100 episodes

Community Signal is a podcast for experienced online community professionals, including those working in audience engagement, association management, developer relations, moderation, trust and safety, and more. It's released every two weeks and hosted by industry veteran Patrick O’Keefe. 

This is a very community-focused program. There are plenty of social media and marketing podcasts out there. That’s not what this is. Social media is a set of tools. Community is a strategy you apply to those tools. Marketing brings new customers. Community helps you keep them.

Community Signal Patrick O'Keefe

    • Business
    • 4.8 • 16 Ratings

Community Signal is a podcast for experienced online community professionals, including those working in audience engagement, association management, developer relations, moderation, trust and safety, and more. It's released every two weeks and hosted by industry veteran Patrick O’Keefe. 

This is a very community-focused program. There are plenty of social media and marketing podcasts out there. That’s not what this is. Social media is a set of tools. Community is a strategy you apply to those tools. Marketing brings new customers. Community helps you keep them.

    Empowering Employee Resource Group Leaders With Your Internal Community Platform

    Empowering Employee Resource Group Leaders With Your Internal Community Platform

    Employee resource groups (ERGs) can do a lot to create a greater sense of belonging at your organization. But the folks who volunteer to lead these groups may find themselves in need of help when it comes to utilizing perhaps the greatest tool at their disposal: Your internal employee community platform.
    As a community strategist within large organizations, Lori Harrison-Smith has trained employees to help them get the most out of these platforms.
    She has also managed two large migrations, both from Jive, and that has led her to have a (in her words) cynical perspective on the resources made available for these migrations, by both companies and the software vendors themselves.
    Lori and Patrick discuss:
    Doing something for an employee vs. showing them how to do it themselves How much the ERG leaders she’s worked with have dipped into moderation The short timeframes given to internal community migrations
    Big Quotes What’s really driving an internal community migration deadline (22:59): “When [an internal employee community] migration is happening, [companies are often] trying to save some money while they’re at it, and they’ve got this deadline. It’s usually a contract signature that is driving that deadline. There’s never enough time. It’s like, ‘We need to get off of this because the contract expires in November.’ It’s May when we’re having this conversation because that’s when everybody started looking at the balance sheet.” -Lori Harrison-Smith
    Instead of adjustments to their platforms, vendors can push “change management” (31:52): “With the different [internal community] vendors I’ve worked with, I’ve always had great relationships with them. The people have always been great and nice, but there’s just these struggles as a community manager because I’m hearing what the employees are saying. I’m hearing them talk about the pain points they’re experiencing. Then you go back to the vendor, and a lot of it is, ‘Well, change management. You just got to get them used to this new system.'” -Lori Harrison-Smith
    The downside of big dollar value community software contracts (33:57): “Maybe [the consolidation in the community software space is] a case for lower-cost platforms and open source solutions that may seem a little harder upfront but ultimately allow you to be a little more nimble internally as opposed to the sunk cost that makes you feel like you’re in a relationship you could never leave because you need to get that money back out of it.” -Patrick O’Keefe
    About Lori Harrison-Smith Lori Harrison-Smith’s career began in advertising, where she worked as a copywriter and editor. She found her real passion, though, when she transitioned to a role where she launched and supported an 8,000-strong employee community. Since 2011, Lori has held community roles within large organizations, leading platform updates and migrations, developing content and engagement programs, advocating for user experience, and guiding and supporting employees around communication and knowledge sharing.
    She is currently the collaboration network manager at VMware, following community roles at Motorola Solutions and Steelcase.
    Related Links Lori Harrison-Smith on LinkedIn VMware, where Lori is the collaboration network manager Employee Resource Groups Create a Sense of Belonging, Foster Engagement by Stephen Miller for SHRM Transcript View transcript on our website Your Thoughts If you have any thoughts on this episode that you’d like to share, please leave me a comment or send me an email. If you enjoy the show, we would be so grateful if you spread the word and supported Community Signal on Patreon.

