Document The Outputs Of Your Online Community

February 28, 2013Comments Off

We spent a lot of time talking about the inputs.

We spend a lot of time talking about the clicks, traffic, comments, likes, drama, and plenty more.

However, a community has to do things for members. A community has to have real outputs.

What is the real, meaningful, tangible, impact that the community has had on members?

You might not know, but it's worth finding out.

Ask members, what impact has the community had on their lives. What specific things has the community helped members achieve/do/be?

Document these. Literally write these up and add it to areas of your community. You can publish this as a weekly/monthly round-up if you like i.e. 'Joe discovered an entirely new way to takes photographs in dim-lighting without a flash.'

 This sets an example of behaviour for others to follow, increases the sense of pride felt by members, and provides a nice place for member-generated tips. Perhaps, most importantly, it keeps the community focused on the meaningful outputs, rather than the neverending inputs. 

Simple and effective to do. 


How To Build An Online Community: The Ultimate List Of Resources (2013)

February 27, 2013Comments Off

Join Feverbee

This is a collection of my favourite and most popular posts from the last six years. It should give you a great overview about both the strategy and the process of creating an online community from scratch.

The Online Community Basics

  1. A Primer About Successful Online Communities
  2. The 11 Fundamental Laws of Online Communities
  3. The Four Tenets Of Professional Community Managers
  4. Building An Online Community: How You Start With 0 Members
  5. How Do You Build An Online Community?
  6. 7 Contrary Truths About Online Communities
  7. Don’t Start A Community For Any Of These Reasons
  8. Basics Community Building Principles
  9. What Is An Online Community?
  10. Different Types Of Communities
  11. The 4 Fundamental Things A Community Provides Its Members
  12. Types Of Communities And Activities Within Those Communities
  13. Visitors, Lurkers, And Members

Strategy & Planning

  1. A Free Online Community Strategy Template
  2. The Full Community Development Process
  3. The Online Community Lifecycle
  4. Understanding Conceptualization: The Process You Go Through Before Launch
  5. How To Develop Your Community Management Strategy
  6. How To Write A Practical Online Community Plan
  7. Online Community Strategy & Data
  8. Setting Objectives For Your Online Community
  9. Settings Targets For Your Online Community
  10. Starting An Online Community? First Get The Concept Right
  11. Planning For A Big Online Community?
  12. How To Make Your Community Better, Not Just Bigger
  13. The Online Community Ecosystem
  14. Total Feasible Audience Size: And Why It Matters
  15. Which Communities Tend To Succeed?
  16. Big Launch Syndrome: Don't Faill Victim To This
  17. From Maturity To Mitosis: The Problem Facing Large Communities
  18. The Establishment Phase: Building Structures & Shifting Processes
  19. The Huge Gap Between Reading and Participating
  20. Identifying And Articulating The Community Benefit
  21. Audience Analysis In Online Communities
  22. Ensuring Your Community Personifies The Interests Of Its Members
  23. The Rush To The Niches
  24. How To Position Your Online Community
  25. The Importance Of Developing A Strong Community Identity
  26. Don’t Target The Wrong People
  27. How To Make An Accurate Membership Projection
  28. Naming Your Online Community
  29. 12 Ways To Doom Your Community Before You Launch
  30. A 3-month Pre-Launch Strategy
  31. The Assets Businesses Need To Develop Successful Communities
  32. Don't Dilute The Community Identity
  33. Make The Community About Your Members

Building An Online Community Website

  1. Before You Spend $500k On A Community Platform
  2. How To Optimize Your Community Website
  3. Test Before You Invest
  4. How To Design Your Online Community
  5. 20 Things That Should Be Included In Every Online Community Website
  6. The Perfect Landing Page
  7. 8 Overlooked Elements Every Online Community Should Have
  8. A Radical Change In Our Approach To Community Platforms
  9. Developing Forum Communities
  10. Easy Ways To Add Value To Your Online Community
  11. The Toolbox Of Community Reputation Systems
  12. A Simple Reputation System
  13. Pick An Online Community Platform That Works
  14. Stopping Human Spammers
  15. 7 Things A Community Can Live Without
  16. The Problems With Incentives
  17. A Basic Online Community Wireframe
  18. Essential Elements Of Community Platforms
  19. The Notification Cycle
  20. The Case Against Facebook As A Community Platform
  21. Using Your Real Estate: A Quick Case Study
  22. Easy -vs- Difficult -vs- Impossible: Exporting Community Data
  23. Refine or Develop?
  24. Social Density In Online Communities

