The Stack Overflow Podcast

How to build and maintain online communities, from gaming to open source

Episode Summary

We speak with David Spinks, co-founder of CMX and VP of Community at Bevy, about the best ways to build and maintain a community. We're also joined by Cesar Manara a senior community manager on the trust and safety team at Stack Overflow. We explore community building across open source software projects, video games, and knowledge communities.

Episode Notes

You can follow David on Twitter here. If you want to check out his new book, The Business of Belonging,  the first chapter is available here.

You can find out more about CMX here and learn more about Bevy here.

Cesar prefers to remain off social media, but you can find him on LinkedIn.

Episode Transcription

David Spinks You can have a very healthy, inclusive, meaningful community today. And then things change. The people who join the community change, the world changes, the status quo changes in culture. And it's really important that you just continue to look at your community as an ongoing experiment that you're trying new things. You're trying to keep it fresh. And that's both from an engagement standpoint of keeping it interesting and exciting to people, but also from a health and culture standpoint, to constantly be asking, are we doing things the right way? Are we living by our values? Who should be in this room that isn't in this room and why?


Ben Popper Hello! And welcome to the Stack Overflow Podcast. I'm Ben Popper, Director of Content here at Stack Overflow. And I'm here with my co-host, Sara Chipps. Hi, Sara. 

Sara Chipps Hey Ben! How's your day? 

BP Ah, it's pretty good. Got a little garden setup, hoping for rain. Things are going well. 

SC Oh, what's in your garden? 

BP We got some cucumbers, we got some melons. We got some woodchucks.

SC That sounds awesome.

BP Yeah, it's gonna be great. So Sara, we have two great guests on today. And they come from your side of the house in your world. You are the Director of Community at Stack Overflow. Want to tell us a little about the guests we're gonna have on the pod today?

SC Yes! We have two guests on today. We have Cesar, who is member our very own community team. He is a Senior Community Manager. And we also have David Spinks on today, who is the VP of community at Bevy, also the founder of CMX, and an author of his new book, The Business of Belonging. Welcome, David and X.

DS Thanks for having me.

Cesar Manara Thank you for inviting me.

BP So before we go too deep, tell me just off the top, what is what is Bevy for folks who don't know?

DS So Bevy is a platform that powers your community event programs. So it started out of Startup Grind, if you're familiar with that, one of the largest startup communities in the world. Basically, if you have your community self organizing local events, local chapters, you can power that all through Bevy, it also runs all of your virtual meetups and events, virtual conferences, so anything on the event side of community, you can power through Bevy.

SC That's great. Cesar introduced our team to CMX, maybe actually, Cesar, could you talk a little bit about what we use CMS on our team?

CM Yeah, sure, being the person who introduced it a give a little bit backstory. When I was maybe my third year as a community professional, some time ago, I met the old course that's no longer available by David. And I took it and a really changed perspectives on tools that I could use as a CM, to get buy in from our board from a CEO. It really made a great difference. And from there, I just, I went to CMX summit in 2017, like four years later, and yeah, so been there. We are using on our team for the professional community that they have. So CMX Pro, everyone who wanted it got an account. And so we're also now having everyone go through the new course, the MBA and community management together, and we'll sort of take notes and talk about that as we go.

SC That's great. I was gonna ask David, about his book. So Business of Belonging just came out. My copy is on it's way.

DS Nice. 

SC What can you tell us a little bit about what made you write the book?

DS Yeah, so it's a book I've wanted to write for many years. As Cesar said, I've been developing training and education with a CMX team for many years and developing frameworks and models to help community teams understand how to do this work, because when I started doing this work, 13 years ago, there wasn't a guide for it, there wasn't a community to get support for it, especially not in the startup and tech world. And so you're mostly on your own. And the idea with this book is to make sure that everyone who's doing this work today, whether they're starting now, or they're still early in their career, that they don't have to reinvent the wheel. And they can learn from all the things that I've learned and that our industry has developed over the last decade plus, and so it's sort of a collection of all my biggest lessons, all the biggest frameworks and tools that we've developed at CMX, and kind of in the weed tactics and tricks that I've learned over the years and how to build community, so that anyone who's starting to build community for their business has a pretty complete and done guide.

