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How web3 is expanding the Community Manager role
The CM role is expanding!
“come through”: to manage to get to the end of a difficult or dangerous situation
I often picture a web3 CM as a someone typing relentlessly on their keyoard, answering hundreds of messages and switching from tab to tab at lightspeed.
Literally (CM)ing through their day ⚡⚡⚡
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In today’s post we’ll explore some of the key functions of community managers and how web3 is expanding their scope.
The role of a web3 Community Manager (CM)
Some of the key objectives of the role are to:
attract community members
onboard and engage community members
retain them and grow their relationship with other members as well as the project’s team
advanced: have some members establish more complex business relationships with the project (as contributors ✨).
The means to achieving this can vary depending on a given community needs and culture. Below I’ll mention broad categories of means and quick examples of tools to execute them.
Community spaces: designing safe community spaces that foster ease of communication and relationships (ex: Discord, social media)
Communications: communicate updates from the project and insights from the community (ex: Newsletter, #announcements)
Content: storytelling, education, expertise (ex: YT videos, education blog, Mirror posts)
Live events: community calls and activities (Discord Stages, Twitter Spaces)
Collaboration: creating opportunities for members to contribute things other than their attention. That’s SM engagement, content pieces, feedback and code, most of the time (ex: Discord, Wonderverse)
I like to think that the community team’s duty is to match needs and opportunities between community members and the project itself to create win-win outcomes. They are matchmakers or bridges between these the project and community.
Thinking about it this way, community members are a new resource to the project and the project is a new resource that community members can tap into. And its on the community team to create a market between both.
I often had an intuition that Product Management was the role that most characterizes web2 organizations and that CMs would be the same for web3 orgs. After all in both cases the role arises from growing complexity and a whole new category of problems.
Community Manager and Product Manager - An Analogy
Product management was born in the 1930s in the FMCG industry and expanded with the rise of software in the 1970s. At companies like Microsoft, software grew exponentially in complexity and engineers couldn’t solve both micro technical problems and high level design of products (at least not well). So Product Managers were keeping track of the whole product and making sure it was exactly matching what the users needed.
I see a similar pattern in the rise of community management as a way to deal with the new pockets of user interactions unlocked by social media in the 2010s. Of course communities existed before that but communication channels were not as widespread and the quantity of interactions was lower — marketing could handle it. But marketing couldn’t handle all the micro community interactions, so social media manager was born, then community manager. The role has expanded a lot already but it will much more.
Therefore, I like to see parallels between the CM and PM roles:
Organizers: product management became a thing because of the growing complexity of product development in the software world (engineers couldn’t both develop complex tech and think about the end user) → community management is becoming a thing because of the increasing complexity and density of micro interactions between [users] and [project] (it started with social media interactions! gm social media managers).
Advocates: product managers make sure users are heard and give them a voice in product priorities. CMs make sure community members are heard as a stakeholder group (sometimes an ownership group!).
Matchmakers: PMs are nodes that receive inputs from [engineers] and [users] then set development priorities and organize them. web3 CMs are nodes who receive inputs from the [project team] and [community members] and try to match needs and resources and organize their execution in the best possible way.
This analogy is more applicable to web3 CMs than other CMs to this date as those not only manage manage comms and vibes but also *organize* community contributions.
What does the future of (CM)ing look like?
Today we can still distinguish web2 CMs and web3 CMs the same way we could distinguish between the past and future of community management.
In a way the “future [of community management] is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed”.
All the practices that have emerged up until today still account for the majority of existing practices.
Social media interactions and posts
Events and contests
List goes on…
For all those reasons we know that community is an important asset in a world where:
software is open source and
where products imply the involvement of multiple stakeholder groups.
These days CM role is becoming much more strategic as projects value their communities more than before and try to make the most of each micro interaction:
Onboarding: quests - (ex: layer3.xyz)
Membership: platformless memberships and segmentation (ex: guild.xyz)
Monetization: tools to monetize community assets like content, events… (ex: POAP checkout, Guild.xyz)
Ownership: airdrops and governance - (ex: rabbithole, snapshot, gnosis safe)
*Private* social spaces: token gated chats and other exclusive spaces (ex: Salsa or Farcaster)
All the above are drastically expanding the scope of community management into other key functions of the project and even though we’re still early I feel like we’re entering the 1970s era of community management when product management took off at companies like Microsoft and the tech industry started funding this new role.
Resources and inspirations
Other CM news that felt notable last week
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