For the ‘interview someone’ part of this week’s learning activity, I reached out to Stephanie Parker (who is also a former student of Professor Rheingold’s) who previously worked at Viki as a community manager. As her title implies, she had to work with fans of the community everyday as part of her job. Viki is a primarily Asian pop culture subtitling platform where fans subtitle the TV shows they want to watch into multiple languages (crowdsourcing!) in a legal and moderated environment. The company was purchased by Japanese conglomerate Rakuten a few years back and is based both in San Francisco as well as in Singapore.
Stephanie said that she had enjoyed her time at Viki and that it had been a ‘valuable learning experience”.
As a community manager, the bulk of her work involved:
1) Communicating directly with community members, hearing their concerns, solving their technical issues
2) Creating social/marketing material for the community, such as blogs about Korean dramas, contests or giveaways
3) Meeting internally with other teams (like product/engineering) to make sure new features are coming along, and bugs are fixed
She is a big fan of K-Pop, so her job at Viki allowed her to work in communication and social media, while at the same time still be involved in K-Pop regularly. She has attended events such as K-Pop conventions as part of her job as well.
For Stephanie, the most challenging part of managing a community online was maintaining a distinction between being a ‘manager’ of the community, and a ‘member’ of the community.
Being a K-Pop fan, Stephanie also considers herself to be a member of the community she is in, so when conflict arises she has to remind herself to stay professional as a manager and follow ‘an established procedure for conflict resolution’. There are also social dilemmas as your relationship as a manager morphs over time when you become closer to the other members of the community. Furthermore, sometimes there might be a conflict of interest between the desires/wishes of the community vs the direction of the company. In these cases, the community manager might be sandwiched between both sides.
As a community manager myself, I find that my concerns are very similar to Stephanie’s but on a smaller scale. Viki is known to have a very active fan community so it is interesting to hear from an insider on the workings of the job. It also reminds me a lot about this article. It’s great how Professor Rheingold’s advice stays true and valid after more than 15 years.