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Who are the People in Your Neighborhood: Archetypes of Community Participation and How to Engage with Them (PDF)

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The third in our Community Webcast Series. It's a doozy. It's 1 part Dungeons & Dragons + 1 part Jungian analysis + 1 part advice column. It all adds up to a fun -- and informative -- way to look at …

The third in our Community Webcast Series. It's a doozy. It's 1 part Dungeons & Dragons + 1 part Jungian analysis + 1 part advice column. It all adds up to a fun -- and informative -- way to look at the people who participate in online communities. These "archetypes" can help you spot potential customer Champions, as well as the trolls who may be lurking in your community. Which archetypes are hanging out in your community, and what's the best way to approach each type?

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  • 1. WHO ARE THE PEOPLE IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD? Archetypes of Community Participation and how to engage them http://www.flickr.com/photos/shabbir/2776830911/ Welcome to our third in a four-part series of Webcasts. I'm Amy Muller, co-founder and Chief Community Officer of Get Satisfaction, and we're broadcasting live from Get Satisfaction's headquarters in San Francisco. Our community manager, Eric Suesz, is behind the scenes manning the chatroom. Feel free to post questions to Eric for a Q&A session at the end. Please remember to stay on topic and play nice. Also, I want to give a big thanks to UStream for this fantastic Watershed product we've been using for these Webcasts. It's been a great product to work with. So this is number three in a series of Webcasts we're doing focused on enhancing your community and getting more value out of Get Satisfaction. Today's topic is quot;Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?quot; We'll talk about which personality types can be persuaded, which ones can help us out, and which ones are best avoided altogether. I stumbled upon community management about three years ago with another business and had to quickly figure out what community management was all about -- without even realizing I was doing community management. I woke up one day and had hundreds of people sharing their opinions in our blog comments about a business decision we had made. And even in those early stages I started to see patterns of behavior emerge. Fast forward to today where we are, in effect, overseeing 16,000 customer communities, and we've found that being able to recognize personality types at a glance is essential. Why do you need this? Why do you need a pattern book of personalities? Because you're communicating with an overwhelming crush of people and you don't have a lot of time to think about it. So pattern matching helps you move quickly and, hopefully, effectively. It helps you identify the champions and the potential trouble makers. It makes you aware of opportunities and how to make the most of them as well as risks and how to best manage them.
  • 2. THE FLAME WARRIORS by Mike Reed There's no shortage of ideas about how to categorize people in your community, from the ridiculous to the mundane. http://redwing.hutman.net/%7Emreed/ For instance, years ago Mike Reed lampooned the strange characters he found occupying mailing list forums. He called them collectively the quot;Flame Warriors.quot; Not much has changed.
  • 3. XENOPHOBE You've got the Xenophobe, who regards new forum arrivals as mentally deficient and perhaps even having criminal tendencies. That works wonders for setting a warm tone in a community!
  • 4. PITHY PHRASE Then there's the character known as quot;Pithy Phrase,quot; who is a walking compendium of witty quotes and wise adages. He also has nothing original to say! It's a funny take, but not exactly useful in day-to-day interactions.
  • 5. On the other end of the spectrum, we have Gartner's Four Levels of Community Engagement. slide: http://www.marketingcharts.com/interactive/generation-v-defies-traditional-demographics-5495/gartner-generation-virtual-engagement-levels- june-2008jpg They break the community up into four roles • Creators • Contributors • Opportunists • Lurkers And have identified percentages for each. They assert that: • A few will be Creators, providing original content. • A larger group are Contributors, who add to the conversation, but don’t initiate it. • Opportunists can further contributions but don't go out of their way to do so • The majority of folks are Lurkers, who are essentially spectators, ringing in at a whopping 80% and up. While I'm sure this is useful to marketers, it sure doesn't help me figure out on-the-fly how to deal with a loudmouth or a squeaky wheel.
  • 6. http://www.fullcirc.com/community/memberroles.htm Nancy White takes a different approach. She lists the different types that she has come across in online communities. These may sound familiar to you. You've got your Dominators, who need to be the smartest person in the room; your Flamers who are always looking to pick a fight; your PollyAnnas in search of the silver lining and the Untouchable Elders who believe that seniority trumps all -- to name a few of the usual suspects. That's a lot closer to being useful. But those of us who manage *customer* communities know they bring out different behavior in people.
