How to build a community around experimentation with Rommil Santiago

AI-Generated Summary

Koalatative’s Gerda Vogt-Thomas asks Rommil Santiago questions about how he started Experiment Nation and how he manages it while working a full-time job at Optimizely.



AI-Generated Transcript

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 0:00
How much maple syrup do you eat on a weekly basis?

Rommil Santiago 0:04
I always have an extra can in my cupboard. Nice but not not that. Not that. Not that crap you find in the airport.

Hi, I’m Rommil Santiago, the founder of experiment Nation. Today we have a different kind of episode for today’s episode. Gerda, the founder of Koalalitative is asking me questions from you, the community. You’re interested in how experiment nation got started, how I make time for it all? And what kind of maple syrup I like? Well, this is the episode for you. As always, thanks for listening. Now on to the episode.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 0:40
Hello, everyone who is watching this. My name is Gerda and I am the co founder of Koalatative which is a small CRO agency. And today I am here to interview Rommil and ask him questions about how and why he started experiment nation. And I wanted to do this because the whole like idea of building a community around your business or your brand is super hot topic right now. And I see a lot of people doing it. And it’s kind of hard. But Rommil has somehow somehow managed to build something successful. So I thought it would be interesting to ask you a bunch of questions how you did it, and, and how you feel about all about all of it. So thank you for for being here. And thank you

Rommil Santiago 1:35
for having me on my show. You’re welcome. No, no, seriously, thank you for hosting. That’s it. I’m always happy to be here.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 1:45
Cool. And maybe let’s start with like your new job. He recently got a new job, didn’t you? Congratulations.

Rommil Santiago 1:52
Thank you. Thank you. I started at Optimizely. About a month ago, at the time of this recording, I head up, go to market there for their feature experimentation line of business, which is pretty fun. You get to be knee deep and experimentation. Talk to everyone who’s really into it. So that’s that’s a nice change. Let’s all say. Yeah, it’s been good so far. Nice.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 2:16
And actually one of our anonymous questions was exactly about that, like, how is this new job going to? Influence? You’re sort of, I don’t know, direction with experiment nation, if at all?

Rommil Santiago 2:32
Yeah, I had some time to think about this. Even before I took the job was like, Well, what happens if I join a vendor of some sort, but I don’t think it will change anything. It’s something I pretty much laid out pretty clearly with Optimizely. That these are separate things. The tricky bit is we’re all talking the same people. So I’m trying to keep those worlds separate. But from what gets published, what doesn’t get published, not much changes, really, I’m still interested in looking for interesting conversations and topics and people and get those voices heard. So that mandate is never changing. I don’t see any reason for it to change in future.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 3:14
I imagine they benefit quite quite a bit from your exposure and all that you’ve built already as well. Right?

Rommil Santiago 3:21
The benefit indirectly, I think, because I’ve had conversations. So I can sound like I know what I’m talking about. I know what I’m talking about half the time, really. But the benefit in that regard in terms of the actual workings of it, they’re pretty hands off. So they don’t know much about that.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 3:44
Well, yeah, it’s super cool to see you working in such a large company and doing all of this on the side. And maybe that’s been like one of my questions as well. Like, how do you have the time to do all of this? Because even before experiment nation wasn’t like your full time job, was it? No,

Rommil Santiago 4:04
no, no, it was it was never a full time job. It was always on the side. How do I do it? I work on stuff well in advance. Weeks, months, quarters, if possible. So you’re familiar with the conference that starts weighing events. I work on that content well, before we publish. Automation is my best friend. So I write up the posts pretty far in advance. And the only times I’ll start getting my hands in there in real time is when I realized I’d made another typo, which happens more often than I’d like to admit. But yeah, scheduling planning in advance. Yeah, that’s that’s pretty much how I do it. It’s I tried to fit in where I can.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 4:52
Is it just you or do you have anyone helping you with all that? Um,