Launching An Online Community

  1. 5 Things Every New Online Community Should Focus On
  2. 20 Ways To Start An Online Community
  3. Never Wait For The Website To Be Ready
  4. Seeding Your Online Community
  5. Who Are You Trying To Reach?
  6. Who Do You Need At The Beginning?
  7. How To Find Your Community’s First Members
  8. The Founder Role In Starting A New Community
  9. Create An Easy Reason To Take A Small Step
  10. How Small Businesses can Launch Successful Online Communities
  11. Simple Steps To Creating An Online Community

Converting Newcomers Into Regulars

  1. How To Convert Newcomers Into Regular Members Of Your Online Community
  2. Designing The Perfect Newcomers To Regular Conversion Journey
  3. The Ultimate Welcome For Your Online Community’s Newcomers
  4. How To Keep Newcomers Hooked For 21 days
  5. Awesome Questions To Ask New Members Of Your Online Community
  6. Which Visitors Are Most Likely To Become Regulars?
  7. Newcomers: Are They New To The Topic?
  8. The Online Community Joining Process
  9. Optimize That First Contribution
  10. How To Help Members Overcome Their Fear Of Initiating Discussions

Growing Your Online Community

  1. How To Grow Your Online Community
  2. Why People Aren’t Joining Your Online Community
  3. Create A Criteria
  4. Types Of Community Growth
  5. Use The Right Symbols To Attract The Right Members 
  6. Growing A Community: A Campaign-Based Process
  7. How To Get More People To Join Your Online Community
  8. How To Find Your Community's Founding Members
  9. Basic Tactics To Grow Your Online Community Without Any Promotion
  10. Target Clusters Of People At A Time
  11. How To Get Members To Invite Their Friends
  12. 3 Perfectly Acceptable Ways To Invite Someone To Join Your Online Community
  13. Growing From A Social Media Following To Small Groups
  14. How To Persuade Your Employees To Join Your Online Community
  15. How To Get The Best People To Join Your Online Community
  16. The Right And Wrong Way To Grow A Forum
  17. The Problem With Asking Members To Invite Friends
  18. How To Convert Existing Contacts Into Active Community Members

Increasing Participation

  1. How To Increase Activity In Your Online Community
  2. Why People Join And Participate In Online Communities
  3. A Brief Guide To Reaching Unbelievably High Levels Of Participation In Your Online Community
  4. How To Keep Members For The Long Term
  5. Increasing Activity And Participation In A Community
  6. Using Social Proof To Increase Activity In Your Community
  7. Creating A Sense Of Community
  8. Sustaining Long Term Participation In An Online Community
  9. Initiating And Sustaining Discussions
  10. The Basics Of Increasing Interactions In Any Online Community
  11. Why Members Participate: Fame, Money, Sex, Power
  12. A Few Quick And Simple Tips To Boost Activity In Your Online Community
  13. 4 Types Of Contributions You Want Your Members To Make
  14. The Only Way To Keep Everyone Active
  15. 20 Questions which Will Stimulate Activity In Your Online Community
  16. 7 Kinds Of Conversations That Always Stimulate Activity
  17. Concentrate Activity
  18. A Weekly Debate: A Good Idea
  19. How To Find New Discussion Ideas For Your Online Community
  20. Simple Tactics To Encourage Your Members To Talk More
  21. Sense Of Ownership
  22. Two Types Of Participation Problems
  23. Programme Of Activities
  24. Epic Events
  25. How To Find Major Issues To Boost Activity And Unite Your Community
  26. Why People Stay In Your Online Community
  27. Create A Guide To Be A Top Member
  28. Segmenting And Contacting Members
  29. What You Can Do To Make Your Community More Fun
  30. 8 Ways To Encourage Individual Contributions In Your Community
  31. The Benefits Of Off-Topic Conversations
  32. Open -vs- Closed Questions
  33. Themes And Topics