BP It's interesting you say that I met yesterday with a new member of the community team just to discuss, you know, where we might overlap community and content. And this person was just giving me a little bit of their CV and it kind of put things in perspective for me in a way. I hadn't really heard it before, but they had, you know, many, many years, I think nearly a decade at Wikipedia and then years at Reddit, and Now coming on to Stack Overflow. And it was wild for me to think about the sort of durability and size of these communities and the fact that this person was acquiring a skill set that is transferable in a certain way to all these different businesses, but which I don't think many people know that much about, it's not kind of like lionized the way, you know, software development is, but it's at the heart of you know, how a lot of these places are able to operate safely.

DS Yeah, it's funny, I think I know who that CV is for. Someone's actually mentioned in my book, if I'm right, but it's it's absolutely right. I mean, when we started CMX, and Cesar can speak to this, like community was still very nascent industry. The reason that CMX took off when we started in 2014, was because community managers largely felt undervalued. Most community managers didn't even know that there were other community managers out there. And so when we built CMX, and they were finally in a room with other community professionals, and other people who did this work, who understand what they did, that was career changing life changing for them, because they felt validated and included. But you know, I wouldn't have said that it was ubiquitous within business, I always believed that it would be the future of business, but it was like pulling teeth to get companies to care about it back then. And now, it's completely shifted, just in the last year alone, and not in small part because of COVID. Every company is now building online communities. They're building event programs, they're doing virtual events, first round capital release their say to startup support. 80% of startups are investing community and 28% consider it to be their moat, and critical to their success. You're seeing like TechCrunch, and Harvard Business Review. And all these, like big tech publications write about how the chief community officer is the new CMO, like there's three new funds that have launched in this year alone that specifically focused on the community industry. So it's accelerating very quickly. And all of a sudden, it's become something that feels like it's going to be a part of every single business in the future.

CM I can speak a bit to when I started, how I got into community management was as a teenager playing World of Warcraft and participating in the Blizzard forums, and community manager at that time, meant to be you got to be all day talking to people in a forum, which sounded amazing. And so I was part of their super user program, and we had a community manager was our point of contact. And I remember I told him, I think I want to do your job. And the first question was not anything like why? Or I'll never forget, the first question was, are you sure? [Cesar & Ben laugh] And and I'm like, I don't know. It was like, 16 at a time, what did I know? Then a few years later, I started working 2012, 2011 actually, I started working as a support person on a games company, 2012 I got my first committee manager role. And yeah, that there was nothing. What I knew in 2012 was gaming. And that was it. That was the only place I knew that did community management. There was another title going around for newspapers and stuff like that. They had an ombudsman, which was similar, but not the same.

BP Yeah, it's really interesting. I heard somebody making the argument the other day that the gaming industry, you know, leads the way because it normalizes certain, like behaviors and culture. So like for you, you were in World of Warcraft, you saw other people doing this, you thought, this seems really cool, I want to do this. Not this is a job and an industry. They were talking about how you know, 12 year olds now know all about the yield curve on lending a digital sword to somebody else. And like, someday, you know, they'll be crypto traders or whatever. Like they're totally comfortable saying, like, this digital object is unique and worth money and I could, you know, create a business around it. But I guess yeah, like, besides gaming, David, what other sort of like industries or companies or maybe even just communities were central to the creation of the community industry or professionalizing this in a certain way? Yeah.

