Everything we learned about community at Coho with Ash Wesley

Learnings from the AMA with Ash Wesley, Programming & Education Lead at Coho
December 1, 2022

Everything we learned about community at Coho with Ash Wesley

Learnings from the AMA with Ash Wesley, Programming & Education Lead at Coho
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December 1, 2022

Threado Community AMA series is exclusively built for the tight-knit slack community we are building at Threado. We gathered and brought together community leaders from Notion, Mixpanel On Deck, Glide, Startup Grind, and many more fast-growing startups.

For this episode, we had Ash Wesley, Programming & Education Lead at Coho joining us to answer all questions in the community. The session was filled with many amazing insights on community building. Here are the top highlights from the session 👇

Q: Can you share some learnings and insights from all of the community experiments that did not work at Coho/On Deck?

A: One of the main insights is the ease of use of new tools when introduced. One of the reasons why zoom works so successfully is because it’s available easily and the tools are easy to use. Coho tried to recreate this experience by creating a customized almost metaverse like space on gather.com. Unfortunately, due to it’s innate complexity it didn’t take off.

Another idea that didn’t take off was weather of the day as it was introduced midway through the community and wasn’t fully realised, people couldn’t relate the weather analogy into what the community was.

The insight that Ash gained from this is to incorporate various symbols and mascots into a special digest rather than just a newsletter or email digest. Even the above two he wouldn’t call failures but more like iterations which he would keep working on until it works. 

On the IRL side, it is integral to pick a place and stick to it, a place that is familiar but also ha sna air of unexpectedness around it.

Q: Have you ever built rituals for communities? If yes, then how did you make them?

A: Rituals are an essential parts of communities  and everyone recognises their importance. Rituals anchor your community and give all community members a default of like no matter what is going on if they only have a bit of time or their focus isn’t 100% then there is something they could default to.

The biggest ritual on deck is the Mastermind ritual that was inspired by a mastermind group that KP from Twitter created in Atlanta called zero to one makers it was a mastermind group that ,et every Friday at 4pm. 

The big question this group discussed every week was what have you worked on past week, what is something you are going to work on in the week ahead and what’s your favourite no code tool.

The main things Ash focuses on is, meeting at same time every week and based on that he would assign different tags to different groups. And from this he would do a second and a third layer of grouping.

Q: How can community builders leverage no code to make their lives easier? What are some of your no code tool recommendations for community builder? What is Coho’s vision and can you share anything about what’s on cards for 2023?

  • Empowers community builders especially if you don’t have a technical background, it allows you to do things with tech with different types of tools.
  • Allows you to build faster and build more visually.
  • Allows you to build customized tools for various process, example, a new directory, or to help create mailing or newsletter lists.

Coho is a new spin off from On Deck, it’s all the programs that primarily focus on careers, like engineering data science design. It’s kind of a community for managers and above levels who are mentors. It’s a chance to learn from other experts on your own level.

Q: You have a ton of experience building communities on slack, so what battle-tested initiatives that works well for community engagement? According to you, what do you consider the highest value that defines a solid community builder?

A: There are a few key initiatives that work well for community engagement:

  • Setting expectations: Right from day one on deck have a ‘Like we do it on deck’, which is an session on how to use slack. People use slack for various things and showing not just the community guidelines but also the ropes of the platform will help them use it more comfortably.
  • Leading by example: You have to show people what to expect in posts in each channel and then as you kind of set the example, you start to highlight and cheer out with other members who are setting good examples and everyone starts to understand what looks good etc.
  • Rituals : You can have fun rituals such as share a photo of your pets Friday, starting off the week with an easy pull or like what did you do over the weekend, low friction way for your community to engage.

The highest value that defines all community builders is compassion, compassion to understand that people are different, could be dealing with different issues either in personal or professional lives, compassion for all the members of your community.

Q: What are your top 3 ways to drive engagement in your community?

  • Having a slack channel dedicated to intros with fun facts and icebreakers and understanding goals and interest upfront and then leading some of the conversations based around those things and around what people are curious about.
  • Having a frictionless way to engage to help reduce overwhelm, giving them tips to work with so that they don’t feel overwhelmed when they’re busy.
  • Drive engagement, get other members of your community like all stars to help build conversations up so that it doesn’t feel like you starting them all the time but feels more organic.

Q: How do you craft experiences in your community that will keep members coming back?

  • Keep a familiar format but still add elements of surprise or delight as you go through, example weekly zoom calls to reduce friction but new weekly tunes or welcome music to keep people on their toes.
  • ‘Element of Belonging’ to keep people coming back, it could be something as simple as a gratitude channel or small wins channel, meet them where they’re at and make them feel like they matter.
  • Getting members to check in on each other, and catch up with each other.

Q: How did you make sure all of them gel together? What is the one thing that you think sets On Deck community apart from other communities?

A: It actually isn’t necessary for you as a community manager to make sure they all gel together, as it would be a pretty huge undertaking. The biggest thing to do in your community is to make sure everyone respects each other.

You can ensure mutual respect through community guidelines and setting expectations during the kickoffs and by having folks who gel together work together.

Q: How Coho’s B2C and OnDeck B2B have different type of engagement challenges?

A: CoHo and OnDeck have specialty comparions where ondeck had over 20 programs at one point and every program had its own specific different flavor, the type of persona coming through was an aspiring founder who wanted to build an MVP in a short period of time.

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