The Power of Process Building for Community Management

June 10, 2024

Community is a growing and evolving space in the B2B industry.

Whilst 60% of companies have a Community Manager role on their marketing team, the responsibilities as part of that role are wide and varied, with variegated levels of leadership buy-in and cross-functional collaboration.

It is the lack of internal evangelism which often acts as a blocker for business impact of community management and career growth for community managers; for a tree without a strong root system can be easily uprooted.

I got talking with Katie Ryser, Community Business & Operations Manager at Docusign, about how we can entrench the impact of community at a business level and the part process building plays in it.

The Perception of Community.

Your barriers for cross-departmental collaboration, executive buy-in, and budget are directly influenced by how your business views community and its benefits.

“Community managers are often seen as the fun people, the ideas people. We need to bring in reality somewhere and show that we’re also the process people, the strategy people, and the business people,” shares Katie.

Creating this shift in viewpoints is no easy feat, but it will lead to business and career growth, as evident with the 3 roles Katie has held during her tenure at Docusign.

If you’re doing something cool, you have to tell people about it—internal and external.

Driving Change as a Community Manager.

“To truly get buy-in, you have to get your staples in line. People need to know you’re here, how they can work with you, and what you’re doing. You need to show up with your best foot forward every single time and grow as a team,” says Katie talking about her approach to driving internal change.

You have to break the silos and offer true collaboration in order to move the needle—and internal processes are part of that.

Building internal processes is akin to creating a how-to guide for board games (just not as straightforward), ensuring repeatability irrespective of the players involved. Thus, helping you weave community is a part of the fabric that makes your business functions.

Armed with over 10 years of experience as a project manager across multiple industries, Katie shares, “A lot of community management can look like working at a start-up or non-profit, no matter what company, thus defining processes and project operations is important.”

Katie’s Blueprint for Building Buy-In.

1. Grow your network: Meet with as many people in the business as you can and gather information by actively listening to them.

2. Make it a partnership: Ask teams about their goals, their expectations from the community, and understand how you can ensure it’s a collaboration. Write down as many notes as you can or record your meetings for future reference.

3. Define success: Success is unique to every business and it is your stakeholders who will help you define it for your community. You will have to balance the needs of the customer and the business when building your success metrics.

4. Establish Reporting: Determine what you’re reporting out and how you’re handling those metrics.

Start with Executive Sponsorship.

Before you embark on this crusade of change however, you want to get approval—and that means identifying and meeting with your executive sponsor. “This can be difficult, but start with your executive sponsor and listen to their advice.”

Here’s how you can set yourself up for success from the lens of a fellow Community Leader: “Come prepared and have your strategy in place prior to the meeting. Ideally, you want to write a charter and have your executive sponsor sign off on it. Remember, you’ve been working on this for a while and in a good environment, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get their backing.”

Pro-Tips for Community Managers.

Whether you’re building a community for your business from the ground up or investing in a refresh, here’s some tips from Katie Ryser that you’ll want to bookmark.

Define your vision for your community.
Do your discovery and know where you’re going before you start breaking down the strategy. Remember to study as much as you possibly can to make sure what you’re doing is within the definition of your company’s best business practices.

Lean on your transferable skills and strengths.
The key is learning how you can apply your unique set of skills to your current work. For example, apply the project management principles to create your roadmap.

Break down the jargon.
When pioneering processes, you shouldn’t expect the audience to know the terms or concepts—whether for project management or community. Thus, it’s not enough to just know things, you also have to be able to explain them. Utilizing external resources can help make it easier for people to understand concepts. For example, Asana has a host of resources on agile and predictive methodologies.

Don’t neglect change management.
When writing processes, it’s easy to sideline change management. However, don’t forget that they are new for others, and you have to train them on it.

The power of process building for community management

This is a guest blog by Srishty Khullar, member of the Advocacy Mavens Coalition.

The Advocacy Mavens Coalition is an association of open for contracting customer-led professionals, each with extensive industry experience. We’re experts in building advocacy and community programs, designing experiences, running advisory boards, creating content, managing and migrating platforms, and more.

Our members are experienced advocacy marketing strategists, community and customer success managers, educators, designers, video producers, analysts, and technical consultants. Whatever your program goals, this coalition has you covered!

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