Erica Moss

Senior Manager of Community Engagement at Atlassian
December 8, 2021
AMA sticker

Pam: I would love to know about your favorite and most successful community engagement initiatives at Atlassian. What did you implement and how did you measure its success.

I have a two-pronged answer because we have initiatives to increase engagement in our online community (spearheaded by my brilliant colleagues, Bridget, Sharon, and Monique), and then we have initiatives to deepen engagement with our ambassadors, aka Community Leaders (which is my day-to-day).

On the online side, I’ve seen amazing campaigns like the Atlympics and Jira July, where our members are given prompts and then rewarded with badges, swag, internet fame, etc. Success means looking at badges earned, posts created, engagement on posts, social reach, etc.
Noele: First and foremost: how do you have the funniest Twitter in all of #CommunityTwitter? How do you come up with your hilarious tweets?! Second: What are some of the differences you see in community programs that are super established, like Atlassian's, vs. community programs that are brand new?

Noele, you are TOO KIND. I think for Twitter, I have to abolish any feelings of shame and just tweet what’s on my mind. I’m half joking and half serious because if I thought too hard about what everyone thinks about me when I share something like, “I had a morning and afternoon presentation, which means I have been sweating all the livelong day,” I’d probably never tweet.

Re: our program vs. newer programs, I always encourage community pros to think about ways in which they can incentivize and engage their members that don’t cost anything. We have a ton of resources at our disposal, but members are often most motivated by access to our teams, internet fame (features in company blog posts, etc.), so never assume anything and just ask them what perks they’d like to see.

We’re fortunate in that we’ve gotten a handle on things like proper moderation and content/topics that really resonate with our members, so I’d encourage pros with newer communities to really hone in on that and make sure they’ve got the basics down before going big with anything else.

Lastly, I think newer and advanced communities struggle with a lot of same pain points, one of which is consistently educating internal teams about the value of what you’re doing. That’s why it’s crucial to get buy-in from leadership at inception (do a roadshow, find out what other teams’ goals are and how community can support them), and continue to be loud about community wins and impact.

Ben: You mentioned that you tend to be a people pleaser and will bend over backward to avoid ruffling feathers. What are some practical ways to strike a perfect balance between making others' lives easier while ensuring you don't get trampled yourself? As a people pleaser myself, I've learned some hard lessons and would love to learn how you've grown from this. Also, how do you recharge?

The short answer is I’m still working on this, BUT two things I’ve learned: 1) Saying no to something in the moment, even when it feels difficult, can help preserve my future sanity (if I say yes and then spend the next two weeks dreading this commitment, imagine how much energy I’ll have drained); 2) If I continue to say yes to my own detriment, that prevents me from showing up for my family, friends, community, etc. Compromising my own boundaries is a lose-lose.

Part of that process is being super candid and communicative with your manager and colleagues about your bandwidth and what’s on your plate at any given time. “I’d love to help, but I’m prioritizing XYZ right now” or “Emily mentioned she’d really love to get more involved in projects like this, so perhaps this is an opportunity for her to spearhead this instead of me” can be game-changers.

How do I re-charge? The million-dollar question in a global pandemic. Time away from my keyboard is crucial – our Marketing org has been intentionally taking monthly days off, which has been amazing. I’ll usually spend that time walking around New York and taking photos (one of my favorite pastimes), getting a massage, or seeing a Broadway show.

Lindsey: I come from a writing background as well, and would be curious to hear which communities you find that really nail the tone and content aspects out of the park. Any that you're looking to for inspiration as Atlassian's continues to grow?

Always love meeting a fellow word nerd! I think Slack and HubSpot do a great job of creating an authentic, approachable tone in their comms. This is our voice and tone guide that I put together, if you’re curious.
For me, it's about writing copy for humans and talking about things in the same way I would with my colleagues or friend.

Max: What is your favorite Jurassic Park movie and why? What's the best advice that you have ever received in working in community?

Going right for my HEART with the JP question, I see. The first movie will always rank supreme because of its sheer perfection and quotability (clever girl!). I’m also a big fan of the second one with Julianne Moore.

Best advice? I think it’s something I’ve learned over time, but quite simply: community is everyone’s job. I think early on in my career, as a one-woman show, I thought I had to do everything and do it without asking for help or thinking about how my efforts were really truly impacting other teams and the business. We don’t exist in a silo and we certainly won’t be successful if we do, so it’s important to keep that in mind with our work.

Cait: I have a question about this potential Hallmark movie: Who would play you, and who would play the barista?

What a GREAT question. I feel like I don’t have any true celebrity doppelgängers, but I think I’d have to say Neve Campbell because we both have dark hair, she lives in my neighborhood, and I’ve loved her since Scream came out. My brain is truly reeling thinking about who would play the barista. Right now, I’d say Andrew Garfield because he’s so charming and I love his accent and Tick, Tick… Boom! was such a revelation.

Michelle: If you were able to start your own community on any topic, with unlimited funding, what would it be? Also, why didn't the horcrux in Harry Potter get destroyed when the basilisk fang stabbed him if it worked on the diary and such?

Thanks for your questions! Both of which are extremely tough, I might add. If I was building a community from scratch, I’d probably build something around lifestyle for the modern woman (maybe a podcast)? The woman who’s single, isn’t planning on having kids, isn’t looking to hop into a mortgage, that kind of thing. I’m sure this exists in pockets around the internet, but I’d really be keen to learn what these folks are buying, reading, spending time with, prioritizing, fearing, etc. This is not a fully formed idea, and now I am sweating.

Re: the HP question, I am SO rusty (a re-watch of the entire movie series is on my to-do list), so I turned to Quora: “Hermione reveals in Deathly Hallows that a horcrux’s viability is determined by the object in which the horcrux rests. Put simply, if the horcrux is used to put a horcrux-soul in a non-living object, the horcrux-soul is alive as long as the physical object is intact. However, if the horcrux is used to put a horcrux-soul in a living being, the horcrux-soul is alive as long as the living being remains alive. Since Harry did not die in the Chamber of Secrets battle, the horcrux-soul within him was not destroyed."

Rachael: Community careers are both an evergreen topic, and also one that seems to always be shifting sands. Where do you see your career trajectory leading you in the next 3/5/10 years? What about zooming out to community roles in general? What roles would you like to see and what skills would you suggest community folks look towards?

First and foremost, I shall be attending Carrie Melissa Jones’ workshop on this very topic. Because like: What do I want to be when I grow up? I find myself gleaning more value out of being an individual contributor (vs. managing people), but then sometimes I have to check even that and say, “Is that just my impostor syndrome talking? You like mentoring people, so maybe you can do this?”

The way I’m figuring that out, honestly, is just by raising my hand to do things at work that are, perhaps, a bit out of my comfort zone, a project that will allow me to stretch a bit and learn a thing or two. I also spend a lot of time talking to other pros in the community space to see what they’re up to, what they’re working on, and then sort of evaluating from there whether or not I want to go down that path as well.

I’ve talked about this a lot, but I am so excited about the community operations space right now, and what Tiffany Oda and Cassie Mayes are doing to push that track forward. And I always have to shout-out Erica Kuhl and Brian Oblinger for their work with hiring managers and creating roles that actually make sense for our industry (I can’t wait till the days of community-manager-who-is-also-a-social-media-manager are in our rear view).