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Member Engagement, August 5, 2009 – 4-5pm ET
Community success depends on member engagement. It’s not surprising, then, that this is a huge topic on the minds of
community managers. This discussion highlighted that first and foremost, you must ensure that members feel comfortable
posting in the community and that will require some time spent in non-threatening conversation to create that bond. Once the
community is established, you will need to know your audience and know who your advocates are within that audience. Also,
some communities by virtue of their content will be drier in nature and require more coaxing through well-presented questions
to encourage engagement. And even if they don’t respond, there is still a value to lurkers. Last but not least, no matter how
hard you try, it’s important to recognize that community participation is not for everyone and that is okay.
Overview of the Member Facilitator Commentaries
Member facilitators shared their tried and tested theories on the topic of member engagement:
1. Follow these 4 main principles: Identify the leaders within your community; offer engaging content; facilitate the integration
of community; use technology to enable discovery and communication.
2. Employee communities have an inherent free-flow of discussion that makes for easier engagement.
3. Always approach your community through the eyes of your audience. Ensure there is a value proposition for members so
that they feel their time spent in the community is well invested.
1. Consider using music within your social events. It has the same bonding component with relationships as offline.
2. To encourage engagement, get members used to doing some of their daily tasks within this new medium, like posting a
presentation vs. sending it out by email.
3. With new communities, try creating a “water cooler” environment where people can go to engage in light-hearted
conversation with their peers in a non-threatening way, thereby creating a comfort level with each other. Another example
is the use of lunch and learn sessions. Let people know the community is not just for “experts”; everyone is learning.
4. Encourage your community contributors to know the goal of their contributions upfront so that they don’t feel rejected if no
one responds. If their goal is to spur discussion, they should ask well-designed questions that elicit feedback and debate.
5. One of the best ways to pull people into a conversation is to let them know that they have an audience.
6. Multi-modal content is very successful at driving engagement. Consider a video vs. email or text.
7. Lurkers have a value to the community, but that is a difficult value to help executives understand.
Copyright 2009 – The Community Roundtable – All Rights Reserved Member Engagement_RS_2009_0805 - Page 1
1. Clarify the purpose of the content you are posting. This will help you understand how to measure its success.
2. Closely monitor management participation in employee communities so that their comments don’t inadvertently shut down
3. Recognize that community participation is not for everyone and that that is okay.
4. Take the time to meet your community advocates in person, if possible, to make sure that they meet your needs.
5. Be aware that contributors are likely to take lack of engagement personally because this is a public forum. Use the best
practice above to avoid this from happening in the first place. If they want a response, ask well-crafted questions.
6. Rachel shared a personal revelation. As an analyst, you can fall into the bad habit of feeling like you have to be an expert,
which is a very different persona from simply enabling and inducing conversation. It’s a very big mental shift for people.
7. Idle chit chat is a necessary part of community and will take some creative influence to help executives understand that it
is a crucial facet of the business case.
8. Members were asked to define engagement success:
• Use of an internal conversation drive that actually measures key words vs. raw numbers. The goal is to create
discussions focused on this organization’s products, the implementation of their products, support discussions,
partnership services, certification and strategy, etc. The measurement will be the actual posts themselves, not
necessarily how many of these discussion are happening.
• Find a way to tie your success goals to your larger strategic goal.
• Understand the value of lurkers and that the goal isn’t always to convert them.
Topics for Future Discussion
1. How to help executives understand the need for idle, “getting-to-know-you” chit chat within the community.
2. As a community manager, knowing how and when to move the community out of that idle chit chat into more serious
3. Engagement measurement tools: what works, what doesn’t, likes, dislikes, frustrations, etc.
• Rachel will post to the CR Community an iceberg visual to demonstrate community engagement.
• As mentioned in the discussion, Liz Strauss at Successful Blog: http://www.successful-blog.com/
• As mentioned in the discussion, watch the CR community for screen shots posted by community members for their
engagement measurement tools.
• As mentioned in the discussion/chat dialogue as measurement tools:
• Omniture: http://www.omniture.com/en/
• Radian6: http://www.radian6.com/cms/home
• Grader: http://www.grader.com/
• As mentioned in the chat dialogue: Stowe Boyd wrote an interesting post on the concept of conversation index -
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