    • 38 min
    The Chief Community Officer Hype Machine

    The Chief Community Officer Hype Machine

    As we celebrate Community Signal’s 7th birthday, Patrick takes questions from Community Signal listeners and supporters in this first ever “Ask Patrick Anything” episode of the show.
    Questions include:
    If everything had worked with CNN+, what would community look like for the platform? Would you rather be a working community professional or a community consultant? Will we ever see community leaders in the C-suite as the norm? 2023 will be Patrick’s 25th year of community work, so this is an opportunity to reflect on that passage of time. A lot has changed and, surprisingly, some things haven’t.
    Joining Patrick to ask the questions and dig deeper is previous guest Jared Smith. They also cover:
    The early promise of CNN+’s Interview Club How community moderation tools have changed over the years Why community isn’t special when it comes to the C-suite Big Quotes You have to commit to be successful with D2C products (11:55): “If you build interactive products and kill them after three weeks, it’s hard to prove out anything. It’s hard to build out loyalty. It’s hard to build out a D2C product if you’re not willing to commit.” -Patrick O’Keefe
    The magic of the unexpected in media products (13:04): “I think there is something magical that can happen when you take some of the expected nature of television or media, of what we expect is going to happen, and you throw the consumer, the community, the members, the subscribers into that. You give them the freedom to make other things happen.” -Patrick O’Keefe
    Operators drive moderator tool development more than platforms (22:24): “[When it comes to moderator tools], it’s often the community of people who need something driving it more so than the platforms themselves.” -Patrick O’Keefe
    Developers still focus on the frontend more than the administrative backend (23:35): “It’s a cliché to say that software developers focus on the frontend and the user experience and not so much the admin and moderation experience. That’s a cliché in our business. I think that is largely the case with some exceptions. Those exceptions tend to be people who have run communities themselves or who have a really good foundational understanding of the web from being in it for so long.” -Patrick O’Keefe
    If you want to make a difference in moderator tooling, start with the communities that don’t have money (23:58): “I get pitched by developers, and I always tell them that the way to make change in this industry is to make your product available to the people who don’t have anything. The Fortune 500s of the world are always going to have money, and they’re always going to have engineers. They can figure their way around problems and pay for solutions. Most communities, 99.9% of people, don’t have any money. That’s where you make change.” -Patrick O’Keefe
    Artificial intelligence isn’t a moderation panacea (24:36): “If you think about it [going back 25 years], forums are not dead and the mod tools are basically the same that we had. Remove user, close thread, things like that, a lot of that stuff. It’s the same. I also don’t think it’s a bad thing. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. One of the things about these AIs is sometimes they get it really, really wrong in really offensive ways. You still need that human element to counter that.” -Jared Smith
    Banning Andrew Anglin is not brave, it’s obvious (27:09): “When [Elon Musk decides] to unban Andrew Anglin, who’s arguably the most prominent real nazi on the internet, the founder of The Daily Stormer, the most prominent nazi publication on the internet [that makes Twitter a place I am less likely to engage]. … Andrew Anglin can join any platform I own and he’ll be banned. That’s not a brave thing. That’s not a talking point or like, ‘Wow, that’s amazing.’ It’s obvious. It’s not an amazing thing.” -Patrick O’Keefe

