Got a question for an experienced community pro? We can help!
Every month, we’ll be putting your burning questions to the incredible community industry leaders we have in The Community Club.
This month’s question comes from a Club member who wants to know what they should focus on in a new Community Manager role.
"What would you tell a Community Manager to do in the first five days of a new job?" — Anonymous
The Director of Community at Public weighs in.
“Your first week as a CM should be about familiarizing yourself with everything to do with your work and everyone in your new team.
Are there certain channels that are particularly active or silent? What tools do you have at your disposal to communicate with your community members [one-to-one messaging, forum posts, video chats, in-person opportunities, etc]?
By understanding the ways that your community is currently interacting as well as what functionality you have at your disposal (that may not already be in use), you’re preparing yourself to think about ways to meet your community where they’re at and strengthen your community architecture down the line.
If your company already has a Community team, start there!
Get to know fellow Community Managers, the way they interact with the community, and what their weekly tasks and rituals look like. You’ll also want to get to know folks on other teams whose work overlaps directly with your community, whether that be teammates on Product, Marketing, or Customer Support. Find out the ways that they currently interact with your community or if there are ways that they’d like to overlap in the future.
I heard it said once that Community doesn’t need a seat at the table because it is the table, but you’ll still want to get to know the people sitting around that table. Those relationships will be valuable down the line when you have product feature requests to share, community pain points to surface, or ideas for marketing campaigns that spotlight community stories.
The best way to equip yourself to serve your community is to learn more about its members.
Introduce yourself to members and schedule time for one-to-one conversations. Ask them questions about their motivation to join the community, the ways it has added value to their life, their biggest pain points, and what they’d like to see more of.
You don’t necessarily need to take action right away, but by gathering information directly from the source, you may start to notice trends and commonalities that will help you down the line. Don’t stop this practice after the first week, either — this should be an ‘always-on’ function of your role!
What does community success look like at your company?
Were you brought on to grow a community in size? To increase engagement or retention? Each community looks different, and its goals may look different too. So by taking the time to understand what values company leadership is looking to drive by further nurturing and building community, you’ll be setting yourself up to more confidently prioritize as you get underway.
Get to know overarching business goals, too! By understanding where your company is aiming to go and grow, you can start to think of ways that you can add value to the community that will also contribute to business success.
Your first month should be all about documenting, making sure you have a community around you, and putting some rituals in place.
Having a network of fellow community professionals has made me both more confident and creative in my work. I have and continue to learn so much from the ideas, challenges, and successes of my peers.
As you get your footing in your new job, remember that you aren’t alone in navigating building community! I make it a goal to make one new connection in my industry per month. Communities like The Community Club make that especially easy — you can sign up to be matched with a fellow Community Manager on a recurring basis.
I didn’t start reaching out to community peers until closer to four months into my job as a Community Manager, and I wish I had had the support, encouragement, and generous collective problem solving sooner.
Consistency is crucial to kickstarting engagement and gives members a clear reason to engage and return to the community.
This can be something as simple as an end-of-week check-in, asking members what their small victory of the week was, or you can find a whole bank of other ideas here.
Repeat it weekly for at least a month and get curious about how your members' engagement evolves. Over time, you can introduce and experiment with different rituals to see which provide the most valuable conversations and connections within your community.
As you get into rhythms with your community, you’ll be doing yourself a favor if you keep track of all the different processes you’re employing. If you receive product feedback from your community, set up a system for recording and sharing that.
If you have guidelines that dictate what content you moderate, outline those clearly. Keep a record of the engagement rituals you employ with your community and document your community successes. So much happens in community daily, and you’ll likely always be experimenting with new ways to engage your members which makes relying on documentation rather than your brain a whole lot easier. Two of my favorite tools for this are Notion and Airtable.
You’ve been connecting with members regularly since you started, and after you have your footing and experimented with different ways to engage with and add value for your members, it’s a good time to do a larger check-in.
Consider a survey to get a pulse check on what your members are enjoying most, what they’d like to see more of, and what any big pain points are. I usually aim to make surveys take less than five minutes to be mindful of your members’ time, and I’m a big fan of Typeform for surveys (though Google Forms and Survey Monkey are good options, too). After gathering insights, share any main learnings back to your community as well as any actionable follow-ups that they can expect from you in the weeks or months to come to address the feedback they shared!
One of the best parts of working in community is getting to witness your members' successes.
Depending on what type of community you run, these can include anything from making a connection that leads to a deep friendship or project creation to skill development that leads to landing a new job and a whole lot in between. Take the time to tell these stories internally so that your coworkers can easily see the connection between the work that they’re doing and the tangible impacts within the community.
At Public, we’ve highlighted members who have paid off student loans thanks to the wealth that they created through investing or members who invested for the first time after gaining confidence through community conversations. If you report metrics internally, add an anecdotal highlight too, or share a weekly or monthly community win in your company’s slack channel.
Working in community is exciting because the industry is growing and evolving at turbo speed.
With an ever-increasing focus on the value of community, there are more and more industry events and educational resources being created. Get in the habit of reading a couple of community-focused newsletters weekly, or find an event to attend each month. This will allow you to take a step back from the nitty-gritty of your community and think about new tools and practices that may allow you to level up your community work.”
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