Blog HubSpot | 13 minute read

Podcast Pit Stop: Scott Wilder on Building Communities Around the Flywheel

Posted by Arielle Walsh on May 20, 2022
Arielle Walsh
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Scott Wilder, Head of Communities at HubSpot, talks with Brendan about how to build a community that supports the flywheel. He shares the three silos you should focus on to truly engage the community, prioritize customers, and create a frictionless environment that works for everyone. Wilder also touches on the importance of being transparent with internal community structure and how to reflect that externally.

Scott Wilder currently serves as the Head of Customer Engagement and Community at Hubspot, supporting the launch of customer engagement programs and helping to integrate offline events, user groups, webinars, academy programs, and developer portals. Prior to his work at Hubspot, Scott worked under growth marketing at Coursera, Adobe, and Marketo. 

 Take 15 minutes to listen and then head back to the races! 🏁🏆


Pitstop Highlights

Thinking Beyond the Customer Journey

When talking about customer journeys from a community perspective, journeys don’t always begin in the community itself. Journeys can start on Google,, or the product itself. It’s important to note that when looking at the customer journey as it relates to the community, know that it goes beyond the community borders. 

Additionally, when you look at the customer journey, look at it as “growth loops.” Take the onboarding experience, for instance. When onboarding at Hubspot, new hires are offered community courses on how to join and use the community through the links of Hubspot Academy. 

Using Data to Understand the Community

When using data to analyze communities, Scott emphasizes the importance of looking beyond response rates, time to respond, and the number of posts. Look towards individual users and see their engagement on your other platforms as well as non-owned platforms. Twitter, Linkedin, and Slack are just some of these types of non-owned platforms. 

        “We tend to look at that individual and say ‘How are they engaging with Hubspot as a whole?’” 

The data ultimately makes the community stronger because then you are able to understand user action and content that benefits the community’s overall experience. 

Connect with Scott: 

Full Transcript:

Brendan: Hey, everybody, welcome to Pit Stops to Podium. The RevPartners podcast, where we talk to execs who have competed and won. My name is Brendan Tolleson. I am the co-founder and CEO of RevPartners, and I'm delighted to have with me today, Scott K. Wilder of HubSpot for this edition of Pit Stops to Podium. Welcome, Scott. 

Scott: Thank you, Brendan. Great to be here. Great to make a pit stop with you and the team. 

Brendan: Well, we appreciate it. For those in the audience, just so you know who Scott is. Scott is the global head of customer engagement and community at HubSpot Scott. What does that mean? What does that mean?

Scott: Great question. So the majority of my job is managing community, the community platform that's customer and partner facing. Now, the way we think about it is historically, community tends to be discussion threads, maybe a few blogs, maybe a few knowledge based articles, but we think of it as a customer engagement platform on the platform itself. You can find advocacy, you can find webinars, you can find user group information, you can find study groups, some Academy related information. So rather than think of it as a community, even though that's a hot, top, hot and popular term today, we think of it as a customer engagement platform, a place where customers can go, connect, learn, grow and really master their master our products, master their craft and master their career.

Brendan: I love it, and that's a little bit of a teaser of where we're going. In terms of the big idea, we'll unpack what a community really looks like within the four walls of HubSpot and what's made it so successful. But Scott, before we do that, we have a tradition here at pit stops, at podium, and that's to get to know our guest outside of work. So what are three fun facts that our audience should know about you?

Scott: If you can't find me at home and a lot of people are working at home these days, you can find me a batter's box, the batting cage at Crissy Field in San Francisco, where I go.

Brendan: Really?

 Scott: Exactly. I used to go there just for my kid to take them to the batting cage. Now I go there whenever I have like any tension to let out or any stress needs. And I find a batting cage is really great, and I'm actually trying to teach myself how to hit lefty right now. So that's one thing. 

Brendan: Are you a Giants fan? 

Scott: I am a New York Yankees fan and an A's fan. 

Brendan: OK all right, I love it. 

Scott: I grew up in New York City, where I tell people in the inside, am I inside? I'm a typical New Yorker like, stubborn, aggressive, obnoxious on the outside, though after 20 some odd years in San Francisco, I'm just glad to be here. 

Brendan: Thats awesome. all right, what's your second fun fact? 

