It feels like I’ve been talking to companies about career opportunities all year. There have been at least four distinct interviews and several loose conversations. While I may have collected a funny story or two, I haven’t found the right match.

One of the things that I’ve enjoyed, during this process, is talking about what a progressive community role looks like. What can community mean, responsibility wise, beyond the traditional idea of what community is? Because, while companies do try to shove any number of unrelated tasks under the community banner, there are some areas of responsibility where it can make perfect sense to combine the tasks under the community role and, as those tasks grow, a larger community department.

If you are looking to expand the role of community in your organization, here are four specific areas to think about.

Customer Success and Education

Retention is one of the primary ways that we demonstrate the value of community for business. Marketing brings you customers – community helps you keep them. We measure this through churn rates and by contrasting customers who use community resources versus those who do not.

If we accept this as true, community and customer success are a great mix. This is straightforward, especially for B2B companies: if your community is successful, you are successful. A substantial portion of the greatest insights into your products, the biggest success stories and the most important best practices, come from your customers. Document them and connect them with one another.

Community is well suited to develop a world class educational resource that allows customers to tap into the collective knowledge of your company and your customers, in order to more successfully use your products – and keep using them. You can’t hire an endless number of account managers, so invest in community.

Integrity and Trust

I really started thinking about this when I learned that Kickstarter’s community head was responsible for their integrity department. Kickstarter needs you to trust their platform. The community is an instrumental part of this: the community launches products, backs them, gives them money and expects them to be delivered. The community reports suspicious happenings and expects action to be taken. As such, community being responsible for integrity is a solid idea.

Another example where this would make sense is any platform where the value proposition is based at least partially on user generated content. Let’s say you are a restaurant review platform. Both restaurants and diners need to trust that these reviews will be fair and honest. If you lose that, you lose the whole game. The integrity of the community-contributed content is everything. And so it makes sense that community would lead those efforts.

It’s more than just moderation because you are also looking to develop systems that strengthen integrity. In the restaurant example, can you develop a process that verifies that the person actually ate at the restaurant they are reviewing? Programs like that lead to increased trust in community content.


Community leaders are often tasked with handling and escalating matters of immediate danger and safety. It is not uncommon with child-targeted social sites and games for community and safety to work as one. For many services and companies, safety is not a major issue, but when it is, and when you have an active community to manage, safety is part of the community picture.

Depending on who your target audience is, especially if it includes at-risk groups, special training may be required in order to ensure that sound policies are developed. But the community team is often on the front lines, confronting these challenges.

Customer Support

This may be the most common responsibility on this list, for community professionals. Many do lead support efforts, managing ticketing systems, raising concerns internally and tracking metrics like call deflection.

Supporting customers is a core aspect of what community leaders have focused on for as long as community has been a job. Many of the earliest community professionals worked support communities where the company and/or their customers would help each other. Reduced support cost is one of the oldest ways of demonstrating community ROI.

While I believe that community should permeate an organization, it is important for community to have a focus and responsibilities that make sense. Tasks like these, that are often community-minded, represent a great opportunity to further demonstrate the value of our work.