BUILDING A GREAT ONLINE COMMUNITY 1.31.2011 Michelle Heubusch
Whether you hope to build a community that feels like a dinner partywith friends . . .
. . . Or one that is more like a large club, you need to work hard toplan and implement your community strategy.
Because you don’t want to build a community that grows boring . . .
Or one that devolves into anarchy. Building a strong, engagedcommunity takes planning, time and effort to execute.
HOSTING A GREAT COMMUNITY• Invite the right guests• Help strike up the conversation• Be clear on rules of etiquette• Be a present, generous host• Document the occasion• Steer clear of law enforcement
INVITE THE RIGHT GUESTS• Gather research about the people you expect to join your community – Online surveys or focus groups – Personas – Simmons data, Forrester Technographics• Visit and observe communities with a similar audience – Facebook, Twitter, blogs, community sites, online comments – Listening tools – Radian6, Google Alerts, Social Mention• Articulate your value proposition• Plan to attract an audience – Advertise (especially important on Facebook) – Contribute to an existing community – Leverage the social graph (i.e., people want to be where their friends are)
HELP STRIKE UP THE CONVERSATION• Outline your content strategy – Identify the kinds of content you’ll post to your community (making sure content aligns with your value proposition) – Strike a balance between starting conversations and pushing out messages – Vary the types of content – text, photos, videos – Document the voice and tone of the content you’ll create• Anticipate the kinds of questions and concerns you’ll get, and work with subject matter experts to create answers• Create an editorial calendar – Ensure appropriate frequency – Strike a balance between content types – Ensure that you are aligned with other communication channels for both messaging and timing – Share your publishing schedules with other stakeholders
BE CLEAR ON RULES OF ETIQUETTE• Create and publish community-facing guidelines – Special K – BoingBoing – Gawker• Develop robust internal-facing guidelines – Document what is allowed and not allowed in the community to as specific a level of detail as possible – Give people tools to guide action within the community – Start with existing social media policies if any
BE A PRESENT, GENEROUS HOST• Find the right community managers. They will be crucial to your success. – Adept and actively using social media platforms – Cares about the same things the community does – Builds relationships within the community and with your stakeholders• Provide coverage to effectively manage the community – Community Management is very labor intensive – Vendors like Vitrue and Context Optional provide tools to streamline publishing and moderation, but you need a highly engaged person involved in your community – Nights, weekends and holidays• Bring out the best in your community – Prepare to welcome new members, answer questions and address issues quickly – Remove haters and trolls, but allow fair and balanced dialog • The community will often jump to your defense – Recognize your most active members – Accept that your community members may take the community in new directions, and allow them to help shape the conversation
DOCUMENT THE OCCASION• Keep careful records of activity within the community – Having a log of activity and key decisions helps ease handoffs between moderators – Allows you to cross train moderators/managers on multiple communities – Enforces best practice processes• Keep your stakeholders in the loop – Define your key performance indicators and measure against them – Create a regular schedule for reporting to stakeholders – Modify your content strategy or approach to community as necessary• Celebrate your successes – Share stories as well as metrics – Make sure feedback makes its way thru your organization
STEER CLEAR OF LAW ENFORCEMENT• Remember that companies and brands are held to a different standard in the social space than individuals – A user can say things online – even in your community – that you cannot – Don’t follow user policies; look for developer policies – The law is nascent and evolving• Meet with your legal team early and often – Brief them on your plans – Seek their input and approval for guidelines and escalation processes – Seek approval for content – Provide feedback if their constraints are too restrictive; view the guidelines as a living document that can be negotiated• The best crisis management is crisis avoidance
RESOURCESIMAGES - used under a Creative Commons license• Slide 2: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaako/• Slide 3: http://www.flickr.com/photos/_sml/• Slide 4: http://www.flickr.com/photos/salz/• Slide 5: http://www.flickr.com/photos/endiaferon/RESEARCH TOOLS• Forrester Technographics: http://www.forrester.com/empowered/tool_consumer.html• Radian6: http://www.radian6.com/• Google Alerts: http://www.google.com/alerts• Social Mention: http://www.socialmention.com/EXAMPLES OF COMMUNITY GUIDELINES AND SOCIAL MEDIA POLICIES• Special K on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/specialkus• BoingBoing: http://www.boingboing.net/2009/10/01/commenting.html• Gawker: http://gawker.com/commentfaq/• Air Force Blog Policy: http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2009/01/airforce_blog_rules_010909/ADDITIONAL RESOURCES• Facebook Developer Policy: http://developers.facebook.com/policy/• Social Media Update Law Blog: http://www.socialmedialawupdate.com/• TechCrunch: http://techcrunch.com/• Mashable: http://mashable.com/• AllFacebook: http://www.allfacebook.com/