Month: April 2013

Training Your Members

April 30, 2013Comments Off on Training Your Members

Janet highlighted something that isn't covered by the community management framework; training your members.

Who is responsible for training members to be better at what they do?

Not every community needs this, of course. But many, perhaps most, would benefit from an educator.  

If members get better at the topic via participating in your community, they keep coming back to your community. Better yet, they feel a sense of joy, connection, and obligation to the community.

If you can facilitate the sharing of knowledge, facilitate crowd-accelerated innovation, and foster a genuine sense of desire to be better at what your community does, you can build a more active community.

Consider turning the best advice of your community into a free mini-course that members can take. Have problem-orientated live discussions once a week. Give people with the most experience their own columns/ask member areas for a couple of months. 

The opportunity here is to take all the unstrucured advice in your community and structure it in a way for people to get better and then contribute fresh expertise. 

Community Growth Hacking

April 29, 2013Comments Off on Community Growth Hacking

When you launch a community, you face a chicken and the egg problem.

Nobody wants to join a community until there is activity there.

However, the people most likely to join and participate in your new online community are those that already know and like you. Initial growth to communities originates from your existing contacts. To conquer the chicken and the egg problem, you need to foster a large number of existing contacts.

The easiest way to get a community off the ground is simply to build up a large number of existing contacts before you launch the community. If you do this in a genuine way, everything else becomes a lot easier.

If you launching with nothing – no contacts, it’s going to be much harder.

This usually means a combination of the following:

1) Hiring a community manager from the audience you want to build a community with. If that’s not possible, ensure your community manager spends a lot of time building up contacts far in advance of launching a community platform.

2) Set up a series of live webinars on different problem points. Invite people from the sector to share their secrets of success. Build up an invaluable series of expertise and a familiar brand name in your sector.

3) Turn the above series of webinars into an eBook and collect the e-mail addresses of people that download it. You can now reach out individually to these people to build relationships. 

4) Participate in existing groups and communities. Look for existing communities and begin responding to discussions. Make sure your name is recognized within that sector. 

5) Host your own meetups and events. Host small events in your town/city that you can invite a few people to join. Personal connection trumps digital contact.

6) Identify problems you can help with. If members mention any problems they struggle with, help them. Help them with resources, with knowledge, with research. 

This isn’t an exhaustive list. You can launch blogs, host competitions, comment on other blogs, review books, and plenty more. The goal is to ensure that people within your sector know and trust you before you launch the community.

If you wait until you’ve launched the community, it’s too late. People will suspect you have suspect motivations. You need to sincerely build up a great reputation within the sector before you launch the community.

This is a lot of work. The key is not to get bogged down with other activities. Don’t let the platform development or internal meetings prevent you from doing the essential community building work. You should begin this 3 to 6 months in advance of launching the community.

Housekeeping

April 27, 2013Comments Off on Housekeeping

A few notices:

1) We're still hiring a community advocate. Read the advert carefully before applying. 

2) If you're in London, work in communities, and love curry, you might want to sign up for our community and curry event on May 22nd. 

3) Registration for our community management course closes in 1 week. Click here to learn more. 

4) Google Reader will die soon, be sure to subscribe to the blog by e-mail for free, daily, updates. 

Natural Growth Caps

April 25, 2013Comments Off on Natural Growth Caps

Before a community is launched, you must build
relationships with prospective members.

These are the founding members. These are the people that join when there's nothing there because they have a commitment to you as much as they have a commitment to the cause. 

Building these early relationships is a time-consuming process. This
means repeated messages over long periods of time. You can only maintain so
many productive relationships. I suspect this number is between 50 and 100
(possibly less). This is a natural cap on the community’s initial growth.

If you want more active members in an
early-stage community, don’t spend more on marketing, hire more community
managers. Marketing will get you more registered members; community managers
will get you more active members.

This applies to existing communities too. One
community manager can only do so much. A second can spend more time inviting
members to join, converting them into regulars, initiating discussions,
creating content, organizing events/activities etc… All of these have a
bigger impact on a community’s success than any investment in a platform.  

Transience

April 24, 2013Comments Off on Transience

It’s very hard to build a genuine community
for a transient audience.

Communities for teenage entrepreneurs all
suffer the same problem. By the time the audience is old enough to care and
connect with others, they only have a few years of participation before they
want to associate with older entrepreneurs.

Communities for account executives, interns,
pregnancy, people getting married, and people facing a major surgery etc…
forcibly limit the amount of time members will remain. In the process, you lose
a lot of tacit knowledge.

It’s still possible to build a community
for these audiences, but it’s better to focus on psychographics (what they
think/feel about different issues), as opposed to demographics/habits. Don’t
imply a short-term circumstance, target a belief/feeling that’s associated with
that age.

Many young people entering a profession
belief a fresh approach is needed, want to rise quickly in their fields,
embrace new technology (and believe that technology should be embraced in their
jobs).

If you can find a belief/feeling that’s
associated with that short-term circumstance, you can build a community with a
much longer retention rate.

Instead of building a community around
pregnancy, you can build a community for mums that want to continue their
careers. This includes the short-term pregnancy, but also encourages groups to
form and share advice/support throughout the early years.

