How a 'lunch and learn' session got teams across Bramble involved in community. Also hear how they have integrated community channel data in one place, enabling them to use Orbit Levels to segment their community and tailor outreach and activities to each segment to drive engagement.
Okay, so hello everyone. I hope you're having a great day one at the Nexus conference. And I just want to say a huge congrats to the Orbit team for putting on such an insightful and fun event for everyone. So my name is Gabrielle Leith and I am the community manager at Bramble. I'm responsible for building the Bramble community, which includes event programming and facilitation, content creation, community partnerships, gathering product feedback, building out a knowledge base for users and operational functions, such as overseeing the tools and platforms we use and making sure we're gathering insights and analytics on our community.
So first things first, what is Bramble? Well, besides being a very tasty cocktail, Bramble is a virtual conferencing and meeting tool that empowers users to gather online like they do in real life. Attendees get to autonomously move between conversations, run into friends, go for walks and explore beautiful virtual worlds whether for work, play or special event. Users can fully customize their Bramble space by adding in logos, whiteboards, games, music, presentations, or something as simple as a comfortable-looking couch on the stage where the panelists are going to be sitting. Bramble is used by individuals, small and medium sized businesses, and larger enterprises. Some of our most popular use cases include using Bramble as a virtual headquarters for work, a networking add-on to a virtual conference or an event, and team socials.
The Bramble community itself is made up of event producers, marketers, creatives, educators, community builders, and those in people ops. It's a place to share product feedback and feature requests, get access to events and resources to help run better virtual gatherings, and a place to feel supported as you build and produce events in the online space. It's both a community of product and also a community of practice. It's still relatively new as it's only been officially launched since February, so we invite people in small cohorts so we can continuously learn and make improvements before inviting in the next group, which is definitely something I suggest for all community builders.
So here's some brief history on Bramble that's important contextually for this conversation. So Bramble was built by a platform and community called Artery. Artery connects artists and spaces to co-create these beautiful and intimate cultural experiences in people's homes, backyards, et cetera. So thank Airbnb or Couchsurfing, but for culture. Bramble was created in the middle of the pandemic by Artery, and the goal was to bring the intimacy of live events to the online space. Community is absolutely fundamental to what Artery is, which is important to remember for when I discuss some of the challenges I faced when introducing a product based community to a company so deeply rooted in grassroots in person community-building.
So the topic of today's discussion is using Orbit's glossary to communicate community value internally. During this conversation, I'm going to go a bit deeper into some of the terminology that the Orbit framework has designed for measuring community. I will specifically be connecting how I use this terminology and framework at Bramble. So some key concepts from their glossary you will hear me talk about and expand upon are distributed communities; Orbit levels, particularly two, three, and four; love ratings; reach; member tags; and activity types.
So, as I just said, a product based community was completely new to my company, and so establishing a shared language around what I was building to prove its value became crucial. This is where the Orbit tool and framework came in for me. To illustrate how I've been using Orbit, I'm going to focus on a key pillar of our community strategy, which is hosting events in Bramble.
As I've already discussed, Bramble is all about human spaces to foster connection and fluidity when gathering online, and so our events needed to fully encompass this. We needed people to truly connect at our events and also get value from their content. To start testing the waters, we came up with The Future Series. These became monthly fireside chats with experts that reflected the questions members had around the challenges and possibility of the world's shift online, which was, as we know, accelerated by the pandemic. Some examples of topics included using NFTs for community-building and marketing purposes, hybrid events on a budget, and bridging IRL and online dynamics for hybrid teams.
When we first launched the series back in August, we were using a ticketing platform to collect RSVPs. We knew the names of who was coming, but didn't have a fulsome understanding of what other touchpoint they were having with us before and after the event and who they were fundamentally as people. What kind of presence did they have online? And what did that say about their interests and their ability to reach others? We were using HubSpot for sales and marketing purposes, but this felt quite siloed from our community event strategy at the time.
So there's an incredible article on the Orbit blog by Rosie Sherry called community events can be distributed to that I think is essential reading, and I definitely recommend for everyone. The piece looks at how we're moving away from the idea that a community needs one dedicated space to exist. Community conversations actually happen in multiple locations. The reality of distributed communities is why I think a tool like Orbit is essential to understanding and growing your community. For example, at Bramble, our community engages in multiple places. We use the tool Circle to host discussion forums and house all of our content and upcoming events. But that doesn't mean we should limit people to just using Circle. You need to meet your community where they're at and engage them in places that they know and are comfortable with. Creating a central safe space is key, but as soon as you try and keep people within certain walls, the more likely they'll want to leave. So for this reason, we additionally engage our community on places like Twitter and LinkedIn as a way to facilitate discussions and share content.
So I'd now like to go back to my example of our very first Future Series back in August, before I was using Orbit. Essentially what I had was a list of names that RSVP'd to the event via the ticketing tool Luma. So after I integrated Luma, Twitter and Circle all into Orbit, I was able to turn that list of names into a living and breathing representation of how engaged Future Series attendees were with the wider Bramble community. So this segmented approach is called Orbit levels and helps me to meet members where they're at and tailor approaches for engaging them accordingly. Orbit levels are determined by someone's overall love rating, which is their level of engagement based on each unique channel or touchpoint that they're active in.
