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Episode 5: Building a Passionate Community Around Your Brand

Building a passionate community around your brand is a powerful part of growing your business, but it can seem daunting in the beginning and isn’t without pitfalls. Hannah and Ben talk about the early days of Kadence and how a Facebook group helped support the brand’s growth. We also answer a listener’s question about dynamic content: what it is, when and how to use it with WordPress and Kadence. 

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Transcript for Episode 5 of The Kadence Beat

Kathy: Welcome to episode five of The Kadence Beat. This is the podcast about creating effective websites with WordPress, Kadence, and blocks. Hey, you guys, how are you doing this week?

Hannah: Good morning. Doing good.

Ben: Yeah, doing great here.

Kathy: Excellent. Let’s just dive right in and start talking about effective website strategies. We’re getting a lot of feedback from listeners that they’re really enjoying this portion of the podcast. So let’s talk more about effective website strategies.

And this topic is a little beyond the website. But what is a website for, but to connect people with your brand. And so we wanted to talk a little bit about how to get a community of fans around your brand in the internet age. And Kadence has been very successful in doing this. And I wanted to pick your brains a little bit about your experiences, especially in the early days of Kadence.

How did Kadence grow such an invested community of people who love Kadence?

Hannah: That a great question.

Ben: Let me just jump in and say if you’ve followed me on social media anywhere, which I would tell you not to, because you’ll notice I haven’t posted in years, and I’ve just never been good at it. So when Kadence started and one of the first things that I was so happy to be like, Hannah, you can be in charge of social media, whatever that means and whatever we need to do, just you be in charge.

So here’s me, wanting to focus on products and everything with Kadence in the early days, I’m like here, sister, you’re good at social media. I look at you on Instagram and it’s cool. Like, you figure this out. Hannah, what did you do?

Hannah: Yeah I cringe a little bit thinking back to what I did. I think we had a conversation and we were like what did we post? Do I just post pictures of like things that we’re creating and pictures of our theme. And that sounded so boring to me. And so we were like let’s just show the people that were normal, and that we’re cool, and that we do cool things. And we’re not just like techie people who sit behind screens all day. And we started this, almost outdoor brand. And we got a couple people comment and be like, oh my gosh, I love that you guys are normal people. I’m a Kadence fan because you guys love the outdoors and you live in Missoula and all these things.

I took that feedback and ran with it and didn’t do much of anything else for years probably. And then started realizing, I think it was at a WordCamp. Somebody was like, I don’t know who you are. You’re not on Twitter. You’re not doing this. You’re not doing that. And I was like, oh shoot. Yeah, people don’t know us. And so then I was like, okay, we need to broaden our space here.

Ben: Yeah. The first time… So Virtue had over a hundred thousand active installs and was on the top 10 popular list for four or five years. This is, back in 2000 13, 14, 15 And so one of the first time I went to a WordCamp, I just expected I’d be able to be like, yeah, like I’m Ben from Kadence.

And people would be like, oh yeah, the Virtue theme. Nobody knew about Kadence. Nobody even knew about the Virtue theme. I was like, how do we have this many users and no one here knows me. I spent an entire weekend at a WordCamp, just trying to find somebody that knew what Virtue was, knew anything about us.

And I didn’t find a single person. And so it was like, oh, okay. There’s a community in WordPress of people that want to be a part and have a conversation and all of that. And then there’s users who just go on, grab a website and they’re not actually engaging with the brand at all. And so I think for us, it was like, we got to find some ways to engage with the brand.

And I think, one of the big things early on was support. We’ve always taken the stance of we drop everything for support. I’m in support forums. Everybody is. We don’t just be like, that’s a secondary thing. If support’s not going well, then everything else is going to fall apart.

And so I feel like where we started to like, actually get a community of people that like, knew us or knew about Kadence is like largely through our support forums.

Hannah: Yeah. And there’s people listening to this podcast who have been on our support forums for five, six years. I know because they’ve told me on the forums and that’s super fun, and I feel connected to them. I’m like, we go way back. And that is cool. We were not just like robots over here. We really have tried to connect with people and support and do a really good job and go above and beyond. And that was our marketing tactic, or that was our outlet for success at the beginning was just being able to engage in that way and really, truly help people even one-on-one create effective websites.

