Masters of Community with David Spinks
How Asana does Community with Joshua Zerkel
July 26, 2021
In this episode of Masters of Community, we speak with Joshua Zerkel, Head of Global Engagement Marketing (Community + Lifecycle) at Asana. He is an industry veteran in the world of community. He led the community team at Evernote and has now been at Asana for three and a half years building the community team from the ground up. While Josh began his career as a designer, the bulk of his expertise comes from voluntarily and involuntarily building communities as a consequence of helping others. In this episode, David and Josh talk about various aspects of Asana’s community from an enterprise community perspective. Josh shares his two-pronged metrics focus for measuring and communicating the impact of their community team. One of the key takeaways for any new community manager from this episode is how you can grow from a one-member community team to a full-fledged enterprise-scale community behemoth. Finally, Josh helps shed light on a community operations role and how it differs from community management. Who is this episode for? Currently aspiring and first-time community managers. Three key takeaways: 1. Community metrics at Asana: They use program health metrics to get a gauge on what’s happening with their community programs. They also look at business impact metrics from a marketing point of view. Community teams should communicate their value and impact across different facets of their operation such as brand, marketing, media appearances, engagement, and sales pipeline. However, if the community team has fewer resources, start small and pick the most powerful stats that you can directly impact. 2. Fundamentals of Building a Community: Your community must meet customers where they are. Some are comfortable in a small group, while others like large forums, and not everyone will come to a new website to engage in support forms. Therefore, community teams have to study their communities to gradually build a framework for each platform so that people have a variety of ways to connect. 3. Community operations: It’s less about personally talking to people and more about creating systems and getting internal tools talking to each other so that you can scale your community efforts. Repeatable templates and processes created form the backbone that really helps your community efforts scale. Community registration processes can be made hassle-free through automation. Streamline your reporting tools and create dashboards to help internal stakeholders get a quick sense of how valuable your community is at any given point in time. Notable Quotes: 1. “Some people are forum people, others will never go to a forum and just want to meet in person. Others want to feel like they're part of something special and exclusive like a membership program… It's really important to think about the community expansively and think about all the different ways that your customers might want to connect with your company and with each other. So that you can build these frameworks so that they have a place to do those things.” 2. “The community program is designed to drive brand awareness, excitement, and engagement with our brand. And so while there are byproducts of our work, including creating leads, impact on the pipeline, engagement with the product retention, all of those things are not the core focus of our work, but again, we report on all of those because we know that there's impact.” Rapid-fire question answers: 1. What's your go-to pump-up? K-pop music. 2. What was the coolest news story you ever covered in your time? Helped raise awareness about mobile number portability through the story of a woman, and that story caught the attention of lawmakers. 3. What's the most impactful book you've ever read or a book that you love to give as a gift to others? A Harriet Tubman biography. 4. What's a go-to community engagement tactic or conversation starter that you love to use in your communities? Anything food-related. 5. What's your biggest pet peeve in the world of community building? A lot of people still think of community as fun or fluff or extra or something that isn't. 6. What's one community product you wish existed? A miracle API connector that connects several complicated tools to let their data flow seamlessly among each other. 7. What tools do you use? Bevy, Partner Stack, Asana, Snowflake, Common Room, Discourse, Slack - but they’re trying to reduce it. 8. What’s the weirdest community you’ve been a part of? Sci-fi and comic book conventions. 9. What's one question I didn't ask you that I should have? “Why do I do this work?” Josh is an extroverted type of introvert. By creating a community for others, he’s providing that space that he personally is continually looking for. 10. If you were to find yourself on your deathbed today, what advice would you give to the rest of the world on how to live? Be more open and say yes to exploring new paths more often. You never know what that path might lead you to.

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