Day in the Life of a Community Manager

It’s been a few weeks since my last post – and coincidentally it’s also been a few weeks since I started my new job as community manager for OpenIDEO. While I’ve had many “bloggable” moments recently, I’ll admit I just haven’t quite gotten around to it. Too much new stuff to learn, too many new people to meet, too much new work to do, I guess.

But today, when someone forwarded me this awesome infographic, it was like the stars aligned and I just HAD to post this. For anyone who’s curious about how I’d describe my first few weeks on the job, it doesn’t get better than this:


All kidding about piñatas aside, I do think this image very accurately depicts my experience so far.

So far my new job has been 150% about tending to the garden, cheerleading for members, patrolling the spammers, and playing concierge. It’s also been about taking a pulse on the community’s mood and priorities, and translating them into actionable insights for my team. And, in all my spare time, of course I’m also trying to gobble up as much information as my Tweetdeck can handle on social innovation, technology and design.

(Oh, and maybe sleep occasionally too...)

In short, I’m learning that as community manager I wear a lot of hats.

Some of these hats aren’t so fun – imagine writing an email to someone asking them not to spam our site anymore! But some of them are just plain awesome. Seriously – my job is to figure out ways to nurture and grow a community of people who care about doing good things in our world. How amazing is that?

As I get more embedded into the world of community management, I’ll do my best to record what I learn here.

For now, I’m curious to hear from you, as a user of online communities, what do you think the role of a community manager is? And for all you community managers out there, what hats do you wear that might not be captured in the image above? I’d love to hear your thoughts (and tips too, since I’m definitely still learning!).

The Adventure Begins

Back in December, when my family was handing out holiday gifts, my mom gave me and my husband Dan an incredible present. About ten years ago, my mom bought this etching of a couple, rowing their boat in fast waters.

The Adventure Begins, Etching by Daniel Krakauer

At the time, she wasn’t quite sure why the painting spoke to her, but she saw it and just knew she had to have it.

The painting’s purpose, she was certain, would become known to her at some point.

This Christmas, to my thrill and surprise, my mom gave me and Dan this painting. As she presented it to us, she said the painting’s purpose had recently become clear to her.

The couple? “They,” she said, “are the two of you.” And the title? “Clearly, it’s time for your adventure to begin.”

I’ve always believed that putting out good energy into the universe means you’ll get good things in return.

So, for the next few weeks I concentrated on the exciting thought that our adventure was just beginning. And you know what? As cliché as it sounds, it worked!

Literally within days of receiving this painting, Dan and I saw clues pointing us towards our new adventure – a new and improved apartment to live in, a better work schedule for Dan, even my own growing excitement for a big birthday just weeks away.

But perhaps nothing kicked off our new adventure quite like the news I received in mid-January: a job offer from IDEO.

Back in August 2010, IDEO launched OpenIDEO, a new online social innovation community whose goal is to bring diverse people together to design solutions to some of our world’s toughest challenges. I first checked out the site last fall and was immediately hooked. Amazingly, in November a position opened up to join OpenIDEO as a community manager, and of course I jumped at the chance to apply.

As I write this I’ve just finished my first week as part of the OpenIDEO team, and all I can say is I’m thrilled. Thrilled to be part of such a dynamic and innovative company, for sure. But more than that, I’m thrilled to be part of a project that so deeply speaks to some of my biggest passions: doing good in our world, connecting people online and offline, and creating community.

Of course, there’s a long road ahead for me as I learn my new job, figure out how things work, and actually roll up my sleeves and get started.

But for now I’m also trying to enjoy the start of this brand new adventure.

As I get more and more involved in building and growing OpenIDEO, I’d love to see some familiar faces on the site. I truly believe in the potential role that this global community – already 156 countries strong – can play in changing our world for the better.

I thought I’d share a great video that talks about OpenIDEO’s purpose and vision so that you can learn a little more about what I’m working on. I hope you’ll each consider signing up and joining in – the more the merrier.

Here’s to a new adventure in 2011!

Entrepreneurs Can Change the World

As I mentioned in my last post, last week I attended an amazing conference called The Feast. In addition to incredible speakers and a terrific crowd, one thing this conference did well was mix in videos to share stories and inspire the audience. One such video, Entrepreneurs Can Change the World, is a goose-bump inducing reminder of just how powerful an individual can be in driving change. I'd seen it before (and maybe you have too) but I found it to be just as enthralling and empowering as the first time I watched it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  

To learn more about Grasshopper, the company that produced this video, check them out here.

A Feast to Sink Your Teeth Into

Even Their Logo is Cool This past summer I got wind of an organization called All Day Buffet and an upcoming event they were hosting called The Feast. With names like that, I was immediately intrigued (after all, I do love food!). But when I read more about the event, I started to get really excited.

The Feast Conference gathers the world's greatest innovators from across industries and society to empower, inspire and engage each other in creating world-shaking change. A creative look at the world's toughest problems, The Feast Conference presents the most innovative solutions, insights, and best practices as a catalyst toward action.