Kathy: And so you had the forums, the support forums, but then you also started a Facebook community group. And how did that kind of come about and how did that affect the brand?

Hannah: Yeah. That’s a good question. I think for awhile we were hearing people say you need to be on Facebook, you need to be on Facebook. And then finally decided to create this Facebook group. Not really knowing if anybody would join or even wanting to be a part of it. And it was like so quickly, we were like, oh wow, we should have done this years ago because I think we have some 8,000 people in our Facebook group now.

And people are constantly dialoguing, creating community and posting their websites and asking for help. And it’s really beautiful to see this community that’s been formed in this group. And it’s really something I wish we would have done a long time ago.

Kathy: And I’m seeing people in that group, you guys probably know who they are. I’m new to Kadence, but I see people who don’t work for us who are helping other people. So it’s almost like you created like this little army of people who are supporting other users. So there’s a lot of community support that’s happening there.

Ben: Yeah, for the longest time I was trying to figure out how do we get people who want to engage, to help other people on our forums. So just labeling them, like community forums and things like that. But there really wasn’t any, like no one was answering, like helping each other out, until Facebook.

And then something about Facebook, say what you want about Facebook, but something about the feeling that these are real people, because there’s like when you’re on a website forum or whatever, you still don’t get that connection of like their profile and their information and oh, you, it’s so weird sometimes where you can click on somebody’s profile and be like, oh, that’s a picture of their kids, and that was her last birthday. And like you get you get these intimate views and people through that. And so when you’re in the group, you just get a sense of these are real people much more than any online forum. I feel like online forums, way more anonymous and then Facebook, but then inside the group, you’re still having a, a semi-private conversation.

Only the people in the group gets to see what this is. And yeah, what we didn’t know, and then getting involved there, that was a huge. Way to connect with people and just really build a community of people that wanted to help each other and wanted to take part and wanted to provide feedback.

We’ve gotten tons of feedback from Facebook.

Kathy: Now I know a lot of people, when they start a company, they worry a lot about, what the website’s gonna look like. They worry about what their logo’s going to look like and how they’re going to present themselves, what their mission is, or how they’re going to phrase things, the headline on their home page.

They put a lot of investment into that, but not necessarily putting themselves out there. There’s almost like this fear of wanting to hide behind the company and make the company look perfect and hide behind that, or not put themselves out there in that way. And so starting a Facebook group like that, where you are exposed as an individual associated with a brand can be scary. Did you guys have any experience like that? And what would you say to somebody who’s getting started and has those types of fears?

Ben: I would say I get you 100%, and I still live with those fears or whatever. I am very just want to be more private I don’t think to be like, oh let me just post this so everyone can see the twins and how the they’re rolling around now.

It’s not natural for me, but I often am like, man, I should. Because it is connection and people just want human connection. And they want to feel like you’re a real person and oh yeah, you’re experiencing similar things to me. And so I think certainly other people have done it better than the Kadence brand. But we have done some more of that. Creating a Facebook group was a nice way to isolate to be like we can post on our page as the brand, but then inside of the group, you can post as yourself. And that helps. But yeah I think it is tricky.

I think it’s also tricky to find like where you should be posting. Because if you just posted on your own social media, no one’s going to know that’s connected with your brand. So you do have to find that connection of you don’t want your brand’s social media just to be basically a reflection of your own, but at the same time, you want your brand social media to be more intimate than just this brand feeling.

And so I think finding out where that should be. It’s something you have to figure out for your audience and figure out for who you have, like maybe a Facebook group is the right decision, or maybe it’s something else. Maybe all of your fans are on Instagram and you’re going to do stories that are way more intimate and showing behind the scenes where your posts may, might be a little bit more professional and things like that. There has to be some exploration as to what’s working and then a willingness to be like, okay, so yeah, no one is following us on Instagram. Maybe we should try Twitter. Or like maybe that’s where our customers are at. And I think what’s helpful is to find those customers and be like, hey, where do you want to engage with us?

And that’s where for us, it was like over and over again. You guys should get a Facebook group.

Hannah: Just to add to that, I really don’t think you can downplay the importance of human connection. It’s so tempting in building a brand to want to create the solution that you’re bigger than you are. And I think there is strategy to that, that it’s not just you, it’s a team, but also you, there needs to be outlets where you can come down to the earth and be like this is who I am.

