Rosie Sherry

Head of Community at IndieHackers
August 27, 2020
AMA sticker

Tristan - 🤔 Couple of questions for one of my favorite community leaders (and my questions do not directly reflect my personal views of community building):

• From your conversations with business leaders and your years of experience, what do you feel are the top 3 most important KPIs for indicating business outcomes and community impact?

• How should Community Management lead company Marketing efforts?

• What's the biggest misconception about Community as an industry today?

“From your conversations with business leaders and your years of experience, what do you feel are the top 3 most important KPIs for indicating business outcomes and community impact?”I pretty much dislike KPIs and mostly ignore them. However, I like to please, so here are some KPI type thoughts.

1. Instead of KPIs - can you have a vision? Your community exists for a reason. It is striving for something. As soon as it goes off track of that vision it is not reaching that ‘KPI’ and problems will start to occur.

2. Win Wins - My frustration with communities, typically ones led by businesses is that they tend to not to give back as much as they should. I always look for win wins that align with the business/community goals and that of the people. How are you ensuring everyone is winning?

3. Growth - Most communities need to grow in some kind of way. As with all businesses there will always be churn. People will come and go. And there will always need to be ways of attracting new people in.

The goals for Indie Hackers have changed as the community has changed, at least since I’ve been there. Currently we have goals for podcasts listens, discussions, comments and traffic but I know all too well that if we achieve that it doesn’t mean we have great community. I also know that Stripe won’t kill the community if they are not achieved, they will reevaluate the situation.

By all means have growth goals, it sure motivates and keeps me focused, but make sure that it doesn’t mean that cut backs happen if they are not achieved.
"How should Community Management lead company Marketing efforts?"

Community and Marketing should work closely together.  I know Heather Reid and Aine do this at Ministry of Testing. It is team work, helping each other out with what is going on, content to share.

Also, marketing need to learn to back off and not be so pushy. Sometimes it is better just to spend time hanging out with your people rather than pushing something down their throat. 😊
"What's the biggest misconception about Community as an industry today?"

That everyone needs it. Sometimes it's just better to let some people lead with community initiatives and support them rather than trying to create one themselves.

This leads back to the 'selfishness' thing I mentioned in John’s question.

John - What are some “bad behaviors” in community building that people need to stop doing… that have (had historically) good intentions but not well-thought-through downstream consequences?

The one that always gets me is selfishness.

E.g, many communities are more audiences than communities. They call themselves communities, but really, in my books they aren't. They are driven by selfish needs, rather than truly doing what is best for their people.

Mac - What’s the weirdest/most unique community you’ve seen?

I dunno if it's really weird, I kinda like it, but I always remember this one -

Maybe I'm secretly attracted to clouds, my Rosieland logo has one in it 😄

Alex - What made you decide to start your newsletter? What's been the most surprising thing to come out of that endeavor?

I spent years building communities, but never really spent enough time in the 'community building' world.

The newsletter was something to make me accountable to show up every week, learn and share some things that were happening.

The most surprising thing is I keep finding more and more stuff and I truly feel like I know very little about community building now.

Jacob - What was the transition like from free to paid newsletter?

Paid newsletter is kinda tough atm, showing up every week,

I write stuff week by week, hopefully in time I'll get more structured around it.

Whilst tough, I appreciate it because I really have wanted to write more and consistently for years, but never could.  The newsletter gives me no choice but to show up and deliver.

It's also a great way of getting to know new people, there's some lurkers out there.

I'm currently at 43 paid subscribers!

Jacob - We ♥ Rosie! Word is that your email inbox and Twitter mentions are crazy these days. How do you handle the fame, now that everyone in community world knows your name? Any downsides or capacity challenges to having a big up and coming personal brand? Are you able to give everyone 1:1 attention?

I don't think it's that crazy, though I'm feeling the impact.

I'm typically very bad at saying no, I think I need to get better at that.

I mostly still give 1:1 most of the time, but not to people who don't put thought into how they approach me.

However, it's important to me that I keep pushing. As a woman in tech, startup, etc I get seriously annoyed at the lack of representation. All the men recommending men drives me nuts.

So I'll keep pushing, doing more and as much as I feel able to.

Tbh, it all gets easier. First few talks and podcasts are nerve racking, after that I found I've found a bit of groove and confidence.

Katrine - Hi Rosie, thank you so much for doing this! Question for you - a new term in the community world that's recently been swirling around is "community-market fit" (in comparison to product-market fit) - when do you think the signs are pointing towards this, showing there is a need/want for your community?

I've been thinking about this.

The easy and probably not incorrect answer is who is showing up and whether there is interest/growth/excitement/conversions.

In the indie/startup world people often validate ideas.

I was thinking about this and realised that I've been successful without doing that.

I came to my own personal conclusion that I validate visions. If you can validate a vision then you can find your community-market fit.


David - Hi Rosie, thanks so much! When you’re creating many chapters, or have a bunch of new leads and volunteers. Say for the global community. What processes did you have in place to help them succeed, vet them,  etc. What are some challenges you ran into, and how can we avoid them?

My favourite is the 'make it up as you go along' process.

I say that in jest, but also seriously. Take a look at each situation and try to think of the best and simplest way you can tackle the organisation.

For example:
Communicate where you already have systems in place, or where your people are.

Let the volunteers come to you, if you chase them it's not a great sign.

Document some stuff, but not too much.

The biggest challenge with volunteers is to get commitment. This use to piss me off, so often I would just pay people something fair to ensure things would happen.

There's this thing where people think volunteers are essential for communities, partly they are. But sometimes you should just respect people and their time by paying them. It's such a stress saviour.

Jenn - Thanks for being here Rosie! What are some things that you believe every community should keep intimate despite scale? For example, Airbnb believed from day one that hosts’ homes need to be represented in the best light. So they still have photographers who go each into hosts homes to take pictures. High-touch and costly, but for them, this has been worth it.

Always hard to talk from a perspective of 'every community'.

But if we generalise it, every community should ensure that the connections between the founders/employees doesn't get lost.

I think it becomes dangerous when the people who run the community are not fully engaged day to day.

Carter - Hi Rosie! Do you know of any companies who do internal community management? Not like culture building, but truly applying external best practices internally? (flagging, guidelines, awards, advocacy to leadership, etc)

I don't really. There should be more of this kind of thing.

Even something like a coaching service to support people.I think the trouble is often people want to hire people in to come 'fix' or 'do' the community, but really it is the company/founder who needs to do that.

I've toy'd with the idea of 'lurk as a service' 😄

I don't think community building is that hard, the basics of it are pretty simple. I think people just need help seeing that and understanding things from a very practical level.

Cole - Hey Rosie! Thanks for doing this AMA 😄

I was reading Mac's blog post earlier on 'Predictions for Community in the 2020s'... Curious to see if you have any of your own predictions that you'd be able to share 🙂Thanks!

I predict community burnout and a graveyard of efforts. Of course, the best ones will survive, hopefully!
People do talk about the unbundling like it's new, but it isn't really. Maybe it will just be more widespread.Ministry of Testing is an unbundling, but that started 13 years ago (!)
I hope to see more people build their own communities like they would build their own SaaS's too.

Indie Hackers as spoilt me to an extent that I will never invest my time into a (big) community unless I invest in putting the resources into self building it.