  • 7. CHAMPIONS Why? Most people come to customer communities to get help or learn about how to use a product, not necessarily to hang out and gab (at least at first). These communities are geared toward people getting resolution. They're goal-oriented. As a result, we've assembled our own quot;archetypesquot; that are somewhat unique to the customer communities we work with. Out of necessity, we've learned to always be on the lookout for those people who might become champions of the brand
  • 8. TROLLS And on the other hand, those who might be potential trolls We've learned to always be aware of people who might be swinging one way or the other so we can step in and help them along, or escort them to the door.
  • 9. A ROGUE’S GALLERY Today, we're going to look at them as a Rogue's Gallery of Dungeons & Dragons characters. Just like in D&D, people online are often pretending to be something they're not. Even employees or community managers are put in a quot;rolequot; to play.
  • 10. So, get out your 12-sided die, and let's find out what kind of characters are playing around in your online community. And we've even done some color coding for you. Green maps to types who are likely to be your champions given the right direction and encouragement from you and red maps to those to be wary of -- they either *are* or may *become* trolls.
  • 11. THE HALL MONITOR ALIGNMENT: Lawful Neutral LIFECYCLE: Long RULE: Respect AKA The PC police. These are the people who actually read the terms and conditions. And they probably print them out and pin them up in their cubicle. While sometimes difficult (they often admit as much themselves), their opinion can be extremely valuable. Ask for it. Let them *know* you value it. They can be annoying, but are good to have around -- as long as you don't have too many of them. The Hall Monitor wants things to be rigidly organized, although sometimes in a seemingly arbitrary way. Can sometimes exert a politically correct attitude that stifles conversation. Again, show respect, but try to keep the conversation flowing and inject lightheartedness into the conversation as the antidote to the overly serious.
  • 12. THE AXE GRINDER THE AXE GRINDER Alignment: Neutral Evil Lifecycle: Middling Rule of Engagement:Neutral ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Follow your LIFECYCLE: Very Short community guidelines RULE: Don’t be defensive The Ax Grinder doesn't usually want to stick around. They just dropped in to say quot;you suckquot; and hit the road.
  • 13. For example, this user, whose username was even designed to be a complaint. http://getsatisfaction.com/happiercom/topics/you_guys_suck quot;You guys deciding to charge for this website does not make me very happy. It makes me think this site was pretty lame to begin with, and now it is showing it's true colors. It's all about the bottom line, right? You guys are fakes. have fun ripping people off, until they figure out you have nothing real to offer.quot; No, this wasn't posted to our own section of Get Satisfaction. :)
  • 14. Usually anonymous, they may be a good argument for not allowing anonymity on your site. Not surprisingly, Facebook doesn't have many of these; Yelp -- and many social-networking sites -- do. These folks can be prodigious cross-posters. Watch out: They may run through and litter conversations with their cut-and-paste screed. For instance, this person only seems to want to rile up everyone for a class-action lawsuit against PayPal. He often cross posts in a variety of topics dropping his aboutpaypal.org link Show a sincere response; ask them to clarify. If they never respond to you, you've shown that you care, you tried, but they wouldn't take you up on your offer of one- on-one, non-judgmental help. Them making some big stink followed by you responding in a non-defensive, positive manner and then not ever getting a reply from them speaks volumes about your willingness to engage and their lack of engagement as well as their intention in your community. If they don't respond to multiple requests, consider burying their topic. Follow them via RSS (which is available on Get Satisfaction) or by quot;followingquot; topics. We want people to express their unhappiness (to a point), but we don't want anyone to harass employees or other customers. Follow the conversation and be ready to respond. You may find that simply being sincere in your response will turn around an Ax Grinder. Most of the time, they just want to be heard and want an opportunity to express their frustration. Get someone high up in your organization to respond. Customers are impressed when the CEO steps in and replies to them.
  • 15. ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Good LIFECYCLE: Short THE RULE: Reciprocate attention CHEERLEADER This is the counterpart to The Ax Grinder. They're the person that when being held up at gunpoint will compliment the gunmans' shoes. They just can't help but see the good. The Cheerleader usually quot;just wanted to let you know how awesome you guys arequot;. Who can argue with that? While the praise topic type in Get Satisfaction probably won't lead to a lot of in-depth conversation, it feels great to get praise. Really great. It looks good, too.
  • 16. Who wouldn't appreciate seeing a post like this in their community?