This is what we are. This is what we’re creating. And make it relatable. I think that’s so important.

Kathy: It’s important to moderate a community and make sure if there’s conflict or if somebody’s posting things that they shouldn’t, did that ever become a challenge, did it ever feel like it was too much or got out of hand?

Hannah: No, I definitely moderate a bit. And there’s some people that I don’t accept their posts, and I messaged them nicely. And and that’s that. But I think for the most part, people stay pretty kind.

Ben: I think what helps is like, we’re going to get complaints and every company is going to get complaints and we’re gonna drop the ball. We’re humans and we’re going to make mistakes or whatever, we’re going to miss it. And I think, when you’re dealing with a community like this, you just want to make sure, “Hey, we’ll make it right.”

We’ll do what we can and make sure that there’s a clear this is where you go for that. Because like a Facebook group is not where you go for “I100% need an answer from the support team at Kadence.” We’re going to miss a lot of posts in there because there’s just a lot of posts. It’s not like a support channel.

And so just making sure things are clear Hey, like this is a great. way to get community input, but if you need Kadence and you absolutely need to support, we have a support channel. And just trying to like constantly clarify that too can help a lot to be like, Hey maybe we did mess up or whatever, we’ll make it right. And this is where you can go to. To deal with that. So that way you can, help the flow.

Kathy: And then that way the community stays community and it’s not an individual type of support situation.

Ben: Yeah.

Kathy: Hannah, we got a question, didn’t we, from a customer that was listening to the podcast and had a specific question about, what was it, about dynamic content? What did they say?

Hannah: Yeah. So we had a question come in. He said, I’m new to the idea of dynamic content and I love that Kadence makes this possible. My problem is that I don’t have any good ideas for when to use it. I don’t need a how to, so as much as I thought talking about some example websites, maybe from different businesses would be great to hear about. I love this question, because I think dynamic content is so broad and so complex. And I think a lot of people are just like, eh, that’s a little scary and they don’t use it. So maybe, Ben, you could tell us some use cases for when this would be used and why to use it over other things or when not to use it.

Ben: Yeah. Let’s just start with what is dynamic content? And first, just maybe Kathy, you can outline like some of the history for dynamic content on the web.

Kathy: Cause I’m the old lady in this. I’ve been around, because I remember when WordPress came out, and back in the day I was just getting started with bringing databases online. I was blogging in the early days and Blogger came out, and Movable Type came out, and then this little tool called WordPress came out and I was like, oh, it’s using the same database class that I’m using on my PHP project over here. I’m going to play with this. And I’m like, oh, this is so much better because we’ve got data, our blog posts, our blog titles, our blog categories, all of this is separated from the design. Because back in the day, you wanted to change the look and feel of your blog all the time. Next month, it’s going to look completely different, but you didn’t want to go redesign every individual page. So having all of your blog content in a database made perfect sense, because if you were using Movable Type and you wanted to do that, the database engine would just kind of like output all of these HTML files.

And just, it was kind of a pain. If you were using Blogger, it was all on their systems. So it was kind of like using a Squarespace type of situation. Using a database made sense, cause it’s separated your content from the design and you can change your design.

I never really knew what plugins were going to be for back in the day, but I think we know now. It has made a lot of dynamic content possible like WooCommerce that’s dynamic content isn’t it? Products and product types and customers are all stored in this database.

And these databases are just basically like a collection of spreadsheets that are interrelated. So, one spreadsheet knows what is keyed into what another spreadsheet might have. So you might have customers associated with products and they’re keyed together so an an order is also connected with products and a customer. And so all of these different spreadsheets are related. So that dynamic content comes sort of a natural evolution of what WordPress set up in the early days. And now we’re seeing all kinds of things, aren’t we.

Ben: Yeah, I think you can drive that into an example being like your blog posts on your website is like sourced dynamically from a database. And so what Kadence dynamic content is what we call it, what that essentially is trying to do, or what’s giving you the option to do is to make connections with something you’ve put on your page in terms of “I want an image here” with some database entry somewhere. And so you typically, when you build a page, you put an image in, and then you source the image right then, and you say, I want to use this image and it’s static. So every time that page loads, that image shows because you statically said this image always associate with this URL. And what dynamic content does, is it can say if this image is being shown in this condition, I want to show this. Or if this image is being shown. And so what then you get is you get the ability to build templates where you say I’m going to design a template for how all of these posts are going to look.

