The Salesforce Admins Podcast is back with another episode of our mini-series, Salesforce for Good, hosted by Marc Baizman, Senior Admin Evangelist at Salesforce and nonprofit veteran. For this episode, we’re talking to Anne Young, Senior Community Engagement Manager at Salesforce.org, to learn how to build your community both online and off.

Join us as we talk about how to plug into your community both online and offline, why all questions are good, and how you can think like a community manager as an admin.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Anne Young.

Building communities online and offline.

Anne is the Senior Community Engagement Manager at Salesforce.org, working with nonprofit and education customers, both higher ed and K-12, who use the platform to run their day-to-day operations better. That can be everything from fundraising to student success to program management. “The way I see my job is I help our community members to help each other,” Anne says, and to do that she leverages the Power of Us Support Hub.

“A consultant is a very expensive, wonderful thing that we have available to our Salesforce customers,” Anne says, “but not all of our customers are able to keep somebody on retainer and help them every day so if I am an admin at a small nonprofit I look at my other admins at small nonprofits as my coworkers and my water cooler folks who answer all my questions.” That’s not just about the Power of Us Hub, it’s also about fostering connections in the Trailblazer Community groups and in-person events like Dreamforce.

The day-to-day of a community manager.

“The Power of Us Hub is built on the Communities product, so we use a lot of the community moderation tools that are built within,” Anne says, “I find it very important to understand how our customers and how our community members are really engaging. Are they clicking from an email? Are they coming in to ask a question?” All of these metrics help Anne and her team figure out how to keep structuring things to keep things exciting and engaging.

“I always say that any community manager could really sit and just live in their community and answer questions and make sure everything’s perfect all day, every day,” Anne says, “but I think sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture.” You always want to be thinking about what’s next, what the community is really asking for, or what trends you’re seeing in other communities. That’s also about curation of live events that are helpful to their customers that gives them access to smart people and new tools and, most importantly, learn from each other.

Why Anne loves helping nonprofit admins.

Anne and Marc were actually coworkers way back when, working together for several years at a San Francisco nonprofit. She got her start at Salesforce when she was on maternity leave and a former coworker reached out to see if she’d be interested in joining the sales team at Salesforce Foundation (now Salesforce.org). While ultimately that job wasn’t a great fit for her, the amazing thing about working for Salesforce is how invested everyone is in your career, not just what you’re doing for their department. Her manager connected her with the Power of Us Community team where she’s been working ever since.

“I remember how hard it was to work at a nonprofit, I remember how hard it was running programs when you’re under resourced and you have a bunch of reporting to do and you don’t know what your next step is,” Anne says, “and I think that any way that I can make those peoples’ lives better is amazing.” If you’re a new admin trying to get involved in the community, Anne wants to remind of just how positive and supportive people are. “A lot of the people that are very active in our community are that way because they got something out of it early on,” she says, “they want to pay it forward so take the plunge and ask the question.”

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Full Show Transcript

Mark: Welcome to the Salesforce for Good Mini Series on the Salesforce Admins Podcast. My name is Mark Baizman, and I’m a senior admin evangelist here at Salesforce. Before I was an evangelist, I worked at Salesforce.org and in the nonprofit world, and I made many incredible connections with people doing amazing things with Salesforce technology and nonprofits, and I really want to share some of them with you.

Mark: In this podcast mini series, we’ll be talking to a variety of folks in the Salesforce nonprofit ecosystem, including admins, architects, consultants, and Salesforce.org employees. By the end of the series, you’ll learn what makes the nonprofit sector special, how Salesforce technology supports the missions of some amazing organizations that are making a huge impact, and you’ll learn about the fantastic community of people that are making it happen. I’m really excited to talk with Anne Young, senior community engagement manager at Salesforce.org. Anne and I worked together during my time at dot org, and she has a lot of great insight into building community, both online and off. So without further ado, let’s talk to Anne.

Mark: Hi Anne Young. How are you?

Anne: I’m good. Thanks for having me.

Mark: You bet. Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast. And can you tell me about what you do?