    • 46 min
    Elon Musk’s Quest to Make Twitter Worse

    Elon Musk’s Quest to Make Twitter Worse

    Elon Musk’s presence has loomed over Twitter since he announced plans to purchase the platform. And for these few weeks that he’s been in charge, many concerns have proven to be justified. Musk laid off 3,700 employees, and then 4,400 contractors. He is firing those who are critical of him. The verification process, perhaps one of Twitter’s most trusted features, has been unraveled. He’s offered severance to those who don’t want to be part of “extremely hardcore” Twitter. Following the results of a Twitter poll, he reinstated the account of Donald Trump, who was suspended from the platform for his role in inciting the January 6th attacks.
    So, what happens now? What of the many social movements that manifested on Twitter? While some movements and followings may see new manifestations on other platforms, not everything will be completely recreated. For example, as writer Jason Parham explains, “whatever the destination, Black Twitter will be increasingly difficult to recreate.”
    In this episode of Community Signal, Patrick speaks to three experts: Sarah T. Roberts, associate professor in the Department of Information Studies at UCLA, trust and safety consultant Ralph Spencer, and Omar Wasow, assistant professor in UC Berkeley’s Department of Political Science and co-founder of BlackPlanet, about the current state and future of Twitter. They dissect the realities facing the platform today including content moderation, loss of institutional knowledge, and uncertainty about Twitter’s infrastructure, but also emphasize the importance of Twitter as a social utility for news and more.
    This episode also touches on:
    The reality of moderating a platform like Twitter What platforms actually mean when they say they’re for “free speech” How Musk tanked the value of verification on Twitter
    Big Quotes On the future of content moderation at Twitter (8:28): “There’s no way possible with the cuts [Musk has] made that he’s going to be able to do any type of content moderation. … [He] isn’t going to have anybody who remotely begins to know to how to do that [legal compliance and related work].” –Ralph Spencer
    Sarah T. Roberts’ moderation challenge for Elon Musk (11:19): “I want Elon Musk to spend one day as a frontline production content moderator, and then get back to this [Community Signal] crew about how that went. Let us know what you saw. Share with us how easy it was to stomach that. Were you able to keep up with the expected pace at Twitter? Could you … make good decisions over 90% of the time, over 1,000, 2,000 times a day? Could you do that all the while seeing animals being harmed, kids being beat on, [and] child sexual exploitation material?” –@ubiquity75
    Bumper sticker wisdom doesn’t make good policy (15:46): “Everything [Musk has said about free speech] has had the quality of good bumper stickers but is totally divorced from reality, and that doesn’t bode well, obviously.” –@owasow
    The responsibility in leading a social media platform (19:41): “One thing that we are seeing in real-time [at Twitter] is what a danger there is in having one individual – especially a very privileged individual who does not live in the same social milieu as almost anyone else in the world – one very privileged individual’s ability to be the arbiter of … these profoundly contested ideological notions of something like free speech which again is continually misapplied in this realm.” –@ubiquity75
    Musk’s peddling of conspiracy theories (20:29): “[Musk is] running around tweeting that story about Nancy Pelosi’s husband, the false article about what happened between him and his attacker. What kind of example is that to set? … What it is to me is like this kid who has way too much money, and he found a new toy he wants to play with.” –Ralph Spencer
    Leading with humility (21:23): “[If you’re running a site like Twitter,] you have

    • 55 min
    When Community is on 3 Teams in 5 Years

    When Community is on 3 Teams in 5 Years

    As Zendesk’s customer base and product offerings have grown, so has its community. The Zendesk community started in 2008, under the support organization, as a space for people to ask and answer questions about using the product. Since then, it has shifted departments multiple times, leading to changes in KPIs and core purpose.
    Nicole Saunders, the company’s director of community, joins the show to explain how she has navigated these challenges. Tune in for her approach on thoughtfully managing change and expectations within your community and inside of your organization.
    Patrick and Nicole also discuss:
    Why the comments are open on Zendesk’s knowledge base articles You can’t tell people to contact support in Zendesk’s community Handing some conversations in the community off to other teams
    Big Quotes Going from scrappy to resourced as your community team grows and develops (04:36): “[While community was part of the support organization,] we were functioning very scrappy, very much like a startup team within a larger organization. … Being within [the] integrated marketing organization let us connect to a lot more pieces and parts of the business, which as we built our strategy became increasingly important.” –@NicoleinMadison
    Participate in the community you serve (14:20): “I’m always encouraging my team to [step] out of the ticket queue on a regular basis … and just wander around [the community] and try to have that same experience as the end users to make sure we’re not missing anything, make sure that the queue isn’t keeping us in just a transactional space.” –@NicoleinMadison
    Why you can’t tell people to contact support in the Zendesk community (24:58): “We were getting a lot of people that were just saying, ‘You should contact support for this,’ and what it was doing was discouraging other users from jumping in and trying to help. A lot of these were questions that people could answer for one another, and … it was short-circuiting the community conversation.” –@NicoleinMadison
    The knowledge and value that community can offer (26:17): “You’re going to gain so much more out of talking to somebody [in the community] who has done what you are trying to do, than someone who knows what functionality you should use to try to do it. Even the best support agent in the world probably hasn’t done exactly the thing that you’re trying to do. There’s actually a real benefit to talking to other users.” –@NicoleinMadison
    About Nicole Saunders In over 12 years as a community professional, Nicole Saunders‘ experience has ranged from consulting to launching communities for startups to currently leading the community team at Zendesk. She’s built communities across forums, social media, and offline. Her background also includes social media management, event production, communications, and freelance writing.
    Passionate about building community both in her work and in life, Nicole engages in several volunteer efforts, including mentoring for the Wisconsin Women’s Network, singing with the Philharmonic Chorus of Madison, and teaching dance fitness classes.
    Related Links Nicole Saunders on LinkedIn Zendesk community Zendesk knowledge base Zendesk’s community code of conduct Transcript View transcript on our website Your Thoughts If you have any thoughts on this episode that you’d like to share, please leave me a comment, send me an email or a tweet. If you enjoy the show, we would be so grateful if you spread the word and supported Community Signal on Patreon.

