Daily Archives: February 26, 2013

Creating Value For Your Community

In this week’s #CMGRClass readings about starting a community from scratch, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what creates a sense of value for community members. I’ve reflected on why I personally would want to be part of a community, and what would keep me involved.

I think of it as the concept of “value.” 

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It’s the idea that my participation provides something of intrinsic or tangible satisfaction to me.

“Value”—finding something “valuable”–is, in my view, the label applicable to the sense of imperative that gets people interested in your community to start with, ushers them in the door, entices them to stay, encourages them to contribute, and reinforces the sense that there is enough “good stuff” for them to stay put.

I also believe that providing continuing value is a necessary function of community mangers if they are to start, and maintain, successful ongoing engagement with a community.

The essence of that value depends to a great degree on whether the community type and the interested audience members are tuned in the same interests and values. Foremost in consideration is whether the type of community matches with the interests – and expected value – an audience member is seeking.

As pointed out in “buzzing communitiesBuzzing Communities,” by author Richard Millington, “the type of community changes everything” (about “the content you create, the people you invite, the activities/events you host, the benefit members get from the community, and how you moderate the community.”

Millington breaks the community types into these categories, all of which seem self-explanatory:

  • INTEREST            
  • PLACE
  • PRACTICE
  • ACTION
  • CIRCUMSTANCE

Another way to look at the essence of the give-and-take of an online community is the concept, “sense of community.” Millington asks key questions about each of what he says are the “four key factors inherent in develop a strong sense of community” (Page 49 in his book) that result in members’ feeling that their participation produces a “value” (my words). Millington’s factors (with my paraphrasing) are:

Membership: Do members identify with one another?

Influence:  Do they feel influenced by the community and influential within it?

Integration/fulfillment of needs:  Are members’ needs being met/aligned w/needs of the community?

Shared emotional connection:  Do members share emotional connection?

That sense of value (or of the value proposition fulfilled, perhaps ) is referenced by Dino Dogan   bragging-polaroid2.png DOGAN

in his article, “How To Build a Community of Fanatics.”

“So, the first lesson in building a community of fanatics is to create a new, effective,  unique and original solution that solves a real pain-point for your target demographic.”

Another resource, The Community Manager newsletter’s David Spinks,

David Spinks

David Spinks

shows steps you can use to create a “value experience” when building a community.   As he recommends in his July 2, 2012 blog:

          Step 1:     Pick up your phone, and call a user/customer.  Ask them about themselves.  Ask them about their experience with your company.  Make a personal connection.

         Step 2:    Invite them to a private Facebook group for your customers.

         Step 3:    Introduce them to the group and help them get involved in the discussions.”

Putting myself in the place of that user/customer, I think it is  very clear that, if you are the person getting the phone call, the invitation, the “ask” to participate, you will consider that a thing of real value.

  • If you are starting a community, what kinds of value can you plan to provide your community members?
  • If you are moderating a community, what kinds of actions do you routinely take to let members know that they themselves are valued, and that the community continues to be a valuable place that deserves their ongoing participation? What has been the most effective of those actions?

 

 

 

#CMGRClass Community Moderation: A Week in Review

During the week of January 31 through February  3, I served as the moderator for #CMGRClass’ Google+ Community.  The theme for the week? – “Community Management vs. Social Media Management.”  After a warm introduction from classmates Steve Rhinehart and Diane Stirling – the former had been the previous week’s moderator, and the latter was kind enough to trade weeks with me – I was ready to go!

Monday: introductory post.

Community Moderation Post 1I started my moderation duties by asking classmates for their thoughts on the differences between community and social media management and how their own skills and abilities were well-suited to these roles (photo at right).  I wanted to start the week by exploring any preconceived notions (and perhaps even misconceptions) about community management.  Discussion participants honed in on two main differences:

  • A social media manager builds reputation and talks to people; a community manager builds relationships and talks with people, or even better, facilitates people talking with each other.

As Justin Isaf stated in You may not actually be a Community Manager – and that’s ok., “For most (again, not all) Community Managers, they “win” if they put themselves out of a job because their users are talking to each other (not just to the community manager) …”

Wednesday: resource citation.

