Now in its eighth year, CMAD recognizes the “pretty damn tough job,” in Jeremiah’s words, that community managers (and professionals) have, which can be thankless and misunderstood. We also talk about:
- How to be successful with the council/association model
- The career opportunity for community professionals in the shared and collaborative economies
- Will there be a 30th CMAD?
“Senior director/VPs of community roles do exist. And typically, that happens when the professional is able to measure real business results of the community, whether that be customer satisfaction improvement or reduction in cost from customer care to the contact center or actually showing that there’s revenue being derived. Once they’re able to show real business value, they get elevated higher into the organizations, but beware the demands on them, from a business perspective, only increase. They become more visible. I also think that we see very successful people get elevated higher into their career when they’re able to tie in the communities to the actual product itself.” -@jowyang
“I hate to devalue the [community manager] role in any way, but in some cases it is thought of as like a customer service role or a lowly role, and that’s unfortunate. The goal [of Community Manager Appreciation Day is to show] these are professionals that are more important than you can probably even imagine.” -@jowyang
“I think [Community Manager Appreciation Day] should go away faster than [30 years] because if the role is appreciated, we don’t need such a day.” -@jowyang
“[To be successful with the council model,] be first. If you see a market emerging, jump on it quickly. I had 10 weeks to launch. I left Altimeter on good terms, and then I had 10 weeks before LeWeb, where I was going to announce it on stage in front of, I think, 4,000 people or something like that, in Paris. I told these prospects, ‘You guys got to get on board, I want you to sign, and you can pay me later, let’s just sign the contract and be in the founding member set of the association, Crowd Companies.’ I was able to get 24 companies to commit, and these are all Fortune 500, so it’s pretty rare you get that level of commitment. … Once you have that momentum, then other companies started to sign on board.” -@jowyang
“The thing about the council model, and associations, is we’re not charging a lot of money in comparison to their annual budget. It’s a fraction of a fraction for them. But in totality, it’s enough to sustain our small company. By no means am I getting super wealthy. I don’t drive a Ferrari or anything of an exotic nature, but we’re very happy and it’s what I want to do, I want to serve these companies in the role that I do. It’s really a very challenging business model, but if you can get it going, it can scale.” -@jowyang
About Jeremiah Owyang
Jeremiah Owyang is the founder of Crowd Companies, an innovation council that helps brands overcome challenges and navigate the next wave of disruption and opportunity. From the autonomous world to the collaborative economy, Owyang views every aspect of emerging technologies through the lens of growth, opportunity and constantly shifting consumer behaviors and expectations. Forever at the forefront, he identifies trends and advises major companies to adapt their business models to better connect with customers. His clients include Adobe, Electrolux, Wells Fargo, Nestle, Cisco, Western Union, Visa, Colgate, Yum and Pepsi, among others.
Prior to Crowd Companies, Owyang’s career took shape as an analyst with Forrester Research, advising on social strategy for the interactive marketer. He was the founding partner and research director of Altimeter Group, specializing in customer strategy and emerging technologies. He formed Crowd Companies in 2013 to focus on the emerging collaborative economy and the maker movement.
- Wikipedia page for Community Manager Appreciation Day
- Jeremiah on Twitter
- Crowd Companies, Jeremiah’s company, “an innovation council for change agents who want to unlock opportunities in the collaborative economy, crowd business models and autonomous world disruptions”
- Jeremiah’s first blog post about Community Manager Appreciation Day
- Community Signal episode about the community management career ceiling, with Alexandra Dao
- CommunityManagerAppreciationDay.com, started by Tim McDonald and My Community Manager, now led by Ben Martin
- Minority Report, a film about police that are able to arrest people before they commit a crime
- Jive, a software vendor that serves the community space
- Lithium, another software vendor that serves the community space
- Chatter, enterprise social network software
- Wikipedia page for the Turing test, which is a test “of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human”
- SocialMedia.org, “a brands-only membership organization for people running social media at really big companies”
- The Community Roundtable, a member organization for community, social media and social business leader, co-founded by Jim Storer and Rachel Happe
- Mobilize, a tool for communicating with groups
- Crowd Companies’ about page, describing their approach to the council model
- LeWeb, a conference where Jeremiah launched Crowd Companies
- Community Signal episode about a private membership community for ecommerce store owners
- The WELL, a pioneering online community
- Maria Ogneva, a community professional formerly at Salesforce.com and Sidecar, now at LinkedIn
- Douglas Atkin, global head of community at Airbnb
- Douglas Atkin’s commitment curve
00:04: You’re listening to Community Signal, the podcast for online community professionals. Tweet as you listen using #CommunitySignal. Here’s your host, Patrick O’Keefe.