Rommil Santiago 4:56
I have guest hosts that come onto my podcast from time to time, maybe you know her, she’s got to. But yeah, I do have guest hosts. So that helps me because I do all the editing. I help source the interviews, I help with the guidelines and stuff like that. But for the most part, that’s the help I get everything else I do. So the survey stuff, the report stuff, that’s the site stuff, unfortunately, is me. I used to be a developer back in the dinosaur ages. So I kind of have an idea of what I’m doing. But half the time, like, I don’t know why this is broken. And I just struggle for like hours trying to figure out how to get people logged into the system again. So

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 5:41
have you tried to make good use of AI to help with site building?

Rommil Santiago 5:46
Not the site building itself, I have made a AI chat bot, which was cute. It was it’s not a huge project. But I haven’t leveraged it to do much for me. Yet, I’m sure. One day it will as if you believe all the LinkedIn posts, it’s gonna change my life and take me out of my job. So I’m waiting for that.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 6:07
I think somebody still needs to give it directions because it’s it’s an expert

Rommil Santiago 6:13
say, Yeah, but that’s what every company seems to think. Just do AI everything.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 6:19
True. Yeah, we just like we platformed our entire site. And Ryan also has like a development background. So he was able to do it with AI. But like, I wouldn’t be able to do it because I don’t have a development background. So like, yeah, I don’t I don’t know how people are just doing it without having the actual skills. I think its allies.

Rommil Santiago 6:45
We’ll never know, give it a few years AI will build something for AI, I’m sure.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 6:49
True. Yeah. I’m sure we’ll see lots of interesting stuff. But back to experiment nation. So I imagined that anyone watching this video already knows what this concept is half of them, maybe a third. I mean, they have to find the video somewhere. And they see that you have this YouTube channel and podcast and all that. But like, could you in your own words, explain what experiment nation is like? Because I feel like it’s much more than just a podcast, right?

Rommil Santiago 7:24
Oh, that’s a great question. Obviously, the word community comes up to mind. But the only the the joining thought or the unifying thought behind it is it’s a place where voices can be heard. And I think that’s the main theme of experimentation, where there’s a lot of other communities and they focus on different areas of it. This one is more about letting people come into the community and not really be judged. Like that happens a lot. I like

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 7:54
to Can you can you expand on that? What do you mean that it helps a lot? What is the judgment?

Rommil Santiago 8:02
If this is my face of thinking really fast on how to phrase something in, in a nice way, I think people who have been around in the industry have a very set way of doing things, and there have very strong opinions behind it. And they feel that everyone should do it their way. Which honestly, I’ve been in product management I’ve seen in development analytics, it’s the same pattern over and over and over. The people who are in industry first, speak the most get the most exposure, and they want everything to go according to their vision of it. So I don’t like that. i Yeah, all you hearing your voices.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 8:42
I agree with you 100% That the loudest voices always get the most attention, right. And that’s what I really liked about the conference that you put on. And first of all, it was just kind of like a good entry, low stakes way to get experience because it was pre recorded. Yeah, and the sort of winners or whatever were chosen based on like you actually have to do something, you have to put together this talk, as opposed to a lot of the other awards in our industry. Just go to the people that have the most followers and can you know, sort of share the thing like, oh, please vote for me. And then that’s it interesting that

Rommil Santiago 9:24
you, you raise that because every time I do something like an award or call out the the amount of struggle that happens, where it’s like, how can I make this so it can’t get gained? How can I get this to not have someone with the largest following always win? So there’s a great deal of thought and pain and struggle, and every time I publish something like when a winners list or a list of folks to follow. It’s always followed with a lot of what grief am I going to get in about 15 minutes? Well,

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 9:57
you can’t make everyone happy with that sort of Seems like somebody has to lose and somebody has to win. That’s it.

