Community Club Weekly
Issue #46 | October 8, 2020
Community Club Weekly is a newsletter about building and growing communities, featuring collected tweets, posts and thoughts from various community managers.
This could be its own 20k word blog post (and I'll likely do that, eventually), but for now: a short treatise on finding the balance between your organization's needs and your users' needs (and convincing your organization that they may indeed be the same thing).
One of the classic struggles community (and product) teams face is how to balance your organization's needs and your users' needs. Oftentimes it may be obvious to the community team why your users' needs ARE your organization's needs, but it may not be quite as obvious how you get that message across. And what happens if your organization and your community need wildly different things to be satisfied and successful?
The best place to start is your organization's goals. What is the north star that all teams are working towards, and to which all initiatives should ultimately ladder up? Every team should understand what they're working towards and how their team should play their part. With this structure in place, it becomes easier to speak the same language, so to speak, across teams and initiatives.
Here's a hypothetical example: if your organization's goal is to be THE go-to place for backyard astronomers to learn about major updates for tools, resources, and celestial happenings, the community team should be able to concretely say "we are working towards this overall goal by creating a vibrant community space and doing these particular initiatives that should have these tangible results." If a product manager who is working on a celestial mapping feature comes to you and says "Why are you having users talk about their favourite telescopes, that doesn't help my team with our current project" you can decisively say to them "Ah, yes, but by talking about their favourite telescopes we are building a vibrant community space and learning about what hardware is most common amongst our community members!" and they should be able to see that it does, in fact, tie back to the overall organization's goal. Without that guiding north star for the company, your community efforts may be wasted in the long run.
Sometimes organizations create a community without understanding its purpose, which sets up the community to fail and the organization to ditch community efforts long-term. Without that foundational understanding of the purpose the community serves (see: working towards organization's goals), it is likely the community will not thrive and it will be difficult to provide value for the organization.
One scenario that I've encountered often over the years is specific feature requests from users that don't align with your product development roadmap. In an ideal world, this situation does not arise as you as the community manager have frequently communicated with the product manager (PM) about user needs, and they as the PM have done extensive research into their core personas, but I digress. Your product team has done their own due diligence as to what they believe makes the most sense for the product and the organization's needs, but they may not have the direct insights into the community that a community manager does. You can take this opportunity to look back at the organization's overall goals, determine what you think are the most appropriate requests to make based on those goals, and build a case to talk over with the PM and see if there is any room to negotiate the roadmap. By providing substantive "evidence" from the community that directly ties back to the organization's needs, you can begin to paint a picture that shows a positive outcome for the organization from pursuing the community's needs.
As community builders, it's our responsibility to understand the needs of our community members as well as working towards the goals of our organization, and to provide critical insights for both groups. If your community's needs have no overlap or impact on the needs of your organization, where did things go sideways? Is it a misunderstanding of goals and how initiatives or needs ladder up, or is there a general misalignment on the purpose the community serves? We have the opportunity to ensure the success of both our community and our organization, and with a shared understanding of goals and clear communication we can inch towards solutions that leave everyone happy.*
*Unless you manage a gaming community, in which case we have a whole other set of recommendations 😂
Upcoming events, from the club and its members.
Community Happy Hour - Thursday, October 8 (that's today!!)
Community Club Extra Life Marathon - Saturday, November 7th
The protections online communities are afforded through Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act are critical to their survival
This sentiment is extremely relevant for community building
Your communities are there to support you <3
Community 👏 first 👏
Community blog posts and articles from the past week.
The Invisible Labor of Content Moderation
A look at a few different styles of content moderation and their pros/cons.
By Gaby Goldberg
The Future of Entrepreneur Support
Thoughts on how support and community for entrepreneurs must evolve
By Garrett Johnson
Forum owners, how do you "fight" Facebook groups?
An interesting discussion on frustrations with Facebook as a community platform, and some strategies for building appealing forums as an alternative
🙌 Community Jobs
A handful of open roles from our community!
Strategic Community Manager @ Anyone
Community Manager @ MemSQL
Community Marketing Associate @ PowerToFly