How Did A Wanderlust Artist Land In Community Management?

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If someone had told me in 2000—the year I graduated from Culver-Stockton College with a degree in Theatre Education—that I would eventually become a passionate Community Manager, my first response would have been, “A what?”

How Did A Wanderlust Artist Land In Community Management?

I initially began my path in community management as a part–time moderator for GirlsAskGuys.com in 2008. I took this job to pay the rent (I had taken many jobs over the past several years for the same reason) while I quenched my artistic thirst—I was acting for a few regional theatre companies, as well as designing my own clothing line, Penny Rae Vintage. In short, I was constantly working!  

As a moderator, I learned the ins and outs of an online community. Although I was hired to moderate the content, I began to throw out ideas in our founder’s living room meetings—can we do such–and–such to speed up moderation? can we reward our most active users with something? can we give some users more responsibility?—and my role with GirlsAskGuys quickly flourished. I was promoted to Community Manager (I had to ask my boss: “So what exactly is that?”), and our small team grew the community from hundreds of visits to millions. I was loving every minute of it.  

In late 2012, I was recruited by Answers.com to work in their community. As sad as I was to leave GirlsAskGuys, I was excited by the idea of working in a much larger and more diverse community, so I made the move. My focus at Answers was the AnswerThon, a contest designed to generate answers to unanswered questions. I also began to understand the importance of metrics, quantifiable goals, and ROI, and I relished in the challenge of finding the balance between people and numbers: How do we make a personal user experience scalable? While Answers differed from GirlsAskGuys in many ways, the parallels were numerous, and my role as a community manager never really changed. I, as a community pro, am required to represent both sides of the coin. Heads: to champion for the community. Tails: to champion for the company. And these aspects of community management—customer service, diplomacy, and converting unhappy users to brand champions— are my cup of tea!

I was recently laid off from Answers.com, and am actively searching for a new role in community and customer experience! In November, I launched a Tweetchat called #cmgrEMEA, a timezone-friendly chat for community professionals in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. On a personal level, I love being a part of the ExpatWoman, TripAdvisor, Migraine, and LinkedIn communities.

My path has been a windy one—theatre, fashion, administrative, entrepreneur, customer service, sprinkled with a few waitress and bartending gigs. As a community manager, I’ve utilized skills that I gained in every single one of these experiences—collaboration, communication, empathy, diplomacy, enthusiasm, and of course, a solid work ethic. And so I’m ready for my next endeavor!

Melissa Rae Brown

Melissa Rae Brown is a community pro by trade and heart. She has 7 years of experience under her belt at GirlsAskGuys.com and Answers.com, and is excited to find her next opportunity. She’s a St. Louis, MO, native living in Dubai, and is a JDRF advocate.

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