Dino Dogan Interview on Building a Community

I’m so glad I got to meet and speak to Dino Dogan, an absolutely fun person to be around, a connector, creator of one of the most passionate communities at Triberr.com.

Dino is sharing his advice on building a great community around a product.

Dino is a man on a mission. Bootstrapping Triberr with his team for years now, Dino built a community around real life values.

Helen: I’m joined today by Dino Dogan, founder of Triberr and a successful blogger. Dino, why don’t you share your advice on how to build a successful community?

Dino: Building a successful community around a product is a really interesting challenge. There’s a bunch of different ways to slice it, and a bunch of different ways to approach it. But if I had to summarize it, there would be two things. It starts obviously with the product, and if the product is solving a real problem, and if it’s doing it effectively. Solving a real problem effectively and efficiently, you just win a huge battle. That’s a tremendous foundation to build a community from, and then understanding what the product and values of the community actually are, like kind of deep values if you will.

To give you an example, Triberr is all about collaboration and reciprocity, these deep human drives. So, you can build content for the community that reflects those values. I think that’s a great way of bending the community together and sharing a culture. You’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to make a lot of mistakes. And your community, especially if they love you, especially if they are dedicated to you, are going to yell at you. They’re going to tell you, “you suck”. And then that’s an opportunity for you to listen and to solve their problem. You know, Triberr was a small operation resources-wise and itwas very stretched. And we’ve made a ton of mistakes, and those mistakes actually helped us to build a successful community because every complaint is an opportunity to do what’s right, to fix it and to provide excellent customer service which is something people don’t expect anymore. Those are some fundamentals. If you, folks, are on that, you’ll do well.

Helen: They say there are certain topics you should avoid when communicating with your audience, like politics and religion. Do you agree with that?

Dino: I did a session earlier, it’s called Insane Loyalty: How Do You Get People Fanatically Addicted to You? And I didn’t avoid those topics. We talked about religion and politics and bunch of other stuff that’s not usually discussed in a polite company. It’s a toughie. I think it’s a personal choice, a deeply personal choice. It can work, it can work for you really well. Chick-fil-A CEO was sharing his views on politics. A lot of people got pissed off about it but at the same time, the turnout the next day and a week later to Chick-fil-A was gangbusters. Common sense says, “Shut up! Don’t talk about that stuff.” But I don’t think it’s all too bad. I do it. I’m not saying it’s for everybody but, clearly, there are ways to do it; and when you do it, even if it backfires, it doesn’t destroy you and it can even help you.

Helen: What type of content is best to create to build a community?

Dino: Your community’s going to ask you a bunch of questions, so your content can just reflect that. It doesn’t have to be like deep rocket science or anything like that. They have a problem, they don’t know how to use a feature – you write content that explains how to use that feature or why that feature exists.

And going back to sharing values, common values of the community. That’s really important because it helps with the culture. Highlight people in your community because in every community there’re going to be different players who fill different roles. Some are going to be jesters, some are going to be example-setters, some are going to be do-gooders, some are going to be helpers, it doesn’t matter. So, whichever behavior you want to emphasize, whichever behavior you want to imbue your community with, you highlight those people that are doing those things. And that’s a win-win-win. It’s great content, it’s a way to thank those who are doing the right thing, it’s great way to build a community, so I think it may be another way to do it.

Helen: Why is it so important to find the biggest pain of your customers, and how do you actually do that?

Dino: Excellent question. Finding the biggest pain of your customer starts with really knowing and understanding your customer. We can go to so many amazing products that have been built over the human history, and you are always going to find a person that had this deep pain, and often that person went and produced the product that solved that pain. Rick, a Blog World NMX CEO and a founder of Blog World, this morning was saying that in 2006, as a blogger, he wanted to go to a blogging conference, and he tried to find one but it didn’t exist. So he made one.

Akio was the CEO of Sony in the 80s. Sony came up with Walkman. You know, Steve Jobs gets so much credit for inventing the iPod, the MP3 player but that’s like an incremental step in technology. That’s all that it was. The true leap in logic and in reality was done by the CEO of Sony in the 80s when he thought of Walkman. And there was no research department figuring out if this was going to be a viable product. He needed something to take on his flights to listen to – his operas and what not – because he was into classical music. And he wanted a portable player, so he asked his engineer to make him one. And there was no “is this going to work?” They just released it tomorrow. The day before Walkman was released, no one knew they needed a Walkman. The day after, everybody knew they needed a Walkman. He was solving his own pain. And that’s the best way to do it.

The second best way is to talk to your customers, to talk to your target audience. And when I say ‘you’, I mean the person that sets the vision for the product, for the brand, for the company. Because if you have somebody else to do it, it’s like playing Telephones when you’re kids. There’s so much fidelity lost by the time it trickles up, the information trickles up from the target audience to the people who are doing focus groups or whatever, to the agencies, to the management, to the CEO Envision Center. There’s so much fidelity lost in that process. You, the person that’s creating a vision, need to talk to people, high touch. Get out there, shake some hands, kiss some babies.

Helen: How can you use this pain when creating content for your customers?

Dino: It all goes back to the case when you have a product, it solves a real need, you need to highlight the solution. People will often come across such an issue: there’s a solution but they don’t know it, you have the solution but they don’t know it. So now it’s really the question of how you get the word out. Obviously, if you’re a business today and you want to exist online, you need a blog.

I’m going to plug Triberr now: we’ve built Triberr to help you get the word out. You have the product, it’s solving a need. The challenge is not really creating the content because it writes itself. Explain what it does, what pain it solves. But how do you get people to see it and then to use it.  And Triberr helps with that.

Helen: Dino, you’re the founder at Triberr. Can you tell us more about it?

Dino: We call it a blog amplification platform. But it’s the only social network that’s built from the ground up for the content creators because we are content creators. I’m a blogger, my co-founder, Dan Christo, is a blogger, his sister’s a blogger, his mom’s a blogger. SEO takes forever, and big players in the space always have the upper hand. How’s someone who’s not technical? How does someone who’s just starting out get their blog noticed? That was the question that we needed to solve. So, our mandate is to solve big problems for little bloggers. That’s what Triberr is about – it’s a social network for bloggers.

Helen: Dino, you managed to build a large community around Triberr. Can you share your action plan with us?

Dino: We don’t have an action plan. There are few things that have come naturally to us because we are bloggers, we are content creators, so we just write about stuff that comes to our mind, or people just force us to write because they keep asking the same question over and over again. You’re just like giving a final answer – you write a blog post about it.

But some of the best content that I feel that we’ve done…It’s like asking a musician about favorite song. And it’s never the hit, it’s always one of those obscure songs that they wrote on some obscure album that did nothing. Some of the best content I feel that we’ve put out there has been around those core values – what is Triberr about at its core. Then we write about things that reflect those values.

Solar Panel Blog is one of my clients. They are a Solar Panel Company. Is there a topic more boring than that? I don’t think so. They don’t write about solar panels. Who wants to sit there and read technical spects on solar panels? But that’s not what their blog is about. Their blog is about sustainability, their blog is about the green movement, their blog is about values that reflect what the product represents.

I think going to those values, figure out what those values are. Again, that’s a deeply personal question you have to answer for yourself, “what are those values?” Share those values, and then people will share those values with you. It will resonate with them, and I think it’s a great way to go about creating content.

Helen: Dino, thank you for sharing with us, it was a very insightful interview.

Dino: Thank you, Helen.

Did you figure out what your values are? What will your customers connect to? What is that community you are trying to build?