Rommil Santiago 10:03
Yeah, I try to make it fair. I try to make it representative in some way. And I’m sure that like, the My perspective on diversity and inclusion and all that evolves, and will continue to evolve. So I’m sure in a few years, I look back to now like, Oh, I could have done a better job. But you know, you do the best you can. True.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 10:25
And actually, one of the anonymous questions was about diversity as well, because that’s also a really hot topic right now. And the question was, what standards can be put in place to make communities legitimately diverse, because that’s one of the sort of criticisms of a lot of these communities as well, right.

Rommil Santiago 10:48
I can’t speak for the other communities, but I could say what experiment nation does. So this a little bit of a tangent. But at the beginning, I used to interview anyone who talked to me, because I was nobody. And I reached out to all the big names and the big names or, for better words, all white guys, like they. So I had a string of, I think, three months of white guys in my interviews, and I’m just thinking of who’s going to talk to me. And then I wrote, I had a panel of statisticians. And they’re all white guys. And I the title was, like, learn from some of the best statisticians in the in the field are what I can’t remember anymore. And I forgive me, I don’t remember who said it. But it was life changing where someone poked at me and said, You’re telling me there’s no statistician, who’s a female, a person of color, or someone who’s not just like, she’s just, I was, I took that comment. I was like, humble, I suck. And the truth is, like, people try people try to do their best. And you often don’t see what you you’ve been doing. Right? At that that day. And I started keeping a list of well, what’s the what’s the representation of my entire interview? Roster or would have your agenda? And it was like, this is one kind of person and this was the rest, like, Well, I gotta make that a little bit more equal. So that’s a long way around to answering your initial question where I tried to make it 5050, male, female, or those who identify that way? That’s like, I won’t deviate from that. Ever since that one comment, I figure, well, there’s a lot of people out there is no way I can’t make that happen. People of color, I try to get 25% 35%. And these are like, if you look at the conference, it’s always held that I’m trying to make that number higher. The I think my challenge is that experimentation is not that known outside of America, or some parts of Europe.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 12:58
People from like, 35 countries at the conferences are last year. Yeah, but they’re all English.

Rommil Santiago 13:05
So my exposure is I’ve tried to do multilingual before, but I realized I can’t do anything in other languages. I can’t speak it. So I can edit. So I think they’re talking about conversion rate, I have to two or three talks in French and My French is limited. I’m from Montreal. So sadly, my French should be better. So when I’m editing, like, I’m pretty sure I need to talk about when it comes to Portuguese and Spanish, it got really hard. So that’s my limiting factor. One of my biggest limiting factors is getting to different countries, because they speak a different language. I haven’t solved for that yet.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 13:46
Do you think there’s value in? Or what’s the value in doing all these things in different languages rather than one that everyone can kind of understand and come together with?

Rommil Santiago 13:58
My perspective, so I used to be an E commerce, I used to do marketing there. And one of the My biggest lessons is that you can’t transact, you can’t go into different country, thinking that they’re the United States. So for instance, from Canada, our verbiage is not as aggressive as America. And it’s definitely not as it’s way more aggressive in Canada than it is in the UK. Just that those are basic ones. And then you go to Germany, you can’t just translate English into German, you have to transcribe it, not just translate it. And then your site design is not going to work in Japan, because they have a totally different aesthetic sense. So I, I took all that and I kind of translate it into this kind of expansion of experimentation, or what have you, that they have different values and different perspectives that I think we all can learn from, right, because we all work on globe. Well, brands and they’re going to be represented in these countries that, you know, that are prospective should be heard. So I guess that’s a roundabout way of saying the simplest thing is that they’re their voices, probably we can learn from it and make something better on our own side.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 15:16
Yeah, it’s hard for sure. Because on the other hand, there is some sort of like critical mass within these communities as well, because for example, I’m from Estonia, right? And we have 1.3 million people in our country, it’s such a small number, that just like, I don’t know, but still for participating in even like the CRO community, which in itself is a pretty small community, like, there isn’t much happening just within my country, you know, like, I feel like I still need to need to participate in these international communities to like, get the value out of it. And, you know, market my business and whatever. Yeah, so bigger countries obviously have the advantage of like, even, you know, Latin America, or like countries or whatever.