DS That's funny, because I started in gaming too. My first online forum was for Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 when I was in middle school. I was obsessed with that game. And everyone was a little obsessed with that game. I was very obsessed with that game, played hours on end everyday. I became one of the top players in the world. And we launched Clan and became the top Clan in the game and then we launched the forum and that became one of the most popular forums for Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 and that was you know, I was 14 years old in middle school, and I was managing a large forum with like, trolls and guidelines, and we were running competitions and just all the things that community managers do today. So definitely a lot from gaming. There's a lot of people who come from gaming into the world of community. But community is also been around in the nonprofit world for a very long time. Like a lot of models that we're seeing companies use today, specifically ones that we power with Bevy this like chapter based model where you have local ambassadors, that was pioneered by basically nonprofits and politics, right? Like, even you look at the Obama campaign, and how they ran that on a very local ambassador driven level, it's the same model that Salesforce is using for the Trailblazer program, or Google's using for the Google Developer program for GDG. So we're seeing, you know, a lot of the fundamentals of community, which is one of the oldest practices in humanity, we've been building communities since the beginning of our species. And so we have a lot to learn to pull from in terms of history. And now it's just about applying it to the modern day.

SC That's really neat. One thing I've noticed about online communities is sometimes is they're so organic, that sometimes it just happens by accident, it sounds kind of like that what was happening with your Pro Skater, or your Tony Hawk group have, you know, like just unexpected growth. This one time, I ordered these lashes ray of these like lashes online that I wanted to try, and they didn't end up working out. But I joined their Facebook group. And I have not left this Facebook group. Because it is just 1000s of people talking about all kinds of different things, including these lashes, which I'm now like a professional at, even though I don't use them. But most interestingly, I you know, yesterday, a woman shared how she had the night before lost her husband, and just, you know, a lot of detail about her very emotional experience and just how much he appreciates this community that like sprung up out of nowhere on this consumer product. One thing I know and I've seen on our team, and in the industry is how emotional this role can be, and how important it is to take care of yourself as someone that is, you know, managing a community. How to both of you think about that, as you're thinking about your role. How do you make sure to keep your own emotional health well while you know, you're responsible for all hundreds and sometimes millions of people online?

CM I think the first thing you want to do is when you figure it out, you tell me. The second is, I think the the thing that makes community powerful is the relationship people build, right? And so it's no longer, for that woman, for example, it's no longer about the lashes anymore, but it's about the people who are there for her that she can trust will support her through a difficult time. And that's what keeps people coming back and keeps people engaged and loving the space. Right? So it is really tricky to talk about emotional safety, because you're always emotional involved to a degree. I remember when we announced Cyberpunk, I was at CD Projekt in 2018. And there was this huge swath of the internet who was very, very disappointed that we didn't have third person in the game. And I was responding on Twitter for four hours past midnight about it. And yeah, it takes an emotional toll. Right, you feel exhausted by the end of it. The thing to remember, at least for me is these people are passionate. These people, most of the time are not actually trying to make you feel horrible. But they are also invested in they're also emotionally feeling that and so you take that into account and feel a lot of love, and a lot of compassion. Right. But yeah, I don't think there is a formula that no, you can be completely emotionally disconnected from it. Because we're talking about people and relationships those people build. And so there's always going to be a level of emotional involvement.

DS Definitely plus one on that. I write in the book about how important it is just to not take things personally. It's very easy to take it as a personal attack on you, when someone complains about the community, or even a worst case scenario where the community kind of all rallies around something negative about the community or about you or about the team. And it can feel like a lot of people piling on on you. But you have to remember, it's it's never personal. It's when people are negative when they're angry. It often says a lot more about you know what, where they're coming from, and you have no idea where they're coming from. So you just try to not fill in those gaps yourself and just acknowledge that like, maybe they're having a really rough day, maybe they're dealing with something really hard in their life. And come in with with compassion. Nonviolent Communication is a really good book that I think every community builder should read, because it helps you approach those conversations with your own nonviolent communication and so you're not accelerating that negativity, you're not fueling the fire, which is what tends to happen, right because someone attacks you, your immediate responses to be defensive, and and that can just make things worse. So I'd say that that's a really critical one. And then just it's, it's about having very clear boundaries, I have the double whammy of being, you know, a very active community builder and an entrepreneur. And so I have to constantly be checking back on my boundaries of how much time I'm spending on things, and how much energy I'm putting into things because I can work, you know, 20 hours a day, if I wanted to, and still not get everything done. And in the world of community, there's always going to be more conversations, more engagement, more ways to connect with people, and there's no limit to how much you can do. And oftentimes a community is going to ask of you to be available at weird hours on weekends. And so you need to have very clear boundaries for yourself and for your community and for your team. And, and it's actually Felipe who's on your team. Now, I remember many years ago, when he was on Wikipedia, he said, your job as a community builders to push out control as far as possible. And that always stuck with me. Because we tend to take it all on ourselves on our own shoulders to solve all the problems, to figure it out, to help people, to engage. But the only way to scale community and the only way for you to do this work sustainably is to lean on others. And that can be your teammates that can be volunteers in your community. But you're just you have to give up control and give other people autonomy to be able to contribute and handle situations so that every small detail isn't landing on your plate.

