Online communities have become the backbone of many businesses. They not only deliver impeccable CX, but also enable brands to practice effective advocacy, and boost ROI. But behind every thriving community, there are a series of steps that should be followed diligently. These steps are known as community operations.
Community operations is not necessarily a new term but still isn’t too common in the community space. The fact that communities have been around for a while and have been growing ever since. And, all this growth and scalability isn’t possible without community operations.
That being said, ‘community operations’ is still an ambiguous term for many. Is a community manager responsible for community operations? Is it about program management? Does it require data science abilities?
Let’s gain an understanding of what exactly community operations are and identify some examples of operational responsibilities on a community team.
Community Operations: The What & Why
Imagine a restaurant, where guests come to eat good food and enjoy a good time.
The guests will place their orders by interacting with the restaurant staff. This is the direct interaction happening between customers and the brand in the front house.
Then, the restaurant staff will convey the guests’ orders to the chefs and other kitchen staff. This interaction is happening at the back of the house where your chefs are preparing food and drinks for your guests. Now, we need someone like a general manager to coordinate the front and back of the house. They’re responsible for keeping everything up and running smoothly on day-to-day basis.
Now, use this analogy to understand how the community works. Guests are your community members directly interacting with the community staff like moderators. Then there are community managers and other team members that build the community and keep it running through engagement efforts. Finally, the community ops team is the general manager that streamlines both ends.
In other words, community operations are all about identifying the loopholes and the key strategies to rectify them. They interact with community members and staff to ensure they have everything to keep the wheels turning smoothly.
Community Operations in Practice
As mentioned, community operations are the work behind the scenes that push the community toward success. So what exactly is the community operations team responsible for? Here are a few key elements of community operations-
Establishing Community Operations Goals
Community operation goals are different from general community goals. They’re established around identifying the efficiency of the community processes including onboarding, tracking reporting, etc. Community ops professionals leverage advanced CRM tools like KaseSync. It integrates your community with CRM platform to empower you with metrics identification and tracking for a high-level view.
Structuring Community Roadmap Around Those Goals
The role of community ops is to consider both the internal and external goals of the community. Internal goals revolve around backend processes that warrant a smoother workflow like vendor reviews, program approval, leadership support, etc. External goals, on the other hand, are the expectations and requirements of your customers. It is an opportunity to convince your customers that they’re heard by acting on their feedback/reviews.
So, community ops start with assessing the current situation followed by determining the end goals. Whereas the roadmap defines the action plan to reach the end goals including a timeline that accurately aligns with the overall vision.
Measuring Business Impact of Established Goals
A community operations manager is responsible for measuring the overall business impact of the changes incorporated. This is how they identify further improvements needed in the community. And, the cycle of constant improvement keeps going.
What’s the Difference Between Community Management and Community Operations?
In communities, most roles often overlap as they’re interdependent. Especially community operations roles are fluid in nature as they touch every part of the community. While community management may be limited to engagement and content creation, community ops go beyond that. Marketing, documentation, data science, and marketing, are a few fields that collude with community ops.
A community operations team doesn’t operate in a silo, so they need a high sense of teamwork and responsibility. However, it is imperative to establish the division of labor across team members for better clarity on the roles and responsibilities. In a nutshell, there is some overlap between community management and ops, but they aren’t interchangeable.
Community ops is a vital element for every community. They interact with and support a community’s initiatives, programs, platforms, team members, associated stakeholders, and more. It may seem like overlapping community manager roles, but every community needs a dedicated community operations team. It keeps things running smoothly on both the front and back ends within the community.
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