🎖️ Marmik from Man Matters talks about how to run a successful brand community!

In this episode of CommunityHub Spotlight, we speak with Marmik Mankodi, Performance Marketing Head at Mosaic Wellness (Man Matters). Watch the video and get to know more about how to build a brand community and how to use it to gain real-time feedback about your products. For more such content on community building, head over to CommunityHub by Threado: https://threado.com/blog
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Pramod Rao
July 30, 2021

Here's the transcript of the interview :

Marmik: So we thought that while building the products, it makes sense to build a platform, which allows men to live confidently, not only by offering them products, but by even offering them a community of sorts.

We still are a 1350 members, strong community on Discord, where people talk about, their mental health, about their sexual problems, about their hair fall about their skin, very freely.

Shalini: Hi Marmik! Welcome to this episode of CommunityHub Spotlight by Threado. These interviews are curated as resources for young community builders and brands who are planning to launch, build, engage and scale their communities today. So why did you start off with a little introduction about yourself and what Man Matters community is all about. Over to you.

Marmik: Hi Shalini! Pleasure being here. To give you a perspective, I lead performance marketing for Man Matters and Body Wise. I lead it for Mosaic Wellness. At Man Matters, we built out or we started the brand thinking that we want to build a brand that listens to men and understands the problem and, provides them solutions at a single place.

So for example, let's say if you get hairfall, you'd end up going to a doctor. First you've to find a dermat. Now you don't know if the dermat's going to be good or not. Then let's say that the dermat gives you a prescription. Then you go to a medical store. You don't have any guarantee that, the store has all your products.

Then you'll probably go two medical stores to fulfill your entire prescription. The journey was quite broken.  So we thought we would fix that. But while doing that, we realized talking internally, that men don't really talk to each other. For example, when I started getting hairfall, I had no one to contact or -ask - Hey, how do I solve my hairfall, right?

And the problem's even bigger when it comes to, let's say sexual problems or problems related to skin because, the way Indians look at it, skincare is for women, right? So let's say if I go and ask a friend, I'm getting pimples, what to do? They'll be like, stop being a girl. Which is actually not the right thing to do, right? These are very solve-able problems. So we thought that while building the products, it makes sense to build a platform, which allows men to live confidently, not only by offering them products, but by even offering them a community of sorts.

Shalini: Absolutely makes sense. This is the reason why, brands should have community as a very strong pillar of, you want to call it marketing or brand perspective. Would love to understand how did you start off? Was there a very strong intent that you see, why this community should be there?

Marmik: So as I've mentioned right, so at the end of day, we were on a mission to help men live confidently. So natural extension was to have a place where men can talk about the issues. So we started off with WhatsApp, but I think we sent out an SMS actually to all the users who had purchased from us up to that date. We still have around 15 WhatsApp groups, till this date, where we initially thought we would, share snippets about the content that we write on our blogs or the videos that we post. But as admins right, so when users see that you were an admin, they ended up coming and talking to and asking them, I want to contribute. I want to ask questions. So we eventually ended up moving those groups into two sided conversations, instead of a one-sided conversation.

But on WhatsApp, you always face this issue that we couldn't add more than 256 users. Very funnily, one of our team members was using Reddit and there was this one forum on skincare where someone was like, oh, we don't have a Discord server.

So we just quickly made a Discord server for that Subreddit. And we saw that around 70 to 80 users joined within an hour, which led us to thinking, okay, why don't we have a Discord server for Man Matters? And we sent out the link to these users that we had. And of course the adoption for Discord is low because I think people who eat avocados also have Discord, and not the mass Indian audience.

But we still are a 1350 members, strong community on Discord, where people talk about, their mental health, about their sexual problems, about their hair fall about their skin, very freely. And in fact, at this point of time, we don't even contribute too much to the conversation. The members just talk to each other and sort everything.

Shalini: Okay. Super engaging community that you're talking about! So how does it go? Has the community picked up a momentum, where users just interact over content that they share?

Marmik: So we do follow engagement on WhatsApp because normally people, at least what we've seen is that people are a bit shy to start talking on WhatsApp until, and unless they have a complaint.

The, there was this one phase wherein our WhatsApp community ended up being like a customer service forum for some reason. But that was a phase and it ended, and then people started having conversations on their own on Discord as well. So what we've done is we've categorized the server into different subcategories related to let's say sexual, hair, skin issues, weight management, and general normal men-talk, which is I'm going to be very stereotypical here, but about, let's say finance memes or relationship advice, et cetera. And the users just interact in their rooms. And then we have like around 40 members who are almost always active on Discord. So they end up talking to them and the communication builds up from there.

Shalini: Okay. So you made a very interesting point out there, right? Like a brand community is always on the verge of becoming like a customer grievance place. So how did you transition from not being that to being like a successful brand community?

Marmik: I still don't have an exact answer for this. Probably I would say we improved our operations and ensured that customers don't have to complain, but I think there's a mood of the community. And this is what we've even seen on Discord or WhatsApp these days that if one person complains about the products, not giving them results, we have a few ambassadors who vouch for our products and they stand for us saying that, dude, listen, relax, wait for four weeks or wait for two months, depending on the product that they're using. And it takes time to see results. So initially we had to do that. Since we were resolving one customer's doubt, other customers ended up, bringing up their doubts instead. But the minute the user started stepping in for us, the doubts reduced, right? Because now you've an actual purchaser who is vouching for them, that sort of increases the trust on the product.