Rommil Santiago 16:07
Like I was thinking about Brazil recently. So like, in a few years ago, I started working with folks from Brazil. And CRO is not as mature there. Or at least it wasn’t a few years ago. And I think it’s interesting that different countries or different, you know, maturity states in Yeah.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 16:26
And Netherlands seems to be an outlier. Such a small country, huge CRO committee. Yeah. I don’t know what’s happening there. But no,

Rommil Santiago 16:34
exactly. It’s like some parts of Canada, you have to explain what it is. No, I think. Yep. So you probably run into that a few times United States are fairly familiar. I find.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 16:48
My Excel I don’t know, I think it’s different on the east coast. So I’m on the West Coast and BC. And here just generally, the whole like, digital marketing industry. ecom doesn’t seem to be very advanced compared to Europe in the US maybe is like still most people are in more like traditional industries, like people our age even. So it’s kind of interesting that all of that. It feels like it hasn’t taken off to its full potential here for some reason.

Rommil Santiago 17:25
Does Vancouver have highways? So not a major one, as far as I know, maybe that’s the that’s not helping anything, but just my Vancouver friends. Okay. Sure.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 17:40
Yeah. Okay. So back to my questions. Maybe you can give us a little history lesson and take us back in time. And tell us about how and when you came up with the whole idea of creating experiment nation.

Rommil Santiago 17:56
Okay, well, I could go way back. So when I when I was what, no, that’s a joke. So in my last role, I headed up experiment, experimentation that I was trying to launch that practice. One of the ideas that we had was, I don’t even know why it was an idea. Like, that part escapes me. But we wanted to hold a small little event in Toronto. Oh, yeah, I remember we’re trying to hire. We were trying to hire Toronto talent. I was from Montreal, I didn’t know this area that well. So one of the ideas was like, let’s hold a little event. And invite people get a brand for ourselves and trying to find some folks. Being new here, I didn’t know anyone. So that’s when I started interviewing folks, just kind of like, hey, let’s, let’s have a talk. And so I had these conversations all with the mind of like building a small little brand, so that we were kind of known, and we’re gonna run an event. That was the initial idea. It wasn’t a good idea. But it was a, this was the start of it. And I found that those interviews were interesting. I was like, oh, talking to people talking shop with people who do the same thing as us kind of interesting. So that kind of stuck. I kept doing it for a bit. And after a few interviews, I went well, this probably should be bundled into a thing. And I did a little bit of brainstorm around experimentation. I wanted to cool name. But I didn’t want abbreviations because it probably wouldn’t translate well. And my initial choice was experimentation nation, but if you ever tried to type that out, URL, it’s the worst and you will try to put in a sentence, it won’t fit in Twitter. So I can catenate it. It was kind of like a wordplay experiment. Move the tea nation, or either I can’t remember. Okay. So that’s stuck. Those interviews kept resonating. And when I did more of them, more people started following because their friends thought it was cool that they created a kind of a bit of a feed loop the more interviews I more people I talked to, the more I learned, the more that the the this little thing grew. And it kept going and going and going. Yeah, that’s pretty much the genesis of it. I just kept following. What got heat, where I learned the most, and it was the most fun. I guess there’s something behind like, do what you love. I don’t 100% agree with that. But there’s probably something to it.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 20:25
And when was that?

Rommil Santiago 20:29
To that I want to say 2019 I should know this. Like, you know, boundaries were been around for so long, but you know it when it’s up? What is that side gig you kind of lose track of that sort of thing? Somewhere there 2019 Anything?

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 20:45
And when was the moment when you felt like okay, like this is actually taking off like we’re seeing real growth here.