Managing an Online Community

  1. The Community Management Framework
  2. The 10 Principles Of Professional Community Management
  3. Building An Online Community Team: The 5 Roles You Must Fill
  4. High Value Community Management
  5. What Tasks Should Online Community Managers Prioritize?
  6. Community Management: Planning The Week
  7. Moderation Strategy
  8. Turning Data Into Activities: A Simple Example
  9. What Affects Most Members Over The Long Term?
  10. Interact With Your Community Like A Human Being
  11. Attaining Power And Influence
  12. Hierarchy Of Communicating With Your Members
  13. Uniting Your Online Community: Creating Strong Ties
  14. The Art Of Forging Strong Friendships
  15. A Process For Dealing With Complaints
  16. The Base: Every Regular Participant Is A Big Win
  17. The Behaviours You Really Want To Discourage
  18. How To Subtly Influence Members Of Your Online Community
  19. How Many People Can You Really Look After?
  20. Creating Momentum
  21. The Personality Of Community Managers: A Few Tips
  22. A Brief Guide To Building Relationships With Your Top Members
  23. 10 Excellent Rewards You Can Offer Members
  24. Creating Titles For Members
  25. How To Use Transferrable Elements To Develop A Strong Sense of Community
  26. The Unlimited Supply Of Important Work You Need To Do
  27. The Small Simple Processes Which Make The Biggest Difference To Your Community
  28. How To Handle Troublemakers
  29. Using Data To Prevent Violations Of The Rules
  30. Finding Inspiration In Other Communities
  31. Reorganizing Your Forum
  32. Allocating Your Time As The Community Grows
  33. The Status Dilemma: Don't Bite The Hook
  34. 11 Processes For Scaling Online Communities
  35. Huge Online Communities: What Do You Work On Next?
  36. Resolving Problems
  37. Building Strong Relationships Between Members: A Few Practical Steps
  38. Why Fights Are So Important
  39. A Guide To Rewarding Members Of Your Community
  40. Helping Members To Have Influence
  41. Community Guidelines
  42. The 24-Hour Response Rule
  43. 14 Events You Can Organize And Celebrate In Your Online Community
  44. What Would A Passionate Community Manager Do?
  45. Link Your Community Management Activities
  46. Member Lifetime Value
  47. Explaining Conflicts In Communities


  1. Creating A Content Calendar
  2. The Secret To Awesome Content
  3. Basic Community Newsletter Tips
  4. Converting Traditional Content Into Community Content
  5. Information Needs And Why Content-Driven Community Strategies Are Flawed
  6. Writing Content That Bonds Your Online Community
  7. 20 Fantastic Content Ideas For Your Online Community
  8. The Power Of Exclusives
  9. Interviewing Members
  10. Every Online Community Needs A Local Newspaper
  11. An Online Community Newsletter Clinic

Community Psychology

  1. Getting Members Into The Community Mindset
  2. Motivation, Opportunity, Ability
  3. Understanding Motivation In Online Communities
  4. Recognition Is A Complex Tool
  5. Influencing Behaviour And The Problem With Broken Windows
  6. Permeable Boundaries Between Groups
  7. What Discussions Are Most Popular To Men And Women?
  8. 40 Participants In 20 Minutes And Information Overload
  9. Participation for Intrinsic Reasons
  10. Community Boundary Maintenance And Behaviour Modification
  11. Compliance Without Pressure
  12. An Aligned Process – Motivation To Participation
  13. The Shame Effect
  14. The Efficacy Factor: Increase Participation By Accentuating Impact


  1. Techniques To Help Measure The ROI Of An Online Community
  2. Measuring An Online Community: Master Your Data To Gain An Unfair Advantage
  3. What To Listen For, And How To Listen For It
  4. Establishing The Value Of Online Communities
  5. Measuring The ROI Of Online Communities
  6. Ace The Community ROI Question
  7. How To Check Your Community builder Is Doing As Promised
  8. Communities, ROI, And Misplaced Enthusiasm
  9. Measuring DIY
  10. Proving Benefits Of Building A Community
  11. How To Spot Your Community Is In Trouble: 8 Red Flags
  12. The Huge ROI Of Small, Exclusive, B2B Communities
  13. Data Secrets


  1. The Definitive Guide To Monetizing Your Community
  2. Becoming A Community Intrapreneur
  3. 40 Ways To Make Money From Your Online Community
  4. The Pros And Cons Of Charging For Membership
  5. Community Souvenirs
  6. How To Give Sponsors Access To Your Online Community
  7. Integrating Your Community With Your Business
  8. Getting Innovative About Monetization

