The Biggest Challenges with Private Online Communities and the Secrets to Overcoming Them
The Biggest Challenges with Private OnlineCommunities and the Secrets toOvercoming Them December 7 1:30 - 2:45 H u b Ta g : # Te c h 1 1 x y z Paul Schneider Co-Founder Socious Chris Bonney VP of Client Experience Vanguard Technology
Primary Areas of Challenge• Planning• Implementation• Launch• Ongoing Management
Planning• Mapping to strategy• Realistic goals and expectations• Aligning staff• Recruiting champions and influences
Implementation• Change management• Execution of implementation
Launch• Starting small and specific• How to launch
Ongoing Management• Content plan• Is it worth it?
Challenge: Mapping the OnlineCommunity to the Org. Strategy WHY are we doing this?
Mapping The Online Communityto the Org. Strategy You can think of your online community as an extra burden for your staff. Or…..
Mapping The Online Communityto the Org. Strategy You can integrate your online community into how you do business to create something better!
Secret: It Takes as Long as It Takes How much MORE work is an online community going to take?
Secret: It Doesn’t Have to be forSomething New How can an Online Community help me do what I am already doing-- BETTER?
Secret: From Orgs Just Like You Initially our staff saw online networking as something that was an extension to our website and therefore not something that would affect their daily responsibilities. As they came to understand the toolset, it was the staff themselves who recognized new ways to do their job through online networking. To put it more succinctly, the product sold itself! While there were concerns about it being a “time drain” or “just one more thing” for staff to think about, everyone appreciated that the additional time and energy required to learn the new system and assist in the development of content would ultimately lead to an improved member experience, which is everyone’s goal in the office.
Mapping The Online Community tothe Org. Strategy – Part 2Why would members come • If Facebook as a country, it would be the third largest in the world. to your site? • Users: 18-29 86%, 30-49 61%, 50-64 47% • Companies: 71% use Facebook, 59% use Twitter, 50% Blogger, 33% YouTube, 33% Message Boards. • Assns: 91% on Facebook, 71% on Twitter, 53% in LinkedIn, 27% blog, 18% private SN. • Google+ was the fastest social network to reach 10 million users at 16 days (Twitter took 780 days and Facebook 852 days)
Secret: Must be One-of-a-Kind To get members to participate, you have to give them something they cannot get anywhere else.
Secret: From Orgs Just Like You “AADE did have a vision which AADE members would feel that they are part of the AADE family whether they are participating in the local, state or national level. We wanted all members to have access in their local area to other AADE members (something that the current chapter structure could not always provide) and we wanted to provide a strong foundation for the future of the profession which supports AADEs Strategic Goal for Membership” Nadine Merkur Director, Member and Volunteer Services AADE
Secret: How They Did It • Facilitating member networking across geographies within the industry. • Supporting the development and dissemination of child life education and research in one useful place. • Encouraging membership connections and engagement between members. • Increasing public awareness of CLC and the child life profession
Mapping The Online Community tothe Org. StrategyWHY? = Technology
Secrets Overview: Mapping TheOnline Community to the Org.Strategy Secrets to Success: • Answer the question “Why?” • Be sure community goals map to existing association goals. • Answering non technology questions, drives technology solutions.
Challenge: Realistic Goals and Objectives Will they come?
Creating Realistic Goals and Objective • It will take time to get people engaged in your online community (3 months to 1 year.) • You may need to hire a community manager. • Make it a PRIORITY.
Creating Realistic Goals and Objective • It is going to take effort to change the way members interact with your org and use the site. • An online community needs to be marketed. • Adoption will be incremental, not monumental.
Secret: The Wikipedia Rule 1% 9% 90% ? Influencers Actives Members Disconnected Thought leaders Contribute Rate Experts Not connected Comment Rank Create content Not active Consumer Read Comment
Secret: But It’s Still a Good Thing Organizations that have a private online community are tending to increase in membership. -Marketing General 2011 Association Benchmarking Report
Secret: From Orgs Just Like You You will never be Facebook, so don’t try. Building a successful online community is not magic, and it is not rocket science, but it does take work.
Secret: From Orgs Just Like You Know that volunteer leaders never move as fast as you do, so set realistic milestone dates for the implementation. Recognize that all current chapters may not embrace/transition to your new model- and that’s ok- but leave the door open for them to return.
Challenge: Aligning Staff Challenge: How do I get my staff excited about and using the new online community?
Secret: No Unilateral Decisions Get staff involved in the selection process.
Secret: From Orgs Just Like You A staff team was selected to help design the platform and another internal team was created to work on the service support- so that we could foster staff support and also their ownership of the initiative.
Secret: How Can We Help? Survey staff on what they would hope this new tool would help them do.
Secret: From Orgs Just Like You We surveyed the volunteer staff at the time on what they needed to do their jobs better and what tools they would find useful. This gave them a voice in the process, but also gave us insight into what technology we needed to look at.