Anne: Absolutely. So my title here at Salesforce is senior community engagement manager, and my primary responsibility is working with our nonprofit and education customers, so that’s both higher ed and K through 12, so the kiddos, working with organizations and schools that are using the Salesforce platform to run their day-to-day operations better. So that can be anything from fundraising to student success to program management, kind of depending on the organization’s mission. And the way I see my job is I help our community members help each other. So I provide them with different opportunities to communicate, whether it be through the power of Us Hub, which is our online community for nonprofits and schools. They help each other be successful.

Anne: A consultant is a very expensive, wonderful thing that we have available to our Salesforce customers, but not all of our customers are able to keep somebody on retainer and help them every day. So if I am an admin at a small nonprofit, I look at my other admins at small nonprofits as my coworkers and my water cooler folks who answer all my questions. So we do that through the online community as well as working with the trailblazer community groups and at in-person events, like upcoming Dreamforce, and I find ways to facilitate that sense of community and really celebrate everything that they do.

Mark: Fantastic. That sounds amazing. So there’s this online component and offline component, right? So it’s kind of a cool melding of two worlds, if you will. Can you maybe share, I don’t know if success story is the right answer or the right question, but something around people going from online to offline meeting?

Anne: Yeah, that’s actually really interesting because my team and I just attended a community management summit last week that was very interesting. In the past, all of these conversations about community have been like, how to get people to engage with each other online and online and let’s get people in these virtual rooms and working together, and there’s really a resurgence and a throwback to, “Let’s get together in a room. Let’s get together in physical life and work together.” So I think now online communities are a lot more about how to facilitate real life interactions.

Mark: Fascinating.

Anne: Yeah, yeah. It’s pretty cool. It’s like, “Hey, let’s go back to block parties and in person meetings and really actually being together,” which I think is cool. And yeah, in terms of a success story that we’ve had with our community, I see our Seattle nonprofit community group as a really cool example of people who are very active in our online community, but they also meet every month and do a lot of helping each other on the platform together. They do a lot of helping newer admins grow and learn and work on certifications together. And it’s a really cool thing to see. We also work very closely with a group called Amplify.

Mark: Say more about Amplify.

Anne: Yeah. Amplify is amazing. I think we have about 3 to 5,000 members. I don’t know. Do you have a fact checker on here? And they have chosen to use the Power of Us Hub as their home base where they connect, and they help amplify underrepresented voices in tech. So they started out-

Mark: Fantastic.

Anne: Yeah, absolutely. Such an important thing. They started out by working specifically with females to help to empower them to get jobs in technology and work in technology specifically around the Salesforce platform and within the Salesforce community. They found a very deeply committed group of people that were excited about the same things that they were and we’ve just gotten to have this really cool community within our community watching them grow. So yeah, in terms of both the online, they have this very strong online presence, a very active group and the Power of Us hub, and then they also do happy hours all over the country. Maybe even they’ve had world. I think there was one in London, maybe.

Mark: Oh, fantastic.

Anne: And they come to all of our in person events and usually have sub-meetings at those events. There are chapters all around the country for people to get together. They also do study groups for Salesforce certification exams, which is a really cool way to sit with a group of people virtually. I think some people do them in person too and study. I know for me, I’m not going to hold myself accountable to study for a test at this point in my life.

Mark: Not unless there’s a group of people holding me accountable.

Anne: Yeah, exactly. So to have the group of people holding you accountable and helping you is really special and it’s really kind of the core of what our community is all about is like, “Let’s help each other succeed. Let’s help each other achieve our missions.”

Mark: That’s so great.

Anne: It’s great to be a part of. Yeah.

Mark: That’s magic. So what does the kind of day-to-day look like in terms of community management? I know we’ve also spoken with your teammate Lizzie, but maybe if you could share a little bit about what happens. How are you using the Salesforce tools? Because I believe it’s a Salesforce community, right, the Power of Us Hub?

Anne: Yeah. The Power of Us hub is built on the community’s product. So yeah, we use a lot of the community moderation tools that are built within. A lot of that is used to pull metrics and find out what’s going on in our community. I find it very important to understand how our customers and how our community members are really engaging. Are they clicking in from an email? Are they coming in to ask a question? Are they accessing a knowledge article? Those are all really important ways for myself and my team to figure out, how do we keep structuring things and how do we keep it an exciting day?