Branded Online Communities

  1. Never Let Your Company Start An Online Community
  2. 10 Things Organizations Should Be Comfortable With When They Launch A Community
  3. 12 Steps For Successful Online Communities
  4. Brands Must Use Their Unfair Advantage To Build Successful Communities
  5. A Case Study Of A Branded Onine Community
  6. Why Most Online Communities Shouldn’t Try To Create A Community
  7. Why Branded Communities Fail
  8. 6 Huge Advantages Big Organizations Have Over Amateur Community Builders
  9. A Requirement For Branded Online Communities
  10. Brands: Get The Benefits You Want Without Upsetting Members
  11. Common Branded Community Mistakes
  12. The Choice Most Brands Don't Know They Have
  13. The 2 Most Common Reasons Why Branded Communities Fail
  14. Decide Between These 2 Types Of Communities
  15. How Do Online Communities Make Your Business Money?
  16. Why Amateurs Build Better Online Communities Than Businesses
  17. Failed Corporate Communities
  18. Your Dream Online Community

Non-profits and Online Communities

  1. Fundraising From Online Communities
  2. What Non-Profits Need To Change


  1. The Slow And Steady Evolution Of A Successful Online Community
  2. 15 Examples Of Successful Online Communities
  3. 15 Ideas You Can Steal From The UK’s Best Community
  4. You Can Learn A Lot From This Wildly Successful Community
  5. The Best Online Community You Can Begin Today
  6. Case Study: How To Improve A Recently Launched Community
  7. Some Great Ideas From A Terrific Community
  8. What Is A 'Successful' Community?
  9. The Genius Of Kotex's Community
  10. A Simple, Effective, Community Design
  11. 10 Examples Of Great Online Communities
  12. A Great Example Of An Online Community
  13. Never Hire A Marketing Agency To Build Your Online Community
  14. A Great Example Of An Online Community
  15. Hampton People
  16. A Great Examples Of Game Mechanics In Online Communities
  17. The Usual Errors From The Big Brands
  18. Importants Lessons From A Failed Online Community
  19. A Lesson In Successful Communities
  20. The Evolution Of A Big Community Launch
  21. Stories, Clicks, and Relationships: The Sad Story of MetroTwin


  1. A Simple Example Of A Great Online Community
  2. 8 Brilliant Posts About Online Communities
  3. Essential Reading For Online Community Managers
  4. Forrester Wave Report


  1. How To Improve Any Online Community Without Spending A Penny
  2. Great Findings From Social Sciences Applied To Online Communities
  3. Creating A Community From Your Social Media Efforts
  4. The One Essential Task For Newly Hired Community Managers
  5. The Online Community Narrative
  6. Social Scaling Processes
  7. Rethinking How We Hire Community Managers
  8. The 7 Most Likely Ways Your Online Community Will End
  9. Struggling To Build An Online Community? Try This Easier Approach
  10. What Data Disproves Common Community Myths
  11. The Easiest Solutions To Your Community’s Biggest Problems
  12. An Example Of How To Diagnose And Resolve Common Community Problems
  13. 10 Steps To Building An Online Community In Your Spare Time
  14. 8 Ways To Merge Your Online Community With The Real World
  15. How To Revive Your Local Community
  16. How To Create Exclusive Online Communities
  17. 6 Social Psychology Hacks For Online Community Managers
  18. 5 Features Of Really Strong Online Communities You Can Embrace
  19. Searching For Online Communities
  20. The One Book Every Community Manager Should Read
  21. Rules For Growing A Group Of Insiders In Your Community
  22. Community Awards 2010
  23. Beyond Your Website
  24. What's Wrong With Community Management?
  25. Turning Employees Into Stars: A Tip For Internal Buy-In
  26. Integrating The Community With Major Events
  27. Making Tough Community Decisions
  28. Tactics -vs- Processes

Reports & eBooks

  1. 2012 State Of Community Management
  2. 2012 State Of Branded Communities
  3. Howard Reingold – The Virtual Community
  4. The ROI of online customer service communities
  5. The Forrester Wave Report
  6. eModeration White Paper – Communities of Purpose
  7. Deloitte – 2009 Tribalization of Business Study
  8. Lithium – Community Health Index
  9. Radian6 – Building & Sustaining Brand Communities
  10. Jono Bacon – The Art of The Community
  11. Forrester – The ROI Online Support Communities

Websites & Assocations

  1. e-Mint
  2. The Community Manager
  3. The Community Roundtable
  4. Facebook Community Manager Group
  5. Community Builders
  6. The Community Management Group


