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How to build and hire a community team
Feb 27th, 2023

How to build and hire a community team

Community teams bring an organization closer to its users, developers, customers, and other important members. They help locate and amplify champions, build user-centric roadmaps, nurture new members and voices, identify where community members need help, and keep a pulse on the community's overall health.

Community teams do all of this in service of bringing increased value to members, which helps drive greater engagement and grow the community—and ultimately benefits the business as well. These teams help organizations activate the power of community through community-led growth (CLG) initiatives that drive customer acquisition and boost retention.

A company's community is a resource that provides value across the organization. In order to appropriately invest in your community to drive the outcomes you want to achieve, community leaders need to assemble a team of people with diverse areas of expertise working toward a common goal.

We’ve put together this article to help guide you as you set out to build and hire your community team. We’ll cover:

  • The responsibilities of a community team
  • Where it should be positioned in the organization
  • The five personas on a community team
  • How to hire a community team
  • How Common Room can help

What are the responsibilities of a community team?

Community teams manage the day-to-day practice of building and managing a user community with the ultimate goal of driving value for members while also contributing back to the business.

Some of the primary responsibilities include

  • responding to user inquiries and requests,
  • facilitating member interactions,
  • creating content,
  • sending welcome messages and member surveys,
  • planning and hosting events,
  • sharing community insights with internal teams,
  • reporting on the program’s impact,
  • and more.

Through these activities, community teams create a flywheel for the business where happier, more successful community members become valuable, loyal customers.

Where should a community team be positioned in an organization?

Community teams are cross-functional by nature and participate in multiple departments within a company.

We conducted a Twitter poll asking community teams and leaders where they think community teams should sit within an organization. The results reflect why we (and a lot of you, too) believe community teams are the quarterbacks of cross-team initiatives and should be involved in every community play, no matter what team they roll up to:

  • 37% of respondents thought it should be a separate entity in the organization,
  • 27% believed it should sit under marketing,
  • 22% thought it should roll into product,

15% chose customer success.

Pie chart with answers to the poll: Where should a Community team sit in an org? 36.6% believe Community should be a separate function.

Community teams bring value across an organization, which is why this is a tricky question.

Here’s a snapshot of how a community team can support the endeavors of your marketing, product, and customer success teams.


Marketing teams love to find and elevate product champions to build awareness and excitement around products. Marketing can activate community efforts to further these goals by working closely with community teams to locate and amplify their community champions.

Marketing teams working closely with community teams can also generate valuable content, more successful events, and new leads from the community.


Product and engineering teams scope, design, and build products to delight users. Community teams support P&E teams by feeding into user-centric roadmaps. They engage with members to understand where they’re running into product bugs or what features they particularly love. By looking at trending topics across the community, teams can surface the most valuable feedback for product and engineering that will make the biggest difference across the community and customer base.

Ultimately, a strong community supports a product-led growth strategy. The more feedback and input you can generate for customers, the better products you can build to attract and retain customers.

Customer success

Success teams want to understand how users interact with their product and ensure that customers are achieving their individual and company goals.

Are users getting stuck? Is more or better documentation or guidance needed? With a community team available to support, answer, or flag questions in the community, success teams can better understand and deliver solutions that solve their users’ problems.

The community team ultimately contributes to all these functions no matter where it sits. For us at Common Room, it’s less about who the community team reports to and more about the weight of the team’s voice across each organizational function.

At Common Room, we want to empower community teams with a powerful platform that unlocks insights to elevate the role of community at the organization all the way up to the executive level. We believe that community teams should have a seat at the exec table and a voice that’s as heeded as the CMO, CTO, or CFO.

The five personas on a community team

Our experience building Common Room's community team has taught us that there are five personas that, when brought together, work optimally to create a thriving community team.

This doesn't mean you need exactly five people on your team—you may need more or less. If you are a smaller community team, one person may take on multiple roles.

  1. The scientist
  2. The strategist
  3. The champion
  4. The technician
  5. The captain

1. The scientist

The scientist brings an analytical and experimental mindset to building community. This persona is skeptical, data-driven, and eager to test hypotheses. Once the scientist has tested a hypothesis, they meticulously articulate results and suggest refinements based on their findings.

The scientist is the data-first person who helps the team understand why they are pursuing and testing specific ideas. They collect all the data about community engagement and retention to track progress and measure success. The scientist helps your organization realize the power of community-led growth by demonstrating the ROI of community as well as the impact community has on business outcomes.

2. The strategist

The strategist creates the structure of the community program and defines concrete goals and tactics for achieving its vision. The strategist also helps the team understand the potential long-term impacts of the team’s decisions.

We like to describe this role as the one who is there to stretch the short-term rubber band into the long-term vision at every meeting.

3. The champion

This person recognizes, celebrates and amplifies the work of community members. The champion notices the moments and causes for community celebration that the rest of the community team may miss.

For example, maybe your members are engaged in a cool conversation in a Slack channel. Or an industry-specific podcast or blog post is generating heated ideas or debates. The champion seizes these moments and turns them into community nurture and growth opportunities. The champion may amplify a conversation across platforms to keep it going or, host an event (online or IRL) and invite guests who inspire additional conversation.