Anne: In terms of my day-to-day job, I always say that any community manager could really sit and just live in their community and answer questions and make sure everything’s perfect all day, every day. There is plenty going on in a thriving community for that to happen, but I think sometimes you have to look at the bigger picture. What’s next? What is this community really asking for? What are the trends that we’re seeing in other communities? and go to things like that.

Anne: Also, I work very closely with the rest of our customer success team to help find events that are helpful to our customers in terms of how can we give them ways to access really smart people and really smart tools and learn from each other, so that’s something that we are building upon. We’ve actually been working very closely with our pro-bono team at Salesforce to do some lightning success clinics.

Mark: Great.

Anne: Say that 10 times fast. And those have been a really cool way to see people get together. But yeah, I would say no day really looks the same. We are very deep into right now planning a really wonderful experience for our community and our customers at Dreamforce to help them be successful on the platform, so that’s one big thing on my plate. And one thing that’s sort of been top of mind for my team is, how do we incorporate a global community? How do we be better at including people from all around the world? There’s a lot that falls into that, time zones and languages and just general use of technology and preferences and all sorts of different things, so there’s a lot. There’s a lot to do every day.

Mark: Is the Power of Us hub English only right now or are there a couple of languages in there?

Anne: I believe we have a French language group. We have a very thriving Spanish language group-

Mark: Oh, that’s great.

Anne: … that actually has some subgroups and some of our community members have taken on to start those groups and to kind of community manage those groups within the greater community. And it’s been really great when a question will come in in Spanish and my high school Spanish does not really suffice.

Mark: Nor does Google translate, I imagine.

Anne: Nor does Google Translate seem to really understand Salesforce terminology with regard to that. So it’s great to have those community members that I know that I can tag and say, “Hey, can you help this person?” And they’re excited to help them, which is really fun.

Mark: That’s great. It’s interesting. Your role as a community manager sounds a lot like being a Salesforce admin where you’re trying to anticipate the needs of users, give people what they want, make sure people are connecting with each other, anointing super users or sub-community managers within the community.

Anne: Absolutely.

Mark: So that’s great.

Anne: Yeah, we actually have a program within the community called Hub Heroes where we award people a status of a hero if they’re kind of going in a lot and and helping each other and really being valuable to the greater community. And we write a blog about them and we consider it a great way to kind of work toward other things like becoming a Salesforce MVP or other things that people are excited about.

Mark: Oh, that’s fantastic. I love the idea of recognizing heroes. What’s that, monthly?

Anne: Yeah, the goal is monthly and sometimes we skip a month.

Mark: Sure. Ideally monthly. I get it.

Anne: Yeah.

Mark: Cool. I’d love to hear maybe a little bit about how you came into this role and what your journey is. I believe you were at a nonprofit previously. Full disclosure to everyone, Anne and I were on the same team and were, I guess, work spouses for [crosstalk 00:11:33].

Anne: Yeah, we were each other’s only coworkers for-

Mark: Yeah, for quite a while.

Anne: A year, two years, maybe?

Mark: Yeah, a couple of years.

Anne: Yeah. At the time my daughter was about three and she would always grab my laptop and say, “Shh, I’m talking to Mark.”

Mark: That’s awesome.

Anne: I was on the phone with you a lot. Yeah. So how did I get here? It’s actually sort of a roundabout way. I was at a nonprofit prior to coming here that focused on workforce development here in San Francisco and I was actually a part of a small team at that nonprofit that was working on our transition to Salesforce from-

Mark: Awesome.

Anne: … many, many disparate systems we were on. We had a lot of government contracts, so it was a really complicated build and it was really interesting to be a part of it. I had very little technical expertise or knowledge. It was kind of just like, as it goes at nonprofits, like, “You’re here, you’re helping, pull up your bootstraps.” So that was a really cool experience. I loved working in workforce development. I found it very rewarding and very interesting. That’s always something that’s been top of mind for me. I think living in a city like San Francisco where you see such disparity in wealth and such disparity in people’s lifestyles and the things that people want to do, it’s really important to find a way to build people up and give them opportunities, and I found that to be a really great place to work.