  • 17. Here's a tip you can use when you have cheerleaders sharing praise: you can use our Live Topic widget to set up a testimonials stream on your site that lists the praise that customers give you. If you're getting a lot of praise, you're probably doing something right. Why not advertise it? If someone took the time to praise you, encourage multiple people in your organization to respond with a quick note of thanks. Praise is very valuable, both internally and to the public; treat it that way. It's an authentic testimonial you didn't ask for. Use our Overheard feature to pull in conversations from Twitter and say thank you for the kind words. Make sure you encourage them to give you additional feedback about what you could be doing better, too. Don't make it empty praise; make it an opportunity for even more insight.
  • 18. THE STALKER ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Evil LIFECYCLE: Short RULE: Investigate & Remove Stalkers are usually a subcategory of troll. They will often obscure their identity and even change it constantly or create multiple identities to make you think they're someone else.
  • 19. 6 Widgetbox had a customer who rapidly created 6 accounts just to harass the employees, using his various accounts to play off each other.
  • 20. 6 users, one IP address, and the behavior was similar across all of these accounts. One of the employees suspected this person might be someone from previous experiences and alerted us to his behavior, which lined up to our own suspicions. and he was quickly shut down. They often have a personal agenda against a company or an employee and will do what they can to tear them down. You can try offline communication, but remember: Anything you communicate offline may be put back online by the troll as ammunition. Would this person change your actual words to make you look bad? Of course they would. Transparency is your best bet. Monitor them via RSS, IP address, and any other way you can. As I've suggested in the past about trolls in general, don't get pulled into the black hole of debate with them.
  • 21. THE NARCISSIST ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Neutral LIFECYCLE: Short RULE: Caution http://www.flickr.com/photos/daneliphoto/2291836376/ Something about your product or service turns them on and they take a deep dive. They share a lot of ideas and suggestions -- sometimes too many -- in a short amount of time. At first blush, they may even appear to be a Sage, but don't be fooled. With The Narcissist, it's really all about them. They tend to be a hot flame that burns brightly but then burns out. Particularly when they find that you are not immediately implementing their 101 suggestions to improve your product. Their level of engagement and the amount of detail they go into is not sustainable for the long haul. They also often are not usually big-picture people. They often focus on one detail of your product they feel strongly about. They may have tunnel vision and refuse to see the reasons you have for not offering something as part of your product.
  • 22. We had a user last year who was prolific for about four months. He bombarded us with feature suggestions, often in exhaustive detail. We received several topic posts from him nearly every day. He certainly had some good suggestions, but also many that were so narrow in their focus and did not take into account the bigger picture of our system as a whole. We engaged with him, but as we were already in the midst of a development cycle on some other priorities, we didn't immediately implement his ideas. And then one day he was promptly gone. Do keep in mind that some of their suggestions could be valuable. They're seriously thinking about your company and your products, it's just that it's often from a me- centric point of view.
  • 23. THE POINT-MAKER ALIGNMENT: Neutral Good LIFECYCLE: Long RULE: Acknowledge AKA: The quot;know it allquot; Point makers may at times seem confrontational, but let's be honest: They wouldn't be here if they didn't care about your company and its products. Take them seriously even when they are seriously overdoing it. We've got a customer who obviously understands and -- I think -- appreciates our service, but he just LOVES to point out stuff that he thinks needs fixing. He's often right, but the way he goes about making his point is well... let's just say that we've learned not to have thin skin with him.
  • 24. First of all, instead of posting it as an idea quot;quot;Tagsquot; field shouldn't be a textareaquot; he posts it as a problem. He gives a sad face emoticon and says quot;Iquot;m sadquot; (he ALWAYS leaves this same emoticon and text with his posts to us). And, he of course has to make his point by posting more detail about the topic in the tag field rather than in the topic details field. He has a good point, but when we see his posts we just sigh that knowing sigh. Point Makers use the quot;me tooquot; functions obsessively and add a whole lot of quot; +1 quot; to the conversation. They love to point out when you're wrong or you haven't done enough or done it the way they think you should. Swallow your pride and admit when they're right. Let them know that they quot;certainly do have a good point.quot; Point makers are naturally good at debating, even if they're coming from an inflexible, biased position. It may not be worth it to get deep down into the details with them. Just acknowledge their point and move on.