For example, I mentioned we use Circle for discussion forums. So say a person posted in one of these forums, that action would contribute to their overall love rating. As would a comment on one of our tweets or an RSVP to one of our events. So you can see that there's a bar graph here and in this bar graph, you can see the various activities, those attending a Future Series have engaged in. As you can see the majority of people just RSVP'd and attended a Future Series event. With a smaller amount of people, additionally engaging with us via Twitter and through a discussion forum on Circle.
A key finding to me when looking at the Orbit levels and activity types for The Future Series is observing that most people who attended the most recent one in April were in the exploring and participating Orbit levels, which are also known as Orbit levels three and four. These are mainly members with minimal activities, and activities in the Orbit framework are defined as instances of community participation and contribution. So this clearly shows that people are interested in what we're doing and orbiting around us. But the fact that our lowest Orbit level is number two, which is attributed to contributing, is telling me that people are interested in what they're seeing, but unsure how to be further involved and participate. So essentially, how do we move people from Orbit level three and four to an Orbit level one and two? So this is incredibly valuable information to have and a key insight that I can relay to our wider team.
So armed with this piece of key user behavior, here are some of the next steps I took or planned to take. So I've broken them up into three main buckets. The first one, clearly identify upcoming opportunities for members to engage with. Two, have ideal member behavior modeled for those in Orbit levels one and two. And lastly, number three, focus on one-to-one connection.
So the first bucket, clearly identify upcoming opportunities for members to engage with, it's key before actively engaging with your Orbit level one and two members that you have a clear path for them to connect with you and provide them with tangible value from these interactions. So the above data that I showed you highlights a passivity to the interactions our Future Series attendees were having with us. After recognizing this, we started doing regular community happy hours to align with the release of a new Bramble theme. For example, our first happy hour was held in our new beach themed space. There was white sand, lounge chairs, a rainbow of umbrellas lining the shoreline, and much more.
So to help facilitate connection, we did a 30 minute speed networking portion to kick things off and get people in the zone of meeting others. By focusing the event actively on networking, we allowed people to feel a connection to the community, and in turn want to take the next steps of contributing more actively to the Bramble community. Whereas our Future Series was more panel discussions and therefore sort of more passive for the attendees.
So the second bucket, have ideal member behavior modeled for those in Orbit level one and two. So one of the main goals of the beach themed community happy hour was to get our most active members involved to show others what being a community member could potentially look like for them. We decided to reach out to just 10 of our most engaged members to help us customize this space ahead of the event. This meant leaving their creative mark by embedding games, whiteboards, questions, furniture, artwork, you name it.
So to find these 10 people, I pulled a report in Orbit that contained the member tag MVP. This is a tag I created manually and I give to people with a high love level and reach. And reach is a measure for a community member's sphere is of influence. So for example, we have Twitter integrated, and so a person's number of followers and their bio is pulled right into their Orbit number profile so we can see at a glance everything about that person. So reach is not necessarily always important, but in this case, it lets me know how active they are online, and in turn, it's a potential indicator of how likely they are to participate in something. So now that I have my MVP list to reference, I sent personal messages to those 10 people asking them if they'd like to help customize this space and be sort of an ambassador for the happy hour. Since they had invested time helping to customize this space ahead of it, the hope was that they also felt a personal connection and excitement for the happy hour that they wanted to share with their wider community.
So another key thing we did at this event is we screened a thank you video for those who helped us customize the space ahead of time and also for our early community members, which you can see now. So the idea was that this video was to publicly give appreciation for people who lent their time, creativity and expertise to being early builders of our community. It was also a way to show new members that the Bramble community is all about collaboration and recognition.
So onto the final bucket, which is focusing on one-to-one connection. So we learned from The Future Series that we were able to attract people to our content and product, but keeping them engaged and participating was the challenge. So for this reason, it has become essential we communicate clearly various paths for them to be involved and contribute to what we're doing. In the future, this might take the form of moderated private discussions based on certain areas of interest or small study groups where people can bring a challenge or an icebreaker that they want to try out and experiment with.
I think it's really important to always be making those one-to-one connections with your community so you have a strong relationship when you ask them directly what they want from your community. So it's one thing to speculate what people want, but going right to the source is always a good practice and a strong open relationship means they will actually be honest with you.
So I hope that this talk gave you insights into leveraging Orbit, to better plan events and initiatives, understand your community members' behavior, and most importantly, communicate the value of what you are building with the rest of your organization. A tip I would definitely give you when introducing Orbit internally is running a very casual lunch and learn to get people on various teams excited about what Orbit can provide by showing them tangible examples of how it may have already impacted them. For example, I highlighted some sales leads and traced them back to their first point of contact. Our sales team, during this lunch and learn, was surprised and excited to see some of the specific leads that had actually come through events like The Future Series, or even referrals that had come through community members, which was a surprise to them. So this gave them a deeper understanding of how to speak about community events with leads and ways in which they could attend them to further those connections.
So as a person who brought community to Bramble, I definitely feel a lot of responsibility to prove its value. With community being such a distributed entity, as I mentioned at the start, a tool that can capture and make sense of all the various touchpoints is an invaluable thing. I think community is only going to become further distributed as the landscape of community tools continues to grow.
So we've already seen such an explosion in the last few years. So if there is one piece of advice I can give you, it is to get ahead of this and start tracking your insights now so you can make sense of all the various pieces in your unique community puzzle. So if you want to geek out further on this with me at any time, definitely find me on LinkedIn. I'd love to chat. And I also hope that you enjoy day two of the Nexus conference. Okay. Thank you so much for listening.