    • 32 min
    Why Community on the Product Team Works, From a Product Leader’s Perspective

    Why Community on the Product Team Works, From a Product Leader’s Perspective

    Recently, community pro Danielle Maveal joined Community Signal to discuss her experiences reporting into the product organization at Burb. In this episode, we’re getting the opposite perspective from product leader Gitesh Gohel.
    Gitesh and Patrick worked together at CNN, where community reported into product. And while the product and community that they were building were short lived, they both speak highly of their time working together. Gitesh describes creating a team atmosphere where each individual’s expertise was respected and given room to ladder into organizational goals, giving each person the opportunity to see the impact of their work. Patrick shares how this fostered trust in processes and created great experiences for the community and the brand.
    If you’re debating a community role that reports into product, this conversation will give you insight into how that can be productive when the team has a strong foundation.
    Patrick and Gitesh also discuss:
    Gitesh’s first experience managing community pros as a product leader Why community pros should be excited about reporting into product The successes and promise of CNN+’s Interview Club
    Big Quotes Making room for each individual’s expertise within your org (11:35): “One thing which is really important, especially when it comes to collaboration, trusting each other, and being able to lean in on the skill set or experience that everyone brings to the table to accomplish a shared vision, is being able to create space and autonomy for folks to be able to do their jobs. One thing that we did at CNN, specifically working on Interview Club, was create goals which your team had by itself, but also having those goals be integrated into the success of the product itself.” –@giteshg
    The background of a product professional (12:54): “Most people don’t train to be a product manager or to have an expertise in product development. … Most of my training came through experience. It was being part of a team who was building a product and being able to play a small role in it, being able to see what really good successful products look like, being able to see what do really healthy relationships look like across cross-functional teams.” –@giteshg
    Is product the right org for community? (25:42): “When you make community part of product, [you’re saying] that your users are important, that the relationships that you develop with your users are important and positive, that you want to be able to not have a transactional relationship with your users, but actually one where you proactively engage, where you’re proactively identifying ways in which you have your users connected.” –@giteshg
    Why should a community pro be excited about being part of the product org? (26:50): “[When community sits within product], in a way, you’re closest to the decision maker, and I think that’s important. What you are able to do is influence product strategy and how you think about what you build and who you’re building for, and being able to bring the skills and expertise that you have directly into that conversation. [Product is] where you get to do the most fun stuff. It’s where you get to say and explore different ideas that you want to try. It’s a way in which you get the voice of the user closest to the way in which you think about what you end up doing.” –@giteshg
    About Gitesh Gohel Gitesh Gohel has 14 years of experience as a product leader solving user problems in the startup, consumer, media, political, and civic tech space for organizations like CNN, Tumblr, Giphy, Facebook, Jumo, and Obama 08. He is currently the VP of product for Narwhal.
    Related Links Gitesh Gohel on LinkedIn The Pros and Cons of Community Reporting to Product, Danielle Maveal on Community Signal Brigade Bassey Etim, who has been on multiple episodes of Community Signal Transcript View transcript on our website Your Thoughts If you hav