  1. Alison Michalk
  2. Amy Sample Ward
  3. Angela Connor
  4. Blaise Grimes-Viort
  5. Community Roundtable
  6. Connie Benson
  7. Dave Cayem
  8. Debra Askanase
  9. eModeration
  10. Eric Foster
  11. Holly Seddon
  12. Jake Mckee
  13. Jeremiah Owyang
  14. Jono Bacon
  15. Judi Huck
  16. Juergen Derlath
  17. Kirsten Wagenaar
  18. Lauren Klein
  19. Mario Ogneva
  20. Martin Reed
  21. Matt Rhodes
  22. Michael Norton
  23. Patrick O’Keefe
  24. Phil Wride
  25. Rachael Happe
  26. Sue on the web
  27. Ted & Rosie O'Neil
  28. UX Booth
  29. Vanessa Dimauro
  30. Vanessa Paech


Academic articles

  1. McMillan and Chavis (1985) Sense of Community
  2. Robin Hamman (1997)- Introduction to Virtual Communities Research and Cybersociology Magazine Issue Two
  3. Moore and Serva (2007) Understanding Member Motivation for Contributing to Different Types of Virtual Communities: A Proposed Framework,
  4. Williams and Cothrel (2004), Four smart ways to run online communities (Sloan Management Review, 2000)
  5. Bughin & Zeisser, (2001) The Marketing Scale Effectiveness of Virtual Communities
  6. Pitta and Fowler (2005) Internet community forums: an untapped resource for consumer marketers
  7. Iriberri and Leroy (2009) A Life-Cycle Perspective on Online Community Success
  8. Ridings and Gefen (2004) Virtual Community Attraction: Why People Hang Out Online, JCMC 10 (1), Article 4
  9. Ardichvili, Page and Wentling (2003) Motivation and barriers to participation in Virtual knowledge-sharing communities of practice, Journal of Knowledge Management, 2003; 7,1
  10. Wang and Fesenmaier (2003) Understanding the Motivation of Contribution in Online Communities: An Empirical Investigation of an Online Travel Community, Electronic Markets, Vol 13, No 1.
  11. Sugiyama and Rothaermel (2001) Virtual internet communities and commercial success: individual and community-level theory grounded in the atypical case of, Journal of Management 27
  12. Sangwan , S (2005) Virtual community success: A uses and gratifications perspective
  13. Andrews, D.C (2002) Audience-specific online community design, Communications of the ACM, Vol 45, N. 4 
  14. Barab, S.A, MaKinster, J.G, Scheckler, R. (xxxx) Designing System Dualities: Characterizing An Online Professional Development Community 
  15. Baym, N.K. (2007) The new shape of online community: The example of Swedish independent music fandom, First Monday, Volume 12, Number 8 – 6 
  16. Stanoevska-Slabeva, K. (2002) Towards a Community-Orientated Design of Internet Platforms
  17. Arnold, Y. Leimeister, J.L, Krcmar, H. (2003) CoPEP: A Development Process Model for Community Platforms for Cancer Patients, Community platform engineering process
  18. Porter, C.E. (2004) A Typology of Virtual Communities: A Multi-Disciplinary Foundation for Future Research, Journal of Computer-mediated Communication, Vol, 10. No. 1.


FeverBee's Products

  1. FeverBee's Podcast
  2. Book: Buzzing Communities: How To Build Bigger, Better, And More Active Online Communities
  3. CommunityGeekCommunity Geek is an exclusive community of practitioners dedicated to sharing knowledge about how to grow and curate successful online communities.
  4. On-Demand Training Courses
  5. Live Training Course
  6. FeverBee's Community Consultancy

How To Start An Online Community

February 26, 2013Comments Off

We've covered this before, but many people are new here. 

Skipping the internal aspects, this is our process. We've simplified it as much as possible. 


Build up a list of 50 to 150 potential members

Build up a list of 50 to 150 potential members of the target audience. You can find these people through a variety of channels. Existing relationships/contacts/customers works best, social media channels is secondary. There are lots of examples here.

As a tip, look especially for words or actions members of your target audience are likely to do. 


Make contact with each of these members

This is a full-time job. Begin outreach messages to each of them. Ask them an ice-breaker, something that's relevant to who they are, what they do/have done, or what they think/feel about a certain issue. If you can't establish these early relationships, don't even think about growing a community. 

This is when they list of 50 to 150 potential members begins to dwindle. Some you can't sustain relationships with, others simply won't have any interest in you. Especially to lose up to 50% at this stage. You can read Tim's post for some help on good outreach. Skip to a few paragraphs down, 


Interview them

When you have a good standing, ask them if they wouldn't mind speaking on the phone for a few minutes about a project you're working on. Specifically, you want to know more details about who they are (demographics), what they spend most time doing (habits), and what they think/feel about different issues in that sector (psychographics).

