I’ve been a community manager for a decade. While I have some natural talent, nothing beats experience. It’s hard to imagine a better way to get experience than at Stack Exchange where I worked with dozens of communities in all stages of development. During that time, I developed a model of how communities grow and mature. Not many people will be able to observe the patterns as closely as I did.
Communities follow the same scale as the Pareto principle. A small number of communities are large, but the majority lie somewhere on the long tail. That means for every Stack Overflow, there are hundreds of Slack servers, GitHub organizations and Discourse communities. Since hiring a full-time community manager can cost more than organizations can afford, most communities either do without or add that task to someone whose regular job is marketing or customer support or whatever. As a result, most communities lack experienced guidance.
For very small communities, that’s probably fine. Humans handle group dynamics at a small scale all the time. But when communities get into the thousands of members (or have ambitions to get that large), they run into problems with scale that an experienced community manager can handle. Unfortunately, communities don’t start generating enough revenue to support a full-time community manager until they have hundreds of thousands members.
- Small communities (hundreds of members) get by without a dedicated community team.
- Large communities (hundreds of thousands of members) can afford community teams.
- A large number of communities that sit between those extremes need a community team, but can’t afford one.
Here’s where community consultants can step in. By hiring a professional community manager part-time, mid-range communities get the assistance they need at the price they can afford. This is exactly why I created Civitas. It allows me to take what I’ve learned about community management and share it with organizations who can’t afford an experienced community team.
Now is a great time if you are looking for help with a community. I recently ended my time as Head of Community at College Confidential so my dance card is mostly clear. In a few months I’ll either have a full client list or be working full time somewhere else. So send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org)!