In this episode of Community Signal, Patrick talks to four past guests of the show, Paula Rosenberg, Tim Courtney, Scott Moore, and Daniel Marotta, who are all looking for new full-time career opportunities. We’re hoping that by tapping into the collective power of our listeners, we can help them find their next big thing.
We’ve never done this before, and here’s how you can help: First, we hope that you’ll take the time to hear their stories and the work that they’re proud to have been part of.
After doing so, if you know someone who has an opportunity that matches with their expertise, please connect with them through LinkedIn or reach out to us, and we’ll gladly make a connection. More than just links to job postings or job boards, we are trying to make direct, helpful connections to people who are hiring where one of these pros would be a great fit.
And even if you don’t know someone who is hiring, if you’re willing, we’d love for you to spread the word about this episode.
With each guest, Patrick dives into the following three questions. Have you reflected on these points recently?
- How would you summarize your experience?
- What’s an accomplishment from your career that you’re really proud of?
- What type of job are you looking for, including title, level, department, industry? Where do you think you’ll be happiest?
Our Podcast is Made Possible By…
If you enjoy our show, please know that it’s only possible with the generous support of our sponsors: Vanilla, a one-stop shop for online community and Localist, plan, promote, and measure events for your community.
On working across customer success, customer marketing, and community management (3:20): “[Working on different teams that touch community and] trying these different areas out [has allowed me to] see where my passions and my niche really are. … No matter what role [you have], you go on to understand each of those worlds and how those roles work because you’re going to need to collaborate with those different teams no matter what your lane is.” –@NYC_Paula
Creating experiences that reward users of all skill levels (11:25): “For every user, whether they succeed or not, we built a program [through LEGO IDEAS] that systematically treated everyone with respect and dignity, and also taught the organization how to systematically handle consumer feedback and consumer input, [in a way] that’s coming from a real place of passion.” –@timcourtney
Community management is above all else, about putting people first (18:23) “Of all the lessons I’ve learned, everything that I do, whether it’s community guidelines, whether it’s social design and technology, or whether it’s actually sitting down and talking with community members, it’s always about putting that group of people first.” –@scottmoore
Using data to explain the business impact of community (32:05): “We found out that people in the [Penn Foster online] community are vested, and they want to do well. They were taking more exams. They weren’t defaulting on their tuition. They were actually paying more month-to-month on their tuition. We’re finding value for the customer, but we’re also solving a business goal, and that’s top line revenue.” –@MassMarotta
About Our Guests
Paula Rosenberg has worked in community management, customer success, community events, and customer marketing. Her former employers include Vimeo, VHX, Quirky, and POGO Events. She’s also been a contributor to the WeSupport newsletter since 2016.
Tim Courtney is a customer experience, crowdsourcing, and community leader who built the LEGO IDEAS crowdsourcing platform from pilot to over 1 million users.
Scott Moore has over 25 years of experience helping organizations large and small build solid and successful, connected communities. This includes Digital Promise Global, Answers.com, Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, Communities.com, and Fujitsu.
Daniel Marotta is a community management veteran with over 12 years of experience. You can most often find him fine-tuning content and engagement strategies to continuously improve the customer experience. He previously worked at Penn Foster.
- Sponsor: Vanilla, a one-stop-shop for online community
- Sponsor: Localist, plan, promote, and measure events for your community
- Paula Rosenberg on LinkedIn
- Paula Rosenberg’s portfolio of published works
- Paula Rosenberg on Community Signal: How to Transition a Community Team After You Acquire Their Company
- Tim Courtney on LinkedIn
- The LEGO IDEAS community
- Tim Courtney on Community Signal: LEGO IDEAS and the Building Blocks of a Successful Crowdsourcing Community
- Scott Moore on LinkedIn
- Scott Moore on Twitter
- Scott Moore on Community Signal: Threats to Section 230 Threaten the Very Existence of Our Communities, Threats to Section 230 Should Unleash the Political Power of Community Professionals, Facebook Doesn’t Protect Black Children, But They Did Add “Community” to Their Mission Statement, So…, Ending the Millennial Conversation, Customer Experience Insurance and Other Short Stories, Retaining Talented Community Pros and What Makes a Great Boss? (3 Years of Community Signal), and Learning from Theme Park Design
- Daniel Marotta on LinkedIn
- Daniel Marotta on Community Signal: Students Who Use the Community Pass More Exams – and Pay More Tuition
[00:00:04] Announcer: You’re listening to Community Signal, the podcast for online community professionals. Sponsored by Vanilla, a one-stop-shop for online community and Localist, plan, promote, and measure events for your community. Tweet with @communitysignal as you listen. Here’s your host, Patrick O’Keefe.
