[First CM Job] Meet Lucas Miller


(Lucas Miller) #1

Do you currently manage a community?
More like I will be managing a community. I am a community manager and will deploy a support community for my organization’s clients later this quarter. Currently, my day-to-day is building features/functions on our Salesforce Community Cloud platform, building out a strategy that aligns community goals with business objectives, researching community management (best practices, strategies, management, metrics, etc.) and going to meetings to understand our business.

What career path brought you to where you are now?
I started my career as an advertising and marketing major in college. Though my interest was never really in sales or design. I wanted to understand how we are connected, why we connect and how those connections drive business. My first job was a social media marketing specialist where I learned to hareness the power of messaging to drive engagement. Later, I moved on to a customer success role where I learned the concept of customer empowerment. Those learnings lead me to explore UX desgin and customer experience. I landed my first job as a community manager this year.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your job?
The biggest challenge I face in my job is building the community. There is so much to learn! Best practices, industry standards, features/functionality within Salesforce Community Cloud, people/teams/processes within my own company and all of that comes with individual view points and opinions. I’m lucky that I get to build out my own role and I have my a very supportive manager. My approach has been to read, learn, teach and gain buy-in from my steering committee of senior leaders in the company. Thus far - it’s been a success!

What’s the best job you ever had that wasn’t in community management and does it inform your CM work in any way?
The best job I had was when I was working as a marketing and sales manager for a indie radio station at my university. I wore a lot of hats in the role, but what I took away from that role is how to connect people. I connected advertisers to an audience and our audience to new music and new music to our advertisers (who were mostly music venues). It was that ability to build connections that I imagine will be helpful as I build my role as a community manager.

Meet our people
(Nick Emmett) #2

This is really great - thanks for starting this feature @HAWK - and @lucasmiller3 is a great subject for the first instalment. I’m really interested to see, as this feature goes on, where people come from to get in to the Community industry, and if anyone did it because that’s what they set out to do from the start! Most people do seem to come in from a variety of angles.

Couple of quick questions:

I’m interested to hear how you’re going about this; what sort of messaging are you giving them, what sort of value are suggesting they’ll see? And what sort of responses are you getting? Are you getting any negative reactions?[quote=“HAWK, post:1, topic:5337”]
It was that ability to build connections that I imagine will be helpful as I build my role as a community manager.

Connections and relationships are key to building a community from scratch so this is good to read - do you as yet have a plan as to who your founding members will be? That core group of people with you from the start are so important.

We’re also a Salesforce customer so I’m also interested in the platform side of things too… are you gong with one of the templates or a custom build?

(Travis King) #4

Oh wait! I just realised this was an interview, not questions for us to answer :stuck_out_tongue:

Nice to meet you Lucas! Community management is an exciting new world.

Glad to hear you’re having success and learning a lot. I don’t think we’ll ever stop learning or being surprised by community. Just stay flexible and be hungry :smiley:

(Lucas Miller) #5

Hi @Nick_Emmett - Thank you for your questions and I am glad @HAWK started this effort. It will be fun to learn more about our peers here on Experts.

I am providing my steering committee with a strategic vision for how I see community intersecting with various business units. It’s nice because I get to dictate what the over-arching vision is and define a road map on how we will achieve the vision. Collectively, we want to see service cost reduction which is the primary use case for our community. Collaboration with customers on product features/enhancements, customer retention and an increase in NPS are also goals the committee wants to achieve through communities.

So far, the response has been all positive (there was a lot buy-in from various business units before I got here), though I think we are still in the “new, shiny” phase of community. At our initial meeting, I presented the strategic vision and road map for the community over this coming year and everyone had an opinion on what the community could or should provide. Specifically, marketing and sales want to know when they can start talking to customers within the community - which won’t come till much later down the road. So far, my only negative reaction is that there are too many cooks in the kitchen. I am working closely with my boss to ensure we build out the vision purposefully. My favorite phrase is “Let’s not try to boil the ocean.”

The community is tied to a new product that is being tested with some key reference customers. My thought is that we would include those reference customers to begin with, but here is the tricky part (and I would be happy to discuss this one-to-one) - the “community” will not feature group forums until later this year. We are only opening up the community with help content and some question and answer features. The goal for this first two phases is simply to give our customers an opportunity to get answers to their “how do i?” questions.

Without the collaboration aspect of community groups - can I even call my community, a “community”? Our users are engaging in mergers & acquisition transactions for companies. My big question: Do our users want to talk to each other about the things surrounding M&A transactions? What do they want to talk about? How do we support those types of interactions? Through “best practices” content? or maybe we use our thought leadership on M&A market drivers to encourage conversation? Do we even want users in M&A to be talking to each other at all?