BP I think what's interesting, you know that there were always forums that were around certain games, obviously. And there the game sort of proceeds the community and the community rallies around, it was interesting, I guess, to a certain degree about a Wikipedia or a Reddit or a Stack Overflow is that the community exists because they decided to organize and sort of generate knowledge or conversation, you know, the idea, the impetus to create the community was community was like, well, this is this could be a new way for us to contribute something to the world or to find and connect with people. I guess for all three of you, since you work in this world, you know, you mentioned just how difficult it can be emotionally and also that, you know, it can be difficult to turn off because you know, people are always online, always, you know, looking for more in and around the world. Do you look to software to handle some of this? Do you think software and automation are an interesting approach, or anything, this is intrinsically sort of, you know, a human to human business, you know, you may want to push control out to other members of the community, but you want to have, make sure you have a human in the loop,

CM I can talk a little bit to what we do for Stack Overflow. We could use a lot more software for a lot more things. But one of the principles of moderation is if you raise a flag, a human should check it. And so where it stops is at a human. And so I think software plays, especially in content moderation, AI has gotten really good and successful for talking about text, but it's sometimes still makes mistakes. And so it's important to have an escalation step that is a human.

DS And on the kind of side of building community to drive growth and to scale up your community. Absolutely, I think we need a lot more tools. I think actually, it's a blue ocean of opportunity right now in the in the tech world to build tools that help community teams scale up their operations. So much has been built on the front end of creating new forums or message boards and new experiences for people to host communities. But still not nearly enough to help a community manager, understand who's in the community, right? If you have 10,000 members, or more, you're not keeping all those people in your head, you need a really great system for knowing who's in your community, how are they engaging with your community? Where else are they engaging with your community? Community doesn't just exist on one forum today, they're also on Twitter and on Reddit and on Facebook and on Slack. And so there are tools to help you understand your community at scale. We always ask our industry research that we do every year, what are the top challenges that you have. And always one of the top three challenges is automating manual processes. So too many times now, community managers are still using a spreadsheet to manage 100 local chapters of events, which is why like Bevy came to be because it just it turns out a broken about 50 chapters and communities couldn't scale beyond that, unless they had a tool. And as you know, when when Bevy was built, it was like, well, how do we make this very repeatable? How do we give you all the data in one place, so you know, who RSVP and attended all of the events around the world, because before that, a community manager was just having the local chapters, send them spreadsheets with here are the RSVP list of here, here are the attendance list, and here's maybe the survey list. And they're probably using like 10 different tools to do all that stuff. It's just extremely tedious. So there's so many opportunities to make the process of building community very efficient without sacrificing the, it actually I think empowers a community manager to spend more time doing the hands on things that really build relationships because they're not bogged down in the day to day tedious tasks.

SC So a lot of the people that listen, this podcast are software developers, and they are involved in open source communities on one level or another. And one thing I've seen is, you know, Stack Overflow is the largest community of technologists, but open source has presented their own smaller communities. And often people that are software developers become their own community managers, which is, which can be tough as community is its own discipline with its own study. And you know, it's definitely those skill sets can be complimentary, but they're not the same skill set. What do you, if someone you know, finds themselves magically, with a community that they are managing, what do you advise them to do? How do you advise them to get started if they want to learn more about, you know, actually, the study of community management?