Scott: People often ask, like, what's your favorite place in the world? And you know, the common answer is someplace in Japan, someplace in Sweden. My favorite place in the world is not Nasseau Beach, Cape Cod in the United states. And the reason is, is because that's where I spent a lot of time growing up. Now I had to avoid the Red Sox fans when I were there since we talked about baseball. But you know, to me, it's like coming home that East coast, Northeast coast, where there's rocks, where there's sandy beaches. That's what I like the best. And then the third thing, right? So I've actually published two books, and they are topics that you would not think were related. So in 2007 I published a book with two other people on Gen Y, and I'd like to think it was one of the early books on Gen Y, and it was interviews with Gen Y’rs. And the reason I did that was really to learn about them. And then the second book, if you Google me with the K as my middle initial on Amazon, you'll see that there's two books around small business accounting. And the reason I did that was I worked at Intuit and then I consulted to xero and somebody had to create the content. And so I just said, I'll do it. And so I started writing all their blogs for zero, and then somebody had the smart idea of just turning into an e-book. So I don't know how the two tied together Gen Y and accounting, but I'll let others figure that out. 

Brendan: That's great. I don't know how you've got a very interesting three fun facts. I love it. I don't know how you deal with all the Red Sox fans, I imagine within the HubSpot community, but I think you have a leg up given the history of the Yankees versus the Red Sox. 

Scott: Yeah well, the one thing I would tell folks is if you're dealing with somebody from Hubspot, don't have your Zoom background, be Yankee stadium, which is what I did once.

Brendan: Well, let's transition, Scott. This this is really good to get to know you a little bit more. And in light of your experience and what you've been doing at Hubspot, the big idea here is really about how do you write? We'll talk about this big idea break down those walls, how to build a community to support the flywheel. So this is a really fun topic. You've got an intimate experience on how to build community, to your point, that is a big buzz word. And let's talk about from three silos. And let's start with the first silo, which was called the siloed group. 

Scott: Yeah, I think a lot of organizations, when they start to do community tends to be on the side sidelines, so to speak, it's kind of an add on to the user experience. And one way to determine that is if you go to a company's website, it's really interesting to see how community is highlighted on the website, right? So I believe that the navigation. A lot of websites represents the org structure. So that being said, is one of the things we work on at HubSpot is how to integrate the community team into other parts of the organization. And the way we do that is we have our core team and then we have what we'll call editors or some groups might have in the past have call them captains, but like editors, which are people that are dotted line into the community team. And so the community team is saying, look, we can't manage everything on the site because this thing is a customer engagement platform. So let's just take and be right. There's somebody who has more die and be experienced than I do. And so we basically set up the infrastructure for them to run, die and be community content, right? So they're going to engage with the community folks who can talk about that topic. They're going to figure out whether it's user generated content or homegrown content, et cetera, et cetera. And so we have a number of those models. Rev DevOps is another one, right? That's a hot topic. But there are people in the company who know rev ops better than I do. So the first thing is the kind of org infrastructure. The second thing I think is really important is those you need a culture, right? The culture really impacts how you run different run community. I believe that community will reflect, reflect the culture that's in the community itself. So, you know, our core values are flexibility. So the flexibility to say, hey, this dhiab person or this rev ops person can really run with that part of the site autonomy to not micromanagement and say, look, we're the community cops. Transparency is the next one. So just really being open with all the data we have, and I'll get back to that in a second. And then belonging. The thing about transparency is with our champion, something we're implementing is right. So this is taking the company culture and extending it beyond community is we're going to share our data with them. Right there's no reason why, you know, there's no reason why we can't share with them how the community is doing because we're kind of all in this together, right? I look at them as co-owners of the process and something I've been talking about what I used to do it into in and other companies I used to work with in terms of transparency and openness is inviting customers to your meetings, invite them to the table, make them part of the decision making process. So that's what I mean about knocking down solos internally, as well as how you work with people outside the company.

Brendan: Yeah like you talk kind of two key pillars. There was really around, you know, bringing into the broader organization, but also as it relates to reflect the culture that you're trying to create. All right. Let's let's transition to the second silo. Let's talk about the journey and specifically thinking beyond the customer journey. So what does that mean in your mind? 

