Kathi Lipp welcomes Facebook group expert and community builder Tonya Kubo to the podcast today. If you want to grow your audience, create community, and create a place where you can challenge people who follow you to grow and change, then you need this episode.

Challenges are a great way to develop your online community, but even at the most basic level, there is an art to doing them well.

If you’re considering incorporating challenges into your community, keep listening. 

In today’s episode, you will know:

  • What is a challenge?
  • How you can naturally grow an audience using groups.
  • The benefits of challenges for you and for your group.
  • How will I use challenges to fulfill my promise to my community?

Check out these two Facebook Groups to learn more about thriving online groups and how to do challenges well with your community!

Tonya Kubo’s FB group:

Communicator Academy FB group:


To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our list now and never miss an episode or blog.

Transcript of this Episode

Read along with the podcast!


Communicator Academy Podcast #173

How to Create a Challenge for your Followers


<<intro music>>


Kathi – Well hey, friends. Welcome to Communicator Academy, where our heart is to equip and encourage men and women to become the communicators God has created them to be. Joining me today is one of my favorite biz people. We do a lot together, but she does a lot on her own. She’s the Energizer Bunny of Christian communication. It’s Tonya Kubo, who’s the founder of…okay, you have to do the Facebook group name.


Tonya – Well, you know, I’m rethinking it. No. I’m not. It’s The Secret to Thriving Online Communities.


Kathi – No, you should not. It’s a great name. So, people who want to grow their online communities and have effective online communities, Tonya is the bomb. She does all of this and she is so smart. I was just in there this morning, and I go, “I’m more of a lurker than a participant.” Because I already get enough Facebook notifications to send me into fits.


Tonya – What? You get a lot of Facebook notifications?


Kathi – I know. It’s shocking, right? I’m not complaining. I’m so grateful when somebody posts. In getting your followers; getting your groups engaged, it’s such a challenge. They’re so many things, so many choices people can make. So, one of the ways that you have been talking about getting your groups and the people who follow you on Facebook or Instagram, more engaged is in challenges. I would love for you to just define what a challenge is.


Tonya – Well, I think a challenge is anytime you encourage people to take a specific action.


Kathi – Okay.


Tonya – And let’s just add one more thing: you pay attention to whether they do it.


Kathi – Yes. That’s the big thing, ‘cause you can say, “You should all do this!” and they’re like, “We did it.” And you’re like “Okay, well we’re moving on to the next thing.” It’s kind of like our prayer lives. “Hey God! I could really use this.” And then that happens and, “Okay, but you know what? Now I really need this.” And it’s like, “Hmm. Maybe we just need to recognize when something happens.” Okay, so how do you use a challenge to grow your online community? I would think that that is one of the number one questions.


Tonya – Right. I always tell people, “What are you trying to grow?” Okay, I don’t actually tell them that. I ask them, ‘cause I’m nice.


Kathi – I want all the numbers.


Tonya – If you’re trying to grow all the numbers, you should probably be having your challenge on your Facebook page, your public Instagram profile, because having your challenge in your group, posting the challenge in your group, is a great way to draw traffic into the group, but you gotta tell people about it outside the group, otherwise they’re never going to find it, right?


Kathi – Wow. Yep.


Tonya – You did not ask me to do this, and this is not our plan, but I think you do a really good job of this. When you host a challenge, you make it a point to go, “Okay, if we’re going to go all in on this challenge, then we need to make sure everybody knows about it. So, you do a great job about doing a blog article about it. You do a podcast episode about it. Then, you go and you say, “You know what? We should email some people about this.” Then you email your subscribers about it. Here’s the difference between you, somebody that’s been in this industry for a decade? Two decades?


Kathi – Yeah, two decades.


Tonya – Two decades. Okay. You understand that not everybody sees everything and you don’t take offense to that. What I see with people who are relatively new to the industry, they’re so afraid to offend people by over communicating. They don’t want to be repetitive. But you kind of have to be. You’ve got to make sure you tell people in all facets of your business that this is what you’re doing. Then, you just got to back it up and keep it going


Kathi – Yes. I can’t tell you how many times I feel like, “Oh my goodness. I am annoying everybody.” Then, somebody says later, “Oh, I didn’t even know about that.” I’m like, “How did you not know? I was Kim Kardashian. I was everywhere. You couldn’t get away from me!”