DS Yeah. So I mean, it reminds me of Nadia Eghbal's book, Nadia is a very good friend of mine, I'm not sure if you're familiar with the book, Working in Public, all about open source communities, and how her basic premise in that book was basically that like, we describe these things as communities. And yet, a lot of these products are built by a very, very small group of people, sometimes even one person who's now responsible for like coordinating with all these different people. And so it's not exactly the distributed idea that people always have of open source. And so, you know, my advice would be go back to that tip from earlier, distribute control. If you're the one person trying to coordinate all these different things, you're not going to be able to scale it. So find people who want to contribute, and I'm sure there will be a lot and be specific. I think a lot of time, we're just you know, people are just like, well, who wants to contribute, contribute however you want. And you can start that way, while you figure out what the different kind of ways that people can contribute are, the different roles that can form within your community. But then once you understand what that role is, tell people how to participate. Don't wait for them to just do it organically, they probably won't. A few might, if they do, great, find those people and figure out how to make them really successful. But be reaching out to your community and say, like, here are the things we need, here are the specific ways you can contribute, here's how to contribute in a successful way, and remove all the barriers possible, preventing the other members of the community from being able to contribute. I think that that's what will start to offload that work of maintaining everything yourself.

CM What I would say is, you know, very similar to that, but something that even Kerry Melissa Jones, she talks about in our new course about engagement is a lot at first we'll be on you, a lot at first will be new to bring ideas, to bring programming, to bring content to to kickstart things, right. But as you get specific, as you get to know your members more, as you get you knew, what are they up for helping with? What are the needs? What are they happy to do? What are they not interested in doing? You can start delegating as things become successful. So a lot of the initial work of seeding is on you. But please have an exit in mind, so to speak of a moment of when you know, okay, this is running low enough that I can delegate it to someone else, and not super worried about it anymore, going forward. And that frees you to start something new, right and see the new thing, a new type of content that new people will be involved with. And so I think you're constantly having there's this notion of the designer, but you're constantly generating new ideas and new things that people will enjoy doing, because you've done research, or you've talked to your member or to your contributors of the project, etc. And then once it gets off, you say, okay, this is going well, I can be hands off about this.

BP I have sort of like a big picture question, which is that I think, you know, a lot of the time now, when I read about social media writ large, you know, the sort of grand narrative is that, you know, it started out well, and we had the best of intentions, but it's become this, you know, sea of disinformation or, you know, people sort of inciting each other's worst impulses. What are some examples, I guess, you know, in your mind of communities that have over the long term, you know, managed to maintain healthy culture, and what do you think that sort of the key ingredients are there? You know, I'm not not saying that any community is perfect or needs to be, but just, you know, overall, what do you think are some of the sort of key ingredients are the long term sort of durability and health of the community?

DS I think it's the ability to be adaptive, because you can have a very healthy, inclusive, meaningful community today. And then things change. The people who join the community change, the world changes, the status quo changes in culture, things that we thought were Okay, once upon a time are no longer. Okay. And, you know, I think it's really important that you just continue to look at your community as an ongoing experiment that you're trying new things, you're trying to keep it fresh. And that's both from an engagement standpoint of keeping it interesting and exciting to people, but also from a health and culture standpoint to constantly be asking, are we doing things the right way? Are we living by our values, who should be in this room that isn't in this room and why? And I think Reddit is a really good example where they've had a lot of issues in the past, and they've had a lot of toxic communities on the platform, and there are still a whole lot of issues. But I've also seen them work pretty diligently at solving for those issues, improving their community programs. Evan Hamilton, who's leading community, there's, you know, an incredible community leader and like, is constantly working on connecting more closely with moderators and understanding their needs, on a platform level, they've removed groups that were really toxic, and not contributing, not having a positive impact on the community and on the world. And so that's an example where it's like, yeah, they're not perfect. Yeah, there's a lot more work to do. But as long as I see a community continuing to do the work, that's what excites me. And that's what I think is really important. It's that ongoing work and never feeling like, okay, we're done, we figured it out. Let's just let it sit.

