Context! I was community manager for SchwabLearning.org from 2001- 2008 at which time the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation shut it down. It was a small site ~<1 million visitors – main focus was on quality content The community served clients and was also small 300 contributors per month Guess 1000 readers per month Average of 6000 posts per month ~8000 total posters This presentation is tuned to COMMUNITY and may seem pretty narrowly focused.
You should be able to see notes. They will help.
Strong Values – Communities form around values, particularly values towards other members of the community, but also values that serve as touchstones in times of discord. Vibrant – the opposite of stagnant Regular activity Steady flow of new members Resilient – able to weather a storm. Having a general positive outlook of the community and its members Diverse points of view help the community innovate as technology, access, the world around them changes. Connected to other communities Reciprocity – Mutual, uncounted, indiscriminate Relationships built over time Trust Care for others regardless of affiliation or kinship Members self-identify as a community People who do not feel connected to the larger group don’t always stick around, especially in the face of conflict or discord.
Start small - Solicit participation iterate Example: By April 2009, KALW, an SF public radio station had not tapped into it’s listening community online. Facing NPR shows being cut (a crisis that served as a catalyst), they started a blog specifically to talk about what new shows to put on the air. The *only* purpose of the blog is this very narrow aspect. It was an experiment and, by July 2009, they were promoting an email newsletter and experimenting with a Facebook fan page.
An example of answering a critical question “later”. The question was “how much control do we need over feature development” and our answer was, “we can compromise”. We signed a contract and spend a lot of money and development time on a vendor technology. Less than a year later, we were unhappy because we didn’t have the control we wanted. Sat down and really examined the question and came up with an answer that was more true: “we want total control”. Answering this question LATER cost: My personal reputation with the vendor, foundation, potentially with peers. Foundation reputation with vendor - Poisoned the well – vendor swore they would never work with another nonprofit and I think they have held true to it since. 1 year of progress Original price plus $50k to buy out the rest of contract.
We are going to focus on each of these questions in detail because they are very, very important and will be a touch stone as you make decisions about your community effort. Technology is missing in this talk because it’s not the most important thing. No, really, it’s not. Do not be fooled. What you do with people will have a far greater impact on your community effort than any specific technology.
What is our mission, vision, purpose, focus, goals? Chances are very good, you want your online community to support your overall organizations goals. One way to make sure of this is to articulate your mission, etc. in a way that potential members of your community can decide if they want to join. Those who agree with your mission will help you build a stronger community.
Communities bind strongly around shared values. Values can be high level and broad. For example, at SchwabLearning.org we held a commitment to diversity which included being well informed along with tolerance for beliefs and respect for decisions families made. The community, without much help from the organization, navigated several conflicts by holding to this value.
“ Theory of Change” Zeroing in on Impact , Susan J. Colby, Nan Stone, Paul Carttar http://www.bridgespan.org/LearningCenter/ResourceDetail.aspx?id=858 What is the model of interaction for your community already? If it’s working, perhaps mirror it. If there is none or it’s not working, how can you improve it while moving online? How do we measure success? “ Douglas W. Hubbard, “How to Measure Anything” (2007) Katie Derahaye “KD” Paine kdpaine.blogs.com, “Measuring Public Relations” (Dec 2007) Marc Smith – Measuring/visualizing online interactions
Who will make up the community? Clients? Donors? Advocates? Activists? Volunteers? Are there roles who should not interact? Who will the community not serve? Age Country It’s about setting expectations You can still welcome those outside direct service (diversity is good) At SchwabLearning.org, we specifically did not offer information or explicitly call out Autism as one of the challenges we helped address. However, we did not turn parents of children with Autism away and found that we became a secondary support site for several parents for general family issues which was part of our support goal.
Who are they in terms of age, gender, profession, social technographics? Where are they online? Where are they offline? Much of this is demographic research. One big benefit of online social engagement and communities is they are very amenable to experimentation. If your potential community is already on facebook, it’s okay to start a group on facebook to have them help you decide what your next steps are without being locked into facebook. Random notes: Yahoo groups, Google groups, usenet, private sites, social networks, commercial sites, mailing lists Where they are on/offline can influence where you build the community space (on your own site, or using existing social media tools). Where your potential community members are in demo and technographics will influence what tools you use to help them interact. If they are not familiar with uploading videos, that’s not where to start. http://www.forrester.com/Groundswell/profile_tool.html
What is the value of our community members building relationships with each other? Example: Once during UI testing, the tester introduced the section on our community interface with, “Do you think you would participate in our online community?” The answers was uniformly, “no” and the tester asked if they would participate anyway. I changed the test to ask them to perform a search on our site on a topic they were interested in and click through to a discussion that looked promising. We then asked them the UI tasks. Finally, we asked, “Do you think you would participate”. The respond change to *almost* uniformly, “Yes, I didn’t realize it would be helpful”. When people’s needs were met by other people, it made the idea of online community less scary and more attractive.
Budget Time Development resources IT support
At the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, our marketing group got extremely good result attracting clients through a well-placed television ad and well-targeted magazine ads. When PBS ran a special sponsored in part by our foundation, we hosted a series of events, especially an online event to attract attention to our community effort. Perla Ni, founder of Stanford Social Innovation Review and GreatNonprofits has much to say about using stories for fundraising. The same methods apply to gathering participation in a community.
Consider adding landing pages for the different types of people coming to your site. For example, SchwabLearning.org used messageboard.schwablearning.org, but we could have also used parent.schwablearning.org or IEPplanning.schwablearning.org to get better hits on highly relevant terms for the community. I recommend avoiding the term “community” in marketing. It is a word that means many things to many people and can turn off people who are looking for information instead of community. Often people come for reasons other than community such as support, advice, information, reviews and they return because they develop friendships.
