Interview with Carrie M. Jones, Community Manager at Chegg

For our midterm assignment, I had the pleasure of interviewing Carrie M. Jones, the community manager at Chegg.

In case you haven’t heard of it already, Chegg is the next big thing in

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terms of all-encompassing resources for college students. The company, which started out as a textbook rental alternative to hefty campus bookstore prices, is today a provider of digital rentals, homework help (24-hours a day) and even scholarships. That’s right, as a student, you can now go to one place to rent your textbook (for about half the price of buying it), get help about materials in the textbook, and create a profile to match you up with hundreds of scholarships you uniquely qualify for.

So where does Jones fit into this equation? She manages the community of individuals who are part of the source of Chegg’s resourcefulness. Known as “Chegg-experts,” these individuals consist of bright students and TAs, professors and teachers, and simply subject enthusiasts looking to share the wisdom. Oh, and there’s other community managers in there too. This is because, as part of her job, Jones seeks out individuals who are already talking about Chegg, or other subjects with frequency and fluency. She then invites them to come on over to the Chegg-experts’ community, and do what they do best – communicate their knowledge and perspectives. By fostering a community environment that promotes collective experience, Jones facilitates Chegg-experts in a way that gives the company an undeniable competitive edge in today’s rapidly evolving web services industry. While community managing can have a million different connotations in the field, Jones’ job specifically focuses on certain goals.

Goals of a Chegg Community Manager

  • Growth and retention of the community
  • Constructive product feedback
  • Creating positive experiences for members
  • Facilitating relevant connections amongst members
  • Seeking out brand ambassadors for induction into the community

Throughout the interview I got the chance to hear Jones speak candidly about what works in the industry and her job specifically. She mentioned some things that corresponded directly to the course material (ie: the differences between community managers vs. social media managers) and some things I had no knowledge of previously. Some of the most important takeaways of the interview can be boiled down simply as best practices and words of advice.

Best Practices & Words of Advice from a CMGR

  • Community management can vary drastically depending on the company/org within which it exists
  • Community managers (usually) have an inward focus, managing inter-departmental relations regarding the community
  • OVER-COMMUNCATION is the best way to avoid inter-departmental conflict and miscommunication
  • Clear and concise guidelines are the best resource for mitigating negative feedback
  • Companies love data and will hire individuals who demonstrate the ability to independently make decisions based on data analytics

With all the wisdom that was shared, I felt indebted to Jones for her time and willingness to chat with me. Thus, hypothetically speaking, if I were to be of strategic help to Jones and Chegg, I would focus on furthering her idea of developing forums about specific products. The way the Chegg-experts community currently exists is it relies heavily on its Google+ page for member interactions. Using member input, forums based on the most popular products could be created as offshoots of the current community, both expanding the community while narrowing the focus of discussion on key topics and products.

Although Chegg currently has a great spread of student-based services, there’s always room for more. How would you help the company do an even better job of connecting students to people, books, and merit awards than it already does?

Also, for those interested, the video of my interview with Jones is available for your viewing pleasure!

 

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