[00:00:28] Patrick O’Keefe: Hello and thanks for listening to this episode of Community Signal where we’re going to do something that we’ve never done before in our first 167 episodes. I began our last show by saying that by the time it was released, I hope that the US presidential election had been called in favor of Joe Biden. Sure enough, it had, less than 48 hours earlier.
Following the election and knowing this episode will be released just a few days before Thanksgiving in the US, a time where we should be thankful for what we have, I was trying to come up with an episode that would reflect the spirit of the time and serve as a good post-election pallet cleanser. What I decided to do was to look back over all of our previous guests and see which ones were currently looking for work. Maybe we could put together an episode where we highlighted them, talked about their experience and the jobs that would make sense for them and maybe, just maybe, we, that’s you, me and everyone listening, could help them find their next thing, or at least spread the word and keep an eye out for them.
After researching our past guests and reaching out to those who had appeared were looking for work, I identified four former guests to highlight who were actively looking for full-time employment. Daniel Marotta, Paula Rosenberg, Scott Moore, and Tim Courtney. If you feel comfortable doing so, please share this episode with your professional networks. After listening to this episode, if you know someone who is hiring for a role where one or more of these pros would be a good fit, please connect them or contact me through communitysignal.com and I’ll connect them. This is an experiment and I really don’t know what to expect, but maybe we can do some good.
Speaking of good, our Patreon supporters support our show every month because they find value in it and we really appreciate it. This is a group that includes Jules Standen, Rachel Medanic, and Carol Benovic-Bradley. If you’d like to join them, please visit communitysignal.com/innercircle.
First, let’s talk to Paula Rosenberg. Paula has worked in community management, customer success, community events, and customer marketing. Her former employers include Vimeo, VHX, Quirky, and POGO Events. She’s also been a contributor to the WeSupport newsletter since 2016. Prior to working in tech, she worked in higher education as a student advisor and career counselor. Paula, currently volunteers on the alumni leadership council for Aquinas College and is involved with various animal rescue groups. She has also been a freelance writer for 12 years, having written for The Villager, Brit + Co, The Best Schools, and others.
Paula, welcome back.
[00:02:43] Paula Rosenberg: Thank you so much for having me, Patrick.
[00:02:45] Patrick O’Keefe: It’s my pleasure. I know you from your work at Vimeo and VHX around subscription retention, but as a professional, how would you summarize your experience?
[00:02:55] Paula Rosenberg: Sure. I would say that I really run the gamut in having just about every role within community that you could have. I’ve done customer support, I’ve done community management, I’ve done community events, I’ve done customer success and most recently customer marketing. What’s been really wonderful about that for me has been trying these different areas out, seeing where my passions and my niche really are, but I think it really does help no matter what role you go on to understand each of those worlds and how those roles work because you’re going to need to collaborate with those different teams no matter what your lane is.
[00:03:38] Patrick O’Keefe: Do you feel within that there is an area of someone said, Paula, what’s your specialty that you have a particular spot in mind? When community, some would say, “I’m a customer support person”, or, “I’m a customer success”, or, “I’m really about helping the community create content, or I’m B2B or I’m B2C.” There’s a lot of different things people throw around. Is there a lane that you really think of yourself as being well versed in?
[00:04:02] Paula Rosenberg: I really see my niche being that world of community engagement and customer success because I do really think that there’s a lot of crossover between those two. What I absolutely love is helping community members or customers be successful on whatever platform I happen to be working on and that’s what I really get a lot of personal fulfillment out of.
[00:04:29] Patrick O’Keefe: A lot of that at VHX helping people start their own streaming services. Looking back, what is one particular moment from your career or one accomplishment that you’re really proud of?
