Month: April 2009
Personality isn’t accidental. You deliberately decide which personality your community will have.
Helpful and nice is great, but boring. You shouldn’t decide on this personality by default. 4Chan isn’t helpful or nice. But they’re successful. Fiercely competitive is rough, but productive. Sarcastic is addictive, but tiresome. 'Know-it-all’ is vocal, but don’t expect much to happen.
You cultivate the personality of your community with every decision you make. This includes which members you invite, what content you encourage, which contributions you recognise, what events you run. These are all personality decisions. Decisions you need to get right or your community is doomed.
You can’t change the personality of your audience. All you can do (all you should do) is be sure the personality of your community precisely matches the audience. Right down to the wording. This sounds easier than it is. It takes just one misplaced smiley to destroy all your work.
Metrics are easy to measure. You can measure avg. time on site. You can measure the number of members. You can measure inbound links. You can even measure number of posts per member.
And if this is what you're measuring, this is what you will get. But it doesn't mean anything. Any rush to a metric quantity is at the expense of a real life quality.
My advice, don't be rigid with measurements. Measure the outcomes of the community. What has changed? What's different now? Who has benefited? Leave room to measure amazing things.
Angela Connor’s community saved a member from eviction. They are a close group. Upon hearing a friend was in trouble they pooled their money and stopped her from being eviected.
That was never part of the plan.
It certainly wasn't in Angela's job description. At no point in her job interview, her brief, her proposal or strategy was there a line that read "stop members from being evicted".
But now, one of Angela's proudest achievements (and certainly her community's finest moment) isn't something most companies would bother to measure.
Why don't you leave Facebook if you hate the new design? Why do you stay in communities through some really bad times? Here are 7 possible explanations.
- My friends are here. People don’t leave your community because their friends are there. To move, they would need to persuade all their friends to move. That’s too hard, so people stay (ala. Facebook).
- All my data is here. If you’ve uploaded documents, pictures and other data, you’re likely to stay in your community.
- People know me here. Less about friendships, but more about recognition. If people recognise your name, know what to expect from you. You’re not going anywhere soon.
- I have power here. Do you have special privileges in your online community? Moderation powers? Run a group?
- I have a mission here. They have a purpose or mission on the community. They’re working towards something. What’s their project on the community?
- I’ve customised my profile. Have they customised their profile? Avatar? Signature? Surprisingly, people that have done this are less likely to leave.
- I’ve contributed a lot here. Have you invested a lot in the community? Invited new members? Made 500 posts? Co-written an eBook with other members?
If your members don't feel any of these then they're not going to persuade themselves to stay. They're already looking for excuses to leave.
This is an extremely simple way to grow your community and demonstrate it’s benefits to your business.
Ask members to submit their best ideas for new products or services they want changed. Then tell them, if any members can get enough people to join the community and show their support for their product/service idea, your company will use the idea.
Encourage this by providing the restraints to what’s feasibly possible and assigning staff mentors to develop the best concepts.
This shows support to your community, nets you a lot of new participating members and hopefully some great market research.