00:20 Patrick O’Keefe: Hello, and thank you for joining me for Community Signal. This episode is being released on January 23rd, 2017, which is Community Manager Appreciation Day, celebrated on the fourth Monday of every January. My guest today is the creator of Community Manager Appreciation Day, Jeremiah Owyang. We’ll be discussing CMAD, obviously, but also the council model and the career opportunities that exist for community professionals in the crowd and shared economy spaces. Jeremiah is the founder of Crowd Companies, an innovation council that helps brands overcome challenges and navigate the next wave of disruption and opportunity.
00:52 Patrick O’Keefe: From the autonomous world to the collaborative economy, Owyang views every aspect of emerging technologies through the lens of growth, opportunity, and constantly shifting consumer behaviors and expectations. Forever at the forefront, he identifies trends and advises major companies to adapt their business models to better connect with customers. His clients include Adobe, Electrolux, Wells Fargo, Nestle, Cisco, Western Union, Visa, Colgate, Yum and Pepsi, among others. Prior to Crowd Companies, Owyang’s career took shape as an analyst with Forrester Research advising on social strategy for the interactive marketer. He was the founding partner and research director of Altimeter Group, specializing in customer strategy and emerging technologies. He formed Crowd Companies in 2013 to focus on the emerging, collaborative economy, and the maker movement. Jeremiah, welcome to the show.
01:35 Jeremiah Owyang: Hey, thanks, I’m so glad to be here, Patrick.
01:38 Patrick O’Keefe: It’s a pleasure to have you. So when you started Community Manager Appreciation Day, it was only a few months, about five months, after you had left Forrester to help start Altimeter. What were you seeing at the time that gave you the idea for CMAD?
01:50 Jeremiah Owyang: Well, the community manager role was really coming into the forefront. Social media was at its apex, it was on every CMOs, COO, and customer care executive’s mind. And it was time to show that this was not a silly, joking role, which there was a misconception that these people just play on Facebook or Twitter at the time. But that this is an important person who is interfacing with your customers in public for everyone to see, your brand is at risk, these are important people you just can’t throw them over the transom.
02:22 Jeremiah Owyang: You know how many times we’ve heard some brand effing up on corporate communications on social media and they immediately blame the intern. That is a pretty bad misconception that just demeans the role. So I think it’s important that we really recognize what these people go through. Now, on a psychological level, community managers, it’s a pretty damn tough job. In fact, I had this role when I was at Hitachi very early on in the space before it became more mainstream role. And you’re on 24/7, you’re dealing with angry customers, you’re dealing with happy customers, you’re dealing with executives, you’re dealing with product people, you’re dealing with PR, you’re dealing with corp comm. You’re dealing with so many places that have their points of view and you have to serve all of them, make everybody happy, and you have to have a happy face on. So it is a trying role, it takes a toll on people and I think it’s important just to recognize how important these people are.
03:15 Patrick O’Keefe: Yeah, I mean I read your first post announcing CMAD, and one of the focal points of it was sort of the… I don’t know. What we come to talk about is self-care in the community space. Term thrown around a lot now, self-care for community professionals because a lot of people do think they have to be always on. And so I think hopefully we’ve made a little bit of progress in self-care and in understanding the role. But then again, a couple weeks ago I had a guest on, Alexandra Dao, we talked about the kind of career ceiling for the community professional because while I feel like there are more senior roles than ever before, and I’ve been in this space since 1998, so a long time, and it’s also true that a lot of the roles are still junior. Like, eight out of 10 job postings I see are probably junior level roles, pay like someone fresh out of college and that person generally doesn’t have much influence at the organizations they’re joining. To your point, they are very much at the behest of many different groups with a lot of different opinions and a lot of different goals and directions that they’re pulling that person into.
