Daily Archives: March 5, 2013

Thoughts on our Google+ Classtime

Class started with casual banter per norm on Tuesday the 26th, in which we learned that Steve makes great homemade pizza and it was Rebecca’s birthday.  Then delved into content for the previous week, the topic of which had been “Building a Community from Scratch.”

Spent most of the class time considering the maturation model and identifying at which point of the model we are at in the class. Most of the discussion pointed towards the class being at the 3rd stage of the model because we have flexible policies and governments, we have a general idea of what we need to do, we drive our participation in the community on the CMGRclass g+ space, and we use collaborative leadership. It was also suggested that the class is in limbo somewhere between 2 and 3 due to the fact that the class is a consistent size and is not open to growth.

The next topic was the difference between a community and a network based on the model. A community has a manager pulling string behind the scenes, whereas a network is more individualized. Community has some form of sovereignty, even if the lines are fuzzy, network pretty intertwined into other things.

The question of whether or not you can plan to stop the process in the maturation model at the point of at forming a tight knit community and not going any further was then considered. In Jenn’s opinion, it’s huge brands and their community members that make a network (pepsi, coke, etc). You’re part of a network and an audience, not a tight knit community that comes with smaller, more conversational and personalized grouping that is kind of like a family. Many smaller networks do, indeed, stop short on the maturation model and hover in the “tight knit community” category.

This led to the next topic of discussion, which was “Is the end game of building a community always moving towards creating a network?” The answer seemed to be a solid “no, not necessarily.” The maturation model is a good guideline for companies and CMs to take bits and pieces from, but not everyone is working towards a network and not all companies/communities follow these steps.

From the maturation model the class moved on to the Commitment Curve. It was discussed that the commitment curve needs to be scalable community to community, an opinion heavily aided by Steve’s personal experience and the fact that attending an event in some communities represents and exceptional level of commitment, but in others really doesn’t take much effort or exhibit much dedication.

 

What’s the plan? Steps involved with planning a community

This week we’re concentrating on the necessary planning involved with online communities. There are several things that must be planned prior to the implementation of the community such as your goals, objectives, member conduct policies, software and supported platforms. Will your community require expensive monitoring software due to the amount of resources being invested? Are you a smaller shop and only require minimal investment to succeed? These are some of the questions that must be taken into account when planning a community.

Where to begin?5524669257_ab67585fd0_m

After reviewing several articles online and the readings for this week, the first step is to identify your target audience and establish what you are attempting to accomplish. According to Joshua Paul’s article the first step is to identify a problem that your audience is facing. Your audience can include customers, businesses, fans or other parties. You must fully understand what they are looking to achieve through their participation in your community and how it will benefit them in the immediate future.

The purpose of your online community may be defined by both internal and external parties that are willing to change their behavior to solve certain problems. A business plan for the community may also be necessary to clearly define the goals and key performance indicators (KPI) to determine success. These indicators are needed to justify the resources that the business is committing to the development and continued support of the community. KPIs can include banner clicks, RSS subscribers, increase of sales, participation in company-led events or increase in overall traffic of physical storefronts.

In order to assess the success of the online community and attempt to calculate an approximate return on investment (ROI) calculation, there are several suites available that can monitor across several social media platforms. Dustin Betonio’s article lists some popular software services that provide a detailed view of an online community that can be used to assess its success. Most packages include pre-packaged reports that can give a view across multiple platforms and the activity on each.

Establishing Policies

Aside from understanding the purpose and KPIs for an online community, a Community Manager must have a clear idea of what policies each member will follow. What will happen if your community gets infiltrated with spammers, racists, or generally negative users? Do you want to allow messages of hate on your community? Obviously, this isn’t something you want in your community as it most likely will result in a loss of active, meaningful members.

In order to prevent abuse, a Community Manager must implement guidelines for users to follow. According to ManagingCommunities.com article, you must be impartial and apply the same rules to all participants of the community. Regardless of how a Community Manager may feel about a particular member, they are the impartial entity in the oversight of the interactions that occur between members. Do you want to eliminate any kind of negativity in the dialog? Should community members be allowed to “hate” politicians or other people that are in the spotlight?

These are all questions that a Community Manager must be mindful of when creating an online community. The justifications of resources spent on the community are extremely important because a company may have limited capital and needs to see tangible results in order to continue support of the initiative. How will you approach the planning process for your online community? Are you going to have a formal approach or something informal?