[00:04:40] Paula Rosenberg: Sure. VHX was acquired by Vimeo and I went over with the team. One thing I’m just really proud of is just evolving with the community there. When I started at VHX it was much more customers who were looking to sell a single title, and then that grew into smaller businesses, looking to launch a subscription network. Once we transitioned over to joining Vimeo, one of the projects that I am just so proud of is building this onboarding campaign that I built for customers because not only did it help more customers get onboarded faster, have more subscribers for their network, but it also helped us as a company pinpoint how we could be improving the user experience.
We were seeing where people were getting stuck in the onboarding funnel. Then it also helped us pinpoint what leads to high customer retention. We were able to figure out when a customer hits a certain number of subscribers that they had a really high retention rate with the company. Through that experience, I got to work really closely with the data science team. I learned how to use this product to Looker to run my own reports and be able to present on the effectiveness of the campaigns that I was running.
I think that’s just a really helpful skill to have in community, is we think of everything we do as being so qualitative that when you are actually able to back things up with the quantitative data too, and not show numbers of how what you are doing for community is also good for the business, then it’s win-win.
[00:06:20] Patrick O’Keefe: What type of jobs are you going out for? Like title, level, department, industry, what’s the right job look like for you? Where do you think you’ll be happiest?
[00:06:30] Paula Rosenberg: I’m looking mostly at mid-senior level community positions. Things like senior community manager, head of community, roles like that, senior customer success manager. Prior to working in tech I have a background in education, I was as student advisor. I’ve actually been focusing a lot on the EdTech space because I think for me that would be a perfect blend of something that I’m really passionate about.
I currently volunteer on my college’s alumni board for professional development opportunities for students and young alumni. I really get a lot out of being a mentor to students. Being able to blend that with all the experience I have in community would really be the ideal role for me.
[00:07:20] Patrick O’Keefe: Awesome. Paula, it’s always a pleasure. Good to chat with you and best of luck in your search.
[00:07:25] Paula Rosenberg: Thank you so much, Patrick, great to chat with you too. Happy holidays. Here’s looking to a really happy 2021.
[00:07:34] Patrick O’Keefe: Paula is based in New York City and you can find her on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/paula-rosenberg, and through her portfolio at clearvoice.com/CV/PaulaRosenberg. Rosenberg is R-O-S-E-N-B-E-R-G. These and all links I mention during this episode can be found in our show notes on communitysignal.com.
[00:18:54] Patrick O’Keefe: Let’s pause to talk about our great sponsor, Vanilla.
Vanilla provides a one-stop-shop solution that gives community leaders all the tools they need to create a thriving community. Engagement tools like ideation and gamification promote vibrant discussion and powerful moderation tools allow admins to stay on top of conversations and keep things on track. All of these features are available out of the box, and come with best-in-class technical and community support from Vanilla’s Success Team. Vanilla is trusted by King, Acer, Qualtrics, and many more leading brands. Visit vanillaforums.com.
Next up we have Tim Courtney. Tim is a customer experience crowdsourcing and community leader who built the LEGO IDEAS crowdsourcing platform from pilot to over one million users. Skilled in developing seamless, end-to-end customer journeys, stakeholder management, community engagement, and digital communication, Tim has worked extensively with diverse teams in Denmark, Japan, Canada, and the United States.
He prides himself on bridging silos to create a cohesive, integrated customer journey that’s human and principled and through work that fosters loyalty, increases revenue, and drives innovation. Tim, when you were on the show earlier this year it was just weeks before COVID would really hit the fan and it’s been a full 10 months. Welcome back.
[00:09:07] Tim Courtney: Yes, thanks. Ten months or ten years.
[00:09:10] Patrick O’Keefe: There’s a lot that happens between our conversations. I shudder to think what will happen after we hang up today and I ping you in 10 months.
[00:09:19] Tim Courtney: My goodness.
[00:09:20] Patrick O’Keefe: Hopefully only positive things.
[00:09:21] Tim Courtney: It was literally right before COVID, wasn’t it?
[00:09:23] Patrick O’Keefe: Yes, it was. Maybe we shouldn’t be having this. Actually, you know what? Bye. No, just kidding. When you were on, we talked about LEGO IDEAS where you helped empower the LEGO community to bring their creativity to the company to inspire new products. It’s a very popular story about ideation and community-driven innovation, but you as a professional, how would you summarize your overall experience?