Rommil Santiago 20:53
This is Rommil Santiago from experiment nation. Every week we share interviews with and conference sessions by our favorite conversion rate optimizers from around the world. So if you liked this video, smash that like button and consider subscribing it helps us a bunch. Now back to the episode. The first conference, I think at that moment, so before that it was growing, growing, like a follower a day or something kinda, this is cute. And then when I used to do the whole thing manually, Oh, you want access to access to the conference? Here’s the URL, because I put it on a hidden playlist on on YouTube. Surprise. That’s why I still do. So I thought, okay, email me, I’ll email you. And I used to be like, very personalized. Thank you for following you go. And at one point, I wake up every morning was like 20 3050. I was like, Okay, this, at that moment went, Okay, this is growing faster than I can handle. I think that was my first taste of it. And I’m realizing that that’s why the conference has stuck around. Pretty much because of from a growth perspective. It’s a little bit of a hockey stick every year. And I realized there’s gonna be diminishing returns, but that’s fine. I still have fun with it.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 22:07
And one of the anonymous questions for you was that have you been able to monetize experiment nation in any way? Like, do you get paid for it?

Rommil Santiago 22:15
Oh, billions. Like so much money? No, I joke a lot. Sorry. In the beginning, I had sponsors. So I thought, Oh, this is cute. I can I can sponsor this. And it, I think I did it more. It was less, more less about the money and more about the legitime that made it feel real. There’s a word. This event sponsored by Sony, I was like, Oh, my God, this this is, this is not just me doing it, this is a real thing. But then I quickly realized that when you do that you kind of sell it a bit in the sense of what you can do what you can’t do. But I was like, No, that’s not what I’m gonna do with this. So I can’t remember what when it’s like a year or two ago. I went Yeah, screw it. This is this is all out of my pocket, which is why I keep looking for cheaper podcasting solutions like this one. Not to disparage podcast or anything, but we’ll see how this goes. Okay.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 23:18
But in terms of like your YouTube channel, you have over 1000 subscribers now, I think isn’t that the thresholds to monetize with ads? Well,

Rommil Santiago 23:29
that’s a great question. There are three thresholds that you have to hit. So subscriber, yes, we passed that they lowered it to 500. So the follower thresholds is easy. The other ones are harder. So either you have to have 3 million views on shorts. I don’t make many shorts. I tried that for a bit. Like, I’m not that funny. So no one’s gonna watch me. The other one was watch hours. You have to have like 1000 something. Watch hours. Now that’s challenging when your videos are 20 minutes long. So am I am I there yet? Not quite there yet. But eventually, I can make like $5 a month or something?

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 24:15
Encouraging. Yeah, they must have changed that at some point. Because I think it used to be based only on subscribers. It used to

Rommil Santiago 24:23
be 1000. And then you monetize about two years ago, when I hit something 800 900 They changed it on me and went Oh, you faster. But at the same time, it’s never going to make that much money. I’d have to ramp this up like TEDx for it to be even something which is fine. Yeah,

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 24:43
true. So do you think of yourself as a content creator now or you’re still more an experimenter who does content on the side?

Rommil Santiago 24:55
I don’t have an answer for this. Am I a content creator? Kinda. I’m kind Like a repurposing of content I find because some a lot of these interviews are hosted by friends and, and well wishers in the community like yourself. And I kind of Yes, I create content, but it’s out of content that exists. So I kind of repurpose it. I guess I’m a little bit of an optimizer too, because I tweak along the way I see what’s working, what’s not working, we just have really long format went shorter. Even though if you notice the videos have different orders of things and different calls to actions in different places. That’s been like, we don’t have the 1000s of views per per video. So the analytics is sparse. So it’s a lot of trial and error. So there’s a still optimizer so it gets a little bit of both. I struggle in there. But it’s more fun to create the content, I think, because that’s the part people learn from. Yeah, so I guess I’m biased towards content.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 25:54
Yeah, the promotion is the hard part, right?

