From Community Oracle to Chief Community Officer
How we got here and where we're going
Just a few months ago, I accepted the ~unofficial~ title of Community Oracle🔮 (see explanation below). Yesterday was my first day in a more official role as the Chief Community Officer at a new company, Burb.
Let me first tell you about Burb, and then I’ll get into how I’m outlining the responsibilities of a CCO role.
You know I have to get into my feelings first, right? So here they are: we need more support and better technology for community builders (this includes creators, many of whom now run communities). From my experiences at Etsy, Airbnb, and (most recently Patreon), I’ve seen how the lives of millions can be transformed when you combine a strong mission, with the right community strategy (and processes, workflows, and technology to realize this strategy).
How can technology better support this work? At Burb, we build tools and resources that give superpowers to the people who are cultivating abundant communities, while unlocking self-sustaining, exponential growth. I believe scaling growth while maintaining authentic connections can be done. Come along with me as we make this a reality together!
Interested in joining Burb’s first group of purpose-driven community builders?
Here’s what the Burb team looks like right now: founder and CEO, Drew Dillon (Yammer, Fond/AnyPerks, Skedulo), Philip James (Eventbrite, Patreon, Stripe) is the CTO, and we have an incredible dev team in Argentina. Want to get access to Burb and hear more? Drop me a line.
Fun fact: Drew and I met in an accountability group that was part of the OnDeck Founder Fellowship. An accountability group is a great example of what we call a Burb––a small, dedicated group!
What I love about this team: we care deeply about meaningful conversations, communities, and creators. Each of us has worked in tech for 12+ years. There’s a lot about this industry that we want to change and I’m excited to do things a little differently together.
Speaking of doing things differently, Burb is one of a handful of tech companies that has a community-focused leader at the c-suite level: me!
“What do new community-first companies need to consider? We need — and anyone who knows me, knows this has been a decade-long obsession and frustration — Chief Community Officers or VPs of Community to sit alongside VPs of Product, Engineering, etc, who report to the CEOs.” - Sarah Drinkwater
Here’s how I’ve outlined the responsibilities of a Chief Community Officer:
Community: Own community strategy that supports the company mission & business outcomes while supporting member motivations, needs, and transformations.
Team-as-community: Maintain a strong web of trusted bonds between team members and create and strengthen connections between the team and the wider community we serve.
Voice of Customer: Make sure the community has a seat at the decision-making table, informing products, policies, & support.
Social listening and influence: Deeply listen through all channels (research, customer success, customer service, community, social), and engage meaningfully in conversations.
Diversity and inclusion: Only when all of us feel like we can safely show up as our true selves, can we create community. A CCO champions diversity, inclusion, and equal access to resources within internal and external communities.
Community-first products: How do we merge the community journey with the user journey, and make sure communities don’t just live on islands, but are embedded throughout the user experience?
Community-first marketing: Know the community’s motivations, needs, lifecycle, and use that data, along with community input, to determine marketing strategies.
Values-driven decision-making: Ensure we’re building tools that create and grow abundant communities, not ‘mirage communities’. Make sure the company lives up to its mission, purpose, and values through all channels and interactions creating a strong, sustainable brand.
“Imagine the impact a chief community officer could make on a company if they had a division, a seat at the key table, that solely focused on the customers’ needs. That captured the uniqueness of your customer and brought that back to your company to ingrain in the culture & the product itself.” -Tessa Kriesel, Devocate
🎩 Big hat tip to the other CCOs out there!
Jenna Woodul, LiveWorld (Read more about Jenna on Managing Communities)
Erik Martin, Teal
Kyle Baptista, Creative Mornings
Carrie Davis, Trevor Project
Alex Angel, Commsor
Edmund Amoye, TheOrbit