The more involved you feel you need to be, the more hours or people you will need. The three aspects of project management apply – you will need to balance quality, time spent, and cost (salary). Volunteers are cheap, but thy can require time to achieve the quality of support that a few well-experienced hired staff can achieve.
- Optimist - Resilient – can you recover from and learn from mistakes? - Improviser – can you roll with the punches and say “yes, and” to new ideas? - Group Leadership - Cat herder, Volunteer manager - Love of technology is not as important. Technical proficiency can be taught to most people. But conflict management is much harder to teach and practice skillfully. - Being an invtrovert vs. extrovert is less important than you might imagine. But the person needs to be aware of the type of person they are and be able to operate as their opposite at certain times. - Depending on the community situation, may need to work or be on call to work weekends, holidays or nights
Don’t panic! Remember Quality – Time – Cost. If you cannot afford such salaries, understand that it will take longer to build a quality community effort. You can do it fast and cheap, but there are no guarantees that the group will be effective in supporting your organizations goals. The important point is to not hand this job down to an intern or someone inexperienced just because they are young and use social media tools a lot. Just because someone knows how to drive a car does not mean they know how to race a car. The racer does not always know how to repair a car and the mechanic does not always know how to engineer a car. You may not need a top of the line expert, but will need someone with more experience than just using the technology.
This only scratches the surface of fostering a community.
Planning and Cultivating Online Communities
Planning and Cultivating Online Communities beyond fans and followers Scott Moore Online Community Consultant [email_address] twitter.com/scottmoore
Printable Edition <ul><li>There are NOTES to add supporting details to the main point. So if you aren’t seeing notes, you are missing information. </li></ul>
Characteristics of lasting communities <ul><li>Strong Values </li></ul><ul><li>Vibrant Resilient </li></ul><ul><li>Reciprocity </li></ul><ul><li>Members self-identify as a community </li></ul>
Planning the community <ul><li>Be flexible </li></ul>
7 Essential Planning Questions <ul><li>If you don’t answer these questions sooner , </li></ul><ul><li>you will ask them later. </li></ul>
7 Essential Planning Questions <ul><li>Why are we doing this? </li></ul><ul><li>What values do we hold? </li></ul><ul><li>What does success look like? </li></ul><ul><li>Who will be in the community? </li></ul><ul><li>Where are the people right now? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the value between members? </li></ul><ul><li>What are our limitations </li></ul>
Planning Question #1 <ul><li>Why are we doing this? </li></ul>
Planning Question #2 <ul><li>What values do we hold? </li></ul>
Planning Question #3 <ul><li>What does success look like? </li></ul>
Planning Question #4 <ul><li>Who will be in the community? </li></ul>
Planning Question #5 <ul><li>Where are the people right now? </li></ul>
Planning Question #6 <ul><li>What is the value between members? </li></ul>
Planning Question #7 <ul><li>What are our limitations? </li></ul>
Marketing the community <ul><li>Use traditional marketing methods </li></ul><ul><li>Market early, often and with respect </li></ul><ul><li>Tell a story. Tell many stories. Tell their stories. </li></ul><ul><li>SEO works great with community created content </li></ul><ul><li>Use public events to attract attention </li></ul>
Marketing the community <ul><li>Consider how people see you beyond how you see yourself </li></ul><ul><li>Describe the activities and benefits of the community and invite people to review before joining </li></ul><ul><li>Take the time to have real conversations and avoid faking interest or auto-replies </li></ul>
Staffing for Community <ul><li>How involved do we want/need to be in the community? </li></ul><ul><li>Content </li></ul><ul><li>Behavior </li></ul><ul><li>Light Heavy </li></ul><ul><li>Attitudes </li></ul><ul><li>Values </li></ul>
Staffing for Community <ul><li>Traits of quality community managers </li></ul><ul><li>Optimist </li></ul><ul><li>Resilient Improviser </li></ul><ul><li>Group leader </li></ul><ul><li>Consensus Builder Conflict Mediator </li></ul><ul><li>Life experience trumps youthful enthusiasm </li></ul>
You get what you pay for <ul><li>Community Leader </li></ul><ul><li>– Daily community work </li></ul><ul><li>$55-90k with BA/BS and 3 yrs experience </li></ul><ul><li>Community Director </li></ul><ul><li>– Sets strategy, manages community team </li></ul><ul><li>$120 – 160k with 5 yrs experience </li></ul><ul><li>From Salary.com July 2009 and adjusted for SF Bay Area </li></ul>
Community Management Techniques <ul><li>Make the community success your success </li></ul><ul><li>Be accessible and available </li></ul><ul><li>Be a listener </li></ul><ul><li>Be a connector </li></ul><ul><li>Be a teacher of teachers </li></ul><ul><li>Foster leaders </li></ul>
Community Management Techniques <ul><li>Two powerful questions </li></ul><ul><li>How can I help? Will you help me? </li></ul>
Broadbrush Review <ul><li>Answer the essential 7 questions </li></ul><ul><li>Market when you launch and be authentic </li></ul><ul><li>Think about involvement and staff to that level </li></ul><ul><li>Listen, integrate, teach and support </li></ul><ul><li>Be flexible! </li></ul>
Thank you! Questions? <ul><li>Scott Moore </li></ul><ul><li>Online Community Practitioner and Consultant </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>510-209-5974 </li></ul><ul><li>www.phoom.com </li></ul><ul><li>www.linkedin.com/in/scottmoore </li></ul><ul><li>www.twitter.com/scottmoore </li></ul><ul><li>www.facebook.com/scottmoore </li></ul>