Tag Archive for engagement

Knowing your Community: #CMGRClass Panel

This week I was able to sit in on a panel with four active Community Managers. It was a great conversation discussing the types of communities and engagement tactics used in their day-to-day work.

What was especially interesting was even though every person fell under the umbrella of community management, they had very different roles and objectives in comparison. Each focused on different categories of community management, such as content management, support, moderation and engagement. These distinctions seemed to be formed by the industry, brand’s strategic objectives, and the nature of the community.

Vimeo Staff Picks Banner, a curated channel for members

Vimeo Staff Picks Banner, a curated channel for members

For example, the tech manufacturer Lenovo’s community has a different atmosphere than Vimeo’s. People who are a member of Vimeo’s community are most likely passionate about producing creative content, or enjoy consuming creative content. This community has different values and ways of interacting than the tech-focused Lenovo community. The differences in the needs and values have an impact on how a community manager encourages engagement.

Gavin O’Hara from Lenovo drove this point home even further: “The first rule of community management could easily be knowing your audience…first, who is your audience in broad strokes, and then you dig deeper… you can’t define your audience by one set of people” This point was a common theme that persisted through the panel, all of the panelists seemed to agree of the importance of listening to your community, despite the industry.



Alex Dao is part of of a community team of 22 personnel, that works congruently on interconnected layers of the Vimeo community. They have many opportunities for members to participate in the community, holding events, weekend challenges, distributing lessons, and curating channels with highlighted videos in addition to support and social media interactions. This is a great example of engaging all streams of a community, with knowing what niche groups would enjoy engaging in a certain way.



In contrast, Cara Conner manages her community solo, concentrating on twitter chats, email, outreach, and PolicyMic’s new fellowship. This fellowship is a part of the transition of PolicyMic from thought leaders to more regular, young journalists. She hopes that the fellowship shifts the focus from web traffic to the voice and stories of the target audience of PolicyMic—Millennials. In that way the fellows are the brand ambassadors, the actual voice of the community.


Few posts on Lenovo's blog

Few posts on Lenovo’s blog


Gavin O’Hara has been with Lenovo’s community from the start, growing the twitter following from 3,000 to about 2 million. He attributes trial and error a large part of the journey, but has a good handle on his community now. Something I found intriguing about the Lenovo community were the special Facebook group set up for the committed members of the brand. This group rewards the top-tier members by interacting one-on-one with the users, and making them feel like they are a part of something bigger. These tactics of recognizing passionate members of the community creates loyalty in addition to fostering engagement.



Foursquare Superuser icons

Tracey Churray of the Foursquare community team focuses more on the support side, and tapping into the community to build a database. Foursquare’s strategy is driven by crowdsourcing users for venue updates and tips, so they have unique relationship (and even reliance) with their community. They also have established a hierarchy within their community, giving increasing levels of power to more involved members. These tiers of Superusers are specially picked, and they get perks such as previews and special editing access. It’s a genius program, and plays well into Foursquare’s gamification M.O. Users are driven to reach the next status level of Superuser, and to reap the rewards.


  • Above all, you must have a clear understand of your community
  • Priority levels based on activity or membership establish loyalty
  • Community Management is not solely social media- creating strong relationships is a result of diverse touch-points

Are you part of a brand community with a hierarchy? Does this inspire you to be more involved in the community?

How a Community Pays Off… So You Can Buy a Robot

Building an online community can be incredibly frustrating. Getting people on board with your community is a difficult task, especially when there are no other members. However tedious the process of acquiring members may be, it is well worth it in the end. As Dino Dogan points out in his article, “How To Build a Community of Fanatics,” community members will actually start doing your job for you… for free!


You’re Not a Robot

One huge thing to remember when dealing with the online world: you’re not a robot, and neither are the other members.

“No one wants to interact with a brand, a logo, a picture of your dog, a cartoon, or worse,” Dogan said.

People are starting to talk behind your back, saying that they think you're a robot... Show your face. Use your name. It makes a difference. Photo uploaded by Dan Coulter. All rights reserved.

