It’s Harder to Build a Community from 0-10 than 10-100

For our CMGRclass, we were fortunate enough to be able to chat with Ally Greer, a community manager a and Sean Keely, a blogger for Syracuse University sports. With two different backgrounds, we were able to gain different perspectives on how to manage communities.

Photo courtesy of Enrique Martinez Bermejo via Flikr Creative Commons

A variety of different topics were discussed that ranged from search engine optimization, how they measure success, and even their strategy for starting a community. There were a few points that each of them discussed that stood out to me:

Ally – It is harder to get from 0-10, than 10-100.

  • Her initial plan was to get thousands of ambassadors for and, but much to her surprise, it was very difficult to get ambassadors. She tapped into the top percentage of users and turned them into ambassadors. It is very difficult to get people to buy in, and because of that, it’s much more difficult than you think to get a huge community. She quickly realized that what her initial plan was not going to be the final plan, and as a community manager, you have to adjust to that.

Ally – “Just because you have 100,000 users doesn’t necessarily mean you have 100,000 users”

  • It is important to think that just because you have a community of only 100, it could still be stronger than a community of 10,000. The reason for this is because if these 100 community members/ambassadors participate, it will be more beneficial than the other community of 10,000 where only 20 participate. “I have learned that it is better to have fewer members that spark interest rather than many members that don’t spark any. Just because you may be a user of the product does not mean you are part of the community.”

Ally- “You have to constantly revamp a plan”

  • She emphasizes that one of the hardest parts is that you never know what people are going to react to and you might have to try something else. What I really took away from this is that community managers have to be able flexible and open to change because there are many different people with many different personalities that you have to tend to.

Sean – “Nothing speaks more to me than going to the site and seeing that a post has 150 comments and another post has 2”

  • While there are many different analytical tools and metrics to figure out trends, nothing speaks more to him than being able to see firsthand where the interest is. When and where posts are shared as well as people commenting on stories is where he can really tell that particular content is booming. This was particularly interesting because we have learned thus far that there are many ways to look at trends and metrics, and his way is simple, yet effective. He knows what stories are being talked about and he can create further content pertaining to those popular posts.

Sean – “The demographics I have seen are all over the place”

  • Many people assume a college sports blog like this would have a demographic of 20 year old males. But, there are a lot of female and older readers. The median age is closer to 40 than to 20. So, it is incorrect to say that his site is a 20 year old male centric site. This is an important concept in community management as well as content because you can never assume what your demographic is going to be, and you have to revamp your plan and adjust your strategy to the community. Community members might very well be all unique, but it is crucial to not assume what the demographics will be because you could be mistaken.

There were so many topics discussed in this hour long chat with both Ally and Sean. While those were only a few comments that stuck out to me, there were many more. It is very interesting to see how they differ when it comes to managing content, and it’s also interesting to see other differences, such as how they measure success (Ally keeping track of activations/ambassadors and Sean by site comments/social media input). On a final note, “everything depends on your ultimate goals,” Ally Greer.

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