Anne: How I ended up here was actually-

Mark: Yeah, so take us on the journey from being at this organization to getting to Salesforce.

Anne: So I have a six year old daughter named Gigi and I was on maternity leave and had made the decision to take some time off and wasn’t going to go back to the nonprofit where I was and was kind of reevaluating what I wanted to do with my life, and a former coworker from the nonprofit where I was had reached out to me and he said, “I am selling at Salesforce.org,” or it was Salesforce Foundation at the time, and I was like, “What do you mean you sell at a foundation?” And he was like, “Well, we give away these 10 free licenses to nonprofit customers and I get to have these really cool conversations about what nonprofits are doing and what their missions are and then I help them get this donation and then buy more things and get more products that really help them achieve their mission.” And he said, “They’re really in need of more salespeople. You should come meet my manager.”

Anne: And to me, that was just not something I had thought of doing. I was a new mom. I was at home with the baby, and I was like, “I’ve always worked in nonprofit.” I was kind of just trying to figure out my next step, but I really trust this person and I really feel like he’s someone that knows my skill set and had my best interest at heart, so I gave it a shot. I came here, I had lunch with him and then met some of his teammates and then ended up in the interview process for a sales job at Salesforce Foundation at the time.

Mark: Do you want to give this person a shout-out?

Anne: Ryan Boyle, if you’re listening.

Mark: Cool. Thanks Ryan.

Anne: Yeah, he now works with a Salesforce partner, but he was here for a number of years. I was in that sales job for about a year, and hats off to all of the salespeople at Salesforce.org and Salesforce.com. It’s a challenging, challenging job. And while I feel like I was successful to an extent, I knew that my skill set would be better used in other parts of the company, and that’s one thing that I think is so cool about working at Salesforce is that my manager was open to making introductions for me and helping me find something that was really cool, and that’s when I got to know my current manager, Alicia Schmidt better. At the time, she was running the Power of Us hub and all things community for Salesforce.org, and her role was expanding and she needed someone to help her do that. She brought me in, and I’ve been on her team for a little over four years. So I’ve been at Salesforce … My anniversary will be in November, my five year anniversary.

Mark: Happy Salesforce-versary.

Anne: Thank you, thank you. And it’s just been a really cool experience. I definitely had some trepidation about, “Okay, am I going to get that same feeling of making a difference, of really seeing transformational change day-to-day?” And now my life is different. I’m leaving a kid at home and things like that that I didn’t have at my prior job, and I do get that. I get to see it through our customers. I get to see the cool things they’re doing. I get to see how our technology makes their day-to-day life easier, which I think is pretty incredible. I remember how hard it was to work at a nonprofit. I remember how hard it was running programs when you’re under-resourced and you have a bunch of reporting to do and you don’t know what your next step is. I think any way that I can make those people’s lives better is amazing, and it’s pretty cool to get to be a small part of that.

Mark: That’s awesome. Wow. Thank you for taking us down that road and memory lane.

Anne: Totally.

Mark: Are there any cool things that you’re particularly proud of that you’ve done in the hub recently, like maybe a project that you’ve worked on or something particularly neat?

Anne: One thing that I really love is we’ve been doing these sort of Reddit style AMAs, or Ask Me Anythings.

Mark: For the old people or non-Reddit users out there.

Anne: Yes, yes, exactly. So what we do is we get a product team for example, to sit in a virtual room, much like the conversation that we’re having right now. So everyone who is running the event is sort of in this virtual room and talking to each other. And then we tell our customers, “Okay, you have an hour to ask these product experts anything.” And our customers are used to having access to their sales person. They’re used to having access to their community managers. They don’t get to talk to a product manager very often. So this is an opportunity to be like, “Hey, I can type a question and I’m going to get an answer in realtime.” So we’ve been doing those and they’ve been really successful and super fun to run.

Mark: That’s great.

Anne: It gives other people in the organization a little glimpse into what a community manager’s day-to-day life is like kind of at hyperspeed, and it’s just been a really cool way to get in front of our customers in realtime and also to show the power of the community’s platform, for that to see like, “Okay, I’m doing this right here in this virtual room and I’m asking questions.” And I love it because we have some AMA groupies that got really excited and they want to answer the questions before the product managers do and really get in there and so it’s this really fun sort of competitive, fun thing to do.