Tonya – Right! But the thing is, we live with us, right? So, we’re the ones that are saying it over and over again. I think we get a little bit sick of ourselves, but other people do not get sick of us.


Kathi – I think it’s really interesting. I was reading something in your Facebook group today. There really are two different kinds of challenges. There’s the challenge that primarily benefits the follower. Then there’s the challenge that benefits you. Both are legitimate. Both need to happen. Can you explain what the difference is between those two are and give us an example?


Tonya – Okay, well, in Clutter Free Academy, to me, we do the best marriage of challenges that are mutually beneficial. If we could just be really honest and say that you would have sold a bunch of books once, just on the promise of Clutter Free, but if the principles in the book didn’t actually work, you wouldn’t have podcast listeners; you wouldn’t have blog followers.


Kathi – And wouldn’t have another book coming out, talking about how to put those principles into practice. Yeah.


Tonya – Right. You wouldn’t be booked as a speaker. The reason you have all this other activity is because what you said would work actually works. So, in Clutter Free Academy, we’re just really honest. We tell people, “Well, you can come here because you love Kathi, because you love that one podcast episode, but if you didn’t actually see change in your life, you wouldn’t keep coming back.” So, we create challenges that initiate and add incentives to change. Change is hard. It hurts. It’s painful. I’m not going to lie. I don’t actually want to organize anything in my life. Ever.


Kathi – I want it to be organized, I just don’t want to be the one to do it.


Tonya – But you know what? When everybody around me is posting all these pictures of activity, I’m like, “I should go do something!”


Kathi – It’s so inspiring, isn’t it?


Tonya – Right! Then, the funniest thing is when I’m sitting in my living room and I look around, I don’t go, “Wow! Look at all my hard work!” I go, “That Kathi Lipp. She’s amazing! If it weren’t for her, my living room wouldn’t look like this.”


Kathi – Oh my goodness, you crack me up.


Tonya – So, in Clutter Free Academy, we do challenges because we know people will feel better about themselves and their homes when they notice a little bit of difference. We know that they feel better because they’ll credit our community for having a little bit of difference.


Kathi – Right, and it’s so interesting. One of the things I find fascinating. Somebody, Rachel Lewis, who is one of our favorite people in the world.


Tonya – I love her.


Kathi – I love her, too. She was posting, in Clutter Free Academy. She goes, “The book has changed my life. It’s changed everything about how I do it.” You know what I’m going to say here, don’t you?


Tonya – I think I do.


Kathi – Somebody says, “Who’s the author of that book?” and it’s like, “You don’t even know where you are! Somebody dropped you in the middle of Kansas City, Missouri and you have no idea.” It’s like Dorothy going home. It’s so funny that people join this group and, for a while, they don’t know that there’s a book. They don’t know who I am. They don’t know who you are. They just know the program works.


Tonya – Right. Let’s be honest, because let’s get back to our topic of challenges and online communities. You can assume how people get to your online community, but you technically can’t control it.


Kathi – Right. Right.


Tonya – So many people who join my online community, and my online community is pretty small by online community standards, right? We have about 250 people, which I think is huge and amazing. I honestly thought I was going to have twenty when I started it. But, they’ll tell me all the time, “Oh, Facebook told me I should.” I’m like, “Really? Facebook told you that? ‘Cause I didn’t ask Facebook to say that, but if I could, I would do that more.”


Kathi – That’s amazing.


Tonya – So, Facebook told them, so they did.


Kathi – Facebook told them and they already had a need, so those two matched up.  Okay, now I do really feel like 90% of your challenges should be follower facing. What I mean by that is, the main benefit, if they do what you’ve challenged them to do, it benefits them, but every once in a while, to build my community; to serve my publisher, I might put out a challenge saying, “Hey! I would love an Amazon review.” Or “I would love for you to write an endorsement.” Or whatever that is. So, that’s definitely benefitting Kathi. So, what’s the difference? What’s the motivation? I’d love for you to talk a little bit about prizes. I know people ask me all the time, “How much do you need to spend? What do you need to do?”


