For our midterm, I decided to interview a Syracuse University graduate, Amber Rinehard, a Community Manager at Uber in D.C. Because of technical issues (I fell down the stairs with my computer), I emailed Amber a list of questions in case I wasn’t able to have the chance for a video chat. Luckily, I was able to get in touch with her later in the week for a quick video follow-up! Although my video was present during the call, it did not appear in the YouTube video. She was incredibly patient with my technical problems, and it was great to meet and learn more about her!
What is Uber?
Uber is a service that exists as an app for smartphones that will connect you with a taxi, town car, or SUV on-demand with the touch of a button. Once you request a ride, a driver will pick you up within 5-10 minutes. Your credit card information is loaded into the app, so you don’t have to worry about exchanging cash with a driver.
The Uber Community
According to Amber, the community is made up of people who are very excited about the product. The service is for anyone, so the community is endless. As we have learned throughout the semester and from our guests in the panels, “just because you have 100,000 users doesn’t mean they’re all engaged.” In all of my questions about the community, there was never a concrete answer about the community itself, it sounds more like an audience of users.
Community Management at Uber
A day in the life of a CM at Uber seems to be incredibly hectic. The beginning of the day is spent handling customer support tickets and the second half is spent coming up with ideas for marketing. Additionally, the CMs take turns managing the social media accounts as the company has no Social Media Managers. The DC office at Uber has eight Community Managers, and they are looking to hire even more.
Our Midterm asks us to think about “What would I change?”
There are 8 Community Managers at Uber DC. In New York, there are 13-15. Additionally, there are no Social Media Managers. The CM team is responsible for just about everything. For a service of this size, and also for one that is growing so rapidly, I’d definitely suggest at least making the position titles and responsibilities more specific. If there are multiple managers, I doubt they all do the exact same thing.
Perhaps the job could be split into the following specific positions or teams:
- Social Media Manager
- Customer Support
- Creative Team
- Community Manager
- Event Coordinator
There is potential for a much greater community than currently exists for Uber. Whenever the community was discussed in the interview, it always seemed like users were simply treated as customers on an individual basis. I understand that the product is universal–anyone who needs a ride can find one–but the community experience should be much deeper than that. I’m not sure that the company has truly established what type of community it should have.
Two companies stand out in my mind for great community management: Grouper and Lyft.
- Lyft – Lyft is service much like Uber allows people to request a ride from their smartphone. Uber seems to be more of an elite type of service while Lyft allows anyone to be a driver (it’s more of a ride-sharing program). You can spot a Lyft driver from anywhere because they have a giant pink mustache attached to the front of their car. It may seem silly, but it’s eye-catching, and it allows for great branding. People post constantly on Twitter and Instagram after simply seeing one of these vehicles. It gets people talking, and more importantly, it gets them interested in the service. There seems to be more of a need for a community surrounding this service than for there is for Uber.
- Grouper – Grouper is a great example of how you can take something that may not have a strong “community” around it and turn it into a community-based service. Grouper is an social group-dating site, but it doesn’t stop there. They encourage people to post pictures from their group dates on Instagram so they may be featured on the website. Additionally, they utilize User Generated Content by allowing guest writers to blog about their experiences.
Uber is an great service with incredible potential for a greater community. Hopefully some of this insight will allow them to find it.