CM Online behavior has been, it's not even a side passion of mine at this point. It's a passion of mine. For a long time. It is what I talked about CMX 2017. And I remember speaking on Reddit, after my talk, I was talking about my talk with the Reddit folks who were there. And I was talking to one of the CMs there and they were talking about how they shut down a particular subreddit where people were very negative and very toxic, and they had a difficult conversation of, should we ban everyone from the platform altogether or not? What they decided to do was actually follow those people and see--follow as in, you know, check in with their activity in other subreddits, after their main subreddit was closed, and they found that their behavior changed significantly from the place that was toxic to other subreddits. And so what that speaks to me is that it's really important to define the culture of your community. And I think the phrase 'how we do things around here' is very, very powerful. And it's very important that you get the early stages, right, because what people see, when they join a community is the behavior they will naturally mimic. Because we have this tendency as humans, right, we want to be accepted, we want to be part of a group, and groups and individuals, groups also have their own identities, they also have their own norms. And there is this notion, do you belong to this group? Or do you not belong? Are you part of us? Are you one of us? Or are you not one of us? If your culture, if your rules have to be one of us, is, you know, is welcoming, is heartwarming, is sympathetic, it's a nice onboarding experience. And the behaviors you want to be able to model are nice, then people are more likely to model that if they want to be part of the community. Whereas if they're not, if it's the subreddit, that's already problematic, it's about hating on other people, you know, the behaviors that people will mimic when joining that are the nasty behaviors that you don't want to see. And so adapting those are super important to David's point. But I think getting them right. And getting, you know, a strong identity of who we are, is super important, too, because people will naturally try to adapt to that.

BP Well, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that we've sort of productized you know, some of what we built on the platform, we have this product called Stack Overflow for Teams, which is basically like a private instance of Stack Overflow inside of companies. And one of the interesting things that I've learned doing case studies and talking to clients is about, you know, sort of exactly what you said to sort of that people will come in there and see somebody modeling behavior have a totally different experience than they did on the public site. And then sometimes there's even a nice feedback loop where they're like, 'Well, you know, I've answered a bunch of questions in the private Stack Overflow at my company. Now I finally feel like confident enough to go on public and try and answer some questions.' You know, so there's kind of like, definitely some level setting that can happen in a smaller community, and then be extended to a bigger one. And I think there's probably, I don't know, Sara, you could tell me but a lot of learnings like kind of that go back and forth between the two. 

SC Yeah, we Stack Overflow for Teams, that kind of work for us where we can test features too, before we think about introducing them to the larger community. And just see how it's accepted by smaller communities. Because it can be very, I've heard people describe it as you know, a community that is large, it's like a cruise ship, where you know, when you want to make changes, making a big sweeping global change is really hard. You want to just steer it slowly and really be thoughtful because there's so many people that you're affecting. So when it comes to testing new features and things like that, testing them in a smaller community is much easier. And then we can get feedback. And often not always, it's not one to one, but often that can translate into how things will be accepted by the larger community. What are what do you think are some of the things that get overlooked when you're thinking about building a community to support your business?