And so just in the basic form, if you wanted to, you can go into Kadence, you can choose Elements, create a template, and you can override your single post type page template. And you can say instead of what Kadence automatically outputs, I want to output something totally different. I want, this big background image up here, and I want to source that background image to be something, maybe it’s the featured image for the post, or maybe it’s some other dynamic content.

And so you can outline the template. And then every time that single post is loaded, it’s going to say, okay, this is the post. And I’m going to pull all these elements in. And so that’s like what dynamic content is doing is this allowing you to design, but not source it statically, just source it from different kinds of dynamic sources that conditionally can change.

And so a common use case for this on your website, outside of let’s just say you want to control the post page, but what a lot of people want to do is a way to show my staff. And I want to make this caveat first. If you have three or four staff, you don’t want to go down this road, just make a page and put the three or four staff in it and you’re done.

But if you have 50 staff, and let’s say every month you’re taking one out or you’re adding two, and you need a way to manage that. Then it can make sense for you to create custom post type. Which you can do that with Custom Post Type UI plugin, and then use something like Advanced Custom Fields to basically say, instead of me using Gutenberg to design the staff layout, and then every time there’s a new staff person, they have to copy the old layout and put it in the new one.

You can basically say, you know what. I’m going to make this really easy on the person adding staff. I’m going to say, look, there’s a title, there’s a little description box and there’s social links right here. And there’s an image input. And so they’re basically just filling out a form on the back end of your site for every time they want to add a new staff. And then what you’re doing with dynamic content is you’re basically then going in and you’re creating the template. You’re going to say, okay, if we’re loading up a staff page, I want to source this Advanced Image block, I want it to be sourced from the image input that we’ve put in this custom post type.

And I want the title to be sourced from the post title, and I want the description to be sourced from this, advanced custom fields to meta description. And then down the road, if you wanted to change that design for all 50, 100 staff, you have, it’s very easy to do because you’re just changing one template versus needing to change every single staff post.

Kathy: So there’s a lot of different use cases for this. Let’s say if you’re a real estate company and you have a bunch of rentals that you’re trying to get rented, you could have those set up. You could have all of the properties that you’re trying to sell. You could have a listing of all of the types of clients they represent. Are they commercial? Or do they just deal with rentals. So you’re basically thinking out how a business, how it categorizes all of the different types of ways to interact with their products, their staff members, and you’re categorizing those types of things. And then making templates associated with the data that you’ve categorized. Does that sound about right?

Ben: Yeah, I think it’s important to know that dynamic content going to be the most successfully used when you’re talking about lots of data, like we have a lot of blog posts or we have a lot of portfolio posts, or a lot of testimonials. So when you just have a few, sourcing things and creating the templates and all that stuff, doesn’t really make sense.

But when you have a lot, it really can benefit you because now you have control over the template. That’s going to affect a lot of different things at once, and you’re not having to go in and manually change page by page.

Kathy: And the web is constantly evolving and look and feel of a modern site, that definition keeps changing. So you want to have your data separated from how things look, because then when you want to change all of that, you don’t have to go like customize each individual page for each individual employee.

You just want us create one template, change that template and boom. And all of this is built into Kadence. It’s in Kadence Elements templating. And there’s also dynamic elements in Kadence Blocks.

Ben: Yeah. If you’re going to be building templates, [WordPress] core has some basic dynamic blocks. Like they have a featured image block and a post header block. But if you want to do more advanced things, especially if you want to connect with Advanced Custom Fields, that’s where templating using Kadence Blocks Pro can be really powerful because then you can say I want the title to be on top of the featured image. You can do that because of the row layout. You can source that background dynamically, and then you can source the text to be the title dynamically. Everything that Kadence does in terms of we want to give you make this a design tool for your website in terms of giving you real control of the design.