Tonya – Well, I don’t actually think you need to spend much. Testimonies, for instance. I have a client who does contests for testimonies. It’s, basically, “You can win this prize if you tell me how I’ve helped you.” That’s pretty transparent. It’s pretty obvious that if I tell you have you’ve helped me, I’m helping you way more than I’m ever going to help me. So, she offers a fairly big ticket prize for that, because a genuine testimony is very valuable to her, because she may not know how she’s helped you. So, I think that’s a very clear case. If you need testimonies, and you are putting that out to the community, it makes sense to reward them for giving you testimonies. Now that could be something as simple as, “The first ten I get, get a $5 Starbucks gift card.” I have found that you don’t even have to tell people how much the Starbucks gift card is, because the assumption in our society is that it’s going to be about five dollars. You’re going to buy them a cup of Starbucks coffee. So, don’t think you have to give out five that are $25. You don’t.


Kathi – We do a $5 Starbucks card every week in Clutter Free Academy. It’s not for a specific challenge, we just like to recognize people, one: who are working the program and two: who are sharing about it and encouraging others. So, it’s not a specific challenge, but it does challenge them. People love to celebrate those who are contributing to our community. Now, okay, Tonya. How long should a challenge be? How long is too short and how long is too long?


Tonya – So, I think anything under five days is too short. Five days is your minimum, but in a lot of communities, five days is your maximum. Anybody can do anything for five days in a row. I say that, but the reality is that most people don’t do things for five days in a row. I recently hosted a live video challenge. I said, “Go live five days in a row.” Actually, no, I said five of seven days. Three people did it.


Kathi – But, a lot of people did it less than that.


Tonya – I was going to say, it’s not that three people attempted it. Three people completed it. But I knew that was going to be hard for people. There is so much stuff in your brain that gets between you and actually pushing Go Live, right? You think you have to look a certain way. You think you have to talk a certain way. You think you have to have things prepared. You have all these fears. I knew it was going to be hard, so I put some bigger ticket prizes and incentives behind that challenge. Not because it would help me directly, but I knew people needed a little bit of a push.


Kathi – And success is your best advertisement for your group.


Tonya – Say that again for the people in the back.


Kathi – Success is your best advertisement for your group. So, when somebody said, “I can’t believe you videotaped yourself five days in a row.” “I was challenged by Tonya.” “Okay, tell me about this Tonya.” It is what will get you to the next level.


Tonya – Exactly. So many of the videos, because I told people, “Tag me in your video and I will watch you, so you are guaranteed to have one viewer.” Right? They would say, “So, I’m going live today because I was challenged by Tonya Kubo, who has this group called The Secret to Thriving Online Communities.” I told them they had to be love for at least three minutes, so they were like, “If I just keep saying the name of her group, I’m guaranteed to get at least three minutes, ‘cause it’s a really long name.”


Kathi – The group name is really long, yes.


Tonya – It’s funny, because I could sit there, and be like, “Ugh. My group name is too long.” But instead, it’s just, “You’re welcome.”


Kathi – No, your group name is exactly right. You know what it does? It tells people exactly what they’re signing up for.


Tonya – Exactly.


Kathi – Okay, now, the last part of this. It’s fun to think up challenges, but there is one key component. I really want you to talk about this. I’ve been part of groups where they did a challenge, and I was like, “This has nothing to do with why I’m here.”


Tonya – Right?!


Kathi – So, I love the question that you ask yourself. How will I use challenges to fill my promise to my community? Talk about that.


Tonya – Okay, can we just be honest? I think I’ve been pretty blunt already, but I want to be super blunt. I came up, in this world, listening to Communicator Academy. I came up in this world attending Leverage, the speaker conference. So, I’ve learned one thing the very first time I went to Leverage. I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know what a sticky statement was and I was writing down all these things I was going to Google when I got home. I learned one thing that has stuck with me. That is, when I say I am a Christian communicator, I am delivering a promise to people. All of my integrity and my entire reputation is wrapped up in whether I fulfil that promise.


Kathi – Amen. Amen. Amen. Yes.


Tonya – So, when you’re going to create an online community, if it’s a Facebook group, if it’s a paid membership, whatever it is, here’s the deal: It is not your personal fan club.


Kathi – It’s not. It can’t be.


Tonya – It cannot be, because that is not what we’re here for.


Kathi – People will not stick around.


Tonya – No. People will not stick around.


