How Andy Claremont leads product communities

We continue our Rosieland Community Interview series with Andy Claremont, Head of Community at Glide. Glide makes it easy to build and deploy custom tools your business needs and team will love — without code.

This interview dives into Andy’s background, how he thinks and approaches building a community of product for Glide.

What’s your background and how did you find yourself in community?

My work on the web started as a hobby with gaming forums and fansites in the early 2000’s. Those projects taught me the fundamentals of web development. When I graduated from college during the recession, I fell back on those self-taught skills to get a job in tech. I joined local meetup groups to build my network. Attending meetups led to organizing meetups, then workshops, then conferences.

Fast forward to 2015. GoDaddy needed a community manager for their fledgling GoDaddy Pro partner program. The job requirements were a perfect match to everything I had done up to that point. That’s when my hobby turned into a profession.

I spent almost seven years at GoDaddy, jumping between roles with the community forum, blog, and events. I left GoDaddy in early 2022 to do more community work with startups. I’m actually coming up on my one year anniversary at Glide!

What do you wish you knew before embarking on your community journey?

The importance of building strong relationships within an organization. 

The “community” label invokes different ideas for different people. Perceptions and priorities change quickly. We’re more likely to survive (and thrive) when we show how our work aligns to those priorities.

I’ve seen first hand how quickly resources can be made available – or disappear – depending on those stakeholder relationships.

For example, while at GoDaddy, I intentionally set out to build strong relationships with our engineering teams. They were often seen as gatekeepers or blockers by other departments, but coming from a technical background myself, I had a general idea of the challenges they were facing.

So there were two things I wanted to know: What they were working on and how I could help them. I kept coming back to those questions every time I connected with a new engineer or technical colleague.

Having that sort of relationship made it easier for me to ask questions and get the information I needed. Sometimes it was to help customers solve specific problems; sometimes it was to escalate issues; and sometimes it was to self-serve our own IT needs, like updating DNS records.

What would you do differently if you had to start your community career over?

I’d invest more time in understanding what the organization needs and where community programs can slide in to address those needs. It’s a lot easier to build from there, versus having to work backwards towards business impact.

What is the community mission and 'superpower'

Glide’s mission is to put the power, beauty, and magic of software development into the hands of a billion new creators.

In other words, we’re making it easier for more people to build great software.

The Glide community is essential to achieving that mission, and our superpower lies in our community members.

Every time I ask a Glide customer, “how’d you learn to use Glide?”, they always say, “from the community”. I don’t want to rock that boat. I’m just the steward!

We have an amazing group of Glide power users and Experts (people who build Glide apps for others). They’re globally distributed and always online, helping others succeed with Glide, whether it’s through creating tutorials or answering questions in the forum. My job is to help them help each other.

What are your tools and tech stack?

The Glide community forum runs on Discourse, and our Glide Experts community lives on Slack.

We host events on Zoom, YouTube Live, and most recently, on LinkedIn. We use StreamYard for the latter two, and our Glide events calendar and registration is on Luma.

There are also a handful of in-house Glide apps I’ve built for things like tracking community feedback, escalating issues, managing contributors, etc.

All of this data, including from our social channels, pipes into our Common Room instance for operations and reporting.

Glide is a product-led company, and our community is the frontline of support for users. In that sense it’s a fairly typical SaaS user community.

Where we’re atypical is in the level of engagement and participation. Our community is incredibly active and responsive - far more than the industry average, I’d say.

For example, digging into some stats from our Common Room dashboard for last month: 

  • Our average community response rate hovers around 90%
  • Of that, only about 12% include team members
  • The median response time is around 20 minutes

A lot of this activity comes from a small group of very active Glide users that have been with us since the early days.

What examples did you find worked well for bringing growth to the community?

In the beginning it was our founders’ involvement in the community and using it as the main communications channel with our users. That built up a lot of goodwill and early momentum. That approach hasn’t changed very much, even though the team has grown dramatically over the last couple of years. 

When customers need general product support, we’ll point them to the community as a starting point. When they have suggestions or feature requests, we ask them to share them in the community. When we announce new features, we point customers to the community for follow-up discussions.

What types of community generated content worked well?

Forum posts are at the core of everything. It’s standard Q&A for troubleshooting and support. It drives a significant amount of traffic from search and referrals. When users are trying to solve problems, they end up in the forum through Google, or from being pointed there by our support team and other users.

The community forum is followed by our great member-created resources, like tutorials and Glide app templates. More recently we’ve been ramping up community challenges and hosting events that showcase our members’ knowledge.

The common thread – no pun intended – is that all of these things have an evergreen quality, so we can repurpose a lot of it for education. Glide University is filled with content that we’ve created, but also content from our community members.

Share one large failure and what you learned

I wouldn’t call it a large failure, but we’ve experimented with different activities and programs that didn’t meet our expectations. The biggest lesson we learned is that the small, simple things often work best.

It’s like what we see with Glide users. The ones who start with basic apps, and iterate over time, are more likely to be successful than the ones who try to build big, complex apps straight out of the gate.

What's next for the community?

We’re eager to do more in-person events later this year and in 2024. We’re going to continue with our conference sponsorships, and we’ll piggyback community meetups on those. Heading into 2024, we’re looking at in-person meetups and workshops.


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