I know who my users are and I have marketing and sales personas on what these users want - but they are personas from a sales/marketing perspective. Another big question is how do I synthesize these persona needs into community features and content?

We are using the Napili Template within the Salesforce Community Cloud. :slight_smile: We should totally connect on the Salesforce front.

(Lucas Miller) #6

Thanks @Travis! I have told my friends that I have never had a job where I get to do SO MUCH READING! It’s amazing that I have an environment where I can simply learn and not have tight deliverable deadlines.

(Sarah Hawk) #7

Love it. I’ll steal your answers from the edit and you can be a future candidate. :wink:

(Piper_Wilson) #8

First, welcome, how do you do and thanks for the read. :slight_smile:

Honestly, that was my first question, too. I am conflicted about this. On one hand, communities are so very different that it doesn’t seem fair to say that it isn’t. I’m a Texan. I considered myself a Texan even when I lived in New Hampshire. As long as your members self-identify with your community, I think you have one.

On the other hand, how are you going to know without participation?

I am curious why you’re not “opening up the floor” right off the bat though. Are you able and willing to share? Keep in mind, I’m not challenging you. I’m genuinely curious about your thought process. I love knowing what makes people tick.


(Liz Crampton) #9

Loving this new thread @HAWK - I think it’s a great way to get to know newbies!

Welcome @lucasmiller3 - sounds like a great learning environment at Salesforce. If you’ve got that, a steering group and a supportive manager, sounds like you’re off to a great start.

Love this @Piper_Wilson :

So true. I also struggle with this - taking it back to basics and defining ‘community’ - because I think it can be bigger than what we originally think of. I had an interesting chat with another CM the other day who was saying a ‘community approach’ to marketing, sales, customer service, design etc. is a broader than thinking of a ‘forum’. It’s approaching business problems in a way where you value your members/community/customers, involve them in the process and respect what they have to offer… because ultimately, community is more effective (and more fun) than going it alone! So @lucasmiller3, I’d say you’ve still got a community even if it’s just Q&A.

(Darren Gough) #10

We’re having an interesting chat with a potential client right now about defining community. They are radically overhauling their content strategy and looking to position community at the heart of everything - so that exact thought around solving business outcomes with the member involvement.

It’s a fascinating chat because their business is traditionally built around people coming to the site, using the service and leaving (it’s comparison shopping), yet they’ve almost inadvertently built some momentum with members who support the brand and want others to get a great experience. It’s nice that they’ve really started to notice this and and looking at what the community could be.

(Lucas Miller) #11

Thank you @Piper_Wilson for the warm welcome! I am so glad I found this community.

That is the ultimate question - How will we know who is in the community if no one participates? This dilemma is created by the unique target audience our community will host. Which is compounded by a variety of other factors.

The targeted audience are users who utilize virtual data rooms (VDR) to do their due diligence during an merger & acquisition (M&A) transaction. If you don’t know (I certainly didn’t when I started a few months ago), M&A transactions are highly competitive and very secretive. Often these transactions require multiple parties, heightened security and transparency, and control over who sees what documents and when they have access to such documents. My assumption is that due to the nature of the business, my audience members will not be naturally inclined to speak or communicate or interact with each other. So, that’s my first problem.

The second is that these transactions are finite in time, often running only 6-9 months at a time. After the transaction is complete, the users no longer will have a need for a VDR and thus will no longer have access to the community. This means we will have a constant trickle of community members in and out of the community, which I am not quite sure exactly how to handle that aspect.

The community is tied to our VDR product. It is being populated with help content that provides technical help to users who get stuck within the application. The idea is that we can scale our service levels without having to add more customer service reps if they can access “how do I?” content on their own. We will also be providing self-service avenues for our clients as well to further reduce our service costs over time.

I do plan to open up the community in the long run. There are some interesting opportunities for customer collaboration in with our other digital products. However, I have made the choice to build out our community slowly, over time and roll out features and the initial content will be focused on serving to make the due diligence process in a M&A transaction more efficient. My plan is to include content around best practices, tips & tricks for our platform as well as subject matter expertise. I would rather learn to crawl before we start walking, running and certainly before we take flight. :wink:

I appreciate your curiosity. I joined this community to learn and grow as well as I am new to the community management space. In my opinion, communities can be utilized in almost any business setting for a wide variety of use cases, and I think there are several use cases to chose from here. Let me ask you: Do my thought processes make sense or I am over thinking it? Do you have any experience in building communities that are anonymous or with finite user journeys?

