On March 13th 2013, I participated in my first ever #CMGRchat by using TweetChat.com. The experience was unique and very beneficial for someone such as myself that is being exposed to community management for the first time. Participants of the chat ranged from community managers to bloggers and enthusiasts, all having a great deal of knowledge in the creation and management of communities.
#CMGRchat provides a means of discussion and collaboration between community managers from around the world. Hosted by Jenn Pedde and Kelly Lux, the chat concentrates on the discussion of topics related to the emerging field of Community Management, and how professionals in the field approach day-to-day problems. The hosts present several questions to the group to stimulate discussion, which seems to work pretty well with achieving a meaningful conversation about Community Management topics.
I thought that the chat was very interesting and provided some great insight on topics such as testing within a community, handling changes and managing UI / UX testing. I never knew that Community Managers would be involved at the user interface or user experience level, but according to David Spinks, “often, CMs (community managers) should be involved in those projects.” Prior to chat, I always believed that Quality Assurance specialists or web designers would handle the testing of an interface, but this was not the case based on the feedback provided in CMGRChat.
The general consensus during the chat was to ensure user acceptance of any change in the community through extensive testing. The communities in question where such extensive analysis and testing was performed, varied by size and audience. Change affects everyone in a community and regardless of how large or small the size, it can impact the potential growth, thus making it vital to keep as many active participants as possible.
One of the questions that was presented to the group was how to implement a major change to the community. I personally believe any major enhancement which may alter the way a user does something should be gradually implemented over time. Major feature releases can be done in smaller “chunks”, ultimately making the new/changed features transparent to the end user. In my own experiences, I’ve always used a phased rollout with a detailed action plan on how to handle end user acceptance of any changes being made.
Based on the discussion between the participants of CMGRChat, testing is a crucial part to the pursuit of an online community’s continued growth and response to a changing industry. The Community Manager (CM) role itself is still undergoing change and continues to be crafted throughout the various companies that have established the position. Discussions that #CMGRChat provides weekly, creates a useful discussion that may allow CMs define their role effectively themselves.