We are here to talk about community management – what it is, why you need it, and what are some of the fundamental tenets of the discipline.
I’m Rachel Happe, background in management consulting, software, and as an analyst. In 2009, my partner Jim Storer and I saw a need in the market to better articulate the management concepts required for success in using social software effectively. We started The Community Roundtable to connect practitioners who are somewhat isolated, share and document best practices, and educate people about the discipline of community management. Megan Smith, the Community Manager from OvationTV is here to join me and share a front lines perspective and give you a more intimate view of the day-to-day realities of being a community manager.
There is an overwhelming amount of conversation about the tools and the content – and both are important and critical. However, the reason social software is so compelling is that it draws people back because of the relationships. It is really important to not loose site of that. If you create a social initiative constructed with relationships at its core, it will be far more sustainable than one that puts the tools or content at its core. People can easily ignore tools and content but have a much harder time ignoring people.
People need a connection in order to form a relationship and the more relevant and urgent their need, the faster that connection will form. As marketers looking to create engagement, it is really important to think about your target audience and their interests/needs and make your initiative focus on that. For most companies and brands, building a community about a product won’t work so well. Examples: Rubbermaid – professional organizers, home organization Fiskaters – crafts GHY – Internal trade issues Aetna/Humana – fitness/health H&R Block – tax advice Exceptions: Palladium Group – Balanced Scorecard SAP - SDN Newell Rubbermaid – Sharpies
Comes down to cost/benefit. Transactional processes are one-to-one, hierarchical processes are one-to-many, and networked processes are many-to-many. Along with hard costs, they also drive long term loyalty and retention because participants are more invested if done well, however that can only have if the organization is willing to share control.
I think of any collection of people created by social software as a community. However, there are really big differences in scale between different online communities and it’s important to understand the scale that will serve your needs the best because they act very differently.
For purposes of illustration, I made some gross assumptions to point out that different size communities work best for different business contexts and desired outcomes. Linking the desired biz outcome to size and density of the online community is critical and will also allow you to better focus on the tools, resources, content, and metrics required to support the goal.
Community management is, at a fundamental level, a job for generalists who can orchestrate the right resources, skills, tone, and talent that establishes the environment in which community will take hold. Relevant and fun.
No one shows up and/or there is no engagement. Examples: Constant Contact.
People are initially very enthusiastic and everyone creates groups or content – some of which is relevant but a lot of which is duplicate or random making it hard for people over time to find useful connections and content and usage drops off. Examples – Internally with Sharepoint sites. Big organizations sometimes have hundreds of Facebook/Twitter accounts because it is so easy to do.
You’ve created a place for people to vent… and they do, in volume. Turns off people who might otherwise use the environment more productively Example: Internal blog in a low morale culture.
Communities can attract the disenfranchised, the disgruntled, the socially awkward because they have worn out their welcome with individuals and yet, they need social interaction. These people can cause trouble of various types over time and be very persistent. If there are legitimate issues and/or others like them, they can create really big problems over time that are hard to recover from. Example: American Speech Language Hearing ex-Employee
One set of members becomes much stronger than the others and eventually takes over which creates a huge social barrier to entry for other groups. Example: 2.0 Adoption Council, OvationTV
Skills, Attributes, Experience (Program management, Marketing programs, product manager). Person needs to understand people and business to do this job effectively – lots of internal relationships also helps.
An interest and talent in observing behavior is quite helpful. Someone that intuitively understands the social dynamic is incredibly useful.
Have regularly scheduled events – cadence is important. Cadence sets the expectation and models behavior for members – if you want people coming back daily, you need to have something valuable going on every day.
Make it valuable (contextual/relevant) – why will they return if it is not? The more complex the target behavior, the more valuable you need the community to be.
Give them a reason to come and socialize – and then share the experience with colleagues/friends.
