The Field General of the 2.2 million volunteers for Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.
The Deputy Director of Content and former Senior Community Manager of Genius, the site responsible for annotating over 2 million songs.
The Community Desk Editor for the award-winning New York Times.
The mastermind behind the first two-sided marketplace at eBay to power user programs at Zynga.
The team that realizes that community is the future and is shaping that future every day.
As cool as it is that CMX has pulled this group of people together (plus even more ridiculously awesome leaders) for CMX Summit, all of these community professionals took time over the last few weeks to sit down and answer your burning questions alongside you on Blab. To harness their collective knowledge, we’ve gathered these experts’ live Q&A videos for you to visit again and again through your community building journey.
Here are the highlights:
Bassey Etim, New York Times
Bassey kicked off the AMA’s for us this spring, and he did not disappoint. As the Community Desk Editor of the New York Times, Bassey is on the front lines of media’s shift towards community. While there were many subjects that Bassy touched on, one thing that stood out was when CMX’s Director of Content, Evan Hamilton, asked how he went about selecting moderators. He said that he is not only looking for people who have a solid news background, but people who “understand what every comment means right away. I want a hardcore newshound.”
This is so key when looking to bring people in to moderate your community. As a community manager, you want to bring people in that are not only knowledgeable and passionate, but those you can trust to be civil and fair. As Bassey explained, “It doesn’t matter if you are ideological or not, you have to be able to show that you understand each side of the argument and can be fair.”
Shira Levine, Fanchismo
eBay. Zynga. DC Comics. This AMA covered portions of about everything you can imagine under the community sun. Shira is one of the most influential leaders in the community space and one of the people I am so excited to be able to meet in person at CMX Summit this year. She changed the way community was done in marketplaces online and she was a treat to have on the AMA.
While she dropped enough knowledge to fill up an entire book, her most salient points come when she speaks about balancing your community.
“Observe your marketplace and you will know when it is out of balance,” she said. For a yardstick, you need to figure out your best day and, “Test and observe. Test and observe. Test and observe.” You need to figure out why that day stuck out, and try to optimize every day to be just like that one.
Liz Milch, Genius
Community professionals know that user-generated content is central to community efforts. Genius takes things up a notch and has a community that is based solely on user-generated content, with their library of over two million annotated songs. Liz shared their philosophy for getting content on the site, their mission and vision, which is part of what makes them so successful in inspiring their members to create great content.
Speaking to the transition from an email list of users that waited for a completed song before adding it to the site to instead getting the content live and letting the community work from there, she said, “A wrong answer on the internet is usually better at getting the right answer than a blank page.” That is the type of maturity and trust in your community that makes room for the massive community growth Genius has had.
Jeremy Bird, 270 Strategies
It is no small feat to activate a group of volunteers. Now imagine the time and effort that it takes to do that with over 2.2 million of them. Jeremy is a self-proclaimed “kid who grew up in a trailer park, right outside of St. Louis,” who got his start in community organizing while in Boston at Harvard Divinity School.
After the first time that he experienced a group of people come together to achieve something meaningful (at that point, $13k more per year in school funding), Jeremy dedicated his career to achieving that with more groups of people. One thing that allowed the Obama campaign, and many more that followed, to scale the way that they did was the idea of throwing out the “top down” marketing approach to community organizing and instead empowering volunteers to not be seen as the “icing on the cake” of a campaign, but rather bake them into the ecosystem of the campaign. This is key when it comes to building these type of movements at any size, but vital when looking to scale.
David Spinks/Carrie Jones/Evan Hamilton, CMX
The only AMA that started with a CEO doing his best Mrs. Doubtfire impression and admission of guilt in failing to watch Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” and ending with kittens being shared on-screen, the team for CMX brought the fire for the final AMA leading up to CMX Summit. Fielding questions on how they chose speakers for the Summit, to the BeyHive as a community model for Feminism, the team shared a wealth of knowledge that you can’t find anywhere else.
When the question was posed about when the team thought that CMX had “made it”, David answered, “I don’t think [CMX] has made it, there is so much more to be done.” We’re all in this together.
While the conversation in the industry has shifted, the team realizes that this is just the beginning. In any thriving community, that is the case. You can take time to be proud of the things that have been accomplished, but you also need not to rest on your victories. Instead, forge ahead and continue the growth and momentum you have built in your community. Go forth and build amazing things.