People are starting to talk behind your back, saying that they think you’re a robot… Show your face. Use your name. It makes a difference.
Photo uploaded by Dan Coulter. All rights reserved.

People want to interact with other people. By doing two basic things, you can convince that you do not have robotic arms:

  1. Use a picture of yourself (a close-up of your face)
  2. Use your real name.

By adhering to these two simple rules, it will have a subconscious effect on others. It shows that you stand behind your words and actions; you’re not hiding behind a screen name and a puppy dog. You’re Zachary Prutzman, and you have something to say.


… Seriously, Though. You’re Not a Robot.

I don’t think I’ve stressed the whole not-a-robot thing enough. So I’m going to talk about it some more.

When starting a community, you need to reach members on a personal level.

David Spinks proposes a fool-proof community building strategy in his blog post, titled “How to Build a Community From Scratch.”

Step 1: Pick up the phone and call a community member. Ask them about themselves and their experience with the company.

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 discussion.

This sounds difficult, I know. But building a community will pay off in the future (keep reading – you’ll understand soon enough). You don’t have to call all your community’s members. Start with one, then the next, then the next. Making a personal connection shows that you value their opinions.


It’s Pay Day 

Finally, you’ve escaped the talk of robotics. It’s a relief. But not nearly as big a relief as building a successful community… cause now you can sit back and relax. Have a beer (I recommend having multiple beers, but to each his own).

***Quick side note: The rest of this article is only true if you have built a community of “fanatics.” Members must be active and willing to participate. If you have not reached this point, you need to read some more things on “How to Not Be a Robot.” Sorry.***

So, how will these “fanatics” make your job easier? Well, Dogan points out a variety of reasons:

  • Engaged members are the ones that will market for you while you sleep (… robots don’t need sleep. Maybe I should be a robot.).
  • They will field technical questions from other members.
  • They will fulfill your help-desk tickets.
  • They will recruit others to do the same.
  • They will do it all for free!

One thing that Dogan stresses is that members must be enthusiastic about your community… and this enthusiasm cannot be bought with money.

… but you could buy a robot. Just saying.

Community Managers vs. Social Media Managers: What’s the Difference?

In today’s media landscape, the terms “community manager” and “social media manager” have more or less become synonymous. This practice of interchanging these two roles, however, is highly inaccurate. Let’s investigate this unruly phenomenon and hopefully, by shedding some light on it, we can change our behavior (yes, I mean “our,” as in, I’ve fell victim to this, too).

Back to square one

Let’s bring it back to basics. If you talk to a lot of people, you work in social media. Social media managers want to reach every person who participates in a conversation with the brand, and truly make for an engaging experience.  If you try to get a lot of people to talk to each other, you work in community management. Community managers essentially look to eliminate their own jobs — they want the brand to come to the point where users are talking to each other, so they act as the brand’s own personal defense.

You know you want it…


After reading through this article, even though I thought I was “bringing it back to the basics,” I found myself more confused. I see the clear distinction that is being made here, but I asked myself, “Don’t community managers use social media to get lots of people talking to each other?” It’s safe to say that these roles have become blurred.

Especially in the consumer space (versus the business-to-business space), the audience is a lot larger and broader, and it is not always as easy to decide which person — the social media manager or the community manager — should be the one to jump in first. This idea brought up another thought in my mind: we often generalize social media, much like the roles of social media manager and community manager, and clump it into one big responsibility. However, the nature of the content produced and the platforms used truly depends on the nature of the brand. B2B brands need strong community managers and social media managers, just like consumer brands do.

So if both comm. and social media mgmt. involve social media…

What’s all this “other stuff” everyone keeps referring to that community managers are also involved with? It’s never made clear that community managers have both online and offline responsibilities. Jenn Pedde (@JPeddesums it up best:

So what does a community manager do?

Communication, moderation, guideline writing, engaging day to day online (forums, owned communities, blogs, newsletters) and offline (events, conferences, meet-ups), strategy, working with the social teams/marketing/support/product/PR/management, surveying, customer service, and a variety of other activities.