Rommil Santiago 25:57
Oh, I’m the worst. It’s what like, you’ll see me on LinkedIn a lot. But each one’s a pain. Each one’s like, I have to promote this. I should promote this.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 26:07
Yeah. When we started our business, we’re like, Okay, we’re gonna do content to market ourselves. I’m like, Okay, I made this video, I pressed publish. So I’m done. And then you realize, oh, no, now the work begins, I have to, like, start

Rommil Santiago 26:21
to find balance, right? Like, we all have social followings. And we don’t wanna be annoying. We want to provide value, but no one’s an idiot, either. They know that I’m pushing experimentation or Optimizely, obviously. So like everything I say, it has a little bit of a, you know, a bias, little grain of salt with it. But at the same time, if I don’t do it, the traffic doesn’t come. And then you know, you don’t get to do it anymore. So yeah, the promotion is hard. If you just try to find a style that strikes a balance between value and not selling your soul. What do you use

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 26:54
for video editing, by the way?

Rommil Santiago 26:59
I use whatever you use DaVinci Resolve. That’s, that’s why it’s free. I used to use GarageBand, which is fine. But I find eventually gives you a little bit more things to play with. And I wasn’t going to fork over money to Adobe quite yet. We’re not that big.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 27:16
Have you tried the script?

Rommil Santiago 27:20
This is Oh, yeah. So what we’re using now is squad cast, which is owned by Disney as part of it. Yeah. Yeah. I’ve haven’t used that as an editor. I think I’ll be trying that right after this. To be honest. To try the two things in parallel, I get kind of, I get kind of picky. It doesn’t show trust me. But I get, I get kind of picky on the edit. So I want to see how flexible it is. But yeah, I’ll be definitely trying.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 27:46
So the good thing about the script is that you can sort of edit within the transcript like you, you almost don’t have to like edit the video itself. You can just like cut out the words within the text. So it’s like really easy for like podcast purposes, if you’re not trying to edit and like visual effects and that kind of

Rommil Santiago 28:05
stuff. Yeah. Oh, no, I’ll check it out. It might be a path forward for the podcast, because I do make a video and a podcast. So videos will be a little bit trickier. But I don’t think anyone would complain if the video jerked around a bit.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 28:21
And in terms of experiment nation, do you have a longer term vision for it? Or? Or maybe even let’s go back again, like what was your vision when you started? And has it sort of like lived up to it so far?

Rommil Santiago 28:35
Wow, that makes it sound like I have a plan. So I’ll share some insight every year, and my closest circles will know will attest to this. Every December I take a break from all of this for so you won’t see new stuff between December and February something. Every year I go through the same conversation of I think that’s it. I think I’m done. Mostly because like, how much effort is this? Is it worth doing? Is anyone listening? Every, every year I kind of go, oh, let’s give it another kick at the can. So when you’re asking me a long term vision, my long term vision is like, months out. But as long as I do it, I still maintain my vision on in terms of giving everyone a voice but as a business or entity or what have you. I don’t have a very long vision in terms of what to do. That’s probably not inspiring to anybody. But the truth.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 29:40
I think it’s a good answer. I think it’s important to kind of like follow your own interest and what is fun for you to do. And once it’s not fun anymore, like it becomes a different thing, right?

Rommil Santiago 29:51
I mean, there’s challenges, right? You’re gonna you’re gonna have some fun. You’re gonna find some challenges along the way and some more often Not the friction is worth the gain. And then one day, the friction will be so high, it’s not worth it. That’s when you should start questioning and make sure it’s like it’s feeding your soul in some way. If it’s not, then I don’t know. Like, yeah, the question is like, why am I doing this?

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 30:16
So? Yeah, so in terms of that friction, is there any kind of like, big fail that you can share with us or something that you that really made you learn from it or rethink your strategy or goals or whatever? I don’t know. Just yeah, something related to experimentation.