[00:09:46] Tim Courtney: I think I was reflecting on this recently, actually, Patrick. One of the common themes, I think, throughout my work from early user groups when I was a teen through technology in Chicago in my twenties and LEGO after that for about seven years and even some of the stuff I’m cooking on recently has been increasing the reach or the accessibility to something that might be a little bit wonky or a little bit technical. I’ve always tried to widen the circle and bring people together and bring new people or less initiated people into an in-group, or to empower them with skills or connections that they wouldn’t have been able to have themselves.
[00:10:26] Patrick O’Keefe: And this might be LEGO IDEAS, feel free to talk about it in more detail or what your proudest moment from that would be. What’s an accomplishment from your career that you’re proud of?
[00:10:34] Tim Courtney: Yes, absolutely. You hit it on the head. It’s hard to top something like LEGO IDEAS in terms of its reach and its impact. The thing that I’m most proud about that and for those not familiar, LEGO IDEAS, the crowdsourcing site where people submit their ideas for new products, those get voted on by the public, put into a design review, and the top ones are actually picked by LEGO staff to be released as a real LEGO set. The thing I’m proudest about that, though, is designing the journey for that superfan who achieves that level of success the way we treat them during that review process and during the marketing process afterward.
Also just the way that for every user, whether they succeed or not, we built a program, and this was in large part due to my efforts, built a program that systematically treated everyone with respect and dignity, and also just taught the organization how to systematically handle consumer feedback and consumer input, that’s coming from a real place of passion where I think that a lot of the professionals on the inside, they’re looking at this as a business. How do you recognize? How do you reward people? How do you close the loop with them and how do you treat them well throughout that entire process? That’s something that just didn’t exist before Lego. They were doing a great job, but it was ad hoc and then we systematized it, we built it to scale.
[00:11:52] Patrick O’Keefe: I know when you were on, I think, one of the more fascinating parts of the conversation for me was about the loop that people experienced as a creator in LEGO IDEAS. Communication wise, whether it’s that their idea makes it, which a small percentage of ideas get enough votes, a small percentage of ideas become products, but also just being clear about the expectations. Telling them when it doesn’t work, giving them clear guideposts to reach in order to reach those next levels, making them a part of launch events, the revenue share that you discussed. There’s just so many really good things.
I think one of the things that people get scared or were concerned about, I’m sure you share this concern too, is just the idea that a company could take advantage of creators because a lot of creators would just say, “Hey, use it. I just want to see a logo on it. I love that it’s out there, make all the money, keep it for yourself. Don’t tell me anything, give me no credit and that’s fine.” I don’t know that people would fault those companies, but that LEGO has gone so far to not only empower creators to bring them ideas, but also then to give creators credit for their ideas. I think is such a really powerful example.
[00:12:53] Tim Courtney: Yes, absolutely. It was central to the efforts that we made that we would reward people commensurate to the value that they were delivering to the company. That was a core tenant of the program that we put in place. We also learned from whether it was from surveys and research conducted, whether it was from meeting people face-to-face at conventions around the world. Many of us on the team have been in this role with the LEGO fans for quite some years and I actually came from that fan community. I’d been a part of that fan community for close to 20 years, 15 to 20 years, by the time that I joined the company. A lot of that was built with a very intrinsic understanding of what motivates these people. It’s one of their favorite, if not their favorite brand. It’s a lifelong dream for them to be a LEGO designer and maybe that’s not in the cards for them professionally, but here’s a way that we can give them the next best thing. That involves crediting them, and that involves financial rewards, and that involves partnering with them and involving them through the process.
Yes, I think a lot of people would have been happy to just, “Give back,” but there’s so much more that you can do and I think when you do invest that time and that resource and the reach of your platform as a global brand like LEGO into celebrating those people, the reward in terms of brand equity and of positive word of mouth and these authentic marketing stories comes back in space really in ways that are very, very difficult to measure traditionally, but it is palatable. When you see the organic content that people create as a way of celebrating these things, it’s obvious when you see that.
