Connie Giordano: Content and Community: Pitfalls and Practices in Managing Communities of Users
Content and Community: Pitfalls and Practices in
Managing Communities of Users
Connie Giordano, Editor/Moderator, TechWhirl
Photo credit: Trev Grant on flickr.com
People come for content, but they stay for community.
Ben Martin, OnlineCommunityResults.com
A little background
• One-half of INKtopia Limited, publishers of
• Dual role as Executive Editor of TechWhirl, and
consultant/content services provider via INKtopia.
• Masters, Organizational Communication, Queens
• 25 years in technical and marketing
• Cross-functional experience in knowledge
management, process design, and business
• Expertise in editing, journalism and tech comm
• Joined the TECHWR-L discussion list in 1998.
Bought it in 2011.
• Interest &
User: a person who uses or operates
something, especially a computer or other
Community: Self-organized network of
people with common agenda, cause, or
interest, who collaborate by sharing
ideas, information, and other resources.
Community of Interest: Communities built
around a shared interest, but with no
single defined goal.
Community of Purpose: Community
organized around a common, clear,
This community’s purpose
• Understand how user/online communities develop
• Uncover how the management of user communities
links to business objectives.
• Review some best practice considerations around
managing content in the community to achieve
• Gather some ideas for a TechWhirl series on
managing user communities and content.
How online user communities
• Radio communications
• Trade events/professional conferences
• Telephone call centers
• Direct mail/email
• Electronic Bulletin Boards
• Discussion Lists
• User group forums
• Knowledge bases
• Social media
• Full blown user communities
1945 1955 1965 1975 1985 1995 2005 2015
1986: Eric Thomas
1997: AOL Instant
1993: Eric Ray
at University of PA
Hill and Duke
and Suess develop
dialup BBS in Chicago
the first IRC
1952: UNIVAC 1
election as POTUS
PLATO Notes at U
2006: TED posts
first six talks
reaches 1 billion
Customers who actively post questions and respond to others’
questions in the community are less likely to log SRs [service requests]
Sterling Bone, et al
Photo credit: Josef Relnthaler on flickr.com
User groups and content
• Users create content to:
• Such content can:
• drive product design
• supplement product or technical support
• generate new sales
• Initiate new movements, methodologies or companies
Hey, did you know
you could fix this
Well, I believe
I just LOVE using
this app to…
Here’s some good
examples of how to…
It would be great if
the product could…
Where the user community fits
• Product strategy
• Product roadmap
• Marketing strategy
Brand > Marketing &
"[D]espite the limited direct control of individual people’s actions, online communities can be
designed and managed to achieve the goals that their owners, managers, or members desire.“
-Resnick & Kraut
Photo credit: Don Hankins on flickr.com
Best practices (for consideration)
• Build a content strategy that addresses the role of
• Define the community(ies) that support business
• Determine the framework to manage the
• Plan and launch engaging communities.
• Design processes to extract & deliver content that
supports strategy, goals and the users.
• Actively evolve the community.
Examples we’ll use
• Constant Contact
• Net Suite
Create content that informs, stirs up strong emotions, and most
importantly, establishes a connection with your audience.
Gary Ciotti, SparringMind.com
Photo credit: Ferran Pestana on flickr.com
Build the content strategy to
address online communities
• Community lifecycle
• Audiences and their needs
• Alignment to brand and marketing strategies
• Balance of content generation and content
Prospects = Peripherals?
Advocates = Veterans?
roadmaps with the
help of insiders?
[O]nline community planning usually begins with looking for ways to solve problems –
problems of your customers and problems facing your organization.
Joshua Paul, Socious.co
Photo credit Peter Grima on flickr.com
Define your communities
• Build brand awareness
• Increase revenue
• Increase customer base
• Extend existing markets
• Develop new products /
enhance existing products
Groups to engage
• Prospective users
• Typical users
• Power users
• Experts (industry/product)
• Developers / Engineers /
See this community at
Make sure the site works, test it often, eat your own dogfood and
design it to move folks through workflows naturally.
Layla Sabourian, Chef Koochooloo
Photo credit: Lance Cheung/USDA
Build a community management
• Brand objectives
• User experience
• Management / operations
• Engagement channels
• Manage and
Some platform requirements to
• Role-based access
• Moderation and user management
• Multiple access points
• Upload/download content capability
• Security management (anti spam, identity management,
• Feedback and rating functionality
• Responsive design
• Data analytics
• Employee staffing
• Volunteer roles
• Terms of Service
• Content ownership and usage rights
• Engagement tools
It is the members who own the content that they share on your community.
-Patrick O’Keefe, managingcommunities.com
Photo credit: Bekhian on flickr.com
Content extraction & delivery
• Integrated content
• Linking content to current discussions
• Repurposing content arising from forum discussions
The secret is to spend most of your time and creative energy building
assets that you control.
Sonia Simone, CMO of Copyblogger Media
Photo credit: Peter Grima on flickr.com
Evolve the online user community
• Refresh the look and feel
• Analyze topic trends and adjust categories and sub-
• Assimilate appropriate social media and
collaboration technologies and trends
• Create a succession plan
• Archive the contents of defunct communities
Those involved in TechWhirl understand that it is and always has been a
community, one at the core of social media.
Photo credit: Connie Ma on flickr.com
A quick analysis of TechWhirl
When you give people an opportunity to be part of something, they’re going
to be proud of (and eager to share) something that they’ve helped create.
Steve Kamb, founder of NerdFitness
Photo credit: Clarice Barbato-Dunn on flickr.com
Q&A & Wrap up
• Know the business goals.
• Link your community strategy to business goals, brand
strategy, and content strategy.
• Define your communities.
• Choose the right platform and technologies to manage
the community and extract and deliver content.
• Build management policies that protect and extend the
• Be ready for the long haul—enterprise buy-in is critical.
Your feedback wanted!
• Integrate social media and online community
• How to build a usable online community?
• Online communities and the buyer journey?
• Areas of concern: security, privacy and IP. Others?
• Success stories for engaging online communities?
• Other questions or ideas for future exploration on
Create something people want to share.
John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing
Photo credit: Sonja Langford on unsplash.com
Resources worth checking out
• Bone, S., et al. How Customer Participation in B2B Peer-to-Peer Problem-
Solving Communities Influences the Need for Traditional Customer Service.
Journal of Service Research February 2015 vol. 18 no. 1 23-38.
• Capterra.com. Top Community Software Products.
• Giordano, C. TECHWR-L at 18: An Early Social Media Tool Grows Up. Intercom,
June 2011. Society for Technical Communication.
• Hinchcliffe, D. Ten leading platforms for creating online communities.
ZDnet.com 9/4/2008 http://www.zdnet.com/article/ten-leading-platforms-
for-creating-online-communities/. Downloaded 10/20/2016
• Kraut, Robert E.; Resnick, Paul, et al. Building Successful Online Communities:
Evidence-Based Social Design (MIT Press). The MIT Press. Kindle Edition.
Resources worth checking out (cont.)
• Malinen, S. Understanding user participation in online communities: A
systematic literature review of empirical studies. Computers in Human
Behavior 46:228-238 · May 2015
• Millington, R. Buzzing Communities: Proven Science for Community Managers.
Amazon Digital Services, 2012.
• Topo, The Online Community Playbook.
• York, Alex. The Ultimate User-Generated Content Guide. SproutSocial.com,
• Communities and blogs for community management
Thank you for your time and engagement!
Connie Giordano, Editor/Moderator, TechWhirl
Photo credit: Trev Grant on flickr.com