Welcome to Content Potluck
I found myself most recently in a forced time-off situation for 2 months. While I was healing and recovering I decided to finally act on my dream of creating my ow website (Content Potluck). I will start blogging about all the amazing learnings and experiences I have gathered as a Community Manager.
Community Manager Beginnings
I started as a Community Manager in 2014 at EMC (data storage company, Fortune 100 high tech in North America). Turns out EMC was one of the first adopters of communities back in the 90’s. It was no surprise that when I got to take on this project in 2014 they had 120+ communities within the company. Let’s not discuss the level of functionality of these at this time. But the the one I inherited had an interesting history that had me intrigued. It existed for a long time and was managed by the Support team. Due to limited resources, it was really just kept alive but not actively improved or engaged upon. So when some re-orgs happened, the community was moved from Support to Marketing. This I have seen over the years more and more.
From Support to Marketing
This shift caused the support team to completely disengage and community members became wary of the new community management team. Common expectation is that marketing usually just pushes their own agenda, regardless of the customer’s needs. I took on the community with the determination to not be that stereotypical marketing person. I did not want to build a marketing empire. And I most certainly did not want to shut out the rest of the company. A community is a cross-departmental communication channel, it should be shared and utilized in a collaborative manner. Even more importantly, my main goal was to keep self-service enablement and support the focus of my community. I wanted it to thrive again even if it meant to be at odds with my own boss and the rest of the marketing team.
Getting up to Speed
I dove head first into this new experience and while there are many downsides to a company having 120+ communities, there are certain benefits as well. As a community manager (CMGR) I had lots of people to reach out and learn from. In a short time I acquainted myself with platform administration, gamification, UX, community best practices and engagement programs. I learned fast and hard and asked a lot of questions and challenged a lot of processes. Mostly I just got shut down, but I was heard and people started to recognize my name as someone who was eager to experiment and discover new possibilities. Soon other CMGRs took note and joined in to demand a more centralized effort for all of us.
In my first three years my experience grew from running one tech support community to managing 3. I launched one brand new community from scratch in the same time. Since then I have been working at other companies, discovering new platforms, engaging with industry associations and other community experts and sharing my knowledge and skills with people who ask for them.
I love that communities is old and new all at once (more on this in another post) and that there is basically an endless amount of new skills and experiences to be had, no matter how long you have been doing this work.
What is This Website
The Content Potluck website and blog series will be my outlet for all the good, the bad and the ugly I have seen and worked through. I hope this will inspire others to do right by their communities and customers or reach out for help and conversation if they feel stuck.
Remember, a conversation is free, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to me on social media or my email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Niki (Vecsei) Harrold