In our sixth episode of 15 Minutes With we’re talking to Lucy Hall. Lucy is a Lead Trainer with Meta and the founder of the hugely influential Digital Women Community.

Lucy’s interests are in the social space with a particular interest on training events and community building. Lucy is also the founder of a number of industry events, conferences and awards.

Lucy shares her knowledge on helping others to navigate the social selling sphere on a regular basis. Her experience in delivering curriculums and appealing to users to come together to find a social voice is second to none.

On the episode, Lucy shares her knowledge and offers tips, insights and advice on community building and community management.


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Shelley  00:13

Today lead trainer at Meta, Lucy Hall is joining us on 15 minutes with. Lucy’s interests are in the social space with a particular interest on training events and community building. Lucy is also the founder of a number of industry events, conferences and awards, and she is the founder of the hugely influential Digital Women community. Lucy shares her knowledge on helping others to navigate the social selling sphere on a regular basis. Her experience in delivering curriculums and appealing to users to come together to find a social voice is second to none.  Lucy Hi, Welcome.

Lucy Hall  00:53

Hi, Shelly. Thanks for having me.

Shelley  00:55

What I wanted to ask was how through your training experience, you have found that communities have an appetite for connection online?

Lucy Hall  01:03

I think people have always had an appetite for connection. And people have always had an appetite for community, because communities are the things that binds people together through mutual interests or problems that they have. And through the training that I’ve done, I’ve been able to reach out to lots of different audiences by training them, because essentially, I’m able to train people on digital skills for free through the Meta programme as a lead trainer. And I found that people are really happy to go on that training and learning journey together. So the communities that I run are people who have a big appetite for digital skills, but also connection as well. So together, it means that they’re able to learn and then talk to each other about what they’ve learned and share skills with each other. So when they learn something, or they know something, they’re able to share their experiences. I think through the pandemic, it highlighted even more how much people will need that connection. And we had a big explosion of online communities, even bigger than we already had. And you can even see that Meta was increasing its communities programme as well. So they were really putting a lot of importance into communities. Because there was already some great growth through groups, which are to different Facebook pages, because you’re just, you know, advertising to an audience. I think the appetite for online connection is absolutely huge. And it’s growing every single day.

Shelley  02:25

What I really what I find really, really interesting about that is how you say these communities often have quite a few interests in common. Could you tell us a little bit about how communities differ to audiences, when it comes to brands?

Lucy Hall  02:39

I think there’s a big misconception about building a community, because people think when you have lots of followers on social media, it means that you then have a community. But that’s absolutely not true. A community is something completely different. And audience is people who are watching you following you. And they want to know what you’re up to and what you’re doing. And a community is a group of people that are connected together by like I was saying before, when your first question by a common interest, or a common problem. And so therefore, they are able to connect and talk to each other in a different way that feels more natural and not very forced. The person who started the committee doesn’t always have to be there when you have a community because people talk to each other because they’re interested in the same thing. Whereas with an audience is a little bit more difficult to get that going. You can build communities that have audiences, because they may be interested in the same thing. But of course, two completely different things.

Shelley  03:31

And so people can come and go, and they can move in and out of communities, where audiences, it’s sort of presumed that once you lose someone, you kind of lose them to a competitor, so to speak. But in a community, that particular community might only serve a certain short period of time for that person’s experience. So it might be for example, a new mothers group, it’s expected that you’re only going to be part of that group for a period of time. And you might tap into that community again, in the future if you have another child. But it’s not going to be a lifelong membership.

Lucy Hall  03:59

Yeah, absolutely. I think essentially, we’re all part of lots of different communities. If you think about how many different communities you’re part of a different parts of your life might be that you’re part of a community, that’s for local residents in your area like Canterbury for example. Or you might be part of a community where you have an interest in sewing. And it just means that you can talk about those interests with other people who are interested in the same thing. And you’re not necessarily waiting for the community leader to say something or the brand to say something, you’re actually just talking amongst yourselves. Of course, the community leader is always there to ask questions and stoke the fire, if you like, to get people chatting with each other. If you’re a brand trying to build a community, you would think about what’s the common thing that binds all of these people together? What is the thing they’re really interested in and people like Red Bull do it really, really well, if you think about it. Because Red Bull have this brand where it’s all about sport and energy and excitement and then they create these events around that. And as part of that they have this amazing community.

Graham  04:58

That’s an interesting topic actually, because Red Bull a few years ago completely changed their marketing model away from selling product to selling experience.

Lucy Hall  05:06


Graham  05:06

And it’s about producing content that people can engage with and like you say, putting up these events and setting them up, and I guess is a brand going to have more success if they approach a community in that way, rather than approaching the community and kind of slapping up a billboard and going, Hey, by the way, we have a whole bunch of products that we think might be appropriate, and we want to sell them to you kind of like they do with an audience, is it better for a brand to invest in how do we support the community so that an association is created between the support was given to us by X, and as a result, we are more likely to support them because of the good that they’ve done for us, rather than a brand turning up and going, we’ll send you samples, because we just want to get our product into people’s hands.