Living and learning in a digital era, it’s easy to forget that communities offline are just as — if not more important than — communities online. A lot of the conversation about the brand happens online, but we see the results of such conversations take form in an offline realm. These conversations are only really worth it if the audience can translate what they’re saying into real actions in the “real world.”

Everyone loves examples
@Sharpie benefits from a social media manager, who's engagement with the audience makes for fun content that speaks to the brand identity.

@Sharpie benefits from a social media manager, who’s engagement with the audience makes for fun content that speaks to the brand identity.

Just incase it’s not entirely clear, here are two examples of work done by a community manager and work done by a social media manager. Community managers are more focused on socially or conversationally enabled content and responding to comments. Sharpie (@Sharpie) is great example of a brand that does not necessarily benefit from a community manager, as the business model cannot support deep relationship development, but benefits highly from unique user-generated content that social media managers would create.

The online web store Etsy is a great example of a brand that is well-supported by a community manager. In order to get users conversing with one another, the community managers at Etsy hold events, create webinars and curate collections. By doing so, Etsy is giving users opportunities for users with shared interests, etc. to collaborate. Thus, if the collaboration is successful, users feel a new sense of loyalty to Etsy because they owe this newfound success to the brand itself.



Etsy community page

Etsy community page 

Now that you know how to spot the difference between a community manager and a social media manager, which do you think your brand could benefit from best? Maybe you’ll even want to pursue one of these roles as a future career!

Lessons in User-Generated Content from … College?

In the past, I was lucky to work in two marketing departments at two excellent colleges. In one, I was a student worker, which helped me gain experience to become a salaried employee at the other. Both schools used the same tactic to gain user-generated content (UGC): an annual photo contest.

Photo contests are a common to collect UGC, and they seem like an easy way to get people to contribute. The logic:

  • People take pictures all the time, so there’s no shortage of material out there
  • Submitting a photo is easy; just attach it to an email
  • Who wouldn’t want their awesome photos promoted by their Alma Mater?!

After reading about UGC, I realized I have already learned a couple lessons in UGC from watching these contests.


Plan for procrastination

For both of these contests, lots of the submissions would come in the last week or even on the last day. Knowing this, would you make the deadline for a photo contest the day before you announce the winners? Probably not. So why would you set up the same schedule for any UGC?

People, not just students, procrastinate, so it’s necessary to plan ahead. If you you want to post your UGC on one day, make the deadline well before that. That gives you wiggle room to edit the content if needed, and even if the submitter is “late,” they’re not really leaving you high and dry.

Bigger audience does not always equal better UGC

quality over quantity

One photo contest was run by a bigger school and open to everyone, while another photo contest was run by a smaller school and only open to students who studied abroad in the pervious year. While the former contest got more total submissions, the latter contest got, in my opinion, higher quality submissions.

I believe that by targeting only students who studied abroad, it implies that the contest is searching for photos from exotic locations, and by requiring a narrative, it emphasizes the importance of storytelling from a unique perspective. Yes, it narrowed the entries, but those few entries were of very high quality.

For example: Would you rather receive ten guest blog posts but only one or two are good, or only get three guest blogs, all of high quality?

Make the incentives work for you, too


One contest offered a cash prize along with press release and a gallery showing on Alumni weekend. The other offered no monetary prize, but along with a press release, incorporated the photos and photographer’s names into the study abroad website. Both incentives worked, but I think one worked better. Can you guess which one?

Giving students the chance to have their photo immortalized for several years on the website not only provides incentive to submit, but it also provides the school with gorgeous photos to showcase on the website. It’s the win-win scenario that I believe makes the second contest smarter.

These are just some lessons I’ve learned from my professional experience. Do you agree? Do you disagree? Have you experienced moderating UGC before? What worked for you? What would you have done better?

Meant to be Broken: How Tried-and-True “Rules” Hold Us Back


HansKristian, Flickr

The State of Community Management 2013 (I’ll call SOCM2013) briefly touches on the 90-9-1 Rule, which states that, within the population of an online community:

  • 90% lurk
  • 9% contribute and/or comment
  • 1% create content

This rule was considered the norm for online communities back in 2006. But it’s 9 years later, and they checked to see if these figures still hold true.