DS So I think the biggest mistake that businesses make is they just start building community without really understanding why. And it makes sense, because that's how we've always built community, it's just, you know, I have a need to connect with people around a topic like Tony Hawk, or Warcraft, or any game or any interest, and I'm going to start talking to people and maybe hosting spaces. For them for a business, what ends up happening is they start building community, they grow engagements. And usually they put like one community manager to manage it, hopefully an experienced person but Cesar's laughing, because he knows it's usually a junior person or an intern, they're just like, yeah, you could just manage the community, right? And it becomes something that is a nice to have, but at the end of the quarter, at the end of the half, at the end of the year, when they say like, great, what are we investing in? What's really worked for growing our business? It's really hard to make a case for our community, and to invest more into it to give it the proper staff and resources it needs. And so like anything else in business, unless you want it to be just like a side thing that's like a nice to have, that's for good, almost like a charity that you're donating to, you want it to be tied to the objectives that really matter to your business. And so if you're a developer ecosystem or an open source platform, then you're really going to be focused on contributors, on developers who are successful at building on the platform who are contributing to the platform, and you're designing community in a very intentional, specific way to get developers engaged and to increase the likelihood that they will be successful at contributing on your platform. And I lay out in the book six different objectives that community can drive using something called the SPACES model. And it just stands for support, product acquisition, contribution, engagement, and success. And so very quick support is like a support forum, people answering questions for each other. Product is where you're building community with the specific intention of collecting feedback and ideas that you can apply to your product. Acquisition is growing. So growing your user base, growing your customer base, growing the developer base, through things like ambassador programs, or other kinds of community driven growth programs. Contribution is what I just described, whether it's open source or collaborative consumption, like Airbnb, you know, they want hosts to be successful contributing to the platform. So that's where you're really focused on contributors and making them very successful. Twitch, another great example is streamers, right, they want streamers to be very successful at streaming on the platform. Engagement is customer retention. And, and so like customer lifetime value, customer average contract value, by engaging people through community, you increase their loyalty as a customer and their investment as a customer. And finally, the last S is for success. So it's more proactive, educationally focused than support, where you're empowering community members to teach each other, how to better use your product, how to get more out of your product, and you're looking at things like customer satisfaction, customer retention, increased product adoption. And so those six areas, the SPACES model, generally, all community programs, even internal ones, for teams will follow that same path, right? Or lead into one of those objectives. Like employees, it's like, you can look at employees supporting each other, or employees giving feedback or recruitment on the acquisition side, right, so you can apply it to employees as well. And you should start with that objective in mind, and design your community programs specifically, with the intention of driving that goal. Because every community program, you launch might look different based on what that objective is. So they're actually very different looking community programs that are driven by that objective.

SC That makes a ton of sense. And I bet you see, I've definitely seen companies, you know, kind of try throwing spaghetti at the wall and like trying all of those at once. 

DS Yes. [David laughs] Every time I did a workshop I asked, like, how many of these objectives are you doing? And like it's always four or five, six. And that's a problem because like I said, every one of those might be a different platform. It's different members, right? Because someone who wants to be active on a support forum is going to be doing then someone who wants to be an ambassador and host an event, there are different metrics that you're accountable to, there are different teams within your organization that you have to intersect with and work with. So it's really hard if you take on too many objective as, as a community team, out of the gate, right when you're just starting off, and especially if you're a solo Community Manager, you spread yourself very thin. So I recommend really honing in on one, maybe two that you can really be accountable to and own and do really well. And once you've proven that value, then expand it to other objectives.


BP Yeah, at the end of every episode, we'd like to give a shout out to a community member for winning a lifeboat badge when there was a question on Stack Overflow with a score of negative three or less, and the answer got up to a score of 20 or more, awarded April 10, to Andre Holzner. 'Splitting a string in a Python DataFrame.' We'll put that in the show notes. If you want to hear more of the show. Please tune in every week, you can always leave a rating and review on the platform you're listening. It really helps. I'm Ben Popper, you can find me on Twitter @BenPopper, and you can always email us

SC I'm Sara Chipps. And you can find me on GitHub @SaraJo. Cesar and David, who are you and how can we find you if you want people finding you?

DS So I'm @DavidSpinks on Twitter, I tweet a lot about community and business. And you can find the Business of Belonging anywhere where you can buy books and bookstores, Amazon, bookshop, your local bookstore, and you can find CMX at We have tons and tons of resources, all free for how to build community for your business, and Bevy is if you want to check it out for powering your community events.

CM I'm Cesar Manara, I'm at Twitter @CesarManara. I do not tweet at all. So if you follow me, you'll probably be reminded, I do not participate in social media pretty much at all, but I am also on LinkedIn at Cesar Manara.

BP Alright!