Archive for the ‘Online Communities’ Category

I just published an article on LinkedIn with 10 lessons learned from my recent major cleanup of the groups on our enterprise social network at Humana. Perhaps other online community managers and professionals can benefit from these takeaways that I jotted down while removing about 43% of our internal community’s nearly 1,700 groups.

saloonI’m pleased to have the following article published today at Social Media Explorer:

So You’re Thinking About Starting an Online Community? Think Settling the Wild West – Not Filling a Stadium

I’m involved in frequent conversations about starting new communities. There are right and effective ways of doing so, and there are wrong and ineffective ways. This article uses an analogy of how the west was won to discuss the better approach to starting an online community. Read it and tell me what you think. I hope you find it helpful.

SocialGraph399x399I was recently asked to write a blog post on the subject of “The Evolution of Enterprise Social Networks” as part of the Community Manager Appreciation Day events for Jan. 27, 2014. My thanks to Tim McDonald and Sherrie Rohde for the opportunity to write the post and to moderate the related panel discussion via Google hangout and Twitter chat from noon-1pm EST on Jan. 27. My thanks to them also for the tremendous effort they are investing to pull off an amazing 24 straight hours of events that day. That is a huge undertaking and I am incredibly impressed at what they are accomplishing!

You’ll find the blog post here and more info about the panel discussion here. Check out the full schedule of all the hangouts and chats scheduled for CMAD 2014 – a day set aside to recognize the work of those who put their hearts and souls daily into managing their beloved online communities.

One of the facts of life in a small or new business is doing a lot of things yourself.  You usually don’t have the resources to hire expensive consultants, marketing agencies, graphic artists or others to do work.  You may begrudge not being able to hire out such work, but you shouldn’t be too quick  to pass it on to others outside the business.

One of the traits many large companies lose as they grow is an appreciation for and willingness to use the workers’ talents that are outside the employees’ official responsibilities.  Our social media team at work is trying to change that as far as our needs are concerned.

For example, today is the annual Great American Smokeout encouraging people to try to quit smoking.  As the manager of our internal social network, I was asked to come up with a logo to display for the day on our social network.  I’m no graphic artist.  I had a few ideas and files from which to work and I created one I was willing to use.

It seemed best, though, to throw the task out to the employees on our social network and to invite anyone interested to submit a logo.  After all, that’s how we came up with our primary logo two years ago.  It worked today beautifully.

This morning when I checked, someone had created a wonderful graphic that was a modification of our usual logo, that was cute and captured perfectly without words the “no smoking” message we wanted.  I gladly used the logo for the day.

Farming out that task to an agency would have cost at least hundreds of dollars and probably more.  Going through official channels internally would have taken months of red tape, concern for branding standards, meetings, emails and phone calls galore.  That’s dumb.

One of the great values of social media is the ability to ask a large community for something and frequently get what you ask for if it taps into the passions and talents of others.  Businesses need to do more of that.  How much internal talent is untapped simply because we don’t follow leap year lesson #318 – Sometimes you just need to ask.

Like much of the rest of the world on January 1, I can’t help but reflect on the past and look forward to the future. When I think of this blog and where I’d like for it to go, there are two major things I can do to improve.

  1. Be more consistent. 16 posts in 2011 was a poor start. I can do better.
  2. Be brief. Just because I like writing a lot doesn’t mean readers always want to read long posts.

When I think about the blog I read more than any other – Rich Millington’s “The Online Community Guide” – consistency and brevity are major factors in my growing admiration of what he does there, in addition, of course, to the excellent content.

Since part of my plan for organizing my life this year involves more intentional time daily to reflect, and since it’s a leap year, I thought I would embark on 366 days of capturing brief lessons learned and documenting them here. They will most often relate to some aspect of my professional life as an online community moderator/manager and social media/social learning enthusiast. But I reserve the right to interject a few personal lessons along the way as well. So consistency this year means 366 daily posts, and just to put a number on brevity, each of the lessons will be stated in no more than 366 words (hopefully far fewer).

Join me for the adventure. Maybe we’ll learn from each other.

Happy new year!