Mark: That’s great.

Anne: That’s something I’ve been really excited about. I think Dreamforce is always a really special time and making sure that I’m able to highlight the awesome things that our community members are doing and getting to see them in person makes some of the struggles of your day- to-day life that you have in any job really feel worth it. I remember the first Dreamforce that I went to after I had been a community manager where I was like, “Whoa, all these people know me and wait, I know them.” It was just this really cool aha moment of like, I spend all this time with these people virtually and here I am getting to be in a room with them and hear them speak and hear what they’re excited about.

Mark: For a while, I think that their face was the first face that they saw when they joined the Power of Us hub. Is that right?

Anne: Yes, I believe so. I believe so.

Mark: Right when they signed in the hub, there was a welcome from you?

Anne: Yeah. Yeah. So for a while, prior to advances in technology, I was actually manually welcoming everyone into the Power of Us hub, as many as I could, so if I missed you, I apologize.

Mark: It’s too late. The statute of limitations is [crosstalk 00:19:46].

Anne: Yeah. We now do have some wonderful automation in place that welcomes people based on their roles and the types of organizations where they work, so it’s a little easier. Now I believe they see Lizzie’s face, who is my colleague.

Mark: Got it, got it. I was like for a while, it was you and you were manually doing it, but now it’s automated.

Anne: Yes. Yes.

Mark: Cool.

Anne: Technology.

Mark: Yay. Do you have any advice for Salesforce admins who are maybe just dipping their toe in the community, either online or offline?

Anne: Absolutely.

Mark: It can be overwhelming, right?

Anne: Yeah, that’s what I was going to say. It’s a lot. And also, I think that there are no dumb questions is the old adage or no stupid questions or whatever it may be. I think the Power of Us hub and the trailblazer community are both very, very supportive communities of people that want to help you and want to see you succeed. A lot of the people that are very active in our community are that way because they got something out of it early on. Maybe they were the new admin coming in and they were kind of daunted by what was ahead of them and they got that help so they want to pay it forward. So I would say take the plunge, ask the question is the first thing that you would want to do.

Anne: Also, we have a really robust knowledge base and we have an incredible team of content producers on customer success at Salesforce.org, rather. And they are producing every day new and updated content that can really help you be successful and help you learn. We have kind of curated some of that content into a getting started series, so there’s a getting started group in the Power of Us hub that can help you kind of guide your own journey, like, “Okay, I should listen to this webinar and then I should read this article and then I should follow this person.” So there’s kind of a different way to learn for everyone.

Anne: And the other biggest thing I think is attend your local community group meetings. If you work for a nonprofit, there should be a nonprofit community group in your area. If there’s not, there’s likely a virtual one. Our higher ed community group program has grown a great deal in the last two years, so there’s a lot of those around the country too, and those groups oftentimes will have meetings that are specifically focused on newer admins and how they can get started and how they can move forward. So to me, learning is all about community. It’s all about getting to know these people, and there’s places for introverts, there’s places for extroverts. Just get out there and learn what you need to know.

Mark: Oh, fantastic. I love that. Learning is all about community. It’s so perfect. Well, Anne, thank you so much for being on the podcast today. I really appreciate it.

Anne: Of course. Thank you for having me. It’s always good to chat.

Mark: Yes, anytime.

Mark: That was great. We got a ton of valuable insight and advice from Anne. First and foremost, plug into your community, whether online and the trailblazer community or the Power of Us hub or offline in your local area. You can check out your local community group at trailblazercommunitygroups.com. And all questions are good, even for folks just getting started. Learning is better as part of a community. So get connected to Amplify and help amplify those underrepresented voices in tech and connect with their fantastic study groups.

Mark: Finally, try thinking like a community manager as an admin. What do my users need? What are they asking for? You can create an internal community of your own Salesforce users using Chatter and get them to start helping each other. So thanks for a great conversation, Anne. We hope you all enjoyed this episode of the Salesforce for Good Mini Series, and stay tuned for the next one. Thanks for joining us.

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