Are your posts random notices slapped on a community kiosk hoping someone will pay attention to them?
How do you make your content compelling, so your community will engage with it and by extension, with you? Here’s a simple way to think about how to frame online conversations and make them relevant.Clever marketers use snappy headlines to grab the attention of our inbox. They have learned how to influence our behavior, even though most Community Managers are not trained in human psychology and clever marketing strategies. Considering that we all suffer from partial attention span disorder, it’s interesting that when something catches our eye and keeps our interest, we will continue to pay attention even if there are other things demanding that same level of attention. So the question we ask ourselves when looking at low audience participation tends to focus on the content; How applicable is it, How interesting is it, How relevant is it, even, How graphically compelling is it? These are areas to consider when sorting out what you are going to post or start discussions about. [Read more…]
I was recently at a conference of writers, speakers and consultants one of the attendees spoke up during a Q & A and said, “It’s really easy to remember. You have a What? a So What? And a Now What?” Which got me thinking. I thought that there was a distinct parallel between this easy to remember tip and how you might use it to communicate the purpose of a private network that would be powerful and memorable.
Ironically, most private, purpose driven communities assume that their members know why the network exists. Bad assumption. When asked, they typically give the wrong answer.I talked to David Nour, a friend who was at the same conference, so I asked him to define his What, So What and Now What as he runs an introNetwork community – his answer is below, I then suggested he write to his members. He did. [Read more…]
Let me guess – you launched a private community and it was a dismal failure. Or you’re too stubborn to admit that it’s dying a slow death. Here is what happened – you hired me to build you a beautiful garden. I come back in 3 months and everything is dead. I tell you to fire the gardener and you ask – what gardener! So in 3 months you haven’t watered, fertilized, pruned, or otherwise taken care of the garden and you were magically expecting a beautiful basket of fruits and vegetables? That’s exactly what happens with many private communities. Regardless of the provider – not really but I’ll get to that in a minute – it’s NOT just about a cool tool…. I am often asked about the ongoing care and feeding of an online community and I have found that making the analogy to tending a garden resonates with everyone. We all have had the experience of trying to grow a tomato or keep a house plant alive. It’s not easy. There are tricks, there are a ton of tips, but until you have actually done it successfully, it can be really frustrating. Plant it and it will grow, is similar to build it and they will come. Neither are true. Right? You have to do more than just build it or plant it. You have to nurture, cajole, seduce and dedicate precious time to assuring success. That tomato doesn’t grow itself, it needs help. Your community will not grow itself either. [Read more…]
I just finished rereading this important deck by Rachel Happe of The Community Roundtable, originally posted in 2011 and am reminded how much every single concept in the deck is as true today as it was then. Frankly, I am disappointed that, with so much quality information out there, people are still making major mistakes and setting unrealistic expectations of what an online Community will do for them and their organizations. There are hundreds of examples of people doing it right and when you look at Rachel’s well presented points, you may wonder, why are people still flailing, and failing?
Community is a group of people with unique shared values, behaviors and artifactsMy experience is in talking to people interesting in adding a Community, they fail to understand how to optimize for shared values and behaviors, in fact many times, they think that the Community is all about pushing content and getting people to talk, rather than helping them discover, uncover and celebrate the unique shared values and the diversity of behaviors and experiences that make up the collection of people involved. Whether it is 50 or 50,000 – considering these basic fundamentals gets lost.
Things that define Community: a common interest or context, a sense of shared purpose or fate and common set of needs.I would argue that in the beginning of an online community design, these concepts are discussed, yet soon fall to the wayside as the tactical deployment, design and launch of the community takes center stage. When a community is floundering, I look to see if the common interest or context is still clear, is it clear to new members, how is the sense of shared purpose communicated and is it still relevant six months or a year later – and has it been reviewed, probably not. The solution is simple. Look at the slides from The Community Roundtable, see how easy it seems to do it right – yet, why are so many communities having an identity crisis when, at one point, they actually discussed these critical design decisions, yet somehow have failed to realize any benefit from those decisions. You may not think about community all the time like we do, however, when you do, please make sure you consider that there really are only a few secrets to building a vibrant community according to The Community Roundtable, then ask yourself are you doing all of them to the best of your ability?
- Observe Your Audience
- Keep a Regular Schedule
- Be Welcoming
- Provide a Guide
- Be Valuable
- Be a Connector
- Bring Catnip
- Have Rules
- Lead from the Back
- Encourage Your Cheeseheads
- Ride The Waves
- Don’t Ignore
- Be Multi-model
- Protect the Fish
So you are going to be a Community Manager? Now what? Where do you start? How do you maximize the excitement and energy you have when beginning any new journey? I have been in several sessions the past few weeks with people that know that they need a Community and I’m there to help with the strategy, design, roll-out and what they should expect to invest in time and effort. Of course the question is always asked,
“How much time should we expect to spend managing the Community?” The answer is, “It depends.”I often use the analogy of designing and planting a new garden. You would not expect it to do well if you never watered or weeded it. You may choose to spend 15 minutes a week, or an hour a day. It depends on how much the garden and it’s beauty means to you. You can think about your online Community in much the same way, you will get out of it what you put in to it. That being said, it’s always good to see what other gardeners are doing, check out the yards in your neighborhood to see what’s working, what’s not, and mirror the best for yourself. So, when I think about where would I go looking for information on best Community Manager practices, of course I go to @TheCR and @RHappe for answers. And within 5 minutes of me tweeting today, I was pointed to several links that I want to share. These are fantastic for first timers and for those that think maybe they could be doing a better job with their existing Community. This was the first link they sent. This is a great deck that Rachel prepared and thankfully, Slideshare makes it easy for me to post it here for you to read:
There were several other links that @TheCR sent in a flurry of tweets after I posted my initial question. You can find more materials about Building Community Strategy here. I love this post called Your Journey as running a robust online Community truly is a journey.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about how you are managing your Community, please leave a comment below. If you’d like help in formulating a Community Strategy and think you are ready to have a conversation, let us know. We’re here to help you as sherpas along your journey.
Thanks again to @RHappe and @TheCR for all of the work they do to help organizations craft and manage their Communities, it really helps all of us.