Community Moderation Post 2I’m a #RotoloClass alumna, having taken the course last spring.  One week was dedicated to community management and the readings included an article relevant to our #CMGRClass theme: 10 Tips For Aspiring Community Managers by Vadim Lavrusik.  I asked #CMGRClass to identify whether they found any of the tips thought-provoking, surprising, or challenging to put into practice (photo at left).

Friday and Saturday: supplemental material.

On Friday and Saturday, I posted links to two articles, Fast Company’s 5 Things Lady Gaga Can Teach Marketers About Community Building and SocialFresh’s The 2013 Community Manager Report [INFOGRAPHIC].  The former was another #RotoloClass find; the latter, a teaser of this year’s update to one of the readings assigned for this particular week of #CMGRclass.  (Author’s note: I had difficulties downloading the 2012 Community Manager Report, always receiving an error message when trying to access the report.)

Sunday: revisit opening question and handoff to new moderator.

By the time Sunday rolled around, my moderation duties were nearly over.  Early in the afternoon, I reposted the questions posed to classmates at the beginning of the week.  Alas, comments were light, which I attest to the day of the week, time of the day, and the fact that it was Super Bowl Sunday!

Community Moderation Post 3At the end of the evening, I handed over the moderation reins to classmate Katie Hudson and provided one last quote to emphasize the importance of relationships in community management.  In Social media ROI: Managing and measuring social media efforts in your organization, Olivier Blanchard writes, “Success in the social media space is predicated upon an individual or organization’s ability to forge and nurture online relationships and to some degree convert them into equally valuable offline relationships.”

Learnings

  • #CMGRClass is awesome!  #CMGRclass students have a depth and breath of experience that inform their posts in our Google+ community.  Furthermore, even only two weeks into our course classmates’ posts reflected their own personalities.
  • Comments breed comments.  I observed during my week of moderation that a post with a couple of comments had a better chance of attracting other comments than one without.
  • Patience pays.  The efficacy of any given post can’t be determined in a single day or two.  Below are two charts showing community participation for each moderator post.  At left, the number of comments and “+1″s are shown; at right, comments from the moderator (blue) are distinguished by those from classmates.
  • We are a community!  In only the third week of #CMGRClass, it was fun to observe and facilitate our class’ interactions with each other in the context of our shared experience of learning about the theory and practice of community management.

Community Moderation Post 4Community Moderation Post 5

It’s “Communication” Evolution Baby!

evolution

Photo credit: Knezeve

Olivier Blanchard, author of the book Social Media ROI suggests that, “In order to understand the true power of the web, you have to look into the nature of humanity itself.”  Humans are inherently social animals, plain and simple.  That means that by definition, we are a species that thrives on member interaction.  We love to talk, we love to listen to and tell stories, we love to communicate, and we love to belong.  It is part of our genetic makeup.

We love to communicate!         

Let’s switch gears for a moment to ponder the evolution of communication and how it relates to the understanding of our love of social media.   In the video,“The Evolution of Communication” we are treated to an epic trip across time, chronicling each successive communication innovation, from cave paintings to the globally integrated world of today.  Communication techniques have changed since the beginning of human history, but one thing remains the same.  We clearly crave technologies that allow us to connect easier, faster, and better…social media provides all three.  It truly stands out from all other forms of communication breakthroughs.  In the video, they describe social media as “the biggest human activity shift since mankind first walked the earth.”

Which means the implication of social media’s power is staggering!

Blanchard explains that, “Social Media, at its heart, is people communicating and interacting, but can be considered a force multiplier as it takes word of mouth and multiplies both its velocity and reach.”   So, while our human evolutionary path has lead us to grow in numbers so large that we are considered a cosmopolitan species, meaning that our existence is completely widespread across the earth, so too should our communication abilities be considered cosmopolitan.  The article, “The Brief History of Social Media,” explains that  Social Media has enjoyed an incredible rise to unbelievable popularity and estimates that internet users will double in just 2 short years (in 2015) to a global total of some four billion, or nearly 60 percent of the Earth’s population!

Social Media has already evolved into a communications force to be reckoned with and it is still growing and expanding every day.   The digital age is here and will continue to advance to meet the needs of an ever interested population.   It is clear that social media satisfies our innate communication desires, but it is not the end of the communication road.  Only time will tell us what the next wave of communication improvements will bring.