Secret: Does Bruce approve? Get top-down support.
Secret: From Orgs Just Like You We involved our entire staff in early discussions of the direction we were heading with our online community, how it would serve our members and meet the goals that were outlined in the organization’s overarching strategic plan. Our executive director was always very invested in the project, and his support and direction were key in ensuring that all of the staff were on board and committed to making it a success.
Secret: Don’t Let Things Slide Update early and often.
Challenge: Champions and Influencers No one person can make an online community successful.
Champions and InfluencersIts about how your members feel about it,not about how you feel about it.
Secret: Know Your Audience First Creators Critics Collectors Joiners Spectators Inactives
Champions and Influencers• Board• Members• Staff• Who else?• How will they be involved?
Secret: Champions and Influencers• Select carefully• Don’t have too many• Provide incentives and rewards• Get them involved early• Provide means for sharing
Secret: From Orgs Just Like YouI would recommend two things: 1) Transition yourmembership and educate its members about what theprivate community means and can mean to them. 2)Educate the membership in regards to all the featuresthat the community can bring and the advantages overthe public communities and social networks
Secret: Ask Them Survey members to see who is using online tools and what they are doing on them.
Recruiting Champions and Influencers Dont underestimate the resources required to facilitate the community. Whether a staff person or a member (ideally the latter, or several of them), that person needs ongoing development and must commit the time to foster the community.
“While the association may want the community to succeed and is willing to put unlimited resourcestowards it, ultimately the members must REALLY want it (to the point of being willing to openly engage andkeep the community vibrant) in order for it to be truly successful.”
Change Management – Case Study• Young membership• Vibrant conversations online• Organizational buy-in for change• Potential for future growth• People dedicated to managing community• Great ideas for points of engagement
How to Avoid DisasterDon’t – assume change is needed/wanted – assume new is better – launch without notice – act unilaterally without member buy-in – exclude champions – think a few voices aren’t important
Secret: You Must Facilitate Change• Early buy-in• Find evangelists/sponsors/champions• Over-communicate• Listen• Make success easy• Reward participation• Sell your wins
Challenge: Planning for the Implementation Your implementation can be a nightmare or a great experience. The better you plan, the more effective your implementation will be.
Secret: Have a Process• The Process- What to Expect – Plan for the implementation to take 30-90 days. – Plan for many people from the organization to be involved. – Take time to DREAM. – Roll out doesn’t need to be all at once-have a plan.
Secret: Know Your Resources Resources-What to Plan for • Project Lead • Functional Area Leads • Technical Leads • Testers
Planning for the Implementation Pitfall #1: Launching at Your Conference Avoid Pitfall #1: Launch after conference
Planning for the Implementation Pitfall #2: Assuming Your Users Are Going to be Just as Excited as You Are Avoid Pitfall #2: Launching is a process
Planning for the Implementation Pitfall #3: Planning to Launch Over a Major Holiday Avoid Pitfall #3: Launching during an average week
Planning for the Implementation Pitfall #4: Only One or Two Staff Members Know How to Use the Software Avoid Pitfall #4: Train the whole staff
Planning for the Implementation Pitfall #5: You Have No Strategic Plan Moving Forward Avoid Pitfall #5: Create a content plan
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Secret: Selling an Online CommunityOur new community is up and Will the new tax laws affect your business? You might be surprised to findrunning. Come network with out what bad news some members haveother members, share best received recently. Chime in or learnpractices and discuss hot more.topics. Share your best business advice for newbies in our industry. Highest ranked submission gets $100 off annual event registration. Help a newbie today. 11 people have commented on our most recent blog post about TARP. Incredible insights from people just like you. Read more.
Secret: Elements of a Soft Launch • Don’t have a major promotion around it • Call it “Beta” • Fill it up with content • Get 1% involved first and early • Facilitate word of mouth • Don’t be perfect, just be good
Challenge: Ongoing Management What is a content plan?
Secret: Content Plan Creation Content Plan Narrative
Secret: Content Plan Creation Download the plan for the Socious website at: www.socious.com/tech11
On Demand Webinar7 Secrets to a Successful Social Networking LAUNCH www.vtcus.com/sociallaunch
Is it Worth it?The RWA mission states that: "Romance Writers of America is dedicated toadvancing the professional interests of career-focused romance writers throughnetworking and advocacy." With our online community we can now - finally-provide the kind of networking and advocacy that our mission demands. Theonline community has given us a platform for education and a vehicle foradvocacy that has, heretofore not been available or affordable for us. Now wecan offer more....much more....to our members.
Is it Worth it?The biggest benefit is "connections-" to one another, toAADE, and to a one stop professional resource.
In Closing The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary. -Vince Lombardi
Contact InformationPaul SchneiderCo-FounderSocious602email@example.com@SociousSuccessChris BonneyVP of Client ExperienceVanguard Technology312-263-1322 x firstname.lastname@example.org@vanguardtech