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This week’s AMA is with Shana Sumers who just joined in the community team @ HubSpot. Join us in congratulating her and let’s dive into today’s piece. 👇
Who’s she? *drum roll* *🥁 🥁 🥁 Introducing…
Shana Sumers is the Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Community Programming at HubSpot. Previously she was leading community at HER App, Award-winning app for dating, chatting and browsing. She also host Bad Queers podcast.
What were some of the challenges you faced while building a community for HER app? Early on when things may have been more manual and later on when the scale would have been a focus?
What a LIST that is! One of my personal challenges was that we were building the community within the product, not bringing in an already established community tool. Growing that knowledge very quickly was a challenge I never expected to have, but took it on in full force. Another challenge we had was definitely the manual activity that we had to do. Especially with posting content. Since we had to build everything, we had to work around how to highlight posts, remind community members of the guidelines, communicate with them on the side for why a post may have been moved or deleted because we didn't have a messaging system. Honestly, could not have done it without our amazing HER Moderators being consistent and active within the community.
What were your learnings in HER app that you could reuse in your current role at Hubspot?
The main learnings I will take from being at HER is how to develop a moderator program, how to have tough conversations in open spaces and how to show up for your community. The moderator program at HER is definitely a source of so many lessons. How to find moderators, get them involved with the product, create a knowledge hub for them, building guidelines, the list goes on. As well, working with an underrepresented group, it is important to be aware of the language and inclusivity that happens within the community. It allowed me to develop my skills in that space, and work harder to have community members feeling welcome. Lastly, staying timely with global issues. No matter the type of community you have, there is no way to avoid what is happening in day to day life. Figuring out how to provide the community with safe spaces that they need in the moment is something I definitely will continue to carry over into new community roles.
What is the one important lesson that you learned while building communities?
I know that you said one, but I definitely went for top 3.
1. Find your moderators and build a program quickly 2. Take allllll the user interviews you can 3. Write down everything.
Especially the third one, when you are a solo community manager, it gets easy to forget to track what you are doing as you go. This will be beneficial for you and the company whenever you transition to a new role.
When's a community healthy community?
A community is a healthy community when members are able to support and engage with each other within your space. When community members find value, and continue to come back to connect, solve their problems and give back to the community space, that's when you know that the community is healthy.
One brand community you admire and why?
Currently, I am loving Clubhouse.I think it is bold and creating a new culture within community spaces. So many people are now getting a platform that provides value in so many ways. Honestly, I love networking and Clubhouse is providing a new way to do that for professionals or people who just want to talk about random topics.
One community professional you admire and why?
Angelica Coleman - I wouldn't be on this community journey without her guidance and consistent middle of the day - decrease my panic and anxiety, talks. She was the former Community Manager at Snowflake and Lesbians Who Tech, and now she is on a new career journey and I couldn't be more proud of her.
Follow Shana Summers on Twitter and listen to the podcast she co-hosts called Bad Queers.
What else we’re reading?
Explore Higher Friction Communities - A great piece by Ian Vanagas on the idea of social products, communities and frictions. Full piece here.
When compared to internet communities, many popular in-person communities have high friction. They require consistent attendance, thinking, engagement with people, and sacrifice of resources to the community. Examples include universities, volunteer organizations, meetups, social clubs, local politics, and team sports. In-person communities were key parts of people’s lives, but are fading in importance (especially with restricted in-person interaction). If internet communities are to be as important, they must mimic the increased amount of friction.
Reddit raised more than $250 million in funding - Read the announcement.
We have come a long way in recent years to focus more on the needs of the hundreds of thousands of communities that make up Reddit and on creating feature-rich, safe, engaging, spaces for meaningful conversations for our 50+ million daily users.
The 2021 Community Industry Report by CMX Hub - Check out the full report. Community is more critical to business than ever. Get the data and insights you need to plan a successful 2021 community strategy.
The state of community programs. The community industry is maturing, scaling, and getting more buy-in — even during a global pandemic.
Measuring the value of community. Community professionals still struggle to effectively quantify their value. We gathered the most popular community metrics to give you a leg up.
COVID-19 and virtual events. Hear from other community professionals about how COVID-19 impacted their community. We’ll also share some predictions for the future of events.
Building inclusive communities. For the first time ever, we asked our respondents about how they manage diversity, equity and inclusion within their community spaces.
[PODCAST] Shana Summers was on the podcast with David Spinks on Masters of Community. Listen to the full episode here. Key takeaways:
Shana learned early of the power of building WITH the HER community by walking in their shoes, learning their needs, desires, and struggles, and not FOR the HER community.
Shana built an inclusive and diverse community by having a zero-tolerance phobia policy, actually talking to the community members to see what they could do better, encouraging continual DEI education, building new subgroups for all identities, and having a diverse set of moderators.
To identify a good moderator, Shana found individuals who wanted to build community instead of their own ego and had genuine concern for the community members. She would interview them, provide training manuals, videos, and monthly meetings to provide support, encourage, and educate them about current issues.
[PODCAST] Arvid Kahl is the author of Zero to Sold and he’s now writing the book Audience First. I sit with him to discuss building audience, the audience-first approach, building relationships and his latest book. Audience-first means exactly what it sounds like: you start with the audience. Arvid shares his lesson building a bootstrap business, how he leveraged the audience to write his first book Zero to Sold and why he is writing Audience First.
Content x Community = 🔥
It's difficult to build a community without creating content.
for joining us in our journey. We both have full-time jobs and we have built Uncommunity in our free time as we have been exploring ways to give back and support fellow community builders in their journeys.
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