This is simplified, but specific questions we ask include: "What are your biggest problems/challenges", "What are your goals/aspirations/dreams?". You can base your entire community concept around this. 

Importantly, at the end of the interview ask if they would like to be one of the founding members of the community. These people are the first members of your community. You want to have good relationships with each of them. It helps if you're already a prominent, participating, member of the community. 


Conceptualize the community

This is a huge topic, see here. Based upon your data, decide the following:

1) Who the community is for (pick a specific sub-group of the interest to begin with. Use demographics, habits, or psychographic clusters)

2) What the community is about (similar to the above, be specific. i.e. This is a community for {x} that believe/like/do/are {x}.

3) What type of community it will be (action, place, interest, circumstance, practice). Use your competitive analysis here to make sure it is the only community of its kind. 

4) What will the community aim to do / What will happen in the community. These two are connected. 


Build a founding members group

Begin inviting these founding members to a mailing list, Facebook/LinkedIn group, or some other simple platform. Invite a few members per day. Initiate regular discussions based upon the biggest challenges they highlighted in the interviews. Directly reach out to the people you invite and ask them to give their opinions on the discussions. Continue inviting a few more people every day until you reach the 25 to 50 mark. 

Remember, if they're not actively participating, it doesn't count.

At this stage you typically rejig the concept around the topics that got the most discussion/generated the most excitement in the community. This is a quick process of testing different community concepts until you find the one people love the most. 

Once the platform is ready, move the discussions across and use the initial group as the insider/volunteer/meta group.

Keep inviting new people, initiating discussions, soliciting responses and building relationships with key members. You will find it soon begins growing by itself. it will begin taking off by itself. You will also find you can begin initiating regular events/activities for the community, plan out a regular content schedule, and focus on other elements of the community management framework

Good luck.

If you want to learn more, sign up for our training day on March 9th at the London School of Economics. 


Community Sites -vs- Content Sites

February 25, 2013Comments Off

Look at these two platforms; and the HR Business Network.

Both cater to the same audience, yet one is designed as a content site and the other a community site. 

HR Business content, above, is a content site. It gives full priority to giving people information. It features content in the most prominent areas of the community. Members will visit when they want information., below is a community site. It's designed to connected HR professionals with one another. When you visit the community you seek the contributions of other members in the most prominent positions.

Both are perfectly fine, but produce very different results. 

If you create a content site, you're in the content business. You're not building a community, you're building an audience. You're competing against every other source of information on the topic. Loyalty levels are quite low. Average length of visit is low. Members only visit when they want information, and might not be that often. It might only be when they have a problem. 

If you're building a community site, you're in the connection economy. You're competition are other social groups. People keep visiting because they feel part of a peer group. They want to know what their peers are doing. They're participating to satisfy their social needs (ego, validation, self-esteem etc…), not their information-needs. Loyalty to communities is extremely high and members visit for longer periods of time. 

Both have their uses, but they're very different approaches. Pick one or the other with great care. Design your platform to be a great content site, or a great community site. Don't try to do both. 

If you want to learn how to design (or redesgin) and develop your community's platform, join us for FeverBee's Community Management Masterclass at the London School of Economics of March 9th.

Something I Want Community Platforms To Do

February 22, 2013Comments Off

Perhaps this exists, but I haven't seen it.

I want a platform that will send a daily e-mail to the community manager. This e-mail will contain a list of members whom have made their first contribution to the community. 

We know from theory that the response to a member's first contribution is critical to retain that member. If the response isn't quick enough, doesn't ask a question, doesn't disclosure any information about the responder, or simply isn't good enough, the member doesn't participate again.

This is a high impact area. A small intervention here can significantly increase the number of members that become regulars. If the community manager is sent a daily list, they can easily ensure that every first-time contributor gets a good response. 

We need a platform that has the capability to do this. Let's make it happen. 

Helping Members To Have Influence

February 21, 2013Comments Off

Members need to feel they can influence the community.

If you don't feel you can influence the group, your participation in the group declines. 

This means you need to do two things:

1) Provide members with opportunities to have influence

2) Amplify and showcase the influence members have had. 

The former is easier than the latter. The latter, however, is more important. 

Not every member will have influence, but every member must feel they can have influence. 

The first step is to ensure that every member does have the opportunity to have influence. This means creating the right sort of platform. Next it means creating these opportunities. 

It helps to have a be more involved area in the community. This can ask members to be more involved in running areas of the community. You can specifically list things taking place in the community for which you need more support. This might be someone to do regular interviews, create columns, contribute news, or be responsible for newcomers etc…

Second, this means frequently calling for opinions, ideas, and advice. It means asking members for their opinions on topical debates and ensuring these contributions make an impact in the community. 

