Dario, please present yourself to our readers!
I’d be glad to. I come from Italy – to be more specific from sunny Sicilia and I live in Hamburg since already three years. I work as a Marketing Community Manager at ePages since November 2014.
There are certainly some readers who are not familiar with our community yet. Could you tell us something about its intent and purpose?
The community was established for all online merchants who want to share their passion for e-commerce with others. We have around 5,000 users who help each other and give tips and tricks regarding the ePages software, and also more general e-commerce topics. In my opinion, the community is the right place to develop your own online business further. As a bonus, you can also meet new friends!
What are your tasks as a community manager?
I lead discussions and my main goal is to make merchants become more successful. I regularly share online marketing tips and I ask the users about their experiences. We can learn a lot from our merchants – and it is great to see how they share their knowledge with others in the community. Further, I provide our merchants with the latest information on new features or modifications of the ePages software. If merchants give suggestions for improvements of our shop system, I forward them to our product management.
There is a reward system for users, which is integrated in the community. How exactly does it work?
It is very simple: Users, who are especially active in helping others and sharing their experience and tips, get a new title in the community, depending on their engagement. This title can be seen next to their entries and in their profile. First, they get the title “Community helper” and after that they can move up to “Community expert” or to the highest title “Community master”. Every four months, the best community helper, expert and master gets a reward from us – for instance different gadgets, discounts for our design service or tickets for the ePages academy.
As the community is build up very internationally, where do the users come from?
Yes, that is correct – the users come from all around the world. The majority comes from Germany and we further have many users from Spain, Italy, France, Great Britain and from the Netherlands. Hence, the community reflects the global appeal of our company.
How does the international exchange between the users from different countries work?
The community is available in five different languages: German, English, Spain, Italian and French. Google automatically translates the entire content. This means, that for example all posts that were written and published in German are shown to English users in English. In the ideal case, the user does not notice that he exchanges his knowledge with someone who talks a completely different language. Needless to say, this depends on the quality of the automatic translation.
Moreover, next to my mother tongue Italian I am also fluent in German, Spanish and English. This enables me to communicate with the merchants from different countries without using the automatic translation. It’s fun to do this and I really like it.
You have already mentioned that you collect suggestions for improvement of the ePages software and forward them to the product management. How exactly does the process look like?
The colleagues from product management discuss the suggestions and prioritise them. In order to correctly do this, they use different criteria such as effort, the needed time for the implementation, the utility of the implementation, how many merchants have expressed this wish and so on. Unfortunately, we cannot implement every request but every single one is thoroughly examined.
You are constantly developing the community further. Can you tell us which changes you are planning at the moment?
In the future, I will be personally standing in front of the camera to shoot videos for the community. This way I can build an even more personalised relation to the users. I have already started with shooting videos about tips and tricks for our merchants. Moreover, I will often be a part of the ePages academy events. I am always happy to personally get to know our users.
Internet communities have undergone strong changes during the last 20 years. During the last ten years, a lot of traditional discussion forums died because the communication got shifted to social networks, such as Facebook. How do you perceive this development?
You are right about this – social media, such as Facebook, has replaced a lot of discussion forums. I also think that this tendency will continue but it depends on the kind of forum. Our community offers for example an unique and abundant kind of communication that cannot be replaced completely by Facebook.
So you think that the ePages forum in this way will still exist in ten years?
It is difficult to say, as especially on the Internet, everything changes very fast. However, I believe that the forum will still exist in ten years but probably there will be a stronger connection between the community and other channels, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Imagine yourself at an ePages academy and you meet a merchant who does not want to be involved in the community. How would you convince such as person to participate?
I can only answer to this with a rhetorical question: Which online merchant does not want to be involved in a community in which thousands of merchants have a lot of experience with the software itself and e-commerce in general and can help each other in order to be more successful?
Well, this definitely sounds convincing. Last question: Do you have an area in the community you like the most?
Of course: It is the area: “Feedback for your shop”. Since I have opened it, a lot of merchants have presented their shop there and received numerous suggestions for improvement from other users. There are more than 500 entries in this area. I am really happy to see how helpful this area can be for merchants and how satisfied they are.
Thank you for the interview, Dario.