Rommil Santiago 30:38
it because it’s hard to fail when you didn’t have many very, very big expectations. You know, like, it’s kinda like, do what I feel I like what I feel the community like, so you don’t necessarily fail, per se,

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 30:50
I guess an experiment? Yeah,

Rommil Santiago 30:53
I think it’s not even a big fail. I tried Wordle ones. And if you ever saw that, so there’s a CRO Wordle that I tried for a couple of years. If you don’t know what, that’s why it did. So well. There was a kind of a trend with Wordle. Everyone liked it. So I thought, Oh, what about us hero inspired Wordle? So there was some time investments, some creative and it’s like, you got to come up with a shit ton of zero terms that fit within the six letters or what have you. And yeah, that didn’t that didn’t go anywhere. So I guess the lesson I learned there is just don’t follow the trends blindly. Know, validate an assumption here and there. You know, that just for me, for all product people, for all ecommerce people don’t invest two, three quarters into building a feature unless you have a little bit of data. So maybe I should take my own own teachings at that moment. But yeah, I guess that’s something I learned.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 31:49
Yeah, but I mean, you gotta try different things. And you don’t know what you don’t know. Right?

Rommil Santiago 31:52
Yeah, I believe in that I believe in the your portfolio of tests or work that you need to have a moonshot in there somewhere, where it’s like, if this works, that’s amazing. But it can’t be like, 90% of your bandwidth. It’s kind of a small section. So yeah, exactly. Sure. Try.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 32:09
Do you have any advice for people that are trying to start their own online communities? Why?

Rommil Santiago 32:15
Why would you do why would you want to do?

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 32:20
Because? Because it’s you need to do it to be successful? It seems really?

Rommil Santiago 32:27
Do you have any advice? I don’t know. I guess, at the end of the day, I think it worked because I didn’t have much business pressure. You follow the community, you figure out you listen closely, you figure out what they like, they don’t like what they want, what they benefit from. I think once the business gets a little too much in the forefront, people will tune tune you out pretty fast. So if you’re like, oh, sponsored by XYZ, that’s part of like, the whole sponsorship problem I had before. Where if it’s too in front of people, like, oh, this person is just trying to sell me a thing. I’m not going to listen. But we’re all trying to sell a thing and to some extent. So just yet need to find that balance. Talk to your talk to your community a lot. That’s another another because it is very similar to product management, where you want to know your customer very well. And figure that out their pain points. You serve them, essentially, and you build a community. And if you don’t get why they like you or they don’t like you and be brave enough to talk to people who may not be that engaged with you. Like reach out to someone. I have a Slack channel. And I could tell who’s not that active. You sometimes you gotta reach out to these people, Hey, what’s not working? What’s what’s working. And that takes a little bit of guts, I guess, because they’re not gonna like you too much, because they will. Just stay tuned to your to your community, I think is obvious advice. But it’s something that really works. I guess I did have some advice. So

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 34:00
yeah, it’s good. And I agree, again, because I see vendors, especially trying to start like similar communities. And that’s like a struggle for them. Because everyone can like see it right away that the only purpose for starting that is selling right. Yeah, as opposed to having a genuine interest in just connecting with other people. Right.

Rommil Santiago 34:23
I think some products lend themselves to community a lot more. So I used to be I used to work at a place called 500 px. It’s a photography company, I think still around. And it was all the product itself was sharing photos. So that lends itself into a community you literally have a community sharing photos with each other, commenting on each other’s photos. So it was a marketplace in a sense of photos and feedback. So that you can build a community off that when when your product is sell a thing to someone else. There’s no love. There’s no communication really. This is a transit auction? I don’t know how many people are, you know, using your product today? It’s kind of weird. So I think vendors will always be challenged. I think they can do something around technical stuff, answer my questions to do my stuff. I think I think there’s a space for that. Be more of a support type community. But if you’re, if you want them to actively just start talking about randomness that you want to guide this conversation, you’re gonna, I think you’re gonna have a harder time. That’s just my cringe.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 35:33

Rommil Santiago 35:37
It’s kind of a reaction of, I think we all know what we’re talking about and what we’ve seen out there. So yeah. Okay, I have the last question for you. Yes. Are you ready? Are you ready? I’m ready.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 35:51
Okay. What is the best country and why is it Canada? That was an anonymous question.

