Engaging Online Communities and More: An Interview with Zaarly’s T-Rave


I’ve recently been examining online communities and different approaches to promoting engagement and curating content.  During this time I’ve taken notice to recent location-based buyer-powered web startup Zaarly.  The fairly new web startup boasts over 14,000 followers on Twitter and over 30,000 likes on Facebook.  How did this new company rally such a large following in such a short time?  I’ve reached out to Zaarly social team member, T-Rave, and he was able to give insight into how the startup is rapidly establishing themselves as second to none in the social space.  A BIG thanks to T-Rave and the entire Zaarly team for their insight.

Here’s what T-Rave had to say about engaging online communities…

T-RAVE:  Thanks for contacting us Jerry. So my name is T-Rave and I am part of the social team, obviously, with the working title ‘Nu Media Engineer.  That title meaning going past the norm of what is being produced for our social channels and trying to produce and engage people in a new way with content on top of the message. 

JR: You’ve built an incredibly engaging online community on the social web.  Can you provide a broad overview of what Zaarly’s social web strategy has been?  Has it changed? 

T-RAVE: Well the most important part is community. We set our goals not only to push the brand but to be the helpful hand whether it be helping find someone to fulfill a Zaarly to trying to be help with tips, such as restaurant suggestion, etc. We started this effort even before the service was live. Strategy wise we break down how our content is delivered in different categories. One of which is education. There are still lots of questions to be answer about our platform, so we want offer the teaching part as well. In part it has changed and with all the new media there is, adaption is a must daily. But we do keep to our foundation.

JR:  A lot of online community managers struggle to create interesting content.  Can you provide insight into what makes for great content in an online community?

T-RAVE:  It’s about the community and it’s for the community. Use content that you would want to hear about and want to share. Baseball team win last night? People want to know about their local events and happenings. Have a great photo opportunity? Share it.  Photo’s are always a good thing. Most people can view it from where ever they are and people like to look at something. With that being said we are always trying new things to see what people like to engage with. Produce stuff that makes you smile, because someone else will probably do the same thing. 

JR:  How does the Zaarly team go about developing engaging content?

T-RAVE:  We try doing different things. We have produced content, such as Zaarly Grandma video, which came out of some creative thoughts in the office. Some pieces have been produced by fans and we love to share them. Some pieces are quick, such as pictures. We also like to highlight pieces on our blog.  Big success has been from our info-graphics, as well as, our highlights of Zaarly users. You should always try to push content that can be shared outside your user base. If outsiders are invited in, they are more likely to explore more about the brand and become part of the community.

JR: Maritz Research Company recently surveyed an online panel of nearly 1,300 consumers who frequently tweet and have complained about a product, service, brand or company.  Only about one-third received a response from the company about the complaint.  What is Zaarly’s approach to online consumer gripes?

T-RAVE:  Respond and find out the issue. With most gripes found on Twitter, I fully believe it’s a passive aggressive way to put it out there. When most people get a response it diffuses the situation at a substantial level. From there, most people come out with at least a neutral stance on the brand. In a recent tweet someone said they were not going to use Zaarly again. We chatted with them about the issue and by the end of the 6+ tweets they said they would give it another go. With all that said, there are the 2% that won’t let go of what they are trying to say. Those are the tough ones that after a little bit of engagement you walk away after your best efforts. We have found people upset with some of the current features on the platform or people backing out from an accepted offer. In fact, out of the $5+ million offers we have only had 1 or 2 people not get paid, so that is one I would personally think would be higher, but it’s not. So on the social side we want people to know that we want to help and resolve the issue. Honestly though, we have not seen all that many with the amount of post and offers we have had. 

JR: If you could give one piece of advice to online community managers everywhere, what would it be?

T-RAVE: Listen directly, help, and be aware of what people are saying about your brand. People are talking, so engage as how you would want to be listened and talked to.

JR: And Just for fun… What’s the wildest transaction you’re aware of on Zaarly to date

T-RAVE: Concert in the office. Marriage proposal signs on liberty island as they took a helicopter over. Keys out of the street drain by a fishing pole.