04:09 Jeremiah Owyang: Yeah, it’s true. However, we do see that there are senior director/VPs of community that those roles do exist. And typically, that happens when the professional is able to measure real business results of the community whether that be customer satisfaction improvement or reduction in cost from customer care to the contact center or actually showing that there’s actual revenue being derived through marketing. So once they’re able to show real business value, they get elevated higher into the organizations, but beware the demands on them from a business perspective only increase, they become more visible. I also think that we see very successful people get elevated higher into their career when they’re able to tie in the communities to the actual product itself. So when it’s part of the product, then you have that elevated position.
05:00 Patrick O’Keefe: Interesting point about the challenges of being more visible. Do you feel like community and community-ish roles are scrutinized at a higher level than say, their equals in other departments whether that be marketing or something else?
05:12 Jeremiah Owyang: Well it depends, every company is different. So I’ve met with community teams that are in customer care, I’ve met them that are in the marketing sides, on the lifestyle side. It really depends on where they sit, and each company and industry’s gonna have a very different perspective. In most cases in tech, it is typically customer to customer support and then you see that the community manager is shepherding that community. But if it’s a CPG, or retail product, or consumer tech then it tends to be on the marketing side. So they each have different demands in that way.
05:40 Patrick O’Keefe: This is the eighth Community Manager Appreciation Day.
05:44 Jeremiah Owyang: Is it really?
05:44 Patrick O’Keefe: It is. Are you surprised it’s still going?
05:49 Jeremiah Owyang: It’s the eighth? Oh man, I can’t believe it. I stepped away from it a little bit when I was shifting my coverage towards the collaborative economy, and I handed over to people like Tim McDonald and others. And then the website CMAD emerged. But I knew it would stick around when I blogged on the second year, I think. So we saw some people post photos from Africa on the first one I was like, “Oh, wow it’s sticking. It’s gonna stick.” And I tweeted out, “Hey, guys, you guys are a very powerful group. I know you guys can edit Wikipedia. Let’s get a Wikipedia page up,” and they did. I don’t know who it was and I said, “Alright, it’s gonna stay.” [chuckle] And that’s a sign of success when I can walk away and just let the community… But I mean, come on, Patrick, these are community professionals, why wouldn’t they celebrate their own profession of this? Anything to rally behind, it is this.
06:40 Patrick O’Keefe: Yeah, and I think part of it started out as saying the companies they work for need to recognize them too. I feel like that was part of your original mission is, the communities they serve really need to recognize them because it is. In many cases, people talk about rock stars and social media and I always say that community managers aren’t really rock stars, they’re people who shift the attention away from them so they have to really be comfortable with that role and this day gives them the opportunity for those communities to recognize them for what they bring to the table.
07:07 Jeremiah Owyang: So, let’s talk about intent and misconception. So, I’ve spoken to many executives who the CMs report up into and some of them actually were annoyed with me, in kind of a funny way. I won’t tell you which brand it was, it’s a big brand. And she said to me, “Oh, thanks a lot. Now I have more things I have to go do.” And I said, “No, no, no, you don’t have to throw them a party.” She thought she had to give them cupcakes because we’re seeing photos of cupcakes and cakes and decorated cubes and all these things out there. “You don’t have to do anything. All you have to do is appreciate them. Just say thank you.” I hate to devalue the role in any way, but in some cases it is thought of, as like a customer service role or a lowly role, and that’s unfortunate. So, the goal is to bring attention that these are professionals that are more important than you can probably even imagine. And some of the inspiration was actually from the Administrative Assistant Day. These are people who are serving very busy people that might be important executives, and they don’t get the appreciation for the amount of things that the executives don’t even know that they’re doing to make their lives better. And so that day exists for a reason and so, that was one of the inspiration points.
08:17 Jeremiah Owyang: And you shouldn’t expect, CMs, any gifts or anything. And if you do do that then I think it really hurts the profession. We start to look entitled, and that is not what we need to do. We just want people to have a dialogue on the importance of this important role.
08:33 Patrick O’Keefe: Yeah, it seems like more of a reminder. I mean, ideally it’s something you do regularly. Anyway, like any other employee, right? Everyone likes to be appreciated for the work that they do.
08:41 Jeremiah Owyang: So, I got some negative feedback from other people that got jealous because the community managers were getting loved so I started to see things like web analysts, “We want our own damn day.” And then web strategy, “We want our own damn day.” System admins wanted their own day. So, it was pretty funny.
