Not A Community Manager

I planted the seed of an online community for customer support by setting up the Support Driven Slack 2 years ago.

Since then, it’s blossomed into a vibrant online community that’s over 600 members and growing every week. We now have a weekly newsletter, a job board, a yearly compensation survey, a shared reading list, and even our very own conference.

Each of those things takes time. It takes time to write for the weekly newsletter. I review and assemble every job posting before it gets published on the board. The shared reading list is manually curated. It’s taking months and a lot of help and support to bring SupConf, our conference, to life. And then there’s time to be a part of the community and participate in the conversations.

You might call me a community manager for Support Driven.

I would disagree with you.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about what I do with Support Driven. I’ve been thinking about what to call it and why.

What I call what I do has a huge influence on the way I think of it. It helps to set expectations of what’s possible. It informs the options that I consider as we move forward and try new things in the community.

I understand that community manager is the title most people working with communities use. The problem I have with it is the title is misleading. It implies a level of control and supervisory direction that does not exist.

Out of the 600+ members in the Support Driven community, I can tell zero of them what to do. Think of all the things you’d expect a manager to be able to do and there’s a good chance I couldn’t do them. I can’t even make anyone show up!

I can’t make anyone do a thing but I can support ideas that people want from the community. I can make room and time for it. I can encourage and raise awareness of it. I can help connect the dots to make it happen. I can organize it.

Support Driven is not a managed community and I’m not a community manager.

I’m an organizer for the community.