Should I be advocating to expand the use case and open up the community to non-users of our platform? In that case, would the help content, Q&A and best practices be less useful to those community members who aren’t on our platform?

This is where I am really stuck in my thought processes on how I build out my community. I would appreciate your (and anyone else’s) thoughts on the matter. Thanks!

Hi @lizcrampton - it’s a pleasure to e-meet you! I should note - I’m not AT Salesforce, but rather I am using Salesforce Community Cloud as the platform of choice for our community. You are right, I am so SO lucky to have the supportive work environment!

I couldn’t agree more with this statement!

This is encouraging. Thank you! I would appreciate your feedback and ideas from above as well.

(Sarah Hawk) #13

Yes! And what is participation?

(Piper_Wilson) #14


I agree with your assessment about whether or not your members will feel comfortable participating.

The communities I’ve been in have all been collaborative or interactive right from the start. My most recent position was for a social web site where the members were all anonymous; imagine something similar to Facebook without real names.

In my experience, the anonymity was a double edged sword. Sometimes, members were willing to share deeply personal experiences which added depth to the discussions. Other times, folks could be downright nasty. I can’t imagine you’re going to have the nasties in your community. :slight_smile:

While I have no experience in a community like yours, from what I know of people, I think you’ve got a good plan.

(Lucas Miller) #15

That’s an easy answer, and because I’m a nerd, I totally made a commitment curve to map out these participation behaviors over time! Participation is asking a question, which is the top end of my “passive” community users and the lowest level of my “active” community users. From there we ride up the curve until we get users to answer questions which means they will become “contributors” to the community.

I have no idea how many we will get right out of the gate, but I am building a consistent messaging program to our users to encourage participation. It will be a great baseline experiment and something I can report back to my executive team as the community grows. Later, we will be tying those metrics to costs per answer which should lead to answering the question of ROI.

It’s going to be a journey but I am really getting excited about it. :slight_smile:

I am happy to hear that anonymity isn’t a deal breaker for community! However, you bring up an excellent point that I am working out with my current build team. Moderation! How do we ensure that no one can be “nasty” from the veil of anonymity. When I say “nasty” I don’t necessarily mean mudslinging, what I am more concerned with is people trying to get information out of each other has they might all be competitors vying to buy the same asset. We will need to have strict rules of engagement and ensure questions are tracked before they are posted and deleted if they reveal to much personally identifiable information.

How do you set up a moderator training program that get’s your moderators to understand what is and isn’t allowed? We can define some parameters and specifics, but we won’t catch everything with those parameters. I want my moderators to be able to see the larger picture. It will be imperative as we grow the audience and roll out the community globally that our moderators really understand the rules and can track against them.

Thanks @Piper_Wilson!

(Piper_Wilson) #16

@lucasmiller3 - I can’t get the quote thing to work on my pad. Probably user error. :wink:

what I am more concerned with is people trying to get information out of each other has they might all be competitors vying to buy the same asset.

Are you sure that’s your bailiwick?

(Lucas Miller) #17

Maybe not directly, but I want to be cognizant of this issue. I can’t control the world (as much as I would like to ;)) and thus we will need to set up appropriate moderation that empowers users and also prevents shenanigans from happening.

I feel like I’m a parent setting rules for children that don’t exist yet. Coming up with those parameters is a bit more tricky than I thought and I’m not even a parent yet!

(Piper_Wilson) #18

LOL!!! Welcome to my world.

(Courtney Howell) #19

This is the exact fever dream vision I have for my current community. We’re not there yet. Not really close to it. No one on the content team sees our potential this way (not yet!), but for me, my hope/goal is that in about 2 years, we’ll have such a relationship with our community that it will feel natural to go to them first when our association has a business issue or wants to start something new. (2 years sounds kind of long maybe, but with the current vibe – execs are very hesitant for staff to have direct & meaningful interaction with our members, even me, haha – I can see it taking 2 years to get there.)

As pretty much everyone else has mentioned, this is a super cool series! My situation is very similar to @lucasmiller3’s, in that I get to build my position out from scratch. It’s heartening to read about some of the same challenges and exciting possibilities.

(Lucas Miller) #20

I so feel you! It’s like explaining to people that they should think about content more holistically rather than serving one single purpose.

I have a similar long term vision (2 years is relatively short in Community terms, IMO). I might suggest building in metrics and tracking baselines and benchmarks along the way. I am hoping to keep my executives engaged through out the process in this fashion to build buy-in and support for our initiatives.