09:00 Patrick O’Keefe: Yeah, and so again this is year eight and digital community has existed as a profession since the 1980s. And as I said, I’ve been in this space since the late 90s and we have a lot of mutual friends and acquaintances who have been in it for a long time. Do you think there will be a 30th CMAD?
09:13 Jeremiah Owyang: Yeah, but it won’t look like in this type of medium. It won’t be celebrated in this way. It’ll be in some virtual space where there’s no keyboard and mouse.
09:22 Jeremiah Owyang: So, it’ll be very different experience.
09:24 Patrick O’Keefe: Minority Report will be able to ban people before they do it because we know they’re going to do it.
09:30 Jeremiah Owyang: Yeah. Yeah, I think so. The thing is, the communities themselves will have to morph out of site of the discussion forum, outside of the Jive and Lithium, which is what typically… Or Chatter, whatever we tend to think of but it needs to extend to other mediums and then, yes, the role will eventually continue on. But I think this day should go away faster than that because if the role is appreciated then we don’t need such a day.
09:54 Patrick O’Keefe: Do you think that should be true of administrative professionals?
09:57 Jeremiah Owyang: Well, that’s a whole another discussion because administrative professionals are slowly being automated.
10:02 Patrick O’Keefe: That’s true, very true, very true.
10:03 Jeremiah Owyang: The human aspect of administrative professional probably will not be. You’ll still need that human interface and when an executive has somebody that’s working with them that is a human and others really know that, that’s obviously pre-Turing test then that’s a higher level of white glove service, and I think the same thing will apply for community management. But we definitely have seen that some things are starting to be automated but often those are used to assist community managers.
10:27 Patrick O’Keefe: So, almost three and a half years ago you founded Crowd Companies, which is a council for large corporations who want to lead in the collaborative economy, the maker movement, crowd business and so on, I feel like community is an important part of Crowd Companies.
10:40 Jeremiah Owyang: Sure is.
10:41 Patrick O’Keefe: Tell me about the council model.
10:43 Jeremiah Owyang: Yeah, okay. So this is interesting. Actually, in a way I am a community manager still, although I don’t position myself like that at all. Well, you guys know SocialMedia.org, right?
10:51 Patrick O’Keefe: I do, yes. And I’m sure many listeners do.
10:56 Patrick O’Keefe: Yes, I do and I’m sure many do.
10:58 Jeremiah Owyang: Okay, so it’s the same business model, it’s the association model. I know both of them, I’m fans of both of them and I’ve always been in admiration of their business model so I created that for this next phase of a peer-to-peer commerce. And we have 200 members so that’s my community and I just sent them a note, actually right now using Mobilize, which is a group communication tool over email. Email is the right tool for the executive market that I’m working with, they’re not gonna log in to any… We tried. They’re not gonna log into anything. So, that’s the right tool. So basically, yeah, I am managing our community. We host events about six per year, they’re hosted at different member locations like BMW, Hallmark, MasterCard and beyond, and fortunately we don’t have to police them too much or manage them because they’re actually incredibly busy people. Really don’t have too many interactions unless it’s in person so I have to have a different type of skill set to moderate and facilitate conversations, but they tend to pick up conversation quite quickly as most people do at any particular trade and when they’re with their peers. So, yeah, I’m still using very similar community practices. Thanks for asking.
12:01 Patrick O’Keefe: And you mentioned email being the preferred tool. That makes a lot of sense to me now. Is that email only one way? Is it you announcing where the next event is? Or is there actual conversation like a mailing list in a different age?
12:13 Jeremiah Owyang: We try to enable peer to peer. They’re just too busy to do that and they didn’t sometimes know who’s on the other side. So often, I’d say 75% of the time, it is us communicating to them and, nah, about a quarter of the time they communicate back to us directly, but not always to the whole group. They’re sometimes gun-shy online ’cause they’re executives, they have to be careful what they say. But I just got feedback about questions on something just right now while we were on call. So yeah, it tends to be more linear, not a social network as I would prefer. Interestingly enough, a number of our members, customers I’ve known for many years are my Facebook friends, they talk about politics or tech or consumer electronics with me on my Facebook feed all day so it’s kinda funny. Email is like a business e-tool so they keep the chatter out of there, I think.