Kathi – When the group stops serving them? I unsub from groups all the time. They started off as Christian communicator groups, and now they’re selling DoTerra. Nothing wrong with DoTerra.


Tonya – Nope. It’s just not what you signed on for.


Kathi – It’s not what I signed on for.


Tonya – Right? In Clutter Free Academy, if we went from ‘clearing the clutter from your heart, your home, your mind’ to a diet group, we would lose.


Kathi – I would hope we would lose almost everybody.


Tonya – 7900 of the 8200 people. Because that’s not what we promised them. That’s not why we got eighty two hundred people in the group.


Kathi – So, if your challenge is just to invite new members, you can get away with that, but there has to be a bigger purpose behind it.


Tonya – Right. I don’t want to advertise, I’m just thinking of different groups.


Kathi – No! No! Advertise your group. Everybody here should be a part of it.


Tonya – I have promised people that I’m going to deliver the secrets to thriving online communities, so when I do a video challenge, I’m not going to tell everybody to say how great my group is on my video. No no. My challenge is: You’re going to go live 5 out of seven days and I’m going to give you the education you need to connect with your audience through live video. That’s me fulfilling my promise while I am challenging you to do something that is going to be good for you.


Kathi – So, if you want to learn how to do a great challenge, if that’s something that would help you when you’re trying to figure out how to serve your audience better, Tonya’s not paying me for this, Tonya Kubo’s The Secret to Thriving Online Communities. See? I got it. We’ll put a link in the show notes. Look at me!


Tonya – Look at you! Yay!


Kathi – Go be a part of it. You’ll see how she does challenges and how intentional she is about it and what you can do as well. Tonya, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us.


Tonya – Thank you for inviting me.


Kathi – Always! Always. Thank you for joining us, friends. You’ve been listening to Communicator Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp. You’ve been given the best message in the world. Now, go live it.




*see show notes in podcas

Meet Your Hosts

Tonya Kubo

Tonya Kubo

Tonya Kubo believes in people over process and uses a personalized approach to help writers leverage the power of social media to launch books, online communities, membership programs and brands. She is the founder of the Clutter Free Academy Facebook group, Secret to Thriving Online Communities Facebook group and Clutter Free for Life membership program. She is a frequent guest on the Clutter Free Academy and Communicator Academy podcasts, and has taught at Leverage: The Speaker Conference.
Kathi Lipp

Kathi Lipp

Author, Speaker, Communicator Academy Creator and CEO

Communicator Academy founder, Leverage: The Speaker Conference creator and master instructor Kathi Lipp, is a national speaker and author of 17 books including “Clutter Free,” “Overwhelmed,” and “The Husband Project.”

She is a frequent guest on radio and TV, and has been named Focus on the Family radio’s “Best of Broadcast.”

She is the host of the popular podcast “Clutter Free Academy with Kathi Lipp.”

Over the past 10 years, Kathi has helped hundreds of people increase their platform through teaching and coaching. She is a frequent teacher at writer’ s conferences and has helped countless authors and speakers find their audiences.

Kathi’s desire to help fellow speakers and authors avoid the mistakes she made, increase their confidence and be the person God made them to be, inspired her creation of Communicator Academy. Her newest adventure, is The Red House where she offers writer’s retreats and Writers in Residence events. Learn more about the Red House at https:writingattheredhouse.com

Michele Cushatt

Michele Cushatt

Author, Speaker, Mastermind Coach

As an experiened keynote speaker and emcee, Michele Cushatt’s speaking experience includes Women of Faith, Compassion International, and various retreats, conferences and events held across the country. She has also led radio, video and audio recording projects.

She co-hosted with Michael Hyatt on the popular This Is Your Life podcast. In addition, Michele serves as part of the Dynamic Communicators International leadership team, led by best-selling author and sought-after speaker Ken Davis.

Michele coaches multiple large-platform speakers in how to craft and deliver powerful presentations.
Michele authored Undone: A Story of Making Peace with an Unexpected Life with Zondervan Publishers and I Am: A 60-Day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is. Her third book will be launched in Fall of 2019. She launched her first Mastermind group in January 2017 and is currently taking applications for her 2020 Mastermind.

Writing Tip Newsletter

Join us for encouragement as you write and get Kathi's free 7 Day Platform Plan!

Success! Please check email to confirm.