Being the first person to do something is always a bit daunting. In the case of being the first #CMGRClass moderator, I was a little concerned I wouldn’t quite know how to approach it. After all, while I’ve moderated communities before, they’re usually interest-oriented, rather than academically-oriented. This being a class, I wanted to make sure I was both engaging and thought-provoking.
For this week, we read quite a few pieces about the history of community management, and how the technologies and responsibilities have evolved up until now. This was a great review, and provided some solid context and history for the rest of the class. After all, there’s value in knowing where your field has come from, and how far.
I opened up the discussion with the following questions:
- In what ways are online communities today different from their early relatives?
- How have the changes in web and mobile technologies been reflected in community management?
- What were your most useful take-aways from the readings and video?
The class responded by noting how technology has vastly improved interactions and response time. In old bulletin boards, a message might receive a response hours or days after posting, whereas social networks today, coupled with mobile technologies, allow for responses in seconds. The rise of transparency was also brought up – users use their real names far more often than in the past, when a pseudonym or screen name was more common. Anonymity has been known to encourage users online to act in ways not becoming to their normal personalities, such as being more rude or aggressive, or even making remarks they wouldn’t make in person. This trend toward transparency is an interesting shift in online communities, with implications that may yet to be seen, though it may represent more genuine online interactions.
We also addressed how new technologies, especially real-time technologies supported by high-bandwidth networks, have changed how communities can interact. I’ve already mentioned how impressed I am with Google+ Hangouts, and what they can do for communities. The class also mentioned Facetime, and we’ve all used Vsnap at this point. Sharing rich media with another person on the Internet is now easier and more accessible than ever. Real-time communications, from chat clients to Skype, are also widely in use. Will we even need cellular service in the future, if all of our devices can make calls over IP? How’s that for saving on customer service?
Mid-week, I also presented two more articles, and a few more questions to go with them. I found the social@Ogilvy: Introduction to Community Management 3.0 piece on their thoughts on community management, and The Community Manager: How to Build a Community From Scratch post about emphasizing two different views on starting in community management. Right away, we noted that Ogilvy’s ratio of organic conversation in your community to talk about the brand (70/30) doesn’t match up with the recommendations of others. There are many many opinions about community metrics, and no hard rules. Kelly Lux pointed out that Ogilvy’s proficiency is in audience, whereas David Spinks (who wrote the second article) is more of a community expert. Audience and community are not the same, and shouldn’t be treated as such.
There was, of course, more to this discussion, as I’m sure will be the case every week. However, it seems our class is well-suited to having great in-depth discussions about community management, and we had some really solid analyses of the readings show up this week. It was great to see how everybody else interpreted the articles and questions posted; we seem to be a well-rounded and insightful group.
In closing, I’ll leave off with my bonus question of the week, about the history of Community Managers:
What’s the most ancient online community you’ve been involved in?