The SOCM2013 states that new research determined that the top engaged communities reported very different numbers, with the majority of the population being contributors. The numbers:

  • 17% lurkers
  • 57% contributors
  • 26% create content

Remember, these numbers are the average for highly engaged communities. So does this mean that, in order to be a successful community, you have to reach these numbers?

I believe the correct answer is maybe. But also, maybe not.

Competing With Yourself

The main problem I have with rules like the 90-9-1, or the 17-57-26, or whatever kind of numbers you want to throw together, is that these “rules” don’t take into account your target community.

I’ve encountered a lot of articles that will claim they know best way to engage, the best times to engage, or the numbers you should be hitting. More often than not, however, what they won’t tell us is how to monitor our own community to figure out what’s best for your community. It’s a bit like the difference between giving a man a fish and teaching him how to fish.

Quality and Quantity

Instead of reaching for an arbitrary number, CMs should instead work to challenge themselves on a daily basis to improve their community.

Most importantly, not only should a CM look at the number of lurkers, contributors, and content creators, but they should critique the quality of the content that is delivered. Ask questions like:

  • Are you getting more engagement this day/week/month than last?
  • Are there more content creators – and is that content better?
  • Are commenters starting meaningful discussions that better your community?

Another drawback to having a goal number is deciding your next move once you’ve reached your “goal.” Do you set a new number to reach? What if your community is already highly engaged – can you sit back and relax because you’ve found what works? What if the optimal ratio for your community is different than your goal?

The goal as a CM should be to optimize the community. It seems more effective to try out different strategies and see what’s an optimal engagement ratio rather than chase a magic number someone outside of your community has set.

What do you think about rules like the 90-9-1 rule? Should they be used to set goals for community manager – or should CMs focus on their own metrics?

Let’s Play! #CMGRChat Gets Gamified

Reality is broken, so let’s play games instead; that was the main point of Jane McGonigal’s keynote speech at 2011’s PAX East convention. In a large auditorium at the top floor of the Boston Convention Center, Ms. McGonigal got the entire audience to partake in a massive thumb war, after discussing the merits of injecting games and play into real life. Her arguments were strong, citing psychological evidence that play improves many quality of life factors, and can result in better work. I came away from that keynote with a shiny new achievement (Double Kill – I won both thumb war games simultaneously!), a heightened sense of enjoyment (the video games on the show floor didn’t hurt, though), a plan to buy her book, and a lasting interest in “gamification.” So when it became the topic of the day for #CMGRChat, I couldn’t wait to see what people had to say.

On April 3rd, dozens of community managers tuned into Twitter to discuss four questions about gamification and community. The questions posed were:

  • Is every community a good candidate for gamification? And how do you know yours is/isn’t?
  • What do you expect to gain from gamification within your community and how do you measure that?
  • What are some best practices for someone just starting to add game elements to a community? Things to stay away from?
  • What are some examples of gamification within communities that has worked well? Not so well?


The summary? Well, not all communities are created equal, and that goes for how suitable gamification is for them. Some communities are too casual for games to really motivate them, but others are hyper competitive and would love to be rewarded for using the platforms. Two examples I knew before I really knew how widespread gamification was are SuperBetter and Fitocracy. SuperBetter is Jane’s self-improvement network that ties personal achievements to in-game achievements. It’s a great concept, that’s really more about making a game out of real life than it is about joining a gaming community, but the community aspect is very much present and very helpful as a support system. Fitocracy, in contrast, is a bit more competitive. It is also based on fitness and self-improvement, but it rewards high scores and progress, pitting you against yourself as well as your peers. The community on both exists to support, but Fitocracy tends to emphasize safely one-upping your buddies.


Gamification doesn’t work without a strategy, however, so some of the answers in the chat were especially helpful. Knowing what benefits there are to which features you want to implement is of high importance, right behind knowing whether or not your community will actually buy into them. Michael Hahn suggested using gamification to find advocates and influencers, as well as gather feedback. Evan Hamilton suggested using what already inspires community members as the focal point of gamification, which will likely lead to higher engagement. There are many ways to go about it, but going in blind is never a good choice. I think the rule of thumb is to actually spend the time needed to make a game that’s right for your community. If you can’t commit to that initial investment, it’s going to be very hard to commit to the long-term maintenance and upgrades of the game, and if the fit isn’t right, the game will very likely fail quite early. It’s really a lot more than stickers and achievements.

