What drew you to Outverse?
From my first conversations with Kyran, Ollie, and the Outverse team, I was struck by how little time we spent calibrating — off the bat we had a shared understanding around community, its value, and its place in product-led companies. This was reflected in the way they spoke about the product and the space, but also the company mission and vision. I knew Outverse were doing something that I wanted to be part of.
The three years I spent at 1Password instilled a deep customer centricity in me: it's a huge part of their culture that radiates out from the founding team, and it's something I've sought out ever since. I see it at Outverse. I learned at 1Password how the relationship you build with your customers can determine the success of pretty much everything: businesses that prioritise empathetic, open communication with their customer base will "get it right" more often on everything from feature prioritisation to content strategy to brand messaging. Knowing how to listen and cultivate deep empathy for the people using your product is a superpower.
Tell us about your biggest learning experience building product communities?
I joined FitXR shortly after the company had transitioned from a license to subscription model. The team had always cared deeply about community, but as a fast-scaling company, there were a few instances where feedback hadn't been gathered at the right times, and some decisions that could have been communicated more effectively to the community they impacted.
The new subscription model allowed us to chart exciting territory and develop new studios and content programs. But before we could move forward, we had to pause and listen to our customers. They had a lot to share about the changes we'd made, and needed to be heard.
In the months following the transition, we introduced new research initiatives and baked community feedback into the product development process. I took up a weekly slot on our All Hands call to make sure community was front of mind for everyone across the company. Each week we shared success stories, reviews, and video interviews with community members. We measured the impact of this via a quarterly employee engagement survey, and found a significant improvement in the number of employees who considered our community to be front-of-mind in decision-making. Seeing colleagues refer to individual community members by name while describing the benefits of a new feature they were building, or explaining rationale for prioritisation decisions, really drove home the value of a community-first approach.
What got you into community in the first place?
I’ve been lurking in communities of practice (mostly around content marketing and community building) since the beginning of my career, but my interest in cultivating product communities came when, at 1Password, I saw the company-wide value they can bring. I greatly admired the relationship the Community team had built with both CX and Product, where feedback, bug reports and feature requests were communicated in a streamlined, timely manner. Both seniors leaders and individual contributors from across the engineering and security teams regularly posted and engaged in the forum.
I was leading content marketing at the time, and found that on our side we reliably got our best content ideas from social listening and community lurking, which gave us a deeper understanding of the specific pain points, needs, and worries of our customers. It didn’t change the high-level content strategy, but it allowed us to add a great deal of specificity to what we were writing, making individual content pieces more relevant and useful.
What’s your biggest recommendation for community managers working in product companies today?
Be clear on your "why" and make the purpose of your community known company-wide. Repeat it often. Bring cross-functional stakeholders on board early and nurture their enthusiasm, but manage the expectations that might come with it: communities are delicate ecosystems, and it doesn't take much to disrupt them.
It’s your job to educate on best practice (especially re. not being in broadcast mode) and help each department learn how to receive value and engage with the community. Create an internal version of your community guidelines — this will help colleagues feel comfortable interacting, without fear of doing it wrong. People generally want to be involved, you just need to make it low-risk for them.