As a community leader, nurturing and growing your community is your number one priority.
You may start off on this journey alone, but as your community grows, you’ll want to build a team of community professionals who can extend your program to bring increased value to your members and organization.
As your community continues to scale, creating a dedicated role (or team!) for community operations will become imperative. This function works across the program, often behind the scenes, to ensure everything is running smoothly for your members and that you’re able to effectively communicate impact back to the business.
In this article, we reveal the qualities of a great community operations team, how to hire for it, and how to set your team up for success.
To compare notes with 1500+ community and DevRel leaders on how they’re growing their teams, join us in the Uncommon Community Slack.
Community is a powerful growth driver for your business. Many top organizations are turning to community-led growth (CLG) as traditional go-to-market and product discovery methods are becoming less effective.
With all the shortcomings of old school marketing and sales methods, organizations are looking to community to fuel business growth. And while CLG is an effective strategy, it is not without its own challenges, particularly as a community scales. Some of these challenges include:
As your members grow in number, so too will the data around them and their activity within the community. It’s also likely you’ll need to build out and track new channels, like a new Discord server or Stack Overflow forum, but then you find yourself disorganized with information spread out all over multiple tools.
Without a person responsible for bringing these disparate views together, whether manually or using a community management platform—you’ll reach a point where you’re unable to keep up with your members to ensure they’re getting value from the community or effectively articulate the impact of community on the business.
Having a large membership is a nice metric, but it’s only beneficial to your community if your online space is engaging so members receive actual value or benefit from their participation.
Plus, without engagement, your company won’t be able to convert users to customers, or upsell in order to increase the lifetime value of each customer.
The larger, more engaged, and more distributed a community, the harder the reporting—at least when intelligence and automation aren’t employed. Stakeholders and leadership will want to continually see metrics and analysis as they relate to community growth. And it’s going to be hard, if not impossible, to deliver reporting at a regular cadence without a dedicated role managing this data and process.
Community operations supports the community program as a whole by setting goals, tracking top metrics, and making decisions about your community tech stack—as well as the execution of individual initiatives or events. Its purpose is to examine and optimize community functions and processes, allowing you to overcome challenges and meet your community objectives more effectively. In other words, community operations is the lubrication that allows your community to fire on all cylinders, free from the friction brought on by these pain points so you can hit your community and business goals
To envision the role of community ops, think of a restaurant. In an analogy coined by Tiffany Oda, co-founder of Community OPServations, there’s the restaurant front of house (where customers eat) which is similar to the public facing part of your community where members engage. Then there’s the restaurant back of house (the kitchen) which is similar to where project management, data analysis, and technical stack evaluation takes place.
Community operations is like a restaurant general manager who goes back and forth between the front of house and back of house, making sure that everyone has what they need, remediating issues, and ensuring things are running as smoothly as possible.
Front of house community operations involves:
Back of house community operations involves:
Community ops individuals and teams are likely to face a few common internal challenges in the course of their job. Watch out for:
While each community team will be different based on your organization and its needs, we’ve seen a typical pattern in how teams grow to add a distinct community ops role.
Team growth will generally start with a set of community managers who also perform the job of community ops with part of their time. As membership scales, community leaders will be in a position to advocate for more headcount which will then include a dedicated community ops hire.
If you’ve gotten the green light to hire a dedicated community operations manager—congrats! This is an exciting milestone and your community program is about to level up.
When hiring for a community ops, teams should look for candidates with the following essential skills and expertise:
But it’s not just skills and expertise, you want to ensure your new community ops hire will embody and amplify your company’s values. Be sure you’re evaluating with this important criteria in mind as well.
When staffing our community operations team at Common Room, we prioritize candidates who are customer-centric, strive for simplicity, make it happen, and remember that we’re all in this together. In time and with persistence we were able to fill out a team that fit the bill in both skills and values.
Ready to staff your community operations team, but not sure if you’ve developed an effective hiring process to land the perfect hires? We’ve got some experience in the area and have modeled a three-pronged approach that you can use or adapt to your needs.
At Common Room, our hiring process consists of:
The three-pronged approach gives candidates different opportunities to shine, and hiring teams a way to better evaluate candidates to gauge whether they have what it takes to succeed in the role.
After you’ve made your community ops hire (or hires, if you’re especially lucky), be sure to set them up for success by equipping them with the right tools. These will empower your new hire to deliver their best work.
You’ll likely have many of these tools embedded in your team already, but consider:
Common Room helps community ops professionals tackle many of the common challenges captured above.
Integrations with a wide range of tools, like Slack, Twitter, Reddit, Salesforce, and more, provide comprehensive visibility into your community. With Common Room, a community ops pro can easily access and leverage data from all community channels, providing a single source of truth for everything happening within the community. This visibility helps the team better manage programs, coordinate member outreach, and nurture relationships.
With robust metrics and reporting, Common Room helps you prove the ROI of your community and tie community impact to business outcomes. The platform automates repetitive (and often unreliable) manual tasks such as data collection, analysis, and reporting so community ops pros can spend more time devising and executing strategies to hit KPIs rather than on data foraging and number crunching.
Contact us to learn more about how we can enable your team to better support your community and unlock it as a growth engine for your organization.
If you want to learn more about community operations, check out our guide What does a community operations manager do? Or hear directly from community leaders who have hired community ops team members (or from the ops pros themselves!) in the Uncommon Community Slack.