How to prove your value as a community manager in ANY market 🏆
Nick Vivion // worldli.eth
August 19th, 2022

Community building is never for the faint of heart. It’s for the dedicated, the passionate, the hands-on, the empathetic — and most importantly, the value creators.

It’s true: Those who work as community managers, mods, and heads of community — which we call community builders — are one of the most focused and aware groups when it comes to creating, and maintaining, value.

At its core, community is about value transfer.

And community builders are at the center of that core, balancing the two-way value transfer process. The community must give to its members and its members must also sustain the community.

So what happens when community engagement fades due to a shift in the market that’s either obvious, such as a bear market, or less so, like a shifting demographic that happens slowly but surely?

In either case, good or bad, bull or bear, the community builder must return to the basics. These essential tactics are helpful job security boosts to prove value in ANY market -- all of which are also foundational to thriving communities.

Finesse your pitch

In web3, generosity of spirit goes a long way. There’s really no shortcut to building the relationships and reputation that drives a community’s credibility. But are you doing enough to contribute to other communities and earn the right to share your work with them?

The most effective community builders are active across the community, soft pitching their projects by being valuable resources and contributors. This commitment often reflects positively back on your own community.

To showcase your commitment to your craft — and prove your value for current and potential roles — finesse your pitch by:

  • Know your audience. DYOR so that you’re pitching to the right people. Different contexts require different pitches, so be precise.
  • Take pauses. Listening more than you talk is always the hallmark of a good conversationalist. Give space for questions and comments.
  • Be consistent. Be sure to reflect the lore/vibe so that it appeals to the people you most want to attract. This is especially important for story-driven communities, which are driven by world-building and lots of lore. Be the expert and evangelist for that story!

Master community onboarding

Onboarding is an often-overlooked skill for community builders to master.

After all, how many times have you joined a Discord enthusiastically — only to be so confused/overwhelmed/underwhelmed/baffled by the onboarding process that you immediately bounce? It’s always a bit of a disappointment.

Not a good look for the community, which isn’t setting itself up for success with a sticky onboarding process. And, for new potential members, these first impressions say a lot — mostly in the form of answered questions.

While we don’t (yet) track community bounce rate,  here are a few questions to answer to make your onboarding more sticky:

  • What the heck is this? Introduce the community in plain language that’s in the correct tone and proper voice for the context. Someone just clicked out of curiosity — get them excited!
  • Is this community for me? Speak directly to your Most Valuable Segments and emphasize benefits, expectations, value and other aspects that appeal to them.
  • Who’s in charge? Mods are gods in the community world; so introduce yourself as the head of community and your team. Accessibility is sexy!
  • Where do I start? Make next steps crystal-clear, with frequent signposts and a direct path for help. Also, limit your Call to Actions to just one or two asks. An intense onboarding risks overwhelm — and gives people an easy reason to stop investing their limited attention and time.

Quality over quantity

The ability to translate initial interest into early exploration is another way that community builders prove their value. It ensures a steady stream of new members — and future potential top contributors.

But turning these new members into long-term contributors is an entirely different thing!

It comes down to quality over quantity. While a core metric for most community builders is often the size of the community, numbers don’t tell the whole story.

There are far greater tales being told in the quality of engagement. That’s because a few core community members can drive a lot of value for a community. And a large community can also quickly become a ghost town without regular quality engagement from a variety of people.

To nurture quality, start with yourself and the core community. These people will set the tone for others and drive conversation Then, schedule frequent pathways for both planned and spontaneous interactions. These are the types of surprise moments are memorable -- and deeply rewarding for community members.

Recognize and reward contribution

Whether it’s through perks, connections or access to exclusive experiences, be strategic about how you deliver value back to your community. After all, recognizing — and rewarding — community contributions is core to the success of any community.

For those of us in the community building business, that’s how we provide value back to our communities. Otherwise, it’s an uneven relationship that doesn’t foster two of the defining features of successful communities: loyalty and mutual respect.

Some ways that you can be sure to recognize and reward your top contributors:

  • Direct callouts. A public “thank you” is a great way to highlight your most valuable contributors. Be precise about specifically what’s being called out, which will incentive similar behavior.
  • Surprise and delight. Humans are driven by novelty. So the unplanned moment of recognition and reward often makes a bigger impression than something that was expected.
  • Roles and responsibilities. Mods are often elevated from the ranks of the community based on their attitudes, consistency and overall contributions. Don’t stop there! Are there any other roles or responsibilities commensurate with the contributions of your top community members?

Prioritize retention

When it comes to attention, it’s a fixed sum game for mindshare. We’re all competing for the same sized pie, as everyone has only 24 hours a day. And there are only a certain number of people that are both willing and wanting to contribute to your community.

So, it’s imperative to retain your top contributors so they don’t take that value elsewhere. To avoid them fading away into the clutches of another community, consider a few community retention best practices:

  • Level up your rewards. Your most valuable members should earn a different level of recognition. Create a virtuous cycle by leveling up your rewards so that your community sees that you’re actually rewarding those responsible for keeping it going.
  • Acknowledge the passion. Some folks just participate for the passion alone. Know your individual top contributors’ motivations so that you can more effectively personalize your rewards and recognition.
  • Create a customer community journey map. This tool is very much a community-building best practice as it puts you in clear control over your own community’s journey. Plot each touchpoint between your community and the project to identify gaps or areas to optimize.
A community journey map tracks touchpoints across the entire community building funnel so that you can optimize as members move from awareness to conversion, contribution and retention.
A community journey map tracks touchpoints across the entire community building funnel so that you can optimize as members move from awareness to conversion, contribution and retention.

Stay the course

Projects that lurch from one crisis to another and meander from trend to trend rarely thrive. A reactionary mentality drains resources, distracts focus and confuses community members.

To avoid falling into the short-term trap, stick to the plan when times get tough.

Rather than quickly changing direction based on short-term information, slow down. Take stock of the situation. Make adjustments as needed. And continue rewarding your most valuable contributors so they’re incentivized to continue!

Ultimately, it’s not really about a bull or bear market. It’s about navigating shifts in the signal-to-noise ratio for your community as it evolves over time.

With a fierce focus on your product — your community — you’ll not just survive the headwinds but thrive through the tailwinds!

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