Lucy Hall  05:47

I think people are pretty savvy, especially if you’re within a community. And if a brand suddenly comes in and says buy my thing, you know, they’re gonna know that they’re just being monetized. And I think, however, if a brand comes in and works with the community leader, or creates a community, where actually the centre of this community is about building a community, and just fostering that connection between people, I think people are going to see that brand in a better light and potentially going to buy from them anyway. But I think that’s the whole thing around social media as well, isn’t it and social media marketing, when people are just blatantly selling stuff, you’re less likely almost to buy something straight away. But once you’ve built up that trust, and that almost that community, or that audience of people who really love you, and really  love being part of what what you have, being part of the community, then they’re more likely to go when they’re ready to buy, you’re going to be front of mind, aren’t you? I think that’s normally how it works. However, I do feel like brands could be working with community leaders in a different way. So now a lot of brands work with influencers. And literally, they just send them products, or they ask them to talk about the product or sell the product, which is great, because the influencers already have a community lots of time, they have a following rather than a community. But there is space for a brand to go into actual communities, and work with the community leader to create training programmes or to create experiences, like you’re talking about with Red Bull to help those communities in some way rather than than blatantly trying to sell them products.

Graham  07:14

And I suspect it’s probably quite important as well that the brand shares the values of the community shares. And then there’s not an obvious disconnect between we’re just going to find the communities with the biggest numbers of people.

Lucy Hall  07:26


Graham  07:27

Like you say people are savvy and they can see through obvious attempts at kind of flattery, were it particularly isn’t warranted.

Lucy Hall  07:34

Oh, absolutely. The way I go about partnerships for our communities, our communities going to 70,000 women over the last couple of years. And it really accelerated during the pandemic. And the way that we approach partnerships is that we normally get them to provide content or educational content to our community, because they want education, they want to learn about digital skills. And so if I can bring someone in that wants to teach our community about digital skills, by association, they’re going to want to use their products when they’re ready for anyway without saying buy my product, because they’ve now we’ve created this amazing content that people can watch over and over again or live, they can ask questions whenever they want. And the community see the brand in this great light, they love them. And when they’re ready for the tool, or the digital products, they’re going to use it because they feel like they’ve connected with that brand. And they feel like that brand is not just somebody who’s partnered with the community, but part of the community as well. And I think that’s really important. The brand shouldn’t be this brand who’s coming in and just selling stuff or talking about stuff, they should be part of the community and feel like they’re part of the community as well. And whoever that may be within the organisation should be in there like talking to people and engaging,

Graham  08:39

That’s important so that the community sees more than the brand, they see the individual that’s representing the brand, because we all know that people trust people you don’t trust kind of faceless organisations. The people are inside. So I think that that  you’re right, you’ve got to have people that represent the brand in the community, but they should be known for who they are first and who they work for second.

Lucy Hall  09:04

Yeah absolutely.

Shelley  09:05

And I like how you sort of drew that comparison between how a brand might tap into an influencer to sell a product for a short space of time and have nothing to do with that audience before or after, and how in community, it doesn’t work that way. The brands that integrate themselves really well aren’t actually trying to actively sell something for the here and now they are trying to involve himself in the ongoing conversation of that brand. But another point that you kind of touched on which I just want to dive a tiny bit deeper into if you don’t mind, is how you have all of these different people as part of a community and how if you are involved in in trying to either establish or manage or run a community, how you balance differing levels of skill sets, that kind of thing. So for example, you’re offering training so how do you manage such a big community? When you have people with skill set level zero and skill set level 10 At the same time, how do you keep that in in one community?

Lucy Hall  10:00

it is quite hard because obviously you’ve got different people at different levels. So when you’re sharing content that’s like, you know, how do you create a customer persona and that kind of thing. It’s quite entry level, something that most marketers or digital marketers, people in digital would know about. But then if you’re from a different discipline, in digital, you’re very technical, you wouldn’t possibly have to look at that side. And you might be interested in it, you want to change career, and you want to understand different elements of digital. So there is content for everyone. But the way it’s managed is that we ask people to share their own skills. So rather than me as the trainer coming in and sharing my knowledge, we ask everybody to come and share their knowledge, which means we have kind of a skill sharing community. So it becomes not just a place to pick up a training course from digital women as such, it becomes a place where everybody can share their skill. And what that means is that people who already have these great skills have an opportunity now to show that they are knowledgeable. And I think that’s really, really important. And especially for women, because it’s often known that we have imposter syndrome, and we are less likely to be on panels, and which is getting better now, especially digital and technology. Because five years ago, you wouldn’t see any women or the technology or a digital panel would you. And so we’re giving people the opportunity to be on the panel, to have their first speaking slot and that kind of thing, as well and share their knowledge and give them the confidence to do it in front of an audience whilst teaching other people in the community as well. So it’s a really nice way to bring the community together.

Shelley  11:25

Oh, I love it. I love it. And so if you are the owner of a community are a custodian of the community, how does that work? If you’re the person that set it up? And you’re the one managing it? How do you allow it to have this life of its own, but also keep it on track, so to speak? Or how was that how was that process managed?