12:57 Patrick O’Keefe: Yeah, and big companies operate much differently than small companies obviously. And a lot of that ties into disclosure and what they wanna share. I interviewed for a job at Apple and it was like, “You can’t talk to anyone about anything ever.” So, I totally get that. According to your about page, Crowd Companies does three things: One, connects peers in private settings online and off; two, provides education from industry experts and calls and meetings; and three, creates partnership opportunities with an innovation network of start-ups who want to work with large companies. You pointed out, you scaled this model from people who inspired you and added your own spin on it. There are opportunities for this model, for this council model in other industries and verticals. If someone wanted to follow this model and be successful, what did you do at the start that allowed you to be successful?
13:41 Jeremiah Owyang: Okay, well, first of all, good job doing your homework. If an industry doesn’t have an association, it’s not an industry. So there’s always gonna be an industry, and so the way to do it is be first. I was first. And so I was able to start with 24 companies, and now we’re over 40 in three years. So, being first really matters because you wanna suck the wind out of the market for any other association to emerge. So, be first. So if you see a market emerging, jump on it quickly. And one of the things I did is I tried to make sure… I had 10 weeks to launch. I left Altimeter on good terms, and then I had 10 weeks before LeWeb where I was going to announce it on stage in front of, I think, 4,000 people or something like that in Paris. And so I told these prospects, I said, “You guys gotta get on board, I want you to sign, and you can pay me later, let’s just sign the contract and be in the founding member set of the association, Crowd Companies.” And I was able to get 24 companies to commit, and these are all Fortune 500, so it’s pretty rare you get that level of commitment.
14:42 Jeremiah Owyang: But that’s because there’s a demand, you’re a founding member, you get the PR buzz, and then you can help shape the council. You’re in on the ground floor. You can help to shape the content in the direction that we go. And so we were able to do that. Once you have that momentum, then other companies started to sign on board. So an association can’t just start with one or two or three like a consulting firm. You really need the gusto, kind of like this catalyst moment.
15:04 Patrick O’Keefe: And I’ve talked to people who run communities for different private business groups like ecommerce store owners that make a million dollars or more. Like that one in particular, he starts the community, he invites people in for free like you said, and then he grandfathered them in for free, and then charged the new people. You’re working with, obviously, major corporations. How long did you wait to go ahead and make that changeover?
15:25 Jeremiah Owyang: They had 10 weeks.
15:26 Patrick O’Keefe: 10 weeks. Oh, 10 weeks was… Oh, when you made the changeover they actually charged you?
15:29 Jeremiah Owyang: Well, they had to pay, they had to pay.
15:31 Patrick O’Keefe: From the very start?
15:32 Jeremiah Owyang: They could pay later. They signed the contracts on who’s gonna get the money.
15:35 Patrick O’Keefe: Gotcha. Okay. I understand now. And with this model and with any private member community or association or trade organization, retention tends to be a big metric, like churn rate. Crowd Companies is really for, again, big, big companies, and you have a relatively small group. Why do you think it is that people stay? What are you offering them that they can’t get elsewhere by picking up the phone or by sending someone to do up some research?
15:57 Jeremiah Owyang: Talking to other associations and meeting other people that run similar models, retention can be 60% to 70% as an industry standard, and we’re somewhere within that group. To me, I wish retention was 90% or higher. Most tech companies can do that when they have a SAS model. Like, for example, Chatter. How do you unplug Chatter? I’s really hard. It is hard so you have to continue to add value, you have to start the discussions about renewal very early on so you make sure that you get that budget line item. And you have to talk about where you’re gonna do the next year and how are things gonna change. The thing about the council models and associations is, we’re not charging a lot of money in comparison to their annual budget. It’s a fraction of a fraction for them. But in totality, it’s enough to sustain our small company.
16:41 Jeremiah Owyang: By no means am I getting super wealthy. I don’t drive a Ferrari or anything of an exotic nature, but we’re very happy and it’s what I want to do, I want to serve these companies in the role that I do. It’s really a very challenging business model, but if you can get it going it can scale. But we take it year by year. If the council model starts to falter, then I will shift to a different business model that will be less community, maybe it’s content or maybe it’s consulting. And that’s the type of firms that I’ve run in the past before. So, I’ll flex as the market flexes. I’m not too concerned about that.
