At a recent Lithium meetup in London, we heard from Rene Calvey (@ReneAvon), Community Lead for Avon Cosmetics, on how to manage a B2B community. Rene manages the Avon Beauty Connects community, which is a B2C and B2B facing community for Avon Customers and Representatives. We were inspired by her presentation, and decided to share some of it here and spotlight Rene at the same time! Keep reading to learn more about Rene's experience, as well as her tips for community managers.
Q: Tell us about your community.
The Avon Beauty Connects community is a little different than most because its purpose is to support both our B2C and B2B business, the bigger proportion being B2B—our Representatives. This part (as opposed to our public-facing, non logged in view) of the community is held behind a log in (single sign on) that’s integrated within our other business sites, to provide a seamless journey for our Avon Representatives.
The representatives mainly access our community for peer to peer support and for sharing stories and tips about their brochure rounds. ‘Add a tea bag to your Avon brochures with a note! Sit down have a cuppa and a browse’ and ‘How to hold an Avon party’ are all great examples. We also nurture our advocates and super users with content to support our new Representatives who are struggling ‘How do I place my first order’, ‘How do I get new customers’, etc.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you’re facing now?
The biggest challenge we face is driving traffic to our B2B community. Without the help of SEO, we have to use all the other channels available to us such as our weekly Representative newsletters, links on our ordering and business pages, and exposure at sales events. Then, once we get them onto the community, we work hard to ensure we have relevant and engaging business content. We reward positive members of the community with Avon products and advocacy programs, and we also give them sneak peeks of Representative sales and upcoming products, giveaways and generally try to make it a fun and engaging place to be.
We do have to wade in now and again for customer service and account issues and of course we do see negativity but over moderation can also be damaging so we have learnt from experience when to wade in and when to step back!
Q: Do you have any tips for community managers?
Use all of the internal traffic drivers you can.Without SEO it’s important to feature your community in every corporate page, newsletter and offline event you can.
Use the opportunity of a closed community.For example we often do ‘sneak peeks’ of new products and incentives and our category teams ask for product feedback from our Representatives. It’s not in the public domain so we can share products earlier and it’s exclusive for our Representatives.
Nurture your advocates. They are almost mini moderators for us answering Representative questions, flagging issues and being advocates for new functionality and business incentives.
Q: What lies ahead for the Avon community?
We have recently undertaken research that has proved Representatives who use our Community have higher retention, sales and more customers than those who have never logged on, so we are sharing this good news with the business. We also have lots of lovely new functionally to launch, such as Media V4, Knowledge Base, Value Analytics and hopefully, later this year, a new responsive skin.
Other than that we continue to learn from our members, keep doing what works and less of what doesn’t and love the fact that no two days are the same!
*This content was initially presented during the Lithium London Meetup. The next one will be held on the May 5, 2016.
Jenn Chen is the Community Manager for Lithium, and is responsible for developing the community's strategy and content. She has held previous roles at Google and Intuit. You may also recognize her as jchen, where she was recognized as an All Star in 2014 and a Rockstar in 2015. Jenn is proud to hold three certifications from Lithium in Community Management I & II, as well as Social Response. In her spare time, she enjoys baking, eating, and reading.