You can also give members influence in other ways. You can turn one of smartest members into an ask the expert series. Autodesk and Element14 do this well. Element14 gives top members their own area in the community to run.


It makes a lot of sense to give members whom have showcased an area of expertise their own group/forum category for people that want to showcase that expertise. This also gives members a single destination to ask questions about this topic. 

Autodesk lets top members create blog posts. Autocad gives participants their own blog in the community where those that have showcased a high level of expertise can regularly update what they do. 


Mashable highlights the best comments of the week. Note, not the people that post the most comments, but people that post the best comments. This lets the rest of the community know that a single, quality, contribution can have a big impact upon the community. 


These are just a few of many possible ideas. If you want to increase activity in your community, ensuring members feel they can influence the community helps. Identify channels through which members can have influence then develop a method for showcasing the influence members have had.
You might, for example, mention the influence and impact members have had in the newsletters/e-mails/news pages of your community. You can document the positive impact that individual members, mentioned by name, have had on other people in the community.

Join us and many great community managers in London on March 9th for our Intensive Community Management Masterclass. Click here for full details.

Building A Real, Meaningful, Community Is Worthwhile

February 20, 2013Comments Off

Is the idea of building genuine communities for organizations too utopian? 

Why bother with the sense of community, building real relationships between members, and trying to create a community that makes a meaningful different in the lives of members?

What if you just need members posting?

There are two reasons. First, members that develop real relationships and feel a stronger sense of community participate more frequently and stay for longer. If all you wanted was activity, then this makes building a real community worthwhile.

In every type of community (action, circumstance, interest, place, practice), pushing members to participate to satisfy their social needs (validation, ego, efficacy, self-esteem, affiliation etc..) generates more growth, activity, and a stronger return on investment. Catering to the types of discussions that get members emotionally involved, self-disclosing information about themselves generates better results. 

Second, isn't the job more rewarding if you're building a community that does make a real impact upon the lives of members rather than collecting clicks? Wouldn't it be easier to attract and retain the type of community managers that want to do this sort of work? Isn't this the sort of organization you would want to be?

It makes sense to be very selfish and build an incredibly strong community. 

p.s. Click this link to watch a slightly suspect recording of my Amsterdam talk; How to use social sciences to increase activity in your community

Your Biggest Community Problem

February 19, 2013Comments Off

We're inviting you to our Community Management Masterclass on March 9th. 

Judging by the registered attendees so far, it's going to be a group of terrific community professionals. It's also a good mix of non-profits, internal community specialists, and external community managers. 

One of our goals is to tackle your biggest problems. Not just tackle the problems, but to master the process for identifying, prioritising, and tackling the problems in your community.

Many organizations complain about something relatively minor. There might be a member posting too frequently or driving away newcomers.

When we look at the conversion funnel, we might find that most members drop out after their first contribution…or after the second week…or fail to complete the registration process. When we fix these, the numbers increase significantly. 

For mature communities, understanding what to work on next, mastering the social sciences to tackle the problems, and being able to measure results is critical. If you can master this skill, it makes it easier to put together a comprehensive community strategy.

If you want to join us in London on March 9th, please sign up.

We would love to meet you. 

Why Can’t The Community Manage Itself?

February 18, 2013Comments Off

Kirsten asked a good question last week.

Why not just hire a community manager until the community can run itself? 

Isn't this the ultimate goal? Once the community is self-sustaining, can't organizations let it run itself. 

There are two problems with this logic.

The first is why moderation companies exist; something bad might happen. The community might be invaded by spam, the community might engage in an activity that makes the organization liable to legal repercussions, the community might flame out, or member's might engage in non-stop fights. 

This is easy enough for everyone to explain and understand. Yet it's the second reason that's more important.

The second reason is the community won't be developed to it's potential. A community manager is the person that develops the community to its full potential. A community manager pushes the community as far through the lifecycle as it can go and keeps it there. That role never ends. That role keeps paying dividends. 

As the community progresses through the lifecycle, the community manager's role evolves. They begin on micro-level tasks, move to macro, and finally to optimization-level activities.

This presents a danger to community manager's whose role doesn't not evolve and those that are doing the same tasks they did last year. This means you're not progressing and developing your community. 

The community can always be bigger, more active, have a better sense of community, and deliver a better ROI. If you reach critical mass and drop the community manager, not only will your community likely regress, but it will also never reach it's potential. You get better returns from keeping the community manager. 