Sounds like fun, right? Even more intriguing:

More than a conference, The Feast represents a bottom-up movement, so we're curating an audience as cross-disciplinary and diverse as our talks. But we're doing something a little different -- we ask those who can afford to pay higher prices to micro-sponsor The Feast, which allows us to offer $99 invitations to awe-inspiring vanguards whose brains get them where their wallets can't.

This paragraph really caught my attention. I’m a student, so I can’t really afford to attend lots of conferences. But $99? I could do that. So I sent off my mini-application, including information about my interests and my work with The Changebase, and waited for a response. Amazingly, I only waited about half an hour before I got an email saying, “You’re in!”

At the time, I didn’t realize what a true honor it was to be accepted to attend. Now that I've been, I understand just how lucky I was.

Without hesitation, The Feast was absolutely the best conference I have ever attended.

Of course, a statement like that begs the question, “Why?” Let me explain.

The Speakers: All Day Buffet did an incredible job creating a lineup of diverse experts from a wide spectrum of industries.  In 8 hours, we heard from social entrepreneurs, designers, authors, musicians, executive directors, and even a professional poker player. What’s amazing was that even with such variety in speakers, the day definitely held some common themes. I thought I’d include some nuggets of wisdom passed down throughout the day:

Matthew Bishop, Chief Business Writer at The Economist, talked about the importance of the heart and the head coming together to create social change.

Bob McKinnon, Founder of YellowBrickRoad, told us that empathy is not just about understanding someone else’s suffering; it’s about creating solutions to overcome that suffering.

Uffe Elbaek, Founder of The KaosPilot, challenged us to not just be the best in the world, but the best for the world.

Annie Duke, Professional Poker Player, taught us about how to use “cooperative ultimatums” to win in poker and in life.

Kenna, a Musician, reminded us that we need to be clever, collaborative, and curious in order to find our spark and create change.

Jay Parkinson, Founder of Hello Health, showed us that there is potential for a new model of health care that relies on collaboration and communication between doctors and patients.

Joshua Viertel, President of Slow Food USA, encouraged us to eat food that has a story we’re proud to tell.

Ken Banks, Founder of and FrontlineSMS, proved that the possibilities are endless when you create a technology that’s adaptable and open for everyone to use.

Elizabeth Scharpf, Founder of Sustainable Health Enterprises, shared with us the potential to empower women in developing countries through market-based solutions.

Rod Arnold, COO, and Becky Straw, Director of Water Programs at charity:water, demonstrated that when business and nonprofits truly partner together, people on both sides of the money win.

William Drenttel, Partner at Winterhouse, explained that designers aren’t in the design business but the consequence business.

And certainly last but not least, Brian Bordainick, Founder of 9th Ward Field of Dreams, engaged all of us in a discussion of just how far an entrepreneur will go for a mission he believes in.

As you can see, it was an incredible day – one that certainly can’t be recreated in a single blog post. Luckily for you, All Day Buffet was live streaming during the event, so you can check out what each speaker had to say.

The Attendees: While the lineup of speakers was impressive, and their messages were certainly inspiring, what made this day invaluable were the people.

I have never attended an event where people were so singularly focused on connecting, engaging, and helping everyone they could. In one day, I met social entrepreneurs, artists, business owners, marketers, and nonprofit leaders. And after talking for a few moments, inevitably they asked, “What can I do to help you?” That may not seem impressive in a small crowd of dedicated social innovators - but this wasn't a small crowd. This was almost 400 people.

In fact, it turned out that a common theme, throughout all of the speakers and the conversations I had during breaks, was collaboration and community. At the end of the event, All Day Buffet’s Jerri Chou encouraged us to put out the energy of what you’re looking for, and let this amazing community support and help you.

For me, yesterday was a homecoming to a community that I knew existed but hadn’t been introduced to yet. I came home feeling renewed and energized and overwhelmed (in a good way) by the possibilities laid out before me: itching to get started yet sad to leave this incredible gathering of changemakers.

As if she read our minds, Cindy Gallop, Founder of If We Ran The World and our moderator for the day, challenged us to seize this excitement and inspiration and turn it into action. She called us a “crucible bubbling over with good intentions” and she warned us not to let this inspiration go to waste. Turn your good intentions into micro-actions of change, she said.

And, I’d add, don’t lose sight of the fact that you are part of a community that wants you to succeed. Because in our collective goal of long-term social change, when one of us wins, we all do.

To see some photos from the event, check this out.

To learn more and follow The Feast's speakers and their organizations:

Update: Summer of Social Good

Hi everyone, I just wanted to provide a quick update to my post from a couple months ago about Mashable's campaign, Summer of Social Good.

It sounds like the campaign, raising money for World Wildlife Fund, Oxfam America, The Humane Society and Livestrong, was a big success - raising over $33,000 in just a few months. I've been checking Mashable's site since the campaign ended on August 28th, and unfortunately they haven't yet posted any information on what's coming next. However, given the trend toward using social media for social change, I'm guessing we can expect more news from Mashable and their partners in the near future.

Keep checking The Changebase for updates - I'll let you know as soon as I hear more news.