Scott: Yes, so I think, you know, when we talk about customer journey, one of my pet peeves is that we have all these really smart people that go in a room and come up with a customer journey. And then the customer journey tends to stay in the virtual closet for six months a year, et cetera, right? We create the customer journey and then we don't go back and kind of confirm what we thought was the journey. And the journey is going to change over time. From a community perspective, you're going to add new features, et cetera. And the second thing which I kind of alluded to earlier, is working with customers to create the journey. Now, in terms of silos, the journey doesn't start on community, right? The journey could start at Google. It could start at HubSpot. It could start in the product. And so when you're looking at the customer journey as it relates to community, know that it goes beyond the community borders. And another really good example of that is when I worked at Intuit. If you've ever done your own taxes, Brendan, I don't know if you do your own taxes, but I have. It's painful. OK, so we'll talk about taxes since I wrote some of my accounting. But if you've ever used turbotax, what we built there and I was there for the first generation of it was something called live community. So as you go through your journey of as you go through turbotax and fill out your tax information, if you have a question or you're interested in learning more, you can actually see content that's contextual flowing in from the community itself. So it's real time. So that's a perfect example of taking the community experience and kind of and pushing it out, syndicating it. That's the word I was looking for, syndicating it to other platforms. You can embed it like we did with turbotax. You can embed it into your own company website. So it's really bottom line is when you think about the customer journey, don't think about it just in terms of community. Think about it, how it impacts where it starts, whether it's Google in the product, et cetera. The second point would be, and I know there's a long winded first point is, when you look at the customer journey is think about it in terms of these little growth loops or these key moments in time. Right? I'm a big believer in product growth, marketing growth. So if you look at let's just take onboarding, that's probably the most common one, right? So you look at the onboarding experience for somebody in community again. There's other factors that are going to be involved here besides the community itself, right? It could be, hey, you know, like what we do at HubSpot is there's a community course, right? You can take a course on community and how to use our community. So if you're going on, if you're onboarding on the HubSpot community, we might sprinkle in some links to the Academy so you can learn about it more. So I'll stop there. There's a lot to unpack, but that's basically what I mean by knocking down the solid silos for your customer journey. 

Brendan: Yeah, I like it, and we have. So let's get to summarize. We talked a little bit about how we break down the walls in 3 silos and want to talk about. We talked about the siloed group. We talked about the siloed journey. And now let's talk about that last point getting into siloed data that you talked to briefly in the first topic. So what does that mean to you in terms of siloed data? 

Scott: Yeah, I think, you know, we're all like wrestling with community data, and a lot of companies are popping up to help us understand the data better right to understand what's going on in terms of the community as well as on Twitter and places like that. So I think in terms of knocking down the silo, it's getting beyond just looking at your response rates, you know, looking at the time to respond just beyond how many posts you have. So it's really looking at those individual users and seeing their engagement on your other platforms. As well as non owned platforms, and what I mean by that is like on Twitter or LinkedIn or other, you know, slack, there's a lot of slack groups popping up, right? So we tend to look at that individual and say, how are they engaging with HubSpot as a whole on Twitter and these other platforms? We also look at them how they're engaging in our product, right? So what's the percentage of folks that are in our product that are going to community? And then we also the third group in terms of knocking down the silos as we look at revenue numbers for those individuals. So we basically are looking at engagement numbers on the community and comparing it to product usage and revenue numbers themselves. 

Brendan: Yeah and at the end of the day, the data ultimately makes the community better because then you're able to understand user actions content necessary to ultimately make that a better experience within that community at large. 

Scott: Yeah, we talked about baseball earlier. So you can, you know, batting cages. So moneyball, everybody likes talking about moneyball, but that really I actually try and apply a lot of Moneyball principles to Moneyball is a book about data analytics, and I try and apply a lot of that to apply a lot of that to community itself. And so we, the group here tends to be pretty relentless in terms of looking at metrics and looking at when we do x how does that impact a certain number? 

Brendan: Well, Scott, I love moneyball, and we use that a lot when we talk about robots. But it's been really great to hear how you've been able to build such an amazing community. I mean, if you look at HubSpot relative to most companies out there, I think most people would say HubSpot has figured out and has a really rich, engaging community that people really benefit from. So thank you for your practical insights. If people want to learn more from you, what is the best way for them to reach out?

Scott: I would say three ways, one is reach out to me on LinkedIn, I respond to everything. Go to the community and just look for Wilder. That's my username. And then you can always send me an email to as well or at HubSpot. 

Brendan: All right, Scott, thank you so much for your time. We appreciate it. And I'm sure we'll be in touch. Maybe we'll do an accounting podcast next. 

Scott: Sounds great. Thanks for the pit stop. Talk to you later. 


Pit Stops to Podium: A RevPartners Podcast

On the RevPartners Podcast, we talk to executives who have competed and won, accelerating their companies from High Growth to High Scale. Hosted by RevPartners Co-founder and CEO, Brendan Tolleson. Take some quick notes from each week's "Crew Chief" and then head back to the races!

Learn more