Being an avid user of Medium myself and after spending some time with the design team in San Francisco, it's clear that Medium's emphasis on community is a major part of what sets it apart. I stumbled across Elizabeth's writing while doing some research for ways we could better engage Ways We Work readers on the platform and it was her title that first stood out to me. After reading through a number of her posts and seeing the way she interacts with the Medium community on the platform itself, I was so curious to learn more about the role of community at Medium and more about Elizabeth. She shares the path that led her to working in community facing roles, the fast-paced nature of the work and why she thinks she hasn't really ever experienced burnout.
Tell me a little bit more about your role at Medium, what does it involve?
I’m the head of community engagement at Medium. Functionally, what that means is I’m focused on growing communities on our platform and helping them find each other as well as bringing new communities on to Medium. I focus a lot on dialogue and a productive feedback loop between people who use Medium and the company. What that means for my day-to-day varies wildly. I work closely with our content development team to help their projects. For example, we’ve run programs to highlight future criminal justice reform legislation. We also made a publication to talk about mental illness last month. Both of those projects relied heavily on talking with the community and getting their voices into the conversation mix, through stories and responses to other stories. I also work closely with our user happiness, marketing, comms, and product teams to make all our work and Medium as a product better.
What was your path to your current role, what drove you to it?
I’m an English and creative writing major and, growing up with a father who worked in marketing, I knew I was going to go into that field. Back when I was a wee lass, I got my start in marketing at a variety of tech companies. I sort of stumbled into community management. I am a pretty hardcore video game player, and when I moved from Boston to New York, I didn’t know how to make friends, so I arranged for a bunch of gamers I knew online to start meeting up and hanging out in real life. One of those people was a producer for a video game company and when that company wanted to start their first community department, he asked me to apply, since I was basically already doing that work in real life in my spare time. I got the job, and that shaped the rest of my life. I spent eight years in games, where I ran community, support, marketing, and communications departments, and then made the jump to Tumblr in late 2014 to turn their support team into a community team. Now I’m at Medium, building our official community engagement initiatives.
I have a strong belief that marketing, community, support, and PR are all basically the same thing because they all are strongly involved in communicating with users and customers, albeit in different ways, at different times, for different reasons. What gets me out of bed in the morning is working with different communities to make their lives better. I know how I want to be treated as a user or a customer and I want to use my skills and my passion to help make the world a better place for others.