[00:14:30] Patrick O’Keefe: What types of jobs are you going out for that could be title level focus of the work? What role do you think you’ll be most happiest in?
[00:14:39] Tim Courtney: People have asked me, is it the size of the company? Is it the position? Is it the product? For me, I think I’m happiest with a product or a project that is putting good into the world. I know that that’s to be defined, but a values alignment and a really passionate team and something that’s growing. Historically, I’ve enjoyed the ability to start things and grow them and just scale them. If there’s a product or a service, whether that’s user group, whether that’s a consumer brand where they have some traction and community is now a strategic priority for their marketing, that’s where I think that I’m looking.
As far as title or level, it’s anywhere between, say, a senior manager, director, or head of community for a group. Really with a tight interface into the marketing organization and the product organization. That would be close collaboration with product owners, with user experience researchers, and with the marketing and perhaps even the sales teams.
[00:15:41] Patrick O’Keefe: Awesome, Tim. 10 months ago, there was no COVID, now there is COVID. I hope 10 months from now we’ll have a vaccine that most of us have taken and we’ll be talking again at that point, hopefully.
[00:15:50] Tim Courtney: Hopefully it will be like on a beach somewhere, a Community Signal podcast guest reunion when we can all be together in-person.
[00:15:56] Patrick O’Keefe: Yes, I’d love to do something in-person. Thanks for coming on. Best of luck with your search.
[00:16:02] Tim Courtney: All right. Thanks, Patrick.
[00:16:04] Patrick O’Keefe: Tim is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and you can find him on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/timcourtney.
Now, let’s talk to Scott Moore. Since 1995, Scott has been helping organizations, large and small, build solid and successful connected communities and the teams that support those communities. He seeks opportunities to use his experience in online communities to help people help each other to make a positive change in their own lives and those around them. Scott has fostered and directed community at Digital Promise Global, answers.com, Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, communities.com, and Fujitsu. He has also consulted with nonprofits to help with a variety of online community needs, including HealthSpark, Diabetes Hands Foundation, and Edutopia.
Scott, welcome back.
[00:16:44] Scott Moore: Patrick, it’s great to be here.
[00:16:46] Patrick O’Keefe: Between outtakes and the time you took over the hosting duties to prompt me to talk, this is the seventh episode of the show you’ve been on, which is some sort of record. Congratulations. I think there were a couple of outtake episodes, one or two that features you. You took over the hosting duties when we broke into two episodes and then you were on one with Venessa Paech, you were on ones by yourself talking about theme parks stuff. I just said six, and this is seven. I did the count. I’m pretty sure this is seven.
[00:17:13] Scott Moore: Well, I love being here and I love talking with you. It’s always pleasure.
[00:17:17] Patrick O’Keefe: Yes, I think of you as a uniquely experienced community pro who’s seen a lot of different things and worked across a lot of different industries, especially nonprofit, education, tech startups, and more. How would you, yourself, summarize your experience?
[00:17:34] Scott Moore: 25 years, how to summarize that? It’s super hard. I’m going to have a hard time with this question. You said that these were going to be easy and they’re not. How would I summarize myself? I have seen almost every aspect of community building online in some form or other. What I learned a long time ago and what I always keep in mind is it’s always the people and the processes and how you are encouraging people or setting people up for success.
I would describe myself as of all the lessons that I’ve learned, everything that I do, whether it’s community guidelines, or terms of service, or whether it’s social design and technology, or whether it’s actually sitting down and talking with community members, it’s always about putting that group of people first. I’m a people-first person.
[00:18:28] Patrick O’Keefe: I’ve been around for a while too and I think of myself as someone who’s seen a lot of things. Sometimes it can be helpful how we think of ourselves in the focus of our work. Some people will say like B2B, or B2C, or some people say customer success or customer support, or just engagements between people on a hosted space. A lot of people have different focuses and call it community and there’s a lot of different ways to get to that area. What is your focus right now? Where do you want to be or where do you see yourself?
[00:18:59] Scott Moore: That’s really interesting. I think that I’m shying away from labels and categories. I’ve spent a lot of time seeing my work get pigeonholed. There’s assumptions that if you work in one space or if that’s where you say your focus is that you’re not capable of working in other spaces. I would say that right now my focus is on a broader goal. My big idea is I want to see people developing trusted relationships in groups that expand beyond just a product or a service or a platform that they are building such relationships with each other that, transcend is a good word for it, that they transcend any specific expression of that.
