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Discussion on: AMA with Cindy Au

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shinyee_au profile image
Cindy Au Ask Me Anything

Hi Jocelyn! First, just wanted to say that I too am obsessed with corgis :) I have an 8-yr-old corgi name Appa and he is my fluffy pride and joy <3

As for ideal Community team structure.. that's a tricky one! Your team structure should evolve depending on your type of business, stage of growth, and company goals. But with that out of the way, let's pretend none of those are concerns and you can have any team structure you want.

I love a diverse community team with a lot of cross-functional skills, and have been thinking a lot about these core roles/areas for Community:

People Managers:
The folks on your team who take care of other folks on your team. Your people are your greatest strength, and unlocking growth for them personally and professionally means they're able to bring that same level of care and investment to your communities. People Managers should mostly be devoted to making sure the team knows what matters and where to have the most impact, helping them deal with challenges, and listening to their feedback so you can constantly improve your organization and company.

Community Program Managers:
The folks on your team who create, develop, and oversee programs. I like keeping "programs" wide open so that you're able to flexibly deploy community professionals into almost any type of area where their ability to organize and motivate people to accomplish something together will be the most impactful. That's anything from managing a Superuser program to creating new user onboarding/education, building a community referral program, developing the community playbook for launching new categories/verticals/products/policies, or owning community research. Community professionals come with a lot of diverse skills, and a CPM role can be designed to tap into that and allow someone to continuously be diving into new problems to solve. You could be a CPM for User Education, CPM for International Growth, CPM for Policy, etc.

Community Data/Insight Analysts:
I love having Data/Insight analysts embedded on the Community team. There is a trove of useful information just at our fingertips, and having someone who's mandate is to understand customers and help pull actionable insights out of the hundreds of thousands of actions/interactions happening every day on your site is an incredible superpower to build into your team. Plus, every company loves graphs and charts.

You'll notice that I did not include Community Manager here - it's not because this role isn't important - it is. But I struggle a lot with this title and role, in part because for the past 12 years working in community, I consistently see a huge inconsistency in what this title means, what the level is, and how it can grow. It can often be a mashup of tasks that don't always add up to a career path - and that concerns me. So there's a lot of work to be done to bring the Community Manager title the clarity it deserves, and in the meantime I lean toward Community Program Manager for X as a way to make sure the role has been crafted with clear focus and purpose.

I would love to hear other peoples' thoughts on this!

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alex profile image
Alex Angel Ask Me Anything

Do you have a data analyst on your current team? I think this sort of role is so so important, but I've found it very atypical to see anyone with an actual data background on a community team (or even tasked with helping the community team even if they don't report into it).

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shinyee_au profile image
Cindy Au Ask Me Anything

It's a brand new role, but yes! I'm so excited to have a data analyst on my team.

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alex profile image
Alex Angel Ask Me Anything

That's fantastic, I hope that trend continues!

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jocelynhsu profile image
Jocelyn

A corgi named Appa?! I'm obsessed. Love Avatar and corgis!

Thanks for the detailed response. I love what you're saying about Community Program Managers and having them focused on something based on community and business needs. 100% agree with having a dedicated community data or insights analysts. I was lucky enough to have a community user research at my first team and having someone dedicated to pulling insights and looking at data is so helpful.