PSU sits down with Dan Amrich; Activision's Community Manager
(continued from previous page) ...in any meaningful way that "proves" you are doing your job as a CM the way businesses traditionally like to prove return on investment. My boss, thankfully, understands that.
I can really tell you have quite a bit of freedom there
Yes, my situation is unusual, from the discussions I've had, and the legal team was the very first to notice that I was out there talking. My boss had my back, explained who I was, and basically protected me when the going got rough -- and I in turn tried to learn what I needed to do to make her life easier and not cause trouble. Jeff Green now works at PopCap and is very happy there, but he was at EA before that as their editor-in-chief. At the time, we were both guys who had recently left editorial to do CM for huge publishers, and we compared notes a lot. I had an insane amount of freedom and he had a lot more restrictions -- to the point where I told him "Use me as an example to create a more comfortable space if you can!" I think about that every day -- even when the going gets rough, I am very grateful to have found my situation here. I think I have earned Activision's it by working with and around them for 15 years prior, and that turned into a different level of freedom. It's a huge amount of mutual trust.
Do you feel like the detailed reports that other CMs have to provide can get in the way of them doing their job? Honestly, I don't see how charts can prove engagement of a community.
It's all about expectations. I am very grateful that I get to spend the bulk of my time actually talking with the community and generating content for my site. Some companies put a priority on other things. I currently believe that the CMs who have to spend more time justifying their existence than they do talking with fans is in the minority, but I've heard a few scary stories here and there.
Finally, what do you have to say to people aspiring to go into your field since it's rather new?
You won't get a job in CM unless you are already doing it. If you are engaged in a community, if you are respectful to its members, if you are stirring interesting discussion and generally not being a jerk, these are the things that are going to build your reputation. Even though I came from the media, I volunteered to set up OXM's Twitter account and Facebook page while I was there -- and I was an admin in both the OXM and GamePro discussion forums. I think you have to be drawn to it first, then realize, hey, I can do this as a living! So if you are thinking it's a career option, start looking at how you are interacting with online communities now, and see what you could do to refine that.
Dan, thank you so much!