Posts Tagged ‘Community Management’

I love web tools that are easy and fun to use.  While I’ve seen many Storify.com stories from others, I never bothered to set up my own account and experiment with it until the last few days.  The basic idea behind Storify is that you can easily grab text, graphics, video, social media posts, etc. from various places and arrange them in a “story” on Storify, adding your own text to narrate and explain as needed.

Storify-Ending-7-27-13For my first story, I wanted to simply grab the tweets and retweets I posted on Twitter for the past week around the subjects of community management and social media, and add a little commentary along the way.  You’ll find the story here.  What is especially nice is that the tweets are fully interactive through the links on each tweet (unlike the static image here on the right).  It is simple to locate what I want through a search on Storify or by normal web browsing and then selecting the contents to add.  The sort buttons and bare bones text editing capabilities keep the interface simple but functional.

I’m planning on starting a weekly Twitter chat in September and have spent some time this past week exploring options to archive those chats.  I think I’ve found the simple, quick, effective solution I need to do just that.

Thanks, Storify!

Twitter logoI wrote a blog post in March of 2012 claiming that Twitter is the most important learning resource on the planet.  I still believe that.  If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t spend 1-2 hours per day perusing my personal Twitter feed in addition to the hours I spend there daily for my work.  For nearly three years, I’ve been deadly serious about using Twitter to connect to people I admire across several disciplines as well as with numerous friends and colleagues.

I thought I would write this post to give you a little taste of what my Twitter life is like in a typical week.  To that end, copied below are a number of posts I’ve made or posts others made that I deemed worthy of retweeting, along with a little commentary.  These don’t represent nearly all of my tweets in a week, but they are at least representative of the categories I give the most time to on Twitter.  I hope it sparks some interest on your part to dive in to the platform if you are not active there yet, and I hope you’ll follow me on Twitter @JeffKRoss if you’re so inclined.  I’ll gladly return the favor if I like what you post.

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Buzzing CommunitiesI have long been a fan of Rich Millington and the excellent advice he dispenses daily from his blog at FeverBee.com.  For those involved with leading online communities, you need to go to FeverBee and subscribe to his updates.  You’ll benefit from the brief, insightful posts he publishes nearly every weekday.  I was extremely glad, therefore, when his book Buzzing Communities: How to Build Bigger, Better, and More Active Online Communities was published a few months ago.  I readily digested it upon arrival and am eager to share these thoughts with you about the contents of the book, why it’s important, and what specific actions it has already prompted me to take in order to be a more professional and effective community manager.

The book’s two parts and twelve chapters span nearly 300 pages and are devoted to the categories of “How to Manage Your Community” and “Everything You Need to Know About Your Members,” with the vast majority of space given to the former.  The part on managing your community includes nine chapters: Strategy; Growth; Content; Moderation; Influence and Relationships; Events and Activities; Business Integration; Return on Investment; and User Experience.  The second part includes: The Community Ecosystem; Competition – Existing Online Communities; The Audience – Demographics, Habits, and Psychographics; and a wrap-up on Community Management Success.

Online community management is a relatively new profession that still lacks much in the way of formal training, education, certification, standards, and proven, documented, and accepted best practices.  In such an environment, Millington’s book raises the bar and sets the standard for what community management is about and where it must go in the best interests of the communities served and the professionals who have responsibility for them.  Anyone whose role includes in whole or in part leading an online community will benefit from taking a slow, diligent walk through the book.

Usually, when I read a book, I underline some things as I go and absorb at an intellectual level the contents of what I read.  For this book, however, so many helpful ideas jumped off the page or sprung to mind while reading that the margins are filled with notes to myself with actions I need to take in my online communities in order to implement the concepts discussed.  Such ideas make this one of the most practical and helpful books I have read with immediate impact on how I do what I do every day.

One of the core ideas of the book is that “data is the single best asset you have to develop a thriving community.”  Millington is wonderfully relentless about the need to gather, analyze and make decisions based on data in order to grow and strengthen communities.  He is spot on correct when he states that too many community managers are “too reactive, too ad hoc, and too lacking in long-term strategy.”  They fail to use their data probably because they don’t gather the data needed to make the best decisions.  Some platforms are woefully limited in the data easily mined to help with this need, but even in those instances you’ll at least know what you’re missing by reading the book.  Be forewarned: If you read it, you will no longer be able to speak the lie that “It’s hard to measure the ROI of social.”

Unfortunately, I can relate all too well to the above shortcomings.  How much of my days have been spent reacting to the vocal minority instead of planning and improving things for the majority?  How many weeks pass with no progress on big-picture strategic paths because I have taken too many member complaint detours or spent too much time in the weeds to even notice how far off path we traveled?

The book provides ample specifics to guide community managers through the early planning of new communities through the day-to-day building of existing communities.  Millington’s insights apply both to internal and external communities of all types, sizes, ages and platforms.  I challenge any community manager to read it and not come away with a to-do list of things you can immediately do to help build your community.

Speaking of a to-do list, let me share with you some of the things from my to-do list having read the book.  Keep in mind that I am the community manager for a 23,000+ member internal community for a Fortune 100 company and also have responsibility for some of our external social platforms as well.

  • I changed the welcome email that I send to all new members by adding one specific thing they could go out to the community right then and do to get them involved immediately.
  • Since I lead a bi-weekly call of nearly 30 others in our company who have some level of responsibility related to community management, I’m taking one of the book’s chapters each call over 14 meetings to discuss the key ideas and insights from that chapter.
  • We have purchased a quantity of the books to put copies in the hands of community managers in-house.
  • I routinely do not open my email at work until I’ve been there 2-3 hours so that I can concentrate on getting important tasks done related to big-picture, long-term growth instead of allowing email to force me into a reactive mode.
  • I limit the amount of time I give to member complaints or the vocal minority daily.
  • My manager and I have been in conversation about adding a new analyst role to the team (in addition to the analyst role already planned) to assist with all the data-related needs.  Writing up the proposed job description and role justification is my next task on this matter.
  • I’ve made notes to do a number of additional things in the coming weeks, such as:
    • Schedule town halls with group admins to provide a forum for sharing success stories, best practices and advice about being a successful group admin;
    • Survey the community to gauge their sense of belonging;
    • Create a group for new members and populate it initially with helpful links and info, and then modify the welcome email again to invite members to join the group;
    • Schedule a monthly town hall for new members;
    • Solicit current members regarding their favorite platform or community tips to include in the weekly broadcast I send to all members;
    • Post a list of community volunteer opportunities since it isn’t possible or wise for me to try to do it all in the community.

You can see that I had many takeaways from the book.  I am certain that you will as well.  In fact, let me help you get started with this list:

If you’ve read the book already, or if you read it soon, please leave a comment below with your thoughts.  I’d love to hear your takeaways from it as well.

widening circlesWhen I began this blog in April 2011 I expected to devote the space nearly exclusively to the subject of social learning. It is a topic of enormous interest to me. I am a strong advocate of it where I work. I spend way too much time pursuing the matter on my own time outside of work. In my role as community manager for our large, internal online community, I have the opportunity to promote the use of our social platform as a primary way people can share, collaborate and learn in the flow of their daily work. I could not ask for a better laboratory for social learning.

But as I ponder subjects for this blog, it is apparent that I also need to reflect on and write about other topics that may or may not always have a connection to social learning. Specifically, I want to write about community management, social media, collaboration and business practices that support or inhibit progress in the enterprise. The overall subject is still primarily social, but the details going forward will not always be about social learning.

It’s time to widen the circle. Stay with me for the journey.