What are the handful of things that will keep your audience/members coming back? Celebrities? Games? Experts? Tools? Examples: Isis online chats with experts
Rules codify the culture you would like to promote and set the expectations for behavior. Useful to document things you want to encourage as well as things that are not acceptable.
Animals and people cannot be lead from the front without force. Creating boundary conditions and encouraging certain behaviors is typically a less invasive and more enjoyable experience for people.
Identify the individuals in your community who are most enthusiastic and supportive. Give them tools, special access, and air time because they pull in others, rally the troops, and give your community a sense of soul. [Advocacy programs – examples Microsoft MVP, SAP Mentors, Ford, consumer brand blogger relations]
Really hard to create enough energy to build a wave, much more effective and efficient to ride existing waves. Link initiatives to community hot topics. Harder to plan for with specifics but more efficient.
Most problems/issues don’t go away however, also really important have the judgment to understand which issues and how to respond to them. Examples: Motrin Moms, Dominoes Pizza, Ford Ranger Station issue
Be Multi-modal: Text, images, video; Asynchronous, Synchronous
Once a certain type of person is aggregated, there are lots of others who will want to use the community as a channel for their own interests. Important to protect members in a way that allows other 3 rd parties to participate.
Community Management Fundamentals
communityroundtable.com | @TheCR | July 2014
Community is not:
A group of people with unique shared values,
behaviors, and artifacts.
1. Speed information transfer
2. Develop shared ownership
3. Maximize investments
Communities accelerate alignment with
Communities are about relationships,
not just about sharing content
Content Network Community
Communities do not produce linear returns
Good communities generate geometric
Lack of understanding can lead to
Communities require long term investment
Communities require different management
techniques at different stages
Business goals determine ideal size for a
Density of Relationships
Solve Collaborate Inspire Inform
Connect Solicit Input
Complexity of Desired Outcome
Community management is the discipline of
ensuring productive communities
• Deﬁne scope, ideal outcomes, and boundaries
• Ensure participants receive more value then they contribute
• Promote, encourage, and reward productive behaviors
• Discourage and limit destructive behaviors
• Facilitate constructive disagreement and conﬂict
• Advocate for the community and its members
• Monitor, measure, and report
• Marshal internal advocates, resources, & support
• Manage tools and member experience
Community managers execute community
strategy and ensure shared purpose
A meaningful shared purpose is one of the biggest
success factors for a community
A good community manager is a like a
• Ability to match brand’s
• Understanding of human
• Relationship building
• Conﬂict resolution
• Project management
• Moderate technical aptitude
• Love of people
• Tempered enthusiasm
Community management maturity delivers
85% of best-in-class communities can measure their value…
… likely because they are more likely to have fully funded
Below the water
• Understanding members
• Building relationships with key members
• Taking issues ofﬂine
• Working with internal advocates
• Program planning
• Collaborating internally
• Managing technology issues
• Communicating value and beneﬁts
• Measuring progress
Above the water
• Managing content: publishing, curating,
• Managing events – online and in real life
• Welcoming new members
• Participating judiciously in conversations
• Reaching out to 3rd party inﬂuencers,
partners, media, etc
• Communicating changes to policies, tools,
Community success is driven by two
• Need to learn
• Degree of isolation
• Competing sources
• Technical literacy
• Online social comfort
• Cultural context
• Supportive &
• Easy to use tools
• Valuable information
• Peer involvement
• Unique access – to
content or people
Community managers matter
Dedicated community managers correlate to
higher community maturity.
Communities with dedicated community managers
almost twice as likely to be able to measure value.
Dedicated community management improves
• The risks of supporting communities without community
management are signiﬁcant
• Build thick value for all constituents
• Communities need different things at different stages
• The availability of tools is required but not sufﬁcient to
achieve productive communities
• Most community management activity is not visible in the
• Community management can achieve success through
two primary avenues: Changing user comfort &
knowledge or changing environmental factors
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About The Community
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unparalleled access to emerging practices and standards.
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