Top 3 big ideas from CMX Summit 2024

Blake Hall, Community Manager, Khoros

CMX Summit is one of the most well-known events in the United States for community pros, and it’s no surprise that this year, there was a great diversity of thought around salient issues for practitioners.

As a community manager at Khoros, I really appreciated the insights I gleaned from the speakers there! Not only was it great to have other Khoros customers attend and talk shop, but it was also inspiring to learn how community managers from various companies were using communities to grow their value.

Here are a few ideas that popped up during the event that we found most broadly relevant.

AI will open up possibilities for community managers as we discover new use cases for it and as we reduce our fear of it

Those who have delved deep into AI for communities shared a common refrain: the idea that fear of the unknown is holding people back from the numerous possibilities AI will bring to community managers.

Karuana Gatimu pointed out during her panel with Kobie Fuller and Derek Andersen that humans had reduced their fear of new technology many times before, like when cloud-based storage was introduced, and people feared losing their data if the cloud went down.

As the tech improved and time marched on, that fear largely disappeared, and the same will happen for AI.

“It's important to educate away your fear about AI — the more knowledge you have, the easier it is to speak about it from a place of curiosity, excitement, and enthusiasm,” Gatimu said.

She also pointed out that offloading the work to AI could alleviate how often your creative juices have stalled because you must juggle many different things.

As panelists pointed out, the opportunities for community managers to more easily surface insights and save time with AI are vast. Fuller mentioned that learning how to handle new use cases with AI — with better prompts and a deeper understanding of LLMs — will continue to get community managers better results.

Diana Qian Morgan also discussed the main untapped uses she saw during her panel, like analyzing dense qualitative info to make it more quantifiable, creating program structures and documentation, copy creation and editing, and image generation. (Side note: watch the recording of this panel once it’s available on the CMX YouTube channel - it’s great!)

She added that the point of tools like AI is to reduce tasks that eat up our time so that we can do what we do best: focusing on people first and building better relationships between them.

While AI has challenges adapting to different cultural and linguistic contexts, and we should encourage people to use AI ethically, our lack of understanding is the biggest thing holding our potential back.

Community managers need to get better at proving their value and building internal advocacy, especially when times are tough

As companies adapt to continued economic headwinds, it’s becoming more important for community managers to highlight the value our communities provide our users and the company itself.

That includes framing value in a way stakeholders find relevant, as Alan Aisbitt noted during his panel with Larry Imgrund. For example, telling an exec the community had 10k posts in a week is irrelevant to their goals, but telling them you brought in X new visitors and Y of those converted into leads is.

“You have to go out, be the community's cheerleader, tell the company how you're succeeding, and share customer stories and successes,” he added. It also helps to run experiments and share results regularly, like reducing the volume of support cases by nudging people in an online chat to ask their questions in the community first.

During their shared panel, Aaron Blackwell joined Jessica Mara, Dusti Ondryas, and Craig Forman to discuss building advocacy. The discussion again touched on how we, as community managers, demonstrate our value.

For starters, how do you secure funding for your community when resources are tight and other teams are fighting for those same resources?

Mara mentioned that sharing specifics about how your community helps other cross-functional teams is a great narrative to tell in these cases. Since the value of your community matters relative to tightened budgets, you must also be ready to speak to community value as it relates to the specific challenges your company faces.

Winning people to your cause internally can also help during tight economic times. For instance, Blackwell mentioned sharing your community results with stakeholders, including those not normally informed about them. Ondryas also noted that bringing cross-functional partners into discussions often and early — while being open to feedback — can greatly assist you in helping them meet their goals.

The takeaway is clear: it falls on us as community managers to speak to the value of what we do. If we don’t create that narrative ourselves, we risk letting someone else create it.

Community works

Empowering your community is becoming more important for helping it reach its full potential

Along with a focus on greater efficiency via AI and proving our community’s value, a few panels touched on the untapped potential of empowering communities to do more, especially with limited resources.

Catarina Pereira shared tips and tactics for leveraging their community’s passion, like providing resources that help them run their own events. This creates a more sustainable path to greater engagement and is more likely to earn the trust and involvement of other users.

“Remember, people trust other users – they don't trust marketing!” she pointed out.

To do this, finding and empowering the natural organizers in your community is crucial: those who excel at building relationships with their peers and have shown interest in getting more involved.

Giving them space and tools to collaborate can also help – for instance, a Slack workspace, a rewards program, a shared Google Drive, and a program to nurture event organizers. Other resources might include putting together materials to run their own workshops, mentoring sessions, etc.

In her talk on planning in-person events, Grace Ling noted some formats that can work best for in-person collaboration versus when people meet exclusively online.

In-person events can provide important insights and feedback from in-person events can be invaluable, from early access events for super users to co-creating and brainstorming ideas with everyday product users. Like Pereira, Ling noted that empowering local ambassadors to run events can lead to superior outcomes with fewer resources.

Scaling your efforts by empowering users doesn’t stop there either. As Mark Tan pointed out during his panel, there’s also lots of potential to scale your efforts regarding product development.

It all comes down to creating pathways for the company to collaborate with the community and for members to collaborate. Some examples Mark recommended are sharing prototypes, letting users create new and unanticipated product use cases, and creating mockups for what they want the product to look like.

From receiving community requests to being an internal check-in for feasibility with your product team to sharing the outcome with users who brought it up, bringing users into the development process can work well if you can find an optimal space for it in your product development process.


From finding use cases where AI can simplify our jobs to getting smarter about proving community value to finding ways to empower our communities, many great lessons were learned at this year’s CMX.

I loved connecting with all of you and I hope you’ll continue to keep the lines of communication open with me! I’m already looking forward to next year’s event (maybe with even more lessons to learn around AI?).

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