Lucy Hall  11:43

Look, it’s really hard to create and manage your communities it’s not that easy, you’re gonna have different reasons for wanting to create one, some people could start a community because they want connection themselves. Some people start a community because in the back of their mind, they want to make sales or they they want to have a business from the from it. But whatever happens, it takes a lot of time to create a community. And when the community does kick off, and people start discussing amongst themselves and becoming this real kind of community, you’ll find that you still have to be there to manage the community. So funding a community is really important. Understanding that it’s your  community but you can’t really own a community, it’s not your community and lead a community if you can’t own it, because the community will go off and have their own conversations. I mean, there’s people within our community who already have their own subgroups where they talk to each other. And there, it all started from digital women, but now they have their own meetups, which I think is amazing.

Graham  12:33

You mentioned previously that you obviously we saw a spike in communities during the pandemic, which as you say is, you know, understandable, because people were kind of reaching out. But contact because we were all locked up inside, you got any tips for people to kind of keep those communities going, as we start to venture back out into our real worlds, right? We go out back to work, and you start to see family again. And that need for some people may be fulfilled in other ways. But there are still going to be a lot of people that are heavily dependent on the communities that have been brought up through this process. If you’ve got anything that you can suggest around, how do you keep that momentum going? How do you continue to grow the community as they move forward? And what point do you start to reach out and ask for help the concept of the moderator and people that kind of work within communities to make sure things are going forward?

Lucy Hall  13:17

I mean, there’s a couple of questions there isn’t there, there’s the one about the moderators. And yeah, if your community is growing, you’re gonna need more moderators. Because it takes time, the best moderators are the people who are the most active, because they’re there anyway, they love it, they normally policing it, they’re normally letting people know if they’ve said something or done something wrong. Anyway, literally the best people and you can trust them, because they’re so integrated into the community. It’s such a big part of their life, that they’re the people that you want, and you can definitely trust them. So you would, you know, make them moderators. And to do that you should just have a set of guidelines, and have a set of almost rules about what’s acceptable, what’s not acceptable and give it to them. And it’s, again, you’re not paying them. So you might want to offer some kind of incentive or something like that, say that you’ll out their picture on the website or put their picture up as the moderator of the community. Normally, that’s enough, because they love the community so much. They want to share everyone’s part of it. And the other question was, how do you keep the community alive? How do you keep the community going? I think at first, like I said, you do have to put a lot of work into the community, she had to get the right people into the community, and then other people have to be able to share the community. But generally, I think you do have to create content. As a community leader, you have to create content that is engaging, that ask people questions that bring people into the community to talk to each other. And you’d have to ask the community to invite other people who they think would enjoy being part of the community as well. That’s how you grow it. And that’s how you keep people engaging. So you can’t just even when the community is created, and everybody’s talking about whatever binds them together, you can’t completely step back. You have to be there to get the conversation going sometimes.

Shelley  14:49

And so if you had any other tips and insights and advice, I mean, there are a lot of good insights just in that question that you wanted there, Lucy about how to grow it. How to keep people engaged and little tips about how you can go about those things. Is there anything else that you feel that we haven’t touched on?

Lucy Hall  15:05

Yeah, I think I’m just going back to basics, like who is this person that is in this community? And what do they want? What do they like? How can we make sure that we’re meeting their their needs? And how can we motivate them to keep joining in the conversation? I think that’s really, really important. And again, making sure that your mission, you have a mission for the community, like what is this community? It might be just like the crafting community, for example, bringing people together, who love to craft and want to talk about it every day? What is the mission? Or why are you doing it? What do you want to achieve there? Knowing that it’s really, really important, making sure you’ve got a set of guidelines for your community? What’s acceptable, and what’s not? Is this a safe space for people to be able to talk to each other? Can they share spam, you know, all of their products and services? Probably not. You need and people need to know all of that stuff. So before you even go to the community, put those things down on a piece of paper, and then talk to your community regularly and ask them what do they want? What is it that’s connecting them, because when you know this information, you can grow the community even larger, I think the other thing is really important. If you’re not a brand running community, you do have to find a way to fund it. So going out and looking for partnerships, and perhaps setting up a membership is really, really important. Otherwise, you’ll burn out and you’ll think what the hell am I doing all of this for.

Shelley  16:16

Lucy, that was all so, so amazing to hear. Thank you so much for all of that advice. I think for everybody listening, those are the things that they can actually go away in action, and they can start today, start writing things down and start getting a plan together. Thank you so much for your insight and your experience that you’ve shared with us today. It has been incredible.

Graham  16:32

Thank you for your time.

Shelley  16:34

That was Lucy Hall, lead trainer at Meta and founder of Digital Women. Lucy, thank you so much for your tips, your insights and your advice into the world of community building and community management. Certainly you touched on a few points that do indicate community is a bit of a dark art for a lot of people and a lot of brands. So we know that this podcast is going to be just so valuable to a lot of people and we cannot wait to have you again soon. For anybody interested please go ahead and join the Digital Women community that you can find on Facebook. And for all of you listening. See you next

Lucy Hall  16:34

Thank you.