What is your favorite example of gamification? What worked best about it?

Tips to Gain Brand Loyalty

So you want people to get to know and love your brand. Creating a reason to be loyal is the first step. Traditionally, PR and Advertising have carried this load but the internet has brought a new dimension of contact and influence with online marketing and outreach via social media. We all want to know how to get a big slice of that pie, don’t we? Creating brand loyalty is a giant step towards getting help from your following. Some keys to this are trust and confidence in you and your brand.


  •  Do some research to find out where your ambassadors are. Where are people talking about you and what are they saying? This will give you an idea of what motivates them. Ask them about their interests.
  • Encourage your community to give input and state opinions on posts and shared information. Make it relevant to their lives and they will continue to return for more interactions.
  • Find interesting topics for them to interact with each other. This will help in building relationships within the community. We all like to hang out “where everybody knows our name“.
  • Be a part of the action, reply to comments and encourage members to engage.


Value by alshepmcr


Words of wisdom from Britt Michaelian  – “when the facilitator of the community is thoughtful about making the community about the group and not their own need for a “flock”, the group will respond to the space that the community leader creates for each member of the community to flourish.” This just plain makes sense! Think of your own experiences in an online community and I am sure you will relate to this. Don’t you value being heard and acknowledged, I know I do.

Loyalty comes from a feeling of connection.” [BM]

As the community grows, you will easily identify frequent commentator, brand advocates that are destine to become ambassadors for your brand. These are people that talk to others in the community and out of the community. You will hear and see them on other platforms singing your brands praises and sharing that love with all the world. These are the people you want to recognize and reward. Be sure to thank them publicly and frequently. They will be engaging with other community members (or members to be) and you want them to to nothing but good to say about your brand. You can also have offline meetups where the relationships can grow and the community will become more connected with these vocal brand advocates/ambassadors.

brand ambassador

Find brand ambassadors within your community is one way to get the word out, but there are others. Connecting with communities that share a common interest is another. Take time to chat in be interested in their community and they may very well look into yours. You can also recruit people that blog or write for online publications to become brand ambassadors after you have spent time creating a relationship and finding a fit for both of you. Most importantly, don’t forget the rewards. Rewards don’t need to be extravagant, but they should be meaningful.


rewards str8 ahead


Be a giver to your community. Offer meaningful rewards and watch your community respond.  Here are some suggestions for rewards:

  • Offer free tickets to an upcoming event that you are having
  • Offer a badge after they recommend people to your community.
  • Create an “ambassador” program that has special events of chats by invitation only
  • Create a points system for referrals to the community

There are many ways to reward you brand ambassadors, just be as creative as you can. If you need more reasons to do this take a look at what this article has to say. Remember, communities are all about relationships. Be yourself, introduce interesting topics and interact with with everyone who comments on your post. This is a sure way to create the experience you and your community are looking for.

Conflict Resolution Takes Great Communication Skills

angry customer

We have been looking at many aspects of community management and while the position can be full of exciting experiences, inevitably you will run into a difficult or angry community member. What do you do when your peaceful, friendly, cooperative community is upset by an angry person? You know the type. They start with rude comments and remarks and continue to escalate while they suck your community into their negative vortex. Conflict resolution entails a journey into the unknown. No matter how much we prepare, we can never know for sure how another will react to us or respond to our message. Not surprisingly, this uncertainty leads many to avoid conflict rather than venture into the unknown, but as a community manager you will need the skills to resolve conflicts.

