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Building a Community From Scratch: Deep Dive into Canva's Success Strategy

Explore Canva's community-building journey from its inception to its present-day status as a design giant with the Tobe Team. Unravel the strategies that helped Canva cultivate a robust, engaged community.

Building a Community From Scratch: Deep Dive into Canva's Success Strategy

In the rapidly evolving landscape of online platforms, the significance of community building is monumental. When we talk about platforms that have successfully bridged the gap between community building and user-centric development, Canva stands tall. Not just another online tool, Canva's ascension from its early days to the current status as a design giant is a testament to its robust community strategy. Unlike many platforms, Canva effortlessly juggles both B2B and B2C relationships.

Launched to the world in 2013, Canva made a formidable impression as an online design and visual communication platform. With a noble mission to empower everyone to design anything and publish anywhere, Canva found its niche. It wasn't solely a consumer product, nor was it entirely a professional tool like Adobe. Instead, Canva emerged as the 'prosumer' bridge connecting both worlds.

From our team's perspective, Canva's utility has been multifaceted. Andrew, initially aloof, now leans on Canva frequently for building presentations. Jen, on the other hand, has been using it right from her initiation into the Tobe Agency, primarily for creating marketing assets. Lisi, a staunch Adobe user, found her reservations wane, increasingly integrating Canva into her workflow for its seamless final asset export and its collaborative features.

So, what changed our minds and set them apart from other platforms? How have they nurtured and grown such a cohesive and engaged community? This post dives deep into Canva's community evolution and unravels the strategies behind their success.

Early Adoption and User-Centric Approach:

From the get-go, Founder Melanie Perkins and her dedicated team recognized the goldmine that is user feedback. Instead of relying on detached email surveys, they took a more genuine approach. By personally reaching out to potential users, organizing meetings, and even going the extra mile with door-to-door introductions, they ensured authentic feedback. Melanie's direct observational method, where she'd keenly watch users navigate the platform, provided unfiltered insights into user experiences. The early adopters weren't just users; they were the platform's pillars. Keeping open communication channels with these users helped Canva evolve according to genuine user needs.

The benefits of this approach were twofold. Not only did it lead to rapid platform improvements, but it also showcased to users that their feedback was not just heard, but actively implemented. Such genuine feedback collection deviates from the impersonal aura of email surveys and DMs, often laden with marketing undertones or scams.

Creation of Canva's Design School: 

When Canva introduced the Design School, it was more than just a repository of tutorials and courses. It was a manifestation of their commitment to user empowerment and education. By curating a vast array of tutorials, from beginner to advanced, they catered to users from all skill levels. Courses were meticulously designed to not just impart design knowledge but also to showcase how Canva could be utilized to its fullest potential.

Additionally, the design challenges added an interactive layer, prompting users to apply what they learned and share their creations, thereby fostering a sense of community and collaborative learning. All these initiatives ensured that Canva wasn't perceived merely as a tool but as an ecosystem that supported and nurtured the design aspirations of its users.


Empowering Brand Ambassadors and Influencers: 

Recognizing the influential power of creators, Canva launched Canva Creators, a platform that celebrates and promotes Canva-certified creatives. This move had multiple benefits. Firstly, it provided a platform for creative talents to showcase their work, gain recognition, and interact with a broader audience. Secondly, by associating with influencers in the design space, Canva tapped into their followers, ensuring that the platform received organic and credible promotion. In the digital age, where influencers can sway the choices of their audience, Canva's move to engage and empower them proved pivotal, especially during the brand's formative years.


Hosting Community Events: 

Engagement is the cornerstone of community-building, and Canva's Events Page stands as a testament to this philosophy. By organizing regular webinars, workshops, and Q&A sessions, Canva ensured sustained interaction with its user base. These events were not just informational but were meticulously designed to be interactive. Participants could ask questions, seek clarifications, and even share their experiences.

Furthermore, by bringing in industry experts and design professionals for these sessions, Canva underlined its commitment to delivering value to its community. Such events not only bolstered user engagement but also positioned Canva as a thought leader in the design space, always eager to share, educate, and collaborate.


Online Communities and Forums: 

With the rise of social media, Canva astutely leveraged platforms like their Facebook Group to create micro-communities. These forums became melting pots of creativity, where users from across the globe shared their designs, exchanged feedback, and discussed features.

Moreover, these platforms provided Canva with a direct line to their users. By monitoring discussions, Canva could glean invaluable insights into user needs, desired features, and areas of improvement. These forums also paved the way for users to interact with Canva's team directly, fostering a sense of belonging and reinforcing the idea that Canva was more than a company; it was a community-driven platform.


Using Community to Take a SaaS Products and Platform to Another Level: 

For SaaS platforms, communities aren't just value additions; they're necessities. Communities are trust-building mechanisms. They're realms where users voice concerns, point out bugs, suggest features, and even propagate product evangelism. A well-knit community acts as a deterrent against user churn, enhancing loyalty. In many cases, community membership itself becomes a coveted status, prompting users to strive for inclusion.

Such communities morph into knowledge-sharing hubs, with users assisting each other and sharing best practices. One only has to look at how HubSpot revolutionized its community through education, creating a methodology that resonated worldwide. From funnel structures to the now-famous flywheel, their community-driven approach became an industry standard.

In today's digital era, community building is more than just a strategy; it's the bedrock of sustained growth, especially for subscription-based models. For businesses seeking recurring revenue, it's imperative to constantly remind customers of the value they're receiving. Canva's journey underscores this. By treating customers as genuine partners and continually focusing on delivering value, they've built an engaged community that stands testament to their success.

Gleaned some insights from today's deep dive? Share it with friends and colleagues. Word of mouth still reigns supreme for growth. For more on community building and a plethora of marketing expertise spanning PPC, HubSpot management, and website development, check out  Tobe agency’s blog page.

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