That sounds like a big thing. What I mean is, in the past, I have had experiences where online communities had to be shut down or I’ve had to move away from the community themselves. The community finds a way of moving forward. It’s not despite the fact that I wasn’t there, it’s because I helped set up some of that success. Not only did I give them the space to build relationships with each other outside of having me be part of that relationship, but I gave them some insight into there’s a future beyond just this one spot.
There’s a couple of things that I’ve done that I feel are my legacy. For example, one is when I was at the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, the organization decided after eight years that they were going to shut down operation. That meant our community space was going to be shut down, but the community wasn’t going to be shut down. There was an effort to try to find another space for the community to exist, but on their own the community also was looking for their own spaces. “Are we going to fit in with the new host or not? Where else could we go?” Something that I’m really proud of is that I gave them the opportunity.
From the time that the announcement came down, we had a couple of months before we actually turned the switch off. I spend time encouraging them to talk about what are the other options. “Here’s things we’re thinking about. Here’s what we’re trying to do on our end but some things may not work out, what do you want to do? What would you look forward to?” And not being jealous about the fact that they might all pack up and move early, or completely, or whatever.
At least one of those spaces, which was completely independently built prior, there’s a long story behind it, which I’d love to tell some other day. It’s about how, if you screw up managing your community, other people, they will leave and they will build their community somewhere else. A lot of folks went over to this particular completely independent community and it still exists and it has existed. It’s now 12 years after the fact and it still exists. A lot of the same people who I knew 12, 16 years ago are there. That’s really important.
If I think about other things that I’ve done, this sounds silly, but it’s the same idea. I think I’ve talked about it here on previous shows. I basically invented a holiday in one of the first virtual worlds that I worked on. I was only with that virtual world three years. We created this holiday, we made it up out of whole cloth. We put a few symbols and rituals around it and celebrated it while I was there.
Then other people took it on and I left. 10 years after we started it, seven years after I left, I went back into that virtual world for the 10 year anniversary of that holiday. It’s that kind of thing of communities live outside of the community builders. Is because the heart of community is not a community builder in the center of it. The heart of the community are all the people and all the relationships that they are forming with each other. I want to be able to foster more of that, and I want to be able to foster that either technically, or socially, or process wise. It’s like, what are the methods we should be using?
We’re facing a lot of disruption right now in all kinds of ways. The pandemic has changed a lot of people’s ideas about what it means to work remotely, what it means to gather online. We’re hitting some limits on some of that. A lot of that is metaphors about how we thought about work before the pandemic and how we thought about remote work, and those are being upended and we’re finding new ways of understanding that.
Now, when we get a vaccine and when we’re able to start meeting face-to-face again, how much of that is going to hold? Are we going to retain some of the lessons that we’ve learned or are they going to even further disrupt what’s going on? I think there’s a big opportunity to try to look at this and say the patterns of how we organize online yesterday, ten years ago, are not necessarily the same patterns that we’re going to be using in the future.
What are those new patterns? What are the things that we’re going to do?
Again, it’s not a bunch of technologists who were sitting around a conference table or in a Zoom room in Silicon Valley, it’s the people themselves who are going to start telling us what they need. If we listen we can build these things for them and we can help foster those.
[00:24:32] Patrick O’Keefe: What’s the right opportunity for Scott?
[00:24:34] Scott Moore: I’m looking forward to being able to work with a solid team that has an understanding that when you build a community you are not in control of the community as soon as people start coming together. Understanding that community is a collaborative process with the organization that’s hosting that community or trying to drive whatever they benefit from the community, but they’re sharing that back to the community themselves, that it’s not viewed as a simple two-way market.
I’m in a position where I have to work remote right now, moving is not an option for me, but that also opens me up to a lot of time zone opportunities. I’m interested in being able to work across borders and across state lines and work with people who are thinking about how to best build relationships with people. As long as the ideas are, “The people are first,” what the role would be could be almost anything. I’d be happy to consult with people. I’d be happy to mentor an existing team. I’d be happy to build a new team or even help take over an existing team and guide them into something bigger.