Shalini: Right, right, absolutely. Where do you want to take this community? You have ambassadors vouching for you. Is this going to be like your future sales platform? What's the intention behind having this community?

Marmik: No, this wouldn't be a sales platform ever. Oh, as I mentioned that we just wanted to be a place where men talk freely about anything under the sun. And that's all we expect out of it. Even when we launch new products, we barely put it out on our WhatsApp groups. And even on Discord, there is a specific channel where we put. Hey we've launched this product, which is called new product announcements. And it's not mixed with the other conversations that are happening. So this doesn't have any sales on right now.

Shalini: Okay. By the way, how long has this community been in existence?

Marmik: I'll probably, I would say, six or seven months.

Shalini: Okay. Over the past six to seven months, months because of the community, did you see it impact your brand in one way or the other? It could be either sales or retention of loyal users, or it could just be changing the brand image somehow?

Marmik: It actually ended up being a platform for us to get very good, real time feedback on the products that we have to offer and the products that the consumers really need. So on our Discord server, a lot of men kept on complaining about how they have dark circles. So we got an under eye. It doesn't remove dark circles, but it takes  four weeks and it actually balances the melanin production. So it's not your usual fairness cream which removes dark circle on the spot, but it fights the root cause of it. I think within a week, this was one of our highest selling products and till date it's a product where we have the lowest CAC.

Shalini: Okay, so these product launches that you said are there any special benefits that these members get?

Marmik: No, not really. We already have a referral program in place. Many times users keep on asking us for a discount code. So we just have pinned messages that shows discount code, and then they don't really bother.

Shalini: So how many people manage this community right now? It's a brand community and addressing so many grievances would be a tough task, right?

Marmik: Oh, this it's a very good question because you know, there's no-one dedicatedonly to the communities right now. Like all of us in the team are equally passionate about solving the cause. So no one really does it as a job responsibility or as a responsibility, everyone just chips in whenever they have time.

Shalini: And how do you guys manage the community? Do you have any tools that you use, besides Discord ofcourse?

Marmik: Nope. None right now. We would love to have tools to see, let's say the sentiment or who are our most engaged users or who have the highest positive intent. And who ends up spreading the most negativity? Although, because there are only handful of people who put negative comments, it's very easy to figure it out right now. But I'd say in the future, when we touch 10,000, probably this number also multiplies by 10. So it essentially helps us service them better. We don't want them to stop or discourage them from posting negative stuff. It just helps them understand what's going wrong at our end.

Shalini: Okay. Is there any strong story that you could tell our listeners, about how somebody benefited from the community?

Marmik: Oh, that's something that our products do, not essentially the community. But I'll be very honest. Because there's a community that we have for mental wellbeing, there are a lot of folks who reach out, and come up with problems that everyone faces. Be it about, let's say insecurities related to jobs, that causes them to have a mental breakdown or, insecurities related to their height or weight, or general anxiety. There are factors that lead to a person getting into anxiety or spiraling down to depression, but most of the times it just so happens, right? Yeah. But the point being that for each, every such case there are at least five people who come and tell them that, bro, you're not alone. I wouldn't say there is one single person who has benefited out of it, but it's a whole collective of people, who see people going through the same set of emotions as them.

Shalini: Okay, perfect. Brand communities find it very hard to engage or build loyal user base around the community. So what are the challenges that you see while you try to scale this community?

Marmik: So one challenge that I would say, this is very WhatsApp centric, is that because we can only allow 256 participants. So communities are categorized by the products that they bought. We don't ask them to only join that community, but there's a very specific motto of joining that community. So conversations outside the said condition are very limited. I don't think we have been able to try to, digress from let's say hair issues or skin issues or weight issues.

And when it comes to Discord, generally, it gets very chaotic I think at times, because say the time when the community is the most active, there's also the time when you're not really working. So it sort of eats into your free time as well.

But it's just the general chaos right around, let's say 10 people being active at the same time. So it gets very tough to follow what all those spoken about or whether our brand was mentioned at any point of time. So you end up missing out sometimes on customer issues or feedback, because there are 150 messages that would have happened between let's say 1:00 AM and 6:00 AM and you missed it.

Shalini: So you want some kind of a tool that helps you summarize these messages? So do you guys have  the timeline of, where you want to see the communities probably say a few months down the line, or what's like the end goal, say few years later?

Marmik: So like the way we don't have any sales metrics associated to the community in the very same way, we do not have any member growth metrics associated either. As I mentioned right, at the end of the day, we are okay if we only have 1500 members and we don't grow from 1500 to 2000 or 3000, as long as those 1500 men are living very confidently.

Shalini: And having been a successful brand community, which is Man Matters on Discord, do you have any tips for young community builders and especially brands who are just venturing out and moving towards community?

Marmik: One advice that I would give is to not treat community as a sales channel, because if a user is, let's say probably opening Discord, they're not opening Discord to see Ads again. They see enough of them on YouTube or Facebook or Instagram. So I would probably urge to not make it as a sales channel. What sales has to happen, should be organic in the sense if user asks to buy  a certain product, I would keep it as pure as possible and away from sales.

Shalini: All right. Thanks, Marmik. Thanks so much for your time. This was great.

Marmik: No problem.

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