And now you can source a lot of things dynamically. So you’re not limited to I’m going to create a custom template, but I only have five blocks that I can use. And there’s no design things to them, but I can only change the order of stuff. What Kadence the saying is no, you can design it. You can really design it and source it dynamically.

Kathy: Right. And so let’s say you have tons of data and you want to have. Let’s say it’s an employee listing. We’ll continue with that example, but you have one or two employees that you need to have something special happen with there. How would you approach that?

Ben: You could copy the template. That’s one option and then say, I want this template to apply to only these two staff. Like maybe you want to, you got your VP staff or something like that. Another way you can use Kadence Elements and hook it into the content, so you can say if I really just want to add a banner at the top of this, and so this is employee of the month or whatever. And I just want to put a banner right above their name while I can still use elements and hook that banner in right above the content. So that’s a way too, and elements is all conditional. So you can say, I only want this to load when it’s the staff. Exactly. So there’s different. Yeah. There’s certain ways you can even do it in the template itself. So in Kadence blocks, you can add a row layout block and say, hey, I only want what’s inside of this to conditionally load. When these certain conditions are met and you could say that condition might be so there’s a lot of ways to do it.

Kathy: Excellent. And what are some of the tools that somebody might need? They need to first set up the custom post type. And there’s a plugin that does that for free. It was at Custom Post Type UI that sets up…

Ben: Yup. That’s gonna, that’s gonna set up the custom post type in your admin, just like you have posts and pages. You can create a new one and call it staff and then Advanced Custom Fields is going to give you the option to add meta fields. So instead of someone just getting dropped into the Gutenberg editor, you can say, you know what?

I actually want to turn off the Gutenberg editor and I just want them to have a description box. That’s just going to take texts. And I just want them to have a link input. That’s just going to take a link. And so you can break down all the pieces that way.

Kathy: So you can create basically just a data entry thing that will allow it basically takes away the complexity of adding content. Just put this address right here, and nobody has to think about anything about fonts or colors or anything. That’s all handled by the template. Cool. All right. Well we’re really grateful for this question that allowed us to kind of dive into not only the concept of dynamic content, but also how to do some of this with Kadence. So that was really helpful. If you have a question we’d love to hear from you, because we’d love to help you get more out of WordPress and get more out of Kadence as well. What’s new and upcoming at Kadence.

Ben: Yeah, right now speaking of dynamic content. There’ll be an update out, over the next couple of days for Meta Box support. So right now we’ve primarily focused on our dynamic content sourcing support through Advanced Custom Fields. It’s free. It’s a great plugin, but Meta Box is also great popular option. And so that’s the next one we’re looking to support, like on a much better level. In general, Kadence can source any custom field, but when you get into these Meta Box creators. How they set up the custom field, they can save things in an array or in a string. And so it can be difficult to say I want to source an image, but what we’re doing is we’re saying, okay, if you’re using an image from Meta Box, we know what the data’s going to look like.

And so now we know how to output that. So Meta Box support will be coming along with some more dynamic stuff into Kadence Blocks Pro and that’s that set to launch here soon. We’re also working on a show more block, a progress bar block. So those are coming.

Right now there’s this annoying bug where if you are in block and you’re in the desktop mode and you switch to tablet, you lose where you were in that block in terms of the settings, like all the panels reset. And this is not a Kadence bug, this is actually a Gutenberg bug.

You can do this on any of their core blocks, does the same thing and there’s a ticket for it. And maybe this will get solved in [WordPress] 6.0, maybe not. So I think at this time, It’s annoying enough to us that we’re creating a fix for all of the Kadence Blocks. And then if core fixes it that’ll be great.

But for now, we’re going to just go ahead and fix it for Kadence Blocks. So that’s things like that, that we’re constantly like, okay, what’s the best way to do here? Do we wait? Do we not? This is a really annoying one. So we’re going to fix it.

Kathy: Excellent. Hey Hannah, did you see Ben was on Torque Social Hour talking about Kadence and full site editing?

Hannah: I did see that. He’s becoming a celebrity.

Kathy: He is. I got to watch a little bit of it. I haven’t watched the whole thing yet. I’m very excited to finish it up. A very, very good conversation. We’ll have a link to that in the show notes. And that’s all we’ve got for the Kadence Beat this week. We’re really grateful that you are listening and we will talk to you next week.

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