A Good Assumption To Make

February 15, 2013Comments Off

Sagazone, a community for the 50+ founded by Saga, is dead.

Recently there have been complaints about content posted in the Soapbox and Debate Zone. We closed these areas of the site but people continued to post controversial and offensive content on other areas of the site.

A social networking site is about freedom of speech and there are many places on the web where people can express their views in a robust and unfettered manner. However, Saga Zone is in a Saga branded environment and when members post content that others find offensive on a company's website it can impact how the company itself is viewed.

We are sad that the site has been used to post offensive messages and that we cannot continue to run Saga Zone with the threat to the brand that this content poses.

Here is a good assumption to make about your community; anticipate that members will make racist and homophobic comments. Anticipate that your community will attract trolls. Anticipate that a small minority will do the worst thing they can possibly do.

…and have a plan to deal with it!

The solution to members posting offensive/illegal comments isn't to remove the place where members are posting such such comments. It's to be quicker and more effective at preventing and removing those responsible. 

Speedier moderation, vetting members, instant banning, and greater awareness of guidelines can help. The key is to have a plan to deal with your worst problem before it becomes your worst problem. 

The Pros And Cons Of Growing A Community

February 14, 2013Comments Off

There are two schools of thought.

First, when you grow a community, each member sees the possibility of having a bigger impact. They have an increased sense of efficacy. The level of participation increases. Everyone wants to be part of a growing community.

This is true…up to a point. 

The second school of thought is that growth is bad for a community. The problem is two-fold. Growing too quickly is bad. The more members there are in a community, the less familiar you are with each. The community's unique identity begins to dissipate. The recognition, familiarity, tone, references to previous discussions/activities decline. Everything that attracted the new members can vanish quite quickly. 

Growing too big without planning for it causes problems. These are problems like information overload, declining attention for each member, inability to recruit volunteers to keep undertaking all the necessary community tasks. Over time, the community becomes a numbers game. Hire {x} moderators to handle {x} comments per day

Yet, a community that fails to attract new members enters a death spiral. More members leave than can be recruited. Less activity begets less activity. 

The solution is not to treat growth as a standalone activity. It's a delicate balancing act. You juggle an increase in growth with sustaining both activity and a strong sense of community. 

If you're going to recruit members, you need to target them as a group. You need to plan out their first few weeks in the community, you need to have a plan to integrate them with existing community members (interviews, welcome discussions, newcomer orientation, community culture documents, rituals/traditions etc…).

You also need to protect existing members. Ensure that the level of familiarity doesn't drop, facilitate sub-groups for members based upon more distint interest. This is why you can never focus on one single thing.

That's not going to be easy, but then you probably knew that. 

The Problem With Community Platforms (and asking the right questions)

February 12, 2013Comments Off

Discourse looks interesting. It looks sleek, modern, and displays most of what people need. It's also open-source. It might be a fantastic new community platform. 

It's going to tempt a lot of people to switch platforms…and this is the problem.

Switching community platforms is one of the riskiest things you can do. The benefits are usually minimal and the dangers are colossal. Unless you picked a terrible platform initially, changing a platform won't help you much.

If you want a better community, it's rarely a new platform you need, it's a new and better approach to community management.

How are you driving activity and growth in that community? 

What are you doing to recruit members? Whom are you approaching? What are you telling them? What is their reaction? What tactics have you tried/not tried? How are you encouraging them to invite others?

How are you initiating and sustaining discussions? What topics have you tried? Who and how are you prompting people to respond to these topics? What types of discussions work best? What does your audience analysis tell you will be most interesting?

What events are you facilitating? Have you scheduled regular, live, events? Are you reaching out to and inviting the top people in your community and sector to participate in these events? 

Are you building relationships with members? How are you building these relationships? What is working/not working here? 

Have you diagnosed your community? What specifically does your data tell you is going wrong? Is it growth, activity, or sense of community? 

Are you embracing the full community management framework? Or are you just doing a tiny sliver of the work you should be doing. 

Too often, we jump straight to the conclusion that the platform is the problem. That's rarely the case. It's almost certainly the activity you're doing on the platform that matters. 

This is why new platforms have made it easier to build communities, but haven't helped us build better communities. 

The answers to these questions are far more important than the platform or its features. 

If you want to learn how to increase growth and activity in your community, sign up for our live training day in London on March 9th. We would love to have you and look forward to meeting many long-time readers of the blog.