17:13 Patrick O’Keefe: And why do you think it is that people choose to stay? I think you make a great point in that you charge an amount that allows you to run this business and have a small staff, but it’s not something that’s gonna make them necessarily think, “Okay, we can really change our budget if we cut this out.” Right? So that makes a lot of sense. But as far as like what you’re offering people, is it really on in person networking, is that the biggest value for them?
17:33 Jeremiah Owyang: The two biggest value propositions that I use when I’m speaking to customers or prospects that are considering is education and the network. The end result of this is you can rapidly scale your innovation program. And one of the benefits of this that you can’t get from a consulting firm or some VC event is you’re learning from peers, you’re learning from other people that are innovation in corporate that are doing the same thing. And we have these private meetings where people can roll up their sleeves and be honest about the challenges that they’re having. And this is the same thing that Community Roundtable does and SocialMedia.org, you learn directly from your peers. And anything that they don’t know or they’re unable to look too far in the future, that’s the role I play as an industry analyst, to provide research to talk about what’s gonna come or find out the answers that they can’t answer. So there’s a duality of it.
18:21 Jeremiah Owyang: But in most cases, and this is sometimes hard for me, is I actually have to shut the eff up. I have gotta be quiet, I gotta let them talk peer-to-peer ’cause that’s where the real value is. They’re a lot smarter than me about their role. I haven’t actually had the role of innovation, so my job is just to get out of the way so they can have those discussions peer-to-peer. So that’s really the big value. And also, to assemble all these people in one location, or to get this knowledge about innovation, it would cost them a tremendous amount of money to send people out to go get this information, or to travel and meet start-ups in Silicon Valley or San Francisco or wherever. But we bring that all to them and package it up in a bow. So we really can sell that time savings or value offering.
19:00 Patrick O’Keefe: I mentioned how I was talking to Apple about a role at one point, and it was like. “You have to stop doing this, stop podcasting, you can’t talk to people,” etcetera. Apple is uniquely secretive, I wanna say. But do you find sometimes when you pitch people on this idea, are there a lot of people that are still out there saying, “You know what, I can’t participate in a group like that. I can’t share, I won’t be allowed, or it’s not appropriate.”?
19:20 Jeremiah Owyang: I pitched Apple and of course, they said no. But I tried.
19:25 Jeremiah Owyang: I tried of course like, “No, we’re never part of association. And if we came, we would never speak and you can’t put our logo on the website. And I’m not gonna pay, so if you wanna give me a free membership and I can just observe, that’s the best that you can give.”
19:39 Patrick O’Keefe: The value is flowing definitely in one direction.
19:41 Jeremiah Owyang: Right. And I was like, “No, I’m good.” Companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon make traditional brands that I work with in the physical world very nervous, so I actually really don’t reach out to them in most cases.
19:56 Patrick O’Keefe: Interesting. I guess, because of how just wide reaching their prospects and their companies are?
20:01 Jeremiah Owyang: Well, they’re the disruptors. Which industry, between just Google and Amazon, are they not in? They’re in every single industry. So they are the disruptors that the innovators have been hired to fight against in most cases. So it would make the conversations very awkward in the peer-to-peer setting. If I have CPG in retail then all of a sudden Amazon is there they’re like, “Uh! You’re the one that’s disrupting me keeping me up at night, get out of here.”
20:24 Patrick O’Keefe: Right. As we’ve alluded to here, your focus for the last several years has been on collaborative and crowd economies. How do you see community professionals fitting into those spaces? Do you think those spaces represent a career opportunity?
20:37 Jeremiah Owyang: Yes, let’s talk about the phases of digital, and there’s four phases that we see. So back in the 90s, and you’ve been a professional in the Internet space like myself for a long time, it was the Internet era. And this is, if you had capability to publish, you were very powerful on the web, but you had to have technical skills. Fast forward to 2000s, we started to see the rise of social media, and that meant anybody can publish their thoughts and ideas, and the power shifted to those that published online, and boom, we saw the birth of the community manager role move into the mainstream. Sure, yes, it’s existed prior, things like The WELL and beyond. But it was pushed into the limelight. The next phase is not peer-to-peer media but peer-to-peer commerce, and that’s what we call the collaborative economy whether that be Airbnb or Etsy, or the maker movement or crowdfunding, or even things like blockchain, peer-to-peer commerce technologies, people are starting to get what they need from each other. Commerce from each other. That’s essentially the trend that we’re seeing here.