    • 49 min
    Lessons in Building Safe, Inclusive, and Functional Spaces for LGBTQ+ Folks

    Lessons in Building Safe, Inclusive, and Functional Spaces for LGBTQ+ Folks

    If you’re wondering how you can more actively foster safety and belonging for LGBTQ+ folks in your online community, there’s precedent to learn and borrow from. In this episode of Community Signal, we’re joined by Samantha “Venia” Logan, the CEO and founder of Socially Constructed. Venia shares lessons from her decade of experience building community for LGBTQ+ individuals, which started when she began sharing her transition journey on YouTube. 
    Patrick and Venia discuss tools, policies, and practices that can help build queer friendly spaces over time. For example, how easy is it for someone to edit their profile information within your online community? What specific policies do you have in place to protect LGTBQ+ people? And a big one – how are others in your organization (outside of the community team) contributing to diversity and inclusion?
    At this point you might be asking, “how do I measure or communicate progress?” To this we ask, what are community-based outcomes that indicate someone feels safe contributing and like they belong? As Venia explains (15:23): “As a person feels more and more comfortable self-disclosing, they’re going to use more organic language, they’re going to talk a lot more, their rate of inclusion is going to increase, but so will the length of their posts.” Work with your community to figure out which behaviors relate to their sense of inclusion and measure those over time.
    Patrick and Venia also discuss:
    Making pronouns part of everyday conversations Twitter’s policies and handling of a recent high-profile deadnaming case Being intentional about your metrics and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
    Big Quotes Make space for everyone to share their pronouns in everyday conversation (08:48): “Pronouns are not just a segment that you’re going to put on your profile. … At every meeting, [if] you invite people to share their pronouns – cis, trans, doesn’t matter – it essentially says, pervasively speaking, this is a queer-friendly, queer-safe space. … Oftentimes, you want to implement these rules so that you’re not looking for explicit consent, you’re looking for implicit acceptance.” –@SamanthaVenia
    Focus on tracking the behaviors that matter most to your community (14:23): “[With behavioral metrics], we need to return to a notion of simplicity, where we are recording things that people actually want us to listen to. When people engage in our online communities, they are leaving behind comments, behaviors, artifacts of conversation, and they want us to pay attention to those things, so why are we recording every single move they make in a community and not recording anything about the nature of the comment they left?” –@SamanthaVenia
    Perfectly accurate data reporting does not exist, instead, try replicating your results (18:06): “Instead of worrying about gross amounts of accuracy in your data … [measure] it again. The exact same thing that you did, in a second spot, in a second scope, just do it again, and again, and again. Once you repeat the same process and you have four corollary actions that are all telling you the same thing and one that’s different, what is the resolution of your action? It just skyrocketed without you ever having to be accurate. Social science is not about causation, it’s about enough correlation to infer causation.” –@SamanthaVenia
    Keep spaces safe by upholding the commitment to exclusivity (20:50): “Don’t expand what’s working for a safe space because keeping an exclusive space is what made that place safe. Instead, go over to the other place, reproduce your success, diversify it. The phrase that I use is ‘Don’t expand, diversify.’ Exclusivity breeds inclusivity.” –@SamanthaVenia
    If you’re creating a space for everyone, you’re creating a space for no one (23:56): “When you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one, and you end up having no one b

    • 39 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
16 Ratings

16 Ratings

Litarider ,

Thank you for sharing your experience.

I came for a recent episode and I’ll be subscribing because this will make me a better community moderator. Thank you.

Autumn Shultz ,

A must-join community

I love this podcast and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to learn more about cultivating a community with their marketing tactics. Every single episode is filled with actionable tips and insights, so you can't go wrong in choosing one!

Nicknametaken8976289465 ,

Awesome podcast

Lots of great interviews with online community managers. Come away from every episode with new ideas

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