What Is a Community Champion? A Look at Buffer's Innovative Community Role

Carrie Melissa Jones
August 14, 2014
February 8, 2024

One of our goals here at CMX is to show aspiring community professionals the wide variety of ways that others have built their careers and communities. We all know that communities vary depending on where you work, your team's goals, and what kind of community you're building, but we can still establish some best practices and role models for you to turn to.

Last week, Buffer's Nicole Miller shared what her innovative job title, Community Champion, means on the Buffer Open blog.

Over here at CMX Hub, we happen to think that titles - and words in general - matter a great deal. So we were instantly curious how a Community Champion differs from a Community Manager and what her work entails. I asked Nicole all about her role at Buffer, and here is what she says...

Nicole Miller of Buffer
Nicole Miller of Buffer

What is your job title and what is its significance? Why not just call the position "Community Manager?"

"The idea behind the Community Champion is that he or she acts as a champion for the community, which is composed of both the internal team at Buffer and the collection of our users and fans.

I strive to build bridges and show our appreciation for our incredible fan base. Buffer is unique in that all of our team members function in small ways as a community manager in that they reply to social media and write amazing content for our blogs. Thus, the Community Champion functions in different ways than a traditional community manager role might."

How would you describe the Buffer community?

"The Buffer audience comes from all fields and all backgrounds. And, boy, are they all smart, savvy and incredible! We've found our users all interact with the Buffer tool in different ways through various workflows, but they rally around the Buffer values of productivity, transparency, happiness and more.

What did you do before this job that led you here and taught you the ropes?

"Before coming to Buffer, I served in a variety of roles from event coordinator, online media manager, social media coordinator and more -- and all of my roles had a community aspect to them. I've also always been a firm believer in the power of a hand-written thank you note, which was an important part of the Community Champion role, reaching beyond the screen to connect on a personal and tangible level."

What are 5 tools you use to build community at Buffer that will be helpful for others in your shoes?

"Here are a few of the tools I use:

1. Sparkcentral is our hub for Twitter mentions and interactions. Our entire team uses this to reply to tech help, conversations and even Twitter chats. We love this tool!

2. Trello is a task management tool that we use to track mailings we've sent to our fans or mailings yet to do.

3. Hackpad is a collaborative note-taking application that allows us to brainstorm and literally stay on the same "page" with various projects.

Buffer's Open Salary Hackpad, where they share exactly how everyone's salary is calculated and why
Buffer's Open Salary Hackpad, where they share exactly how everyone's salary is calculated and why[

4. Tweetdeck and Tweet Chat: Okay, these are two different tools! But I use them both to run and participate in our weekly Twitter chat, #bufferchat. I also love joining other chats to connect with our community members there as well.

5. Buffer (of course!) is my go-to for keeping my own social stream full of great content and highlighting the great content from our community. I love sharing the amazing things our community does."

How do you measure the effectiveness of your work? What metrics do you measure?

"There are a few key metrics I monitor each week:

1. Weekly, I keep an anecdotal list of awesome Twitter mentions (we love seeing Tweets of the stickers and cards we send out).

2. I also keep track of the increase or decrease in activity on our Google+ community and Twitter chat (#bufferchat).

3. For Twitter chats, we look at the number of participants, the number of tweets that occur during the chat, and the 'reach' from week to week.

4. We track all of this and more on our publicly viewable Happiness Dashboard, too!

Buffer's open happiness dashboard, showing top participants by day using their #bufferchat hashtag
Buffer's open happiness dashboard, showing top participants by day using their #bufferchat hashtag

Do you think there is a way to scale "community love"?

"I think the best way to scale community love is to ingrain it in the company culture. At Buffer, dedication and heart are a part of every piece of the puzzle, from engineering to product to design to customer service, so the groundwork for loyalty and community connection was there long before the Community Champion position came to be."

One of Buffer's fans, @KittyCatKismet, with Buffer swag
One of Buffer's fans, @KittyCatKismet, with Buffer swag (via @TessaGreenleaf)

Thanks to Nicole for sharing her insight with us and to Buffer for always being so open. :)---Image Credit: Robert Barney

Carrie Melissa Jones
August 14, 2014
February 8, 2024

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