Building an engaging community á la Jenni Lieto



The second Kopla Morning Class welcomed Jenni Lieto, the editor-in-chief of the Finnish women’s magazine Trendi and blog portal Over a lovely cup of coffee and some fresh croissants, Lieto told us how she and her colleagues have built their online reader community by listening and engaging readers.

Learning by doing

Lieto learned already early on in her career that listening and engaging readers takes her a long way. Before Trendi, Lieto worked as the editor-in-chief at Demi, a Finnish magazine targeted at teenage girls. At Demi she was introduced to one of the first online reader portals in Finland, Soon into her job at Demi she realised she had taken up quite a challenge: she would have to learn how to run and develop Demi’s online presence.

When Lieto started at Demi in 2005, the Finnish IT world was just taking its baby steps and it was difficult to find anyone who could help her with her challenge. Lieto could not but roll her sleeves and ’get to it’ with the help of her then colleagues. Reading young girls’ online discussions at and getting constant feedback from them taught Lieto the importance of listening and engaging her audiences. The girls who wrote on were not just the bread and butter of Demi but they truly cared and were attached to Demi. It was essential to keep them engaged by actively interacting with them online.

Building an online community based on people’s needs

As time passed, Lieto noticed the members started growing out of the portal. Unfortunately, there was no online portal for young women where they could move on to share their thoughts and discuss ‘more grown-up’ topics. That is where the idea of was born.

It was 2010 and blogging had become popular. As many young women were already used to sharing their thoughts by blogging, it only felt natural that would take the form of a blog portal. The team invited a few interesting bloggers to join the portal – in a way to set example of how the portal worked – but essentially they wanted to give a chance for anyone to create their own blog and write about whatever they wanted.

When building, Lieto and her team had the potential member constantly in mind – what she would like, need and so on. For example, Lieto knew from her previous experience that not all the portal users would actively share content so to make them feel like part of the Lily community the team created a ‘like’-function on the portal. Liking posts would enable all the community members participate in the community easily without making a big effort.

Giving people what they want

 As was launched, the team also actively created a feeling of community with their own actions. was based on values such as sisterhood and warmth so at the beginning the team wrote a lot of posts themselves and commented on members’ posts to communicate those values.

“People want to talk about themselves, their problems and big epiphanies. They want to be seen and show others that they’re good at something.” That is the secret of building an engaging community such as – giving people a chance to do just that.

What is Kopla Morning Class?

We at Kopla believe in on-going learning and developing new ways of doing our work. We believe the best way to do this is by learning from experts of different fields. The Kopla Morning Classes are monthly sessions which welcome Kopla’s clients and specialists of different fields to share bits of their expertise and discuss current topics related to customer understanding.