Tips for Scaling Online Communities

This week’s #cmgrclass topic was scaling a community. In last week’s discussion, Richard Millington, founder of Fever Bee, suggested that community managers should be proactive and not reactive. I’d like to use this advice to further draw on the point of scaling a community.

Community managers are responsible for managing several things, according to a post we read on Fever Bee, 11 Processes For Scaling Online Communities, some of those duties include, “respond[ing] to every e-mail, check[ing] every forum post, repurpose[ing] news from web sources, maintain[ing] the platform, initiat[ing] discussions and resolv[ing] disputes.” However, as your community expands and you’ve reached your critical mass, it’s important to shift from having sole responsibility to entrusting others to help out. One of the first tips offered in the blog post was, “Recruit, train, manage and motivate volunteers. Volunteers who enjoying supporting [your] community are the best way to scale a community.”

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/94960564@N02/8650510291/

Once you have gained an understanding of your audience you can begin to recruit members to take on leadership roles that will enhance their involvement in the community as well as lend a much needed helping hand to you. Community managers shouldn’t spend their days just writing content and responding to posts within the community, they must develop strategies and goals to promote the continued growth and development of their community.

Another suggestion was to, “Setup a community e-mail address which several volunteers can access and reply to. Let it be clear who replied to which e-mail and how it was resolved. A simple folder system can resolve this.” Employ this system of tackling that hefty inbox. This way, your time can be better spent on advancing the community with the intent to shift from the micro to the macro level.

Millington also hints at building an internal community when he suggests you, “Teach volunteers to recruit and train other volunteers. The hardest part, also the most scalable. Have a training program that will teach volunteers to recruit others (then find a volunteer to teach the program).” By building an internal community, not only are you trusting people to run your brand, but these are also highly-skilled, passionate individuals who believe in the same goals you are setting. As long as they are on board, they will contribute in any way necessary. If these individuals are trained properly by community managers, they will have the capability of training new individuals who share an interest in being an asset to your community.

Share processes you use for scaling your online community with the #cmgrclass. Which processes work best for you or which haven’t done so well?

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