Olivier Blanchard has 15+ years of marketing management experience and gives us some rules to follow in his book  Social Media ROI. He offers us some practical advice that is relevant to the position a community manager may find themselves in. Lets take a look at a summary of what he offers –

THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT – this is the Golden rule of any business. Even if the customer is wrong, they are right. This is where you begin the journey into conflict resolution. When you come up against an angry customer, you never, ever engage in an argument with them, especially online. Imagine the scenario, you post one inflammatory comment to an angry person, what happens next? Don’t think for one moment that an online argument is about finding a resolution or point of agreement. It is a smack down, pure and simple. There will be no victor and you will certainly lose creditability.

no winners

Conflict resolution online is very different from the real world experience. If you were face to face with a customer, you would have the opportunity to use your body language as a tool to deal with the situation. You do not have this tool available in an online scenario you are faceless. A best practice would be to take it offline and speak with the customer directly without an audience. Remember to always be polite and treat them with respect regardless of how they behave.

By Campbell Addy

By Campbell Addy

Blanchard states – “Unreasonable customers are not the enemy.”  This is a great message to keep in mind. They will help you to grow and develop your communication skills. Take the higher ground and be thankful for this opportunity. We all need to keep practicing to be the best we can be so embrace the challenge. This also gives us the opportunity to practice humility. Blanchard shares that we should not be afraid to apologize, even when we don’t have to. How do you feel when someone is compassionate and apologetic towards you? This is what your customer needs. Reach out to them!

reach out

 By acknowledging the customers dispute and engaging them in the process to resolution you are well on your way.  This would be the time to recruit your customer as a partner in creating the solution. Blanchard suggests that you use this phrase, “I understand your frustration. How can I help?” By asking this question you have engaged them in the process by “shifting them from complaint mode to solution mode.” These best solution will come when the customer is involved. If the customers solution is not reasonable Blanchard suggests that you “apologize and say you can’t do that, but offer another solution.”

Online conflict resolution:

  • should always be done calmly and politely
  • should be done offline if it will require a more sensitive approach
  • should be managed in a professional manner (crowds tend to take sides)
  • should use the individuals name when possible
  • should recruit your customer into the resolution process

By following these simple guidelines and using your own communication skills, you are on your way to becoming a master of conflict resolutions. What are some ways that you have learned to resolve conflicts? We would like to know so leave a comment.

Until next time, “Happy Trails”!

Content Drives Community (Drives Content)

“Content is king.” – so goes the oft-uttered saying.  While the phase seems to be derived from an article by Bill Gates, I’ve come across the phrase in #RotoloClass, #NunesClass, and now #CMGRClass.  Although the specific venue within which this rule is most applicable may be debated – websites vs. blogs vs. SEO vs. online communities vs. social media sites – the importance of creating compelling content that resonates with audiences should not be dismissed on any platform.

In Chapter 3 of “Buzzing Communities,” Richard Millington addresses the role of content within an online community.  Millington compares an online community to a much older communications medium, the local newspaper, by discussing three ways the latter serves its community:

  • Establish a social order and narrative: identify the news items and individuals that are most newsworthy of readers’ attention
  • Inform and entertain: balance news and events with entertainment items
  • Develop a sense of social community: serve as consensus and determinant of community opinion

A local newspaper has a critical role in informing its community while establishing context among news items and individuals within the community.  Millington goes on to argue that online communities would be well-served in using local newspapers as a model for developing content.  He provides the following goals of content: create a community narrative, encourage regular readership, develop a sense of community, establish social order, and influence action within the community.

Whereas a content site may deliver the latest information about a topic or organization, prompting visitors to read or consume the content, Millington states that a community site “will provide information for members, establish a social order and facilitate strong bonds and heightened sense of community”, encouraging readers to participate and engage in conversation around the content.  It is content about the community that most resonates with members.


In July 2012, I became the first Online Engagement Chair for the Junior League of Syracuse.  Earlier that year, while serving as Communications Vice President and recognizing the increasing importance of an online presence in today’s world, I had lobbied for the creation of the role.  Personally, I was struggling to balance my duties at VP while managing the organization’s website and social media properties.  Around the same time, I was a #RotoloClass student, learning all about the importance of social media in engaging in two-way conversation.