Rommil Santiago 35:59
Wait, well, you’re from Estonia, are you?

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 36:02
I am.

Rommil Santiago 36:05
Okay, so hold on. Is Canada good country to you? It is. I love it. Okay. Okay. Are you going back to the Sony anytime?

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 36:15
To live? Probably not anytime soon. Hoping to visit? Oh, nice. Yeah, I’ve I’ve lived here for like, two three questions. Okay, no, I didn’t ask that. It was it was in the survey, I promise you.

Rommil Santiago 36:33
Um, why is it the best? Well, I like the it’s an okay. We’re close enough to the states to get good TV, and good television entertainment. So it’s a nice there. But we’re we’re a little less brash than Americans, which I think I appreciate this a little bit more. We were very sorry, first community, which maybe we go too far. Go with, but it’s polite. So for the most part, depends if you go to Hastings or not. Anyway, I think it’s fairly polite. I like snowboarding, so that’s fine. So what else? What else do I like? What kind of, you know, in the winter is great because it kills all the snakes and the deadly bugs? So that’s good.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 37:17
What are the likely bugs here? Well, you

Rommil Santiago 37:20
don’t see many scorpions. You don’t see many venomous like black widows in Canada, because usually the snow messes them up. If you like hockey, it’s great for hockey. I’m running out of stuff here does maple syrup. And we say a lot. So I guess that’s alright. How

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 37:37
much maple syrup do you eat on a weekly basis?

Rommil Santiago 37:41
I always have an extra can of my covered. But not not that not that. Not that crappy find the airport. You know, like it’s, I’m from Toronto, Montreal, Quebec makes most of the maple syrup. And just come in like these ugly cans. And if you’re not buying an ugly can from Quebec, it’s probably okay. Maple syrup.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 38:05
Yeah, I don’t think I had maple syrup once in my life before moving to Canada. And now I have it like at least once a week. You

Rommil Santiago 38:11
should know your true Canadian. I guess that’s why I guess it’s it I’m I had the opportunity to move to the United States a few times for different for different roles. And I couldn’t I couldn’t do it. It’s I like the diversity of Canada. For the most part, depends where you are. I guess the only part I don’t like is the prairies because it’s very flat. And sorry to all my prairie friends.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 38:37
Yeah. And it’s hard even for me to speak to the whole Canadian experience because I’ve only lived in one province in one town, right. And each province is quite different. And

Rommil Santiago 38:47
a good part. It’s a it’s one of the prettier nicest places in Canada.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 38:53
The nature is like insane. Like, it’s just I mean, unless you don’t like

Rommil Santiago 38:57
nature, then you pick the worst place. But I think you do like it. So you’d be like you’d hate Toronto. It’s all buildings and stuff.

Gerda Vogt-Thomas 39:06
And again, I really appreciate you coming on here. Because I know that it’s it’s not easy to just kind of sit there and answer questions about your own work and kind of like, you know, honorable and whatever is though. Well, I hope that we can chat soon again, and I’m sure a lot of people will find a lot of value in your experience and we’ll say sharing it. Okay. Let’s get to those like 10,000 views or whatever you need in YouTube to monetize. Nice,

Rommil Santiago 39:36
I wouldn’t mind like an extra kind of maple syrup every month. You know? That’s probably what you’ll get there. You’ll get there well I can dream I have a vision now. Nice. This is Rama Santiago from experiment nation. Every week we share interviews with and conference sessions by our favorite conversion rate optimizers from around the world. So if you liked this video, smash that like button and consider subscribing it helps us up Lunch

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Rommil Santiago