4. The technician

This persona can be mainly behind the scenes, supporting the team as a whole and making decisions about the community technology stack. The technician's role is rooted in community operations (community ops).

A significant part of what the technician does is to ensure that the programs and platforms are functioning as intended—both independently and with one another.

The technician also makes sure that the stack scales with the community so that members' needs are met no matter what. For example, your community may have started small on Slack or Discord. After experiencing some growth, the technician may realize it's time to create an FAQ forum or a code repository for the influx of new members and lead the acquisition, set up, and rollout of that new channel.

5. The captain

The captain exists in service to the strengths of their team; they are the person who makes sure their teammates have what they need to excel at their positions. They are also known as community leaders.

The captain sets the team expectations, ideates on shared goals, communicates helpful information for the team, and lends support wherever support is needed—the captain is driving the ship towards a healthy and thriving community.

The captain is also responsible to communicate the value of the community and the community team to various stakeholders with different priorities across the enterprise, and will often partner with the scientist to do so.

We have learned a lot on our own voyage of building and hiring a community team—meet our captain, Rebecca Marshburn, and learn more about her journey to Common Room and her role on our community team!

How to hire a community team

As you think about hiring or growing your community team, it is essential to note that these personas do not illustrate the whole of any one person, and one person can have the strengths of multiple personas. For example, on the Common Room team, we all love to data-dive, and most of us are always in pursuit of ways to amplify the work of our community members.

The point is that these personas signify crucial strengths needed on a community team for you to function most effectively and find success.

Setting hiring criteria for a community team

At Common Room, we have learned much from our experience and our users' experiences around building and hiring community teams. First and foremost, we learned the importance of considering a person's overall qualities, which can enhance a team (and a community)—instead of building a community team around task-based individuals.

Therefore we look for teammates that meet three criteria:

  1. Does this person excel in a strength that will serve our customers and complement other team roles?
  2. Is this person passionate about growing in the community space and willing to learn continuously?
  3. Is this person willing to embrace ambiguity and help their teammates deliver with velocity?

We use this process because these criteria generally map to our company values:

  • Be customer-centric
  • Strive for simplicity
  • Make it happen
  • We’re all in this together.

The next step in our hiring process is a three-pronged approach:

  1. A practical take-home exercise,
  2. A live presentation and Q&A with a cross-functional panel of leaders across Common Room, and
  3. A values interview—which is designed to highlight a value match for both candidate and company.

We believe these three opportunities present different kinds of candidates with different opportunities to shine.

  1. The take-home exercise gives candidates time and space to think through the exercise and feel confident in the ideas they produce.
  2. The cross-functional panel presentation and Q&A allow candidates to go deeper on topics and demonstrate a community team candidate’s comfort level with speaking to a diverse group of people (just like they’ll have to do in the role).
  3. And the values interview asks pointed questions, like, “can you tell me about a time when your understanding of a customer problem resulted in your building (or guiding the development of) a solution you otherwise would not have created?”

We caveat this question with the acknowledgment that ‘customer’ can be applied here with a loose interpretation—for community teams, the ‘customer’ is likely a community member (who may also be a “customer” customer) or an internal stakeholder.

When setting criteria for hiring your community team, here’s what you need to remember:

  1. Look for overall qualities and not just task-specific individuals.
  2. Align your hiring criteria with your company values.
  3. Diversify your hiring process, so candidates have opportunity to shine and showcase the value they can bring to your community team.

How Common Room helps community teams thrive

Common Room is a platform that gives community teams complete visibility into community engagement across all digital channels and helps teams take action to deliver valuable and personalized interactions across the entire member and customer journey.

Common Room has something for each community team member persona.

  • For the scientist and data-obsessed, Common Room’s reporting provides community health metrics like membership growth, engagement, activity levels, sentiment, and response rate across your community. Common Room also brings together community data with product and revenue data to enable community teams to show the community’s impact on the business.
  • For the strategist, Common Room surfaces trends, topics, and insights from across all your platforms—including Discord, Slack, Discourse, LinkedIn, and more—to equip you with engagement metrics to help ideate strategies for future community programming and growth.
  • The champion role can easily leverage Common Room’s impact point and champion program to amplify and highlight their community champions and advocates.
  • Common Room superpowers the work of the technician. By bringing together all of your community tools and data into a single source of truth—with natively-built and fully-managed integrations, seamless workflows, and automations—technicians have unprecedented insight across their full community tech stack.
  • The captain can harness the power of Common Room to scale the impact of community across the organization by sharing product insights, reporting on community-led growth efforts, and saving the team time by automating manual tasks.

With Common Room, you can demonstrate impact and make the case to further grow the community, giving back to your members and stoking your business’ user-led flywheel. Interested in learning more? Get started for free or request a demo to see the platform in action.

For more insight into how top community teams measure and report on their impact, check out the post Using metrics to understand community growth and business impact.

To hear firsthand from other community and DevRel leaders about how they built and grew their community team, join us in the Uncommon Slack community.