Community Management Workshop

February 21, 2010 – 10:36 am

I attended a workshop on community management at Webstock, and at the end asked the attendees to write down some words of wisdom for a new community manager, maybe something they wish they’d been told or something they learned at the workshop. Here’s their collected advice:

  • Networking is important—often there are other groups doing similar things that are happy to piggy-back on projects or contribute resource. Before you start, understand your resource requirement and allow for growth, especially if updating/collecting info for the community. It’s easy to contact and update for 60 organisations, a lot harder for 3,000.
  • Depth of relationship allows for more engagement and vulnerability.
  • Keep raising the bar!
  • “Personal” rewards from community involvement translates to professional reward and back again.
  • Always have a back-up person—don’t be your own single point of failure.
  • It can be important to reward people for participating in your online community.
  • Go where your community already is, rather than expect them to come to a new ‘community’ that you just set up.
  • Forums take 6+ months to establish momentum.
  • Wikis suck.
  • Comments at the bottom of pages of content fail to engage passive readers.
  • Whatever you’re doing—whether it be in the online or offline world—you need to provide an “authentic” experience or voice for your audiences and community.
  • You need strong reasons to make building a community worthwhile. It can take a lot of time and resource.
  • I like the idea of incentives for users. e.g., points and rewards. For example, in our wiki originally we got a lot of new users to contribute through making the stats viewable. They could view numbers of changes made by users and a top 10. This lead to a competitive environment, especially with the boys. I had forgotten about that so am thinking how we can get that going again. Am interested in Shelley’s “submit a tag”, how that works. A problem we have is meaningless tags.
  • I learned that preparation and planning should play a more important role than technology.
  • Exposure to a wide range of online communities can teach us a lot about how people interact online.
  • We had great success and learned a lot by piloting community interaction with small self-selected groups before trying to interface with the wider community. Benefits: tools are tested and tweaked; people from the pilot are great at kicking the wider community off.
  • Be very proactive about responding to criticisms/suggestions by pointing out ways that the commenter/critic can get involved in doing something with their suggestion and solving their problem.
  • Why? Social capital; information; value; connections. How? Authentically; where they already hang out; on their terms; multiple (appropriate) platforms. Who? By the community; for the community …
  • Go to where your community are already hanging out to engage with them.
  • Decentralise your community management by using your community.
  • Who the customer is, what they want, what they need is key. Once the purpose is clear, that drives every other decision.
  • Do you really need to do this? What will work best for your users? When will you stop if it isn’t working?
  • Take-away: you need a community manager; build it and they won’t come!

Thanks to everyone who took the time to write down their advice!

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