersJust a titleCreate blog posts andthreadsNo moderation powersJust a titleReward for offeringgood adviceNo moderation powersJust a titleReward for offeringgood adviceNo moderation powersJust a titleReward for offeringgood adviceNo moderation powersJust a titleReward for offeringgood adviceGeneral info All members of these teams are given subscriptions while onthe teamGenerate articles anddiscussionsManage mod team andcommunity activities,plus feed in content toeditorManage mod team andcommunity activities,plus feed in content toeditorSupport communitymanager, more adminled but some cross overin content creationSupport communitymanager, more adminled but some cross overin content creationNo moderation powersexcept moving andediting threadsNo moderation powersexcept moving andediting threads 20. Performancemanagement KPIs Bad ass focus onnumbersPage 21 The Student Room 2012 10/6/2014 21. The way we engage students will betransformedActiveMemberViews of TSRContentFY13) Be more welcoming The Student Room 2012 10/6/2014 PPaaggee 2222Key FY14 focusDrive visitor growth New TSR content New social contentdistribution channels Static content overhaul Make existing mobileexperience more effective Overhaul moderationstructure & ethos to improveFirst-post and Ongoingengagement levels Welcome new users and helpnavigation of TSRBecome a true, engaged community Connect and Follow initiatives to becomemore of a true community Recommendation engine to expandusage Gamification programme to engage andmotivate members New email and PM CRM system to powerall activity NonBouncingVisitRegisterFY14 TargetNonactive member)400,000Past 2 yearsTotalPosts 22. Page 23Conversion RateOptimisation The Student Room 2012 10/6/2014 23. Page 242008 appointed a consultant 24. Fast forward to the end of 2012Page 25 25. Page 26Work out a budget! How much? Spend on? Testing tool? 3rd party consultant? Development time?. 26. Page 27MeasureTestLearn 27. 78%Page 28 28. Page 29+971.6% 29. Page 30.Organise +354%Create +359%Discuss +1,291% 30. Month OneProjectUsing data towin hearts andminds 31. The importance of Month OnePercentage of Registered Members Posting by Month Since Registration1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 32. Understand the month one funnelRegistrationlinksRegistrationpageActivationEmailRegisteredAfterregistrationmessagingRetentionBefore...Now...Calls toactionIdentify key steps, track as KPIs 33. What we didTrack each step inthe funnel and turnthe dials 34. 1. Optimise calls to registerImmediatereturn to YoYgrowth inactiveregistrations 35. 2. Optimised the form 36. 3. Optimise routes to registrationIn page form to help people with intent to engage 37. 4. Introduce post as part ofregistrationOvercome first post fear(~60% of newly registered members posted) 38. 5. Optimise posting as part ofregistration 39. 6. Welcome SquadHumans need other humansAnd data helps manage us!From 2 members of thecommunity and 1 member ofstaff answering about 15% ofposts / week, up to 60members answering about90% / week 40. And theresults? 41. Active Registrations80% YoYRemove activationemailBulk ofworkNotice and form growthoptimisationsRemoved somenotices 42. Warmest Welcome PossibleThousands of new members given usefulguidance each week relationships built 43. Grows active users,posts, page views etcMonthOneTrackWelcomeWhat next?Retention! 44. Page 45.MeasureTestLearn 45. Page 46Looking to thefuture. The Student Room 2012 10/6/2014 46. Generation 2024 47. Jason GeallCEO07402 540031Jason.geall@thestudentroom.com@Jasongeall uk.linkedin.com/in/jasongeallCopies of The Student Rooms Options 2013 report are available onrequest through HELOA or from bit.ly/Optns13