  • 25. THE SAGE ALIGNMENT: Neutral Good LIFECYCLE: Long RULE: Reverance Sometimes The Sage just shows up one day and you recognize them as such because they quot;say it better than you could say itquot;. They GET what you're doing and they fully support it and make it clear they want to help you achieve it. The person who we gave our first quot;Championquot; designation to is this type. Rene, has been with us a long time. He has provided a great deal of feedback and constructive critiques and has always done so in a truly supportive way. He's also chimed in from time to time to respond to other customers.
  • 26. And as you can see here, within hours of signing up, quot;I signed-up to get satisfaction.com about 8 hours ago...quot; Rene grokked what we were trying to do, saw the potential, came to our defense and also offered some valuable and supportive critiques. We were all immediate fans. For the next year he has continued to participate in this manner and proved himself a Champion. But they don't always just appear. You might need to groom them. They might prove themselves over time by consistent participation. Remember to foster these relationships. Ask for their opinion whenever possible. It's very likely that this person is or will become a champion.
  • 27. THE HAWKER ALIGNMENT: Neutral Evil LIFECYCLE: Short RULE: Be Hard-nosed http://www.flickr.com/photos/skyshaper/249386011/ AKA: The Link Dropper
  • 28. We've all seen this one: The person who just dropped by to “help” but who can't seem to stop littering their conversation with links to their eBay site, where they just happen to be selling something maybe slightly related to the conversation. Have a clear policy against quot;crass commercialismquot; in your community and strictly enforce it. Incorporate this policy into your flagging system if you can, as we do on Get Satisfaction. Community members like calling out people who are simply there to advertise. They see it as conversation pollution. Encourage everyone to report Hawkers.
  • 29. ALIGNMENT: Neutral LIFECYCLE: Depends on you RULE: Be Enthusiastic Your mom is probably a n00b. This is the type of customer who may not have participated in an online community or who may not have tried to get customer service in this new way. They may have no experience with typical forums (great!). They may have found your community via organic search or through a widget that a company has put on their site.
  • 30. I had an experience just this week with someone like this. She had a specific question for Yola. But she posted it in our Get Satisfaction community. I replied and told her I was going to move her topic to Yola's support community where she could get help with her issue. She replied back explaining her confusion. I moved her topic and replied again, giving her a quick explanation of where she needed to go to post topics for Yola (the page that says quot;Customer Support Community for Yolaquot; a the top) and went on to give her a brief explanation of how Get Satisfaction works. She responded saying: quot;Amy, that was very kind and helpful, thank you so much! I know for sure this is one of the best places I have ever found online in my quot;wholequot; online life;) People are truly knowlegable [sic] as well as personable. Thank you again.quot; Moments later Peter swooped in and began offering her help with her original issue. Wouldn't it be great if every n00b's first experience was like that?
  • 31. They may ask only one question or report a singular problem, and they may be unsure if they'll get a response. These kinds of customers can be a big win for your community. Turn on the charm. Help them, and leave them with a great impression of your responsiveness, attentiveness, and attitude. This is potentially the beginning of the lifecycle of a community member. How do you treat them? Are you doing enough to help them and guide them into one of these other roles? Of course, you may not turn them into a repeat member. Maybe they come in, get what they need, and leave. The thing to remember here is that the benefit of that great response and the poster's happiness goes beyond just making *that* poster happy. It is seen by all other customers and potential customers who come across this topic. So even if it's a customers first post, treat it with care.
  • 32. THE RANGER ALIGNMENT: Lawful Neutral LIFECYCLE: Long RULE: Help connect Natural archiver, librarian, and cataloger. May participate in a number of different communities. They're also good at keeping track of who knows what and connecting people with each other to get help.
  • 33. Yola's champ, Peter, does a great job of not only answering other customers questions, keeping on top of the ins and outs of their product, but also, pulling more people into the conversation to help. The Ranger also usually has an uncanny ability to find a topic, comment, or reply via Google Site Search and post it in seconds The ranger is certainly a potential champion.
  • 34. THE ADVERSARY ALIGNMENT: Lawful Evil LIFECYCLE: Middling RULE: Tread Carefully The adversary is another subcategory of Troll. Adversaries often attack both companies and people. Their primary intent is to wreak havoc and provoke you and/or other users into an emotional response. One difference between Adversaries and Stalkers is that, while their online persona may not be their actual name, they do generally have an online persona and tend to stand behind it as their reputation -- and ego -- are tied up in it. A difference between the Adversary and Ax Grinder is that they are generally never swayed. There's not really much point trying to change their mind. A good and civil response is still encouraged -- especially since others will see it -- but no need to go into depth with them.