21:34 Jeremiah Owyang: And we see that there are community managers that have shifted out of the social media realm into that new space. I’ll give you a few examples. Maria Ogneva left Salesforce and she joined, at the time it was called Sidecar, which was a ride sharing platform in San Francisco that was competing with Lyft and Uber. And there were a few other community professionals that left the online communities in the traditional sense to go manage the communities at these physical world. Did you know Uber has community managers? Airbnb has quite a few actually that are managing these. So they’re shifting into this new space. The role isn’t really that much different I don’t think, but they are often interacting through the apps, or they’re watching on social media, or they actually uses a hotline to call them directly in case something’s going awry. Certainly, if your Airbnb location is not available, you need to get booked somewhere else very quickly.
22:26 Patrick O’Keefe: And there’s a lot of complementary skills there I have to believe, whether that be…
22:30 Jeremiah Owyang: Yeah, it’s very tied.
22:30 Patrick O’Keefe: Facilitating mutual kind of respect and good interaction when you talk about Airbnb, modeling societal norms. How do you use Airbnb? What’s the exemplary way to do it? What happens when something goes wrong? Abuse reporting, things like that are very much what community professionals have been doing. So there’s a lot of skills that transition very well, I have to believe.
22:49 Jeremiah Owyang: Yes. And one of the senior executives at Airbnb is Douglas Atkin. And he comes from a community organizer role often in politics or even in advocacy. He is one of the leaders that set up the Airbnb community among others. Their community is rabid, rabid, just intensely loyal to Airbnb with the tattoos and all. I think you guys know how passionate some community groups can get. I attended the Airbnb open conference, and there was all the super host that attended, and they love Airbnb ’cause it’s a form not only of community, it rebuilds their neighborhoods, and of course, it’s sustenance for their wallet. They self-organize into groups and Douglas knows how to activate them so they can actually go and do lobbying on behalf of Airbnb in different cities to influence legal government and policy. So these people have become not just self-supporting but true advocates and activists for Airbnb. So that is one very advanced community that I’ve seen that also manifest in the real world at a local event and then also global conferences.
23:52 Patrick O’Keefe: Yeah, and there is a community commitment curve that I think Mr. Atkin has made available from Airbnb, and we’ll link to that.
23:57 Jeremiah Owyang: That’s right. You know about that.
23:59 Patrick O’Keefe: Yeah, I’ve seen it before and we’ll link to that in the show notes as well.
24:02 Jeremiah Owyang: Yeah, and the summary of that, and we had him come speak to our council on a webinar as one of our experts, it’s like you make an ask right at the beginning, like, “Please do this.” And then they do something else and you ask for another little ask, and another little ask, and they’re just all grow together and eventually they’re like, “We are the brand! We are the brand!” So that was the main thing from the community commitment curve.
24:23 Patrick O’Keefe: Going back to career opportunities, when community professionals are looking for those opportunities, do you have any tips on finding them in those spaces? Are there any particular job destinations that cater to those industries? Or perhaps, titles or key phrases? For example, news media community people often call themselves “audience development,” “audience engagement,” so you need to look for those terms if you wanna go to news media. Does the crowd collaborative economy, are there anything they should be looking for to find those opportunities?
24:45 Jeremiah Owyang: They’re probably around marketplace support or member care, the customer care-related things in most cases. That’s what I would expect to see. There might be some under policy, like government affairs. There might be some under customer care. I haven’t looked too closely so I’m not quite sure. Hard to tell.
25:04 Patrick O’Keefe: Okay, great. Jeremiah, thank you so much for coming on the program. It’s been great to chat with you.
25:08 Jeremiah Owyang: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.
25:09 Patrick O’Keefe: We’ve been talking with Jeremiah Owyang, founder and CEO of Crowd Companies. That’s crowdcompanies.com. You can follow Jeremiah on Twitter @jowyang. That’s J-O-W-Y-A-N-G. For the transcript from this episode, plus highlights and links that we mentioned, please visit communitysignal.com. Community Signal is produced by Karn Broad. Happy Community Manager Appreciation Day.
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