The Community Club

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Discussion on: AMA with Cindy Au

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cole profile image
Cole

Have you ever had to convince your company of the importance of community? If so, were there any strategies or approaches that worked best?

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shinyee_au profile image
Cindy Au Ask Me Anything

Hi Cole!

I've been super fortunate to work at companies that are highly community-driven. I typically joined early, meaning that these companies made a concerted decision to invest in community from the get-go.

That said, I've seen a pattern develop where as the company grows it's not always clear where community should sit, and that tends to open up conversations around a community team's focus, importance, and impact. And where community sits is very important.

At Kickstarter, Community was (and still is) its own team. We sat as equals alongside Product, Design, Eng, Marketing, HR, Ops/Finance. In hindsight, this setup was not the norm, but I pushed hard for it and ultimately it worked for us.

When you put Community inside of another functional area - be it Ops, Marketing, Communications, Sales, Product, etc - whether intentional or not, that tends to define what its focus is. In my opinion, Community as a standalone org within a company enables you to define community goals/metrics/impact as they relate to company goals in a much more clear, uncomplicated, un-muddled way, because you're not also trying to stuff those same metrics into Marketing goals, Product goals, etc.

I am also a big advocate of thinking about Community as a horizontal layer working cross-functionally across all teams in a company. Community holds specialized knowledge and skills focused on enabling connections, engagement, growth, and retention across a group or many groups of users. Community can deliver actionable insights from those groups back to the other functional parts of an organization and ensure a company is always focused on their customers. I would love to see more companies thinking about Community in this way, and am hopeful we'll have more precedent/examples of standalone Community orgs as time goes on.

Re-thinking org design is by no means the fastest or easiest approach, but I do believe that pushing for change at the organizational level is one of the most important things we can do for our industry.

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tessak22 profile image
Tessa Kriesel

Just want to thank you for this awesome reply. And call out this part, that really resonated with me:

"Community as a standalone org within a company enables you to define community goals/metrics/impact as they relate to company goals in a much more clear, uncomplicated, un-muddled way, because you're not also trying to stuff those same metrics into Marketing goals, Product goals, etc."

I really believe that community should exist as it's own team as well, working cross-functionally with the other parts of the org. (in more cases, I realize this doesnt always work)

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cole profile image
Cole

Yes, thank you Cindy for the amazing reply! I really appreciate your insights here.

Love the quote that you called out, Tessa. These are some very interesting ideas that I'm eager to dive into!! Community is powerful.