Out of #RotoloClass, the idea of a blog post series entitled “Meet the JLS” was born, in which Junior League of Syracuse leaders would be profiled to demonstrate the spectrum of women who make up the JLS and humanize the organization as individual faces behind its logo.  (Little did I know at the time that this series would help to further many of Millington’s content goals, including developing a sense a community, aspirational spotlighting, and influencing activities and behaviors!)

JLS on TumblrI entered the current JLS year completely jazzed about the new blog post series.  To date, five interviews have been conducted and three profiles published (example at right).  Feedback was good, including from the organization’s leadership and membership, as well as from sister Junior Leagues who saw the posts on Twitter using the #MeetTheJLS hashtag.  However, to say that “Meet the JLS” has stagnated since the fall would be a kind understatement.  What happened? – any number of things, on a range of organizational to personal levels (competing priorities, lack of enthusiasm from participants, scheduling difficulties…).  As the time increasingly grew since the last post or interview, frustration slowly turned to indifference.

Moving Forward

The best content for a community is content about the community.  When I read Millington’s quote about the importance of community-based content, it was like a huge light bulb illuminating over my head and an Oprah “aha moment,” all rolled into one.  I immediately flashed back to the excitement of completing my first profile.  Now, I hope to reshape some of my priorities and elevate the blog post series within them, knowing that the content will add to members’ sense of place within the community, and perhaps even promote aspirations to be one of the women profiled in the series.

Do you belong to a community that is particularly inclusive?  What makes you feel part of that community?

(Featured image by Flickr user Cubosh.)

“What Is In It For Me?” – Creating An Online Community

community manager orange

We as humans have an age old question – What is in it for me? Let’s face it, we all like to feel part of something. We all like to feel that we are reaching out to others of like mind or interest. Think about the show “CHEERS, where you want to go because everybody knows your name.”  We are motivated by “self interest”, even if all we get out of it is “satisfaction” or a “sense of community”. Other ideas to contemplate while building a community are:

  • ROI – return on investment. How will you know when your time has been well spent?
  • KPI – key performance indicators. Decide what is worth measuring (just because you can measure something doesn’t mean you should).
  • Creating a respectful atmosphere where everyone is treated fairly (inside and outside the community).
  • Choose topics that encourage conversations. You want to get people engaged so they want to return.
  • Take a position on the topics so your community has a base line to start discussions. Make it easy for them to comment.

These are ideas to keep in mind as you start to build an online community. The foundation of your community will be a deciding factor on your success or failure of community development.

community talk

So, let’s take a look at some basics of community building. One of the first things you need to do is to determine what your goals and objectives will be so can create a system to measure your progress. It is imperative to do this early so you can measure every step of the way. Measuring your progress is important for many reasons, but primarily helps you to identify areas of success and opportunity. These goals and objectives should be in line with existing business goals. (Olivier Blanchard gives advice in his book – SOCIAL MEDIA ROI) Check out his infographic here. KPI will help you to track what topics get the most “action”.  See what is shared internally and externally to help choose future content. Rotate these topics in a content calendar with established intervals to keep people interested and talking.

If you plan to work for a company, Blanchard suggests that you create a “Social Media Policy” and a  “Bill of Rights” for employees and external partners that will define the framework of  responsible use of social media. This is an excellent idea! Clear guidelines and transparency will help the community to begin and remain on track. It also helps to protect members of the community by setting guidelines of conduct and creating a respectful atmosphere.



One last thing to think about is how you view negative events that will happen. Even the best of community managers will encounter an occasional negative comment. I found an interesting article by Debroah Ng, author of Online Community Management for Dummies, on how to handle negative comments or reviews. She shares 3 main ideas:

  1. Every complaint is an opportunity to improve
  2. Even the most disgruntled person can become an advocate
  3. You can become a case study of how to do things right

You can read the full article here. This is all good news!


I’d like to leave you with one of my favorite examples, CHOBANI. They have fun with their community and products, but this site shows that there is something even more important … BENEFITS! The community actually “feeds the needs” of its members! One of the things that Chobani does well is make it clear that there are a whole range of EXPERIENTIAL benefits that come along with membership of their community. How do you see your community growing?

Until next time, “Happy Trails!”