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6 min read

Sep 19th, 2022

10 lessons from 1 year as a community manager: Learnings from Max Pete

Max Pete, Community and Customer Support Lead at SuperHi, stepped into his first official community manager role with curiosity and an openness to pursuing it long-term if it felt natural.

Fortunately for his community, both at SuperHi and his broader set of colleagues and fellow builders, it did feel natural. Ever since Max entered the role, he’s shared his experiences, lessons, and learnings across the industry to help elevate the profession and the people in it.

After a year as a professional community leader, he reflected on his collected experiences and distilled them into 10 lessons that every community builder can benefit from, whether new to the field or a tenured expert. In this video, Max dives deeper into the 10 lessons from his first year as a community manager.

  1. You don't need to do everything at once
  2. Do things that don't scale
  3. Trial and error is key
  4. It's OK not to have all the answers
  5. Connections are everything
  6. Not every member is going to be active, and that's fine
  7. Connect with other community managers
  8. When in doubt, ask for help
  9. Don't skip the 1:1s
  10. Have fun

Max’s lessons inspired conversation and questions from attendees. In the spirit of holding a safe space for community leaders to have candid, sometimes challenging conversations, we haven’t included them in the video, but I’ll recap a few of the main topics.

How do you balance community growth with the feeling of community ‘specialness’?

As a community scales, it can feel scarier for new members to post to a large group—and it can feel like it’s changed for long-time community members who remember it when it was smaller, or more intimate. One way Max accommodates the needs of his members is by offering both public and private channels for feedback and discussion. For example, the SuperHi Slack has specific channels intended for topical conversation—“Career advice”, “Money money money”, and “Self-care club”, where members both new and tenured can connect over shared interests and ideas.

To make sure that all members can participate in the way that’s most comfortable for them, his team also offers an anonymous private form that members can send to the SuperHi team. This allows members who are less comfortable posting on a highly visible public channel to have the SuperHi team post the question on their behalf, the community jump in to help, and the specific member get their question answered. The anonymous form also allows members to share candid feedback with the SuperHi team.

When it comes to doing things that don’t scale, how do you justify that to teams who are directly goaled on scaling, like a growth marketing team?

One useful way to approach this is to position the community’s impact in terms of how it serves that team’s goals (we talk more about speaking the language of cross-organizational teams in this blog post). For example, for a growth marketing team, you might want to highlight how your community members are at different stages of their customer journey—they represent different personas that your growth marketing team would want to build campaigns for.

Connecting with your community members and getting to know them more deeply enables you, and your organization, to get more qualitative persona-specific insights than a mass email survey would. These kinds of insights enable growth marketing teams to tailor more relevant campaigns for their core personas, better prioritize which campaigns to run, and as a bonus, often uncover testimonials and new use cases to highlight in future efforts.

Not every member is going to be active, and not every member is going to be active all the time. What do you think is a generally healthy timeframe for re-engaging with a community member?

Keeping a check in as just that, a check in, is a great way to go. Keep it casual and make it clear that you don’t expect anything from your community member—you’re simply letting them know that your door is open.

Max set his automated re-engagement workflow in Common Room to send to a community member after 60 days of inactivity. Often, they’ll reply effusively: “Thanks for your message! I didn’t even know you knew I was in this community!” These are great touch points that enable your members to know that you and the community are there for them.

What are some examples of asking for help in, and from, your community?

Ask yourself: What’s one small thing you’re repeatedly doing that you could ask a community member to take off your plate? Some great examples are posting weekly community recaps of favorite content pieces or favorite conversations or learnings. Another is asking community members if they’d like to take turns moderating monthly digital get-togethers or, in Max’s case, running weekly study hall sessions—places where a community member would already naturally show up.

Offering them a way to engage more deeply, take ownership, and infuse an experience with their own style offers community members an opportunity to elevate their work and leadership both within and outside of the community. And when a community member is ready to step out of the role, they can help choose and introduce the next leader, creating a great community ritual and reason to celebrate.

Have fun. This goes for both your members and for you, as a community manager. What are some ways you’ve had fun in your community?

At SuperHi, they celebrate their members' work on their Hall of Fame, a highly visible recognition page on the SuperHi website. Other community leaders feature community members of the week, publicly thank their top five monthly contributors in their Slack or Discord, or gather their members together for a happy hour that lets people put work to the side with enough time for a toast.

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