Should we expand the scope of 'community'?

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(Richard Millington) #1

I spent a couple of weeks in San Francisco recently meetings up with as many community professionals in the area as I could.

It’s not an entirely reflective group of the entire profession, but one of the biggest takeaways as how much the scope of ‘community’ has evolved recently.

Very few said they were solely responsible for a forum-based platform. Most had remit over an enterprise platform, social media, advocacy programs, engagement ‘via the product’ and more.

Traditionally we’ve used a narrow definition of community to stay distinct from other disciplines (social media, customer relationsihp management, customer success etc…).

But I’m curious to get everyone’s take on whether we should broaden this a little?

What is the community to you? What does your remit cover? And should we open up our scope a little more?

I definitely don’t want us to become 'what is the best tool for measuring instagram engagement’, but I’m interested in seeing what most people think.


(Piper_Wilson) #5

I don’t understand this question.


(Sarah Hawk) #6

I think it depends on what we’re defining it for. For instance there are lots of aspects of social media that I think do come under the community umbrella, but if we’re talking about the job titles or the skills required to be community practitioner then I think there needs to be clear separation.

But I get the same feeling that you do – this job is no longer just about forums. Organisations have to find other valuable ways to utilise community because not everyone has the time or inclination to engage in the same way.


(Robert McIntosh) #7

We’ve been having some of that discussion here since the community we are launching is new.

One of the things I have to do to make this happen is involve all the rest of the organisation in the scope and concept of the community. I have presented it in a slightly different way which relates to your question.

I suggest that no-one just has a role / remit as such. We are all working towards fulfilling the goals of our team/department/organisation, but we are all doing so from a specific point of view and with certain specific accountabilities.

While I may be the Community Manager today, I am not just working on the community, but responsible for representing the community’s point of view within the organisation and in all the decisions we take, and furthering the organisations goals via the community work. So I am helping with marketing, communications, social media, customer service, delivery & fulfillment, finance, etc… but seeing if there is a community angle on the issue.

In that sense, I feel empowered to be involved (to some extent) in many other aspects of the organisation, and welcome others wanting to do stuff in the community.

Then, I suppose, the question is: “What do you mean by ‘the community point of view’ in decisions” and in our case that would be about ‘engagement with members and creating channels of communication that will ensure they are more satisfied with the organisation’

Does that help?


(Mark Baldwin) #8

It might be slightly different in the games industry, but as community manager, I see myself as the point of contact for all customer relationships whether that be online through social media, answering customer support emails, doing pr & marketing or organising beta testing and meeting our players.

So, yes, in my case and I expect many other community managers will agree, the scope of our work has grown and expanded away from traditional forum management.


(Richard Millington) #9

I think that might be a really telling point. That it’s not a defined scope but dependent upon the industry you’re in.

I’m trying to imagine which industries might be better to have different people doing social and community though and coming up short.