  • 35. Prokofy is a classic example. Her persona is pervasive online. She's even been banned from Second Life. Here in the Twitter community she ranted about her crusade against vanity following -- people who do searches on their own name, usually to make sure they haven't missed any @ messages to them. However, she insisted that it was only pure vanity that drives people to search on their name and to care about blocking people they don't want showing up in their @ message feed. It became apparent very quickly that she has a HUGE chip on her shoulder and there was no convincing her of a point of view other than her own. She took on everyone who tried to engage with her.
  • 36. Even when someone who happens to be a very helpful member in this community tried to agree with one of her points. quot;I agree with this part 100%quot;. Prokofy responds: quot;You don't agree with my premise at all, so don't be misleading and tendentiously say you quot;agree 100 percent of part of itquot; (geez, what a ruse!)quot; The Adversary knows they're seen as the villain and they actually enjoy it and promote this reputation. Do your research and see if you can locate them misbehaving in other online communities. Chances are, you can. We all know how to ultimately deal with adversarial trolls: Don't engage them unnecessarily, and again, don't get dragged into an endless debate with them and it may even become necessary to use the Ban Hammer once you've done your best.
  • 37. THE GOOD SAMARITAN ALIGNMENT: Lawful Good LIFECYCLE: Long RULE: Protect & Befriend These are some of your most valuable members. They're community gold.
  • 38. People like Alex, who isn't an employee OR a champion -- though he should be -- but has been helping other customers in the Apple customer community for over a year now and his replies have been marked useful 112 times. If you post a question or problem in the Apple community on Get Satisfaction, he's very likely to poke his head in and provide an answer. Mdy in the Twitter community is another fantastic example of a Good Samaritan. In fact, she currently has more replies in the system than any other user -- 6,170 -- and they've been marked useful 1,053 times! Her main focus of help is in the Twitter community, but you'll see her pop up elsewhere, too. They just seem to do it out of the goodness of their heart. If you end up with a good samaritan or more in your community, count your blessings and give them a Champions badge!
  • 39. NEXT WEBCAST: MAY 6, 2009 HOW WE MANAGE IT: A Q&A Interview With a Wildly Successful Community Manager Everyone seems to agree that about 10% of the people in online communities are participating or creating. Everyone else is just watching. Understandably, that 10% slice is important. The way you interact with them is going to encourage positive ongoing participation from them AND is going to be seen by everyone else When someone shows up in your community, you have no idea what kind of person they are or what their intentions are -- most start as lurkers. Once they start communicating, you can get a better sense. The goal for you as a community manager is to quickly spot the best potential community members and hold onto them. Give them reasons to stick around. One of the ways to do this is by how you've set the tone in your community and the social norms you've created by your participation. You also want to keep your eye out for the potential trouble-makers. Resist your first impulse to just censor them -- that will only add fuel to their fire -- and rather respond non-defensively but don't get sucked into a vicious cycle with them. The best thing you can do is just equip yourself for dealing with them because they're an inevitable part of any community. And let us know what other characters you find playing in your customer communities. I want to thank you for attending today. I'll take your questions and feedback in just a moment but first I want to remind you of our fourth and final webcast in this series, quot;How We Manage It: A Q&A Interview with a Wildly Successful Community Managerquot;. Wednesday May 6th, 10 a.m. Pacific time right here at getsatisfaction.tv. There should be a registration link on this page.
  • 40. See how it works: http://getsatisfaction.com/developers/fastpass To purchase: http://getsatisfaction.com/plans/premium We've heard from so many of you that as you build your community you want a make it easy for your customer to sign in to Get Satisfaction. We're excited about our premium community plan which includes the new Single Sign On feature. - You can see how it works on .... http://getsatisfaction.com/developers/fastpass. - If you want to purchase .... http://getsatisfaction.com/plans/premiumquot;
  • 41. THE DUNGEON MASTER amy@getsatisfaction.com on twitter at http://twitter.com/amygsfn Also, if there are any questions I don't get to today, you can post them at getsatisfaction.com/getsatisfaction or you can email me atamy@getsatisfaction.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @AmyGSFN.

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