Community Growth: Advice from Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré

In one form or another, Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré has always been involved in customer engagement and growth hacking.

As a kid she taught herself HTML from source codes and as a teenager started ranking in the top 10 in Web Crawler for certain search terms — right around the time the concept of SEO began to emerge.

Today DeMeré heads up community growth for Inbound.org, and pitches in as a moderator at Growth Hackers and Product Hunt. She was gracious enough to take time out from these multiple roles to answer our questions.

How’d you get your start?

I started doing SEO when I was 12, before I knew that there was such a thing as SEO — but maybe there really wasn’t at the time.

I was fortunate that I had access to computers as a little girl because I grew up in a tech-savvy environment, and when I saw that other people were creating websites, I wanted to know how they were doing it.

My uncle showed me how to access source codes, and from there, I taught myself HTML, built web sites, and figured out how to get them to rank in search engines. (I was happily ranking in the top ten in Web Crawler for “home page.”)

Throughout high school, I worked as a web designer for local companies that wanted to start building an online presence.

But in 2000, when it was time to go to college, there weren’t any majors associated with what I was doing online, so I had to consider other options.

So, what did you study in college?

I studied Psychology because I wanted to better understand myself, and I studied Industrial-Organizational Psychology because, as an entrepreneur, I wanted to better understand how people think about the workplace and organizations.

I became specifically interested in job satisfaction and spent several semesters of independent study focused on it. I wanted to ensure that when I owned a business one day (and I did – I co-owned Inturact for six years), that my employees would be happy and productive.

(If you’re interested in learning more about I/O Psychology, check out resources provided by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.)

Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré

And how did you end up in customer success, growth, and community management?

I’ve always been passionate about bringing people together for a common cause.

Above all, I consider myself to be a curator. Curation has been a stepping stone into community management because it’s allowed me to build meaningful relationships with influencers and thought leaders by sharing their content.

Customer success is similar to community management in that it seeks to help customers be successful with a product and to turn those customers into brand advocates.

I was doing customer success when I worked with Trevor at Inturact, and didn’t realize that there was actually a field for it until I watched a webinar about it by Lincoln Murphy. I was delighted to learn that there was a body of research around it, that I could spend time learning from the people who had paved the way.

Do you find yourself applying I/O Psychology to your work today?

Having studied Tests and Measures, Psychometrics, and other statistics has helped me to understand the processes behind hypothesis-driven growth marketing used to help scale communities.

As a growth marketer, it’s imperative to understand the principles of Tests and Measures in depth.

To borrow from Wikipedia, the principles are:

  1. Standardization – All procedures and steps must be conducted with consistency and under the same environment to achieve the same testing performance from those being tested.
  2. Objectivity – Scoring such that subjective judgments and biases are minimized, with results for each test taker obtained in the same way.
  3. Test Norms – The average test score within a large group of people where the performance of one individual can be compared to the results of others by establishing a point of comparison or frame of reference.
  4. Reliability – Obtaining the same result after multiple testing.
  5. Validity – The type of test being administered must measure what it is intended to measure.

(To learn more, check out Psychological Testing and Assessment: An Introduction to Tests and Measurement.)


What has been your most successful growth strategy at Inbound.org so far?

Some of my favorite community-building growth tactics that aren’t necessarily specific to Inbound.org include:

  • Automating small, repeatable tasks
  • Building a solid moderation team
  • Using hypothesis-driven growth marketing to test hypotheses and iterate quickly
  • Delighting members (this is so important!)

And some of the recent strategies we’ve worked on to improve Inbound.org and help grow the community include:

  • Ensuring that there’s high-level content on the home page
  • Focusing more than ever on removing spam
  • Hosting weekly AMAs
  • Allowing members to blog on the site
  • Improving groups
  • Ramping up our social media efforts
  • Introducing a feedback object so that members can get feedback from the community to help improve their conversion efforts

And we’re working on improving several other features. (If you want to discuss our efforts in further detail, contact me on Twitter.)

How do you plan to get to 100,000 members by September?

As Tor Bair mentioned in Experimental Design on Inbound.org — Or Why We’re Eating So Much PIE, “Behind the scenes, Inbound.org is constantly going through changes. We’re always trying, tweaking, adding, removing, doing something to help strengthen this community.”

In it, he shares our experimental design process for testing hypotheses and scaling the community.

Can you tell me about your involvement with Growth Hackers and Product Hunt?

I assist with small changes here and there throughout the week for both Growth Hackers and Product HuntInbound.org is now my main priority, but I help out whenever I can with the other communities.

Growth Hackers

What’s it like to be a moderator for such fast-growing communities?

Every day I feel honored to be a part of these communities and at such an exciting time for all of them. 

It also means that I receive e-mails, Twitter DMs, and Facebook messages from members who need assistance. I might not be able to respond to them right away, but I am happy to help!

Do you approach the three roles differently?

The roles are entirely different because they’re different communities. The guidelines are different. The audiences are different.

On the other hand, the main approach in working within any community is to understand that the product isn’t what matters, the people matter. The product is just a medium being used by community members to connect.

Most common pitfalls when trying to build a community?

They don’t define an ideal member, focus on the that ideal member, craft a unique value propositiondelight members, or understand that acquisition isn’t successful without retention.

Product Hunt

Any advice for members of these communities?

Being a member of a community is an investment. Make sure you choose one in which your membership is mutually beneficial for you.

Is there overlap between community management and customer success?

As mentioned previously, there are some similarities among community management and customer success in the sense that there’s a focus on ensuring that users/members are successful and that they become brand advocates.

This drives the cost of acquisition down as the community or product scales, which becomes increasingly important as it grows.

Advice for creating brand advocates?

Ensure that the customer’s desired outcome for your product aligns with what they can accomplish with it.

Where do you see yourself professionally in 5 years? 10 years?

Impossible question to answer as there’s always new fields and technologies, and I tend to be an explorer.


Not only was DeMeré gracious enough to answer our questions, she also provided a slew of tools and tips on growing a community. We’ll be publishing her list of recommended books, sites, and apps next week. Please stay tuned!

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