I’m most interested in community work where I am not the only person who could be doing the work. It’s work that’s so big that it requires a team of people, including the community themselves, to be able to achieve all the goals that every stakeholder wants in that.
[00:26:09] Patrick O’Keefe: Got it. Scott, you know I think highly of you. Best of luck with whatever comes next.
[00:26:14] Scott Moore: Well, thanks. I look forward to more Community Signal and what you have and what you’re going to learn in the future. Cheers.
I want to stop here to talk about our great sponsor, Localist.
Localist is an event marketing platform that aggregates, automates, and analyzes all of your virtual, in-person, and hybrid events so you can grow and engage your community. Their platform allows you to centralize your event calendar, automate email and social media promotion, and measure and analyze the ROI of your events. Localist integrates with your existing tools and you can even predict future event success using their Event Reach and Event Score features.
Our fourth and final guest is Daniel Marotta, a Boston-based community management veteran with over 12 years of experience, plus another three in a consultancy capacity. He’s been the voice of the customer for notable Fortune 500 global brands. You can most often find him fine tuning content and engagement strategies to continuously improve the customer experience.
When you were on the show a little over three years ago, we talked about all the time that you’d spent in education. I know I was personally interested in how you had found while at Penn Foster students who were active in the community pass more tests, paid more in tuition, but I know you’ve also spent time in tech and finance. How would you summarize your experience?
[00:27:52] Daniel Marotta: I describe my experience as varied. It definitely spans multiple industries, a few departments, but for the most part I feel there hasn’t been much I haven’t seen. I’ve never been caught off guard by any means or put on the spot, but I guess I would relate it or draw parallels to maybe a small business owner. They have to wear many hats, it’s like a Jack of all trades. They definitely specialize in a few things. That’s where I think I have a lot of relations to maybe a small business owner, maybe consultative so capacity being in the field or 12 years now and three years in a consulting capacity.
Again, I really haven’t seen a business problem or business challenge that we weren’t able to tackle. Some of it’s common sense, some of it is just you’ve seen this before and you can easily apply some of those templates that you’ve proven in the past and apply them in this context and make some tweaks. And you’re constantly tweaking. Nothing is a home run on the first hit, it’s an evolution and just drawing from past experiences to really hone in or really massage the problem at hand.
I guess I would summarize even just myself as a model for support that allows for scale. Again, drawing off those past experiences really helps hit the ground running. You’re not really trying to dig up or reinvent the wheel because at this point there really isn’t all that much fresh business problems that are not able to be easily broken down or circumvented in some way. It’s really a roundabout way. I don’t know if I answered your question.
[00:29:29] Patrick O’Keefe: I understand where you’re coming from because I’ve been managing communities for 20 plus years and I’ve seen so much during that time. I’ve interviewed for jobs. This year I’ve talked to people and it can be hard to think of yourself in specific ways. If someone were to ask you, Daniel, what do you specialize in at least within the community sphere? Some people would say, “I’m a customer support, is where I’ve spent a lot of time”, or customer success, or, “I spend a lot of time in moderation”, or, “I have worked in B2B community, enterprise community” or, “Public facing consumer community, B2C.”
There’s a lot of terms, buzz words, things people throw out there. If someone were to ask you, where do you specialize? Where do you think your wheelhouse is?
[00:30:07] Daniel Marotta: I would definitely lean on more of the strategic side. Not more in the weeds day to day, I’m more than happy to do that because you have to get that to feed that strategy, but it’s really coming up with a content strategy that is seamless and transcends across the organization, and an engagement strategy that plugs in the different departments of the organization and make sure they’re connecting with their customers in a meaningful way.
Then, yes, there’s definitely a light piece of that moderation where you have to make sure that everyone’s playing by the rules and you’re creating a space where, not just as positive and helpful discussion, but making sure that things stay on track and are focused. If it really had to nail down what my specialties are, it’s definitely strategic at the high level and then they’ll break down as into content engagement and moderation.
[00:31:01] Patrick O’Keefe: What’s an accomplishment from your career that you’re really proud of?
