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Erica McGillivray on Nurturing and Growing a Community #MarketingNerds

In this Marketing Nerds episode, Erica McGillivray of Moz talks about nurturing and growing a community around your brand, as well as its benefits.

Eric McGillivray on Nurturing and Growing a Community | SEJ

Visit our Marketing Nerds archive to listen to other Marketing Nerds podcasts!

In this episode of Marketing Nerds, Erica McGillivray, sits down with Features Editor Danielle Antosz, to talk about nurturing and growing a community. They discussed the benefits of building a strong community around your brand, how the Moz community started, and community building in live events.

Eric McGillivray on Nurturing and Growing a Community | SEJ

Here are a few transcribed excerpts from their discussion, but make sure to listen to the podcast to hear everything:

The Benefits of Building a Strong Brand Community

The stronger your community is, the more that your brand is going to be supported during the good times and the bad times. I should always say you should never try–or, I should say attempt–to build a community around a product or really even around a brand.

It’s going to be the needs of your customers or the people who are interested in what you’re doing. Like at Moz, obviously, we work with SEOs and other online marketers, so our community is about helping them with their problems doing their SEO and their online marketing.

If we were like, “Tell us how much you love our software,” no one wants to do that.

How the Moz Community Started

Rand Fishkin, our founder, started just blogging about this SEO thing he was learning, and you know, it was very much the wild, wild west, the very early days of Google and when people actually cared about Yahoo, things like that.

The thing about community is that people are really, really excited that he was doing this because they were figuring it out, too. People we think of now as industry veterans, they were also figuring this out for the first time. They were coming in and being like, “You know, I’m seeing this with my client, and I’m trying this over here on this website.”

In order to really create a dynamic community, you have to have both the people who are like excited and love it, but you also kind of have to have the people that are upset. If you are making an emotional impact, it means that you’re going to have some negative emotions.

There were people early on that were very, very upset that Rand was actually blogging about this because it was on the internet for free, and anyone could learn it. A lot of people were making money training people in like private seminars about how to do SEO, and it was a very lucrative business, and they were very upset that he was disrupting this model for them. Or they worried the search engines were going to figure out that the SEOs had figured it out, and then they were going to change it and make it harder, which is what they do all the time.

Our community really grew from there. We always had very much a focus on education and education for free.

Scaling the Private Forum

At some point, Moz made the business decision to stop doing consulting, but we still had all these people who came to us asking us not just reading the articles on our blog but were like, “Hey, I have this website, and I’m having this problem.”

We as part of our search product said, “Okay, let’s have a Q&A forum.” At first, it started out as a private Q&A forum, and people would still ask us questions. We had a team of experts, who some of them worked on our team, and some of them don’t, but we paid them as contractors. We still have them; they’re called “associates.” They’re wonderful, amazing, lovely people who help us out all the time.

The private forum was unscalable. There was [a time when] you’d answer someone’s question, and things would be going along great. Then like ten follow-up questions later, you’d be like, “You should have probably paid me to consult you like further.”

We knew there was this need, so we said, “How can we ultimately scale it?” By ultimately scaling it, we created our forum, which is public. You do have to have a subscription to our search product in order to ask questions and answer questions. This helps make sure we have the expertise in our forum.

It’s really great to see the community come and help each other, and people have made their names in our forum. They’ve gotten clients. They’ve gotten speaking gigs, writing gigs, new jobs, all like these sorts of things.

Community Building in Live Events

I love meeting people face-to-face, putting that sort of personality you meet on the internet to an actual live human being in front of you.

It’s really great for getting to know people beyond the profession, and finding the different ways that you connect with people and the things you have in common. Not everyone feels comfortable going into a public Q&A forum and being like, “I’m having this struggle with my business.” You know, they might not be able to, depending on where they work. Also being in-person kind of gives you that extra layer of privacy–but a layer of intimacy maybe is the better way to put it.

It’s super amazing to also, as a community manager, to feel that love in-person because so much of what we do is online. It’s really different when you can shake someone’s hand or give someone a hug that you’ve only ever met online. They’re like, “Wow, like let’s hang out. Let’s have a drink or have a meal together.”

Offering Free Education vs. Getting Paid to Do It

Honestly, most people need to worry less about that.

Let’s say you’re in a construction business. You put in flooring. That’s your thing. You’re worried if you put educational content about flooring, someone’s just going to go to Home Depot themselves and buy flooring and install it.

The thing about it is that it builds your authority. If you become the expert on flooring, people are going to come to you because let me tell you, as someone who just bought a home, I think I can do a lot of things in my house and I watch a YouTube video, and go, “Oh, yeah, I can totally install a flooring, no problem.”

You know, it doesn’t work. Eventually, you call in an expert.

Yes, there’s going to be some people who are going to read, and they’re going to be able to install the flooring by themselves, and they’re not going to have a big mess and a big headache, but you are establishing yourself as an authority.

To listen to this Marketing Nerds Podcast with Danielle Antosz & Erica McGillivray:

Think you have what it takes to be a Marketing Nerd? If so, message Kelsey Jones on Twitter, or email her at kelsey [at]

Visit our Marketing Nerds archive to listen to other Marketing Nerds podcasts!

How to Nurture and Grow Your CommunityImage Credits

Featured Image: Image by Paulo Bobita
In-post Photo: jacoblundphoto/

Category SEJ Show
Kelsey Jones Marketing Consultant, Owner at Six Stories & StoryShout

Kelsey Jones is a marketing consultant, writer, and owner of and Kelsey has been in digital marketing since ...

Erica McGillivray on Nurturing and Growing a Community #MarketingNerds

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