Cindy Au, VP of Community at Kickstarter

We met Cindy Au in an interview a few weeks back, where she explained her role as VP of Kickstarter. Today, she talked to the CMX Summit attendees about how she has grown, scaled, and hired community talent to the team at Kickstarter.

What is truly fascinating is that Cindy’s team is comprised of 30 employees (there were only 2 in 2009) out of the 82 total employees at Kickstarter. Community is truly a core value of everything Kickstarter does. She answered three big questions for us: how do you hire for community roles, how does community evolve, and what is the future of community?

What do you look for in a community hire?

  1. Outstanding written and communication skills. Cindy has all candidates complete a writing test. Typos are a total deal-breaker.
  2. Humility, empathy, adaptability. All of these are essential traits of a community manager, who sits between the business and the customer.
  3. Intellectual curiosity and creativity. Those who have pursued creative endeavors tend to think creatively about solving problems and connecting with the community.
  4. Sense of humor. Because people are weird and you have to roll with their weirdness.
  5. Part of your community. An ideal community hire is someone who is the audience for your product, who understands intimately and deeply of what your audience does.

How did the community team evolve over time?

  1. Community at Kickstarter and many other startups begins with all kinds of tasks under one umbrella. Being in a startup means that community managers need to take care of all kinds of tasks across the board, from ordering food or getting T-shirts for everyone to email marketing and customer phone calls.
  2. Over time, community at Kickstarter evolved to include three departments: customer support, engagement, and trust and safety
  3. Today, the community team is broken into three more clear-cut departments: Community operations, community engagement, community content and policy. Each of these departments has different metrics they aim for.

What is the future of community at your company and how do we move it forward?

  1. Community is a discipline and a practice. We should treat it as such. It is not just fluff; it drives business results. We need to be the advocates of community internally and externally.
  2. Community is a core value. Having a community team shows commitment and value to what is beyond sales numbers and bottom line.
  3. Community is still in flux. And, hey, that’s okay!

Watch the whole talk here:

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Carrie Melissa Jones

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