The Pros and Cons of Community Reporting to Product

Which team or leader does your community organization report into? And which would you like it to? Community teams can be successful as independent pillars or as part of other verticals, like product, ops, or marketing. In this episode of Community Signal, Danielle Maveal, the CCO (chief community officer) at Burb, shares how community professionals can be successful within a team’s product organization.

All reporting structures have their pros and cons, but product and community share the job of “deeply understand[ing] what the user wants and what their motivations are, and how to get them from point A to point B (2:17).” With a shared mandate, community and product teams that effectively partner can expand each other’s influence and success.

No matter what team you report into, creating a foundation in which all teams have respect for each other’s knowledge, experience, and processes is critical to every team, the business, and the community itself. Tune in to hear how Patrick and Danielle have fostered product relationships at Burb, CNN, Lyft, and more.

Danielle and Patrick also discuss:

  • The value that community pros can bring to product teams
  • Learning and leveraging product’s processes
  • How the OKR (objectives and key results) goal structure can be adapted by community pros
Continue reading “The Pros and Cons of Community Reporting to Product”

Bridging Continents and Countries in a Professional Association Community

Do you manage an international community? How do you thoughtfully foster community across different continents, languages, and norms? Mercedes Oppon-Kusi, the community manager for Europe for the International Legal Technology Association, is working to do just that for their community of technology pros working at law firms.

With ILTA originating in the U.S., Mercedes shares the differences in behaviors between U.S. and Europe-based community members, and how she has approached expanding the European chapter to include more countries. Her strategy comes back to advice that’s helpful no matter what stage your community is at: Overcome your biases as a community professional. Take time to learn the interests and challenges that impact your community members and scale thoughtfully.

As Mercedes puts it, “[It’s] about building that practical knowledge of the market, and then figuring out where to go first.”

Plus:

  • How to help community members break through the “I don’t have enough time” barrier
  • Why U.S. members are more engaged than their European counterparts
  • In-person events that help members feel bought-in to the ILTA community
Continue reading “Bridging Continents and Countries in a Professional Association Community”

The Disappearing News Media Comment Sections

As the former director of community for HuffPost, where he led the management of an active, massive comment section, Tim McDonald has had a unique vantage point to the mass closure of news media comment sections. Patrick and Tim go in depth on that topic on this episode.

Toward the end, Tim shares what he believes will be his greatest community ROI story: He has stage IV colon cancer and is in need of a liver donor and could get a lot closer with your help.  Please visit TimsLiver.com for more info.

Plus:

  • Why Tim believes he doesn’t make a good soccer referee – or content moderator
  • Keeping track of your community wins – both qualitative and quantitative
  • Leveraging relationships with influential community members to get your message across, rather than being the face of the community yourself
Continue reading “The Disappearing News Media Comment Sections”

Building Up Your Community Members, One Phone Call at a Time

Is speaking one-on-one with your community members part of your community strategy? For Tosin Abari, when building paid professional communities, it’s an integral part. His phone calls with community members provide an opportunity to reset the tone and remind each member of what they can learn, share, and achieve with their fellow community members.

Through this work, Tosin often finds that these one-on-one conversations with community members translate into their first forum post, or later down the line, becoming a community ambassador. What personal touches help you form deeper connections with your community members?

Where’d this strategy come from? Tosin has also worked as a director of player development Vanderbilt University’s football team. He explains how his work building relationships with students and their parents, helping them start off on this new chapter of their lives, prepared him for work in community management. 

Patrick and Tosin also discuss:

  • Tosin’s background in football
  • Why Tosin started taking phone calls with members without mentioning it to Patrick, his manager at the time
  • Where we focus our efforts in a world without vanity metrics
Continue reading “Building Up Your Community Members, One Phone Call at a Time”

Making Room for the Next Generation of Community Professionals

Which community leaders helped you grow as a professional? Who in the industry do you study from or reference? On the last episode of Community Signal, our guest Mohamed Mohammed mentioned how his former manager, Joe Pishgar, helped him feel welcome in the industry. “You belong here” were Joe’s encouraging words to Mohamed, and this phrase signifies an ethos that Joe brings to his role as chief community officer for VerticalScope.

Managing an organization of 27 full-time community pros, 30 contracted admins, and over 10,000 volunteer moderators across 1,200 sites, Joe understands the necessity of scale and delegation, but also realizes that delegating is not always as simple as it sounds. “There’s competing thoughts in your head that surround the force of delegating. On the one hand, you don’t have enough time to do it all. The time you spend in operational or in tactical, you’re not spending at the strategic, and no one else is going to spend time at the strategic level.” (13:18) Joe also explains that by delegating and creating space, we give our team members the opportunity to grow and experience community management for themselves. 

How have leaders made space for you to grow as a community professional and how can you create that space for others?

Joe and Patrick also discuss:

  • The difference between having community volunteers and exploiting them
  • The ebb and flow of hiring booms in the community industry
  • Unifying strategy in an organization with multiple stakeholders and individual contributors
Continue reading “Making Room for the Next Generation of Community Professionals”

Deepfakes in Your Community are Inevitable

This conversation with Mohamed Mohammed, a community manager and a PhD student studying deepfakes, is timely. Just last week, a deepfake emerged attempting to spread misinformation that the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, was announcing surrender to Russia’s invasion. In that situation, preparation and rapid response helped minimize the spread of misinformation.