[00:31:03] Daniel Marotta: I think we’ve touched on this and you actually brought it into the highlight around Penn Foster, and I can’t draw enough attention to it. Data is everywhere, but it only makes sense if you actually analyze it and take action based on that data. If we’re not mindful in the type of things that we’re trying to solve for, usually that answer’s in the data.
Like you said, we took a data dump of our community and we compared it to non-users of that community, straight up just regular customers. We found out that there are financial incomes for the organization, but there are student outcomes or customer outcomes, just if we’re going to pepper it across all communities, not just around the Penn Foster education community. Like you mentioned before, we found out that people that are in the community, they are vested and they want to do well. That was the theory that I had, but we definitely had to prove it.
They were taking more exams. They weren’t defaulting on their tuition and they were actually paying more month to month on their tuition. Again, we’re finding value for the customer, but we’re also solving a business goal and that’s top line revenue. That is one that continually to talk about and go in depth on. It’s definitely one example I pretty much bring up every time, just like when that question comes up, what’s the one of your major accomplishments.
Dollar signs speaks a lot to top executives and even top managers, senior managers. If you can have that conversation and you actually have examples to back it up, it’s all that much better because it speaks to asking for more headcount, talks to ask for more budget that next year if you can find that ROI or connect those dots. You’re showing the intersection between value for the customer and for the company.
[00:32:47] Patrick O’Keefe: Yes. It’s a great case study, I like hearing about it a lot. What are the jobs you’re going out for? The titles, the level? What’s the right job look like for you? What role do you feel you’ll be happiest in?
[00:32:57] Daniel Marotta: I’m coming off a director role. As a career path, you always want to be going up and to the right. Something along that job level, but it doesn’t always have to be title. There’s a lot of other things we can look at. We can look at the responsibilities themselves. If they warrant a higher salary because they’re demanding more, then that’s what you’re asked for. But if it’s not, you’re okay with maybe taking a step back or a step sideways, that might be just something personal or a family decision you need to make, then you go down that path as well.
If you’re asking me, where do you see yourself in your next role, my ideal spot would be another director position or higher where you have the team below you to actually do the engagement within the community. That you actually have the people who are moving the conversations forward. What I spoke to you about earlier, that day-to-day stuff where a director could now look at the overarching strategy and how it plugs into the organization and looking at the roadmap, whether that’s technical improvements to the community, or different channels that you need to meet the customers in, or just selling it.
Continuously selling it internally so you get that support and you get that buy-in and get that adoption so that you get more and more of your organization out there speaking the same message and interacting with customers. Because I like to be positive in that. It is the only positive thing out of that if more people are involved, because it does take a village to run a community, you can’t be a one-man show unless it’s a really, really small, small community. That’s a different story.
[00:34:31] Patrick O’Keefe: Awesome. When I hear you speak, I hear you’d like a director role. To me when you talk, when I listen to you not being you, I hear community but with content and views. I feel that’s a lot of the work that you’ve done and a lot of work that you enjoy doing, and that’s the place that you’d like to be at, am I right?
[00:34:47] Daniel Marotta: Yes, to a degree. There’s also — to the lifecycle cycles of community too. I think also I’d like to work with a much more mature community, meaning that they’re past that awareness, and onboarding, and just getting the message out of what the community is about, and more about seeing where else we can fit community within the organization or what other customers can we help using community as a solution.
I think as a mature community, you have a lot more flexibility because you’ve already set the tone and you set the expectation, but now what do you do with it? How do you elevate it? I think that would be the next challenge, too. Working with a more mature community, because maybe the people that are already there just squeaked out every last juice they could. They’re just looking at, “What do we do next?” That’s where I like to tackle, not so much just spinning up new communities, but more about evolve in existing communities.
[00:35:42] Patrick O’Keefe: That’s a great detail. Daniel, it’s been great to catch up. Thank you so much and best of luck with your search.
[00:35:46] Daniel Marotta: Thank you, Patrick, for having me on again. It’s been a pleasure.
[00:35:49] Patrick O’Keefe: To contact Daniel, please find him on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/danielmarotta. Marotta is M-A-R-O-T-T-A.
That’s the show, we’ve talked with four former Community Signal’s guests who are actively looking for full-time work. If you can help them through a connection or by spreading the word, I’d be grateful if you did so.
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