Internal charts are usually idealistic and
I don’t care where the community manager
sits within the organization. We’ve worked with community managers from HR,
innovation, marketing, PR, tech support, customer service, CEO’s office,
fundraising, and more. It doesn’t matter nearly as much as you think.
I care whether the community manager can
build internal communities to support the external community.
We had a revelation two years ago. The
majority of successful communities we worked on were developed by a ragtag band of believers.
They came from throughout the organization.
Here is an example, at one organization it was Julia and Andrew from customer
support, their friend Karen from the web team, two interns (one of whom
literally didn’t have a defined role), and Sayid from legal. We gradually used
their informal contacts to increase the support and steadily grow the internal
systems to support the external community. By the time it appeared on the executive radar, most of the organization loved the idea.
This is how
traditional community building is done. You identify potential supporters and gain their support. The big meetings, the pitch to the CEO, the mass
messages explaining the benefits of the community, and the top-down commands to
participate aren’t anywhere near as effective as building up your ragtag band
This is either terrific or terrible. It
depends on your perspective.
For some, it removes their excuse for failure. Two
people we interviewed last week complained their community failed because they
didn’t have support. No, their community failed because they couldn’t get
For others, community building just became
much easier. Skip the big wins. Find people that might be interested. Have a
coffee with them and bring them round to your way of thinking.