So, what’s your community strategy against deepfakes? Mohamed recommends starting with learning from the information and experts in our field. He also shares an important reminder: As community professionals, while we may want to prevent all harms from happening, we simply can’t. However, we can minimize the harm that’s caused, and we can educate our community members to identify and flag suspicious behaviors. Just as many platforms adjusted their community guidelines and enforcement rubrics to prevent the spread of misinformation, deepfakes represent a new area for us to learn about and help our communities adapt.

Mohamed and Patrick also discuss:

  • Why science denial is banned in the Space.com community
  • What good governance on deepfakes might look like
  • Mohamed’s PhD on deepfakes
Continue reading “Deepfakes in Your Community are Inevitable”

Providing a Safe and Functional Community for Cancer Survivors

Online communities are can be essential for people impacted by illness. For those directly affected, their families, and support systems, these communities can provide a much needed place to share experiences, to vent, and to learn about different symptoms, treatments, and the intricacies of navigating the healthcare system. For our guest, Amanda Petersen, Planet Cancer provided such a community as she fought breast cancer in her early twenties.

Amanda has since continued to be an active contributor and moderator in online spaces dedicated to providing a safe and functional community for cancer survivors. In this conversation, she talks about the role that Planet Cancer played in her life in addition to why she felt motivated to start participating in r/breastcancer. The community exists and is functional because of its people –– people like Amanda that help to moderate the space and people that are looking to connect with others and find support in their journeys.

Whether a moderator takes a break or community members sadly pass away or move on, the rules that they have created and the space that they’ve fostered will continue to provide a meaningful community for cancer survivors.

Amanda and Patrick also discuss:

  • Rules that are representative of the community they serve and protect
  • The emotional labor of managing a community of care
  • How Planet Cancer helped Amanda through her own journey with cancer
Continue reading “Providing a Safe and Functional Community for Cancer Survivors”

Leveling Up Your Community Team With Specialized Roles

As community leaders, we’re responsible for people. The people in our communities and the people that serve them. In this episode, Chris Catania, head of community at Esri, shares how he approaches planning for growth and specialization for his community organization, for his people, and for his own role.

Chris is currently hiring for three roles, a community operations manager, a community manager for engagement and content, and a community manager for ArcGIS Ideas. Chris shares the responsibilities and scope for each of these roles, in addition to the challenges and advantages of hiring right now. In addition to the effects of the “great resignation,” as specialization and scope of responsibility within the community industry grows, so does the need to be clear in our job listings, success metrics, and paths to growth.

Chris and Patrick also discuss:

  • The role specializations and career paths that Chris is charting for his team and himself
  • Hiring for specializations within community
  • Communicating your team’s value to other execs (and around the dinner table)
Continue reading “Leveling Up Your Community Team With Specialized Roles”

Misuse of Community is Endemic in Web3

By now, even if you’re not super well-versed in the terminology of Web3, you’ve probably encountered some of the conversation around its relationship with community.

Like with any innovation or change in technology, there can and should be conversations about how Web3 will empower communities. However, we should also ask questions and think about how such change will impact communities, whether they embrace Web3 or not. For example, as Patrick and our guest, staff writer with The New Republic, Jacob Silverman discuss, NFTs may be empowering some artists, but for the DeviantArt community, it’s another way that they’re seeing their art exploited. And even for NFTs that are becoming ubiquitous, like Bored Apes Yacht Club, how much of the conversation or credit is given back to the artists?

This conversation will give you a great primer on Web3 terminology, but perhaps more importantly, it will equip you with questions and examples to understand the true role of community in the current iteration of Web3.

Jacob and Patrick also discuss:

  • The basics of Web3, including cryptocurrency, NFTs, and DAOs
  • Reasons why Web3 may not be as egalitarian as it seems
  • Why celebrity cryptocurrency clubs of today may not have the same permanence as online fan clubs that already exist
Continue reading “Misuse of Community is Endemic in Web3”

Online Community Building Lessons From Collaborative Board Games

When was the last time that you trusted your community with the responsibility of collaboration? In this episode of Community Signal, Matt Leacock shares lessons he’s learned while designing popular collaborative board games like Pandemic, Pandemic Legacy, and Forbidden Island.

Matt also discusses how he leans on the board game community for his own games. In the pre-launch stages, he has rallied supporters to pre-order his games and prove demand. In the development stages, he’s openly shared rules documents, inviting feedback from fans. After a game launches, he also discusses the role that players have when it comes to helping one another as questions and loopholes arise.

Having a shared goal –– winning the game –– is perhaps what motivates players to come together at all stages of the game’s development. Knowing that your community members also have a shared purpose or goal, are there ways that you could trust them with collaboration opportunities that could lead to positive outcomes for everyone? That’s winning! 

Matt and Patrick also discuss:

  • Competition within collaborative games
  • Establishing norms within games and communities
  • The importance of establishing straightforward nomenclature
Continue reading “Online Community Building Lessons From Collaborative Board Games”