Published: Thursday 13th of November 2014

15 Community Growth Hacks from Polyvore’s CEO, Jess Lee

A lot of community professionals are turned off by the term “growth hacking,” but Polyvore CEO Jess Lee believes we’ve got it wrong. Growth hacking is not really about finding sneaky ways around problems or finding short-term solutions.

Instead, she argues, “The best growth hack is to cultivate delight for your users.” And she would know: Polyvore has 20 million monthly visitors and is currently the second largest driver of social commerce traffic on the web. “The community work we do has serious business results,” she says.

In her talk for CMX, she went on to outline 15 actionable growth hacks that community builders can use to delight their users and see major business results.

3 Principles for Delighting Community Members

First, Jess outlined the core principles for how you delight your users. Within these principles, she then outlined exactly what growth hacks could be used to drive community.

Live:

Community has to be baked in to the core culture of the company. People will know if you’re not sincere about your love for community.

  1. Include community in your companies core values
  2. Make community part of your onboarding process for new hires.
  3. Decorate your office with community memorabilia. Don’t let people forget what it’s all about. Include handwritten notes and cards and photos.
  4. Send out a weekly update on how the community is doing. This should include member spotlights, love letters, and more.
  5. Hire a dedicated community manager. This shows investment in the community at your core.

Learn:

Listen to your users and make sure to incorporate their feedback.

  1. Use Flinto in order to get very early feedback on prototypes.
  2. Broadcast user research internally and make it fun. Get on Slack at the same time so that everyone can talk with the researchers.
  3. Write good launch announcements that explain why you’re making changes. People don’t like change, so you need to anticipate it and make sure people understand why you’re shifting directions.
  4. Address problems head on. Don’t beat around the bush. Instead, transparency and honesty makes a big difference.
  5. When you do screw up, say you’re sorry. Don’t qualify it. Just apologize.
  6. Let your community know when good things happen to. Tell the community story.

Love:

Show the community how much you care.

  1. Early on, spotlight your community members in your product and in your social media profiles and blog. This also doubles as great research for your product team. On a small budget, write handwritten thank you notes.
  2. When your budget is a bit larger, you can send gifts. T-shirts work, but try to make it personal.
  3. For meetups, create personalized gifts. At Polyvore, the team found specific items that were coming up again and again on users’ Polyvore sets and bought them for these special community members.
  4. Help your community achieve their dreams: find out what they are and how you can help them get there. For Polyvore, this mean helping out fashion bloggers, models, stylists, and more accelerate their careers. Polyvore has let their community members design their office

Jess asserts that these growth hacks are part of a larger business model: Delight drives word of mouth. Word of mouth drives growth. These are not fluffy tactics, but rather huge drivers of business success.

This leads to all kinds of amazing results for Polyvore and for Polyvore’s community members as well, a true win-win outcome for everyone involved.

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Carrie Melissa Jones

Carrie Melissa Jones | @caremjo

Carrie is the COO and Founding Partner of CMX. She has built community at Chegg and Scribd and has consulted with community companies around the world. She lives in Seattle, WA with her pup, Bruce Wayne.