Looking for a belief and desire that your
audience has, not just what the audience is and based your community concept
around that.

A Few Rules For Choosing Your Online Community Platform

April 23, 2013Comments Off on A Few Rules For Choosing Your Online Community Platform

A few months ago a potential client
confessed they were going with a terrible platform because their CEO was
friends with the guy that made the platform.

This didn’t end well.

This is the golden age of community
platforms. The majority of platforms we see today are good enough to build a
community on. However, many organizations still end up with terrible, debilitating, platforms.

The challenge shouldn’t be in avoiding the
terrible platforms. The challenge should be picking the best of a great bunch. Here are a
few rules that might help.

 

Rule 1) Don’t develop your own community
platform

Few organizations that develop their own,
bespoke, platform develop a successful community. You don’t have the experience
or knowledge to develop a successful platform from scratch. The odds on making
a mistake are high. Even if you do develop a good one, members will still have
to learn how to use it. That’s a big barrier.

There are enough good platforms out there
today that you don’t have to develop one, you just have to choose one.

 

Rule 2) Don’t try to change fundamental
habits 

If your audience has never used a community
platform before, stick to e-mail mailing lists (which works extremely well for
the community of community managers). If your audience doesn’t use e-mail, find
what technologies they do use and include this in your decision-making. The less an audience has to learn to use the platform, the more people will use it. 

 

Rule 3) Don’t blow your budget on the
platform 

The high-end enterprise platforms may
charge over $100k per year (plus $100k setup fee) for their platform. This is
fine if your budget is $500k+, otherwise get something more affordable.

For a rough idea, expect to spend $50k+ for
most known enterprise platforms. $20k to $30k for a developed open-source
platforms, $15k+ per year for lower level enterprise platforms and those that
target specific verticals i.e. associations, and sub $1k for hosted white-label
platforms, forums etc…

 

Rule
4) Be aware of your own organization’s skills and resources 

Platforms need maintenance, updating,
further design, security, and plenty more. Does your organization have the
time, knowledge, and money to perform these actions? Setting up a platform is
easy compared with managing it. If you lack these resources, open-source
platforms aren’t a great option for you.

 

Rule 5) Be open to different types of
platforms

Almost every organization ignores mailing
lists, forums, and LinkedIn groups. Most won’t even consider using these as
their community platforms. Yet these are the cheapest, most popular, and most
successful community platforms in the world.  

You don’t need the number of features you
need, the specific design you have in mind, nor a number of other things. If
you’re disregarding an incredibly successful platform because it doesn’t have single sign-on, something is wrong.

 

Rule 6) Ask for help

If you’ve never done this before, ask for
help. You can seek professional help from organizations like ours that do this
with multiple clients, or (cheaper) ask friends whom have done this before. 

FeverBee’s Community Management Course

April 22, 2013 Comments Off on FeverBee’s Community Management Course

In two weeks time, we're launching our community management course

If you're just beginning your community efforts, this course will guide you through the entire process of developing a community.

We will teach you how to conceptualize a community, develop an excellent platform, get your first members, initiate activity, and reach critical mass. You can avoid the mistakes that kill most branded community efforts. 

If you have an existing community, this course will teach how how to grow that community, increase the level of participation, and increase the ROI.

Most importantly, it puts in place a clear, replicable, structure for further developing successful communities. What you learn in this course you can apply to many others. 

This course brings proven social sciences into community development. This isn't a technology course. There are plenty of them. This is a course that explains how you can apply proven social sciences to develop thriving online (and offline) communities.

In addition, the course has an esteemed alumni which includes Wikipedia, Oracle, Amazon, Autodesk, LEGO, EMC, and many others whom have given us terrific reviews

Our aim is to ensure organizations have highly trained community professionals with the right knowledge, resources, and skills to develop their communities. 

The course includes:

  • Live and recorded lessons
  • Guest speakers from throughout the industry
  • Over 100,000 words of written material
  • Our own template scripts, templates, and strategies
  • Unlimited personal coaching
  • Access to our playbook and digital library of case studies
  • Graded assignments
  • A certificate of completion

We believe this is the best course of its kind.

If you want to learn more, click here: http://course.feverbee.com.

Exploding To Life

April 19, 2013Comments Off on Exploding To Life

No amount of planning and preparation is going to make your community explode into life. 

Even if you pulled off the most successful marketing campaign ever, persuaded all the top people to join, had the greatest content of all time, the community still wouldn't explode into life. 

This is because communities don't explode into life. The biggest of pops is still just a pop. A surge of activity fades. Momentum dissipates. Then you're left with an empty shell, a lot of disappointment, and some explaining to do.  

Communities grow steadily. They rise from their slumber. A few members join, then a few more arrive. Members participate, then keep participating. 

This post is as true for communities as it is for books.

Planning for a big launch is a bad idea. It makes far more sense to plan out the first 3 months. Create a big calendar of what you're going to do. Be specific. Figure out who you're going to approach, when you're going to approach them, what's you're going to tell them, what activities you're going to initiate in the community, what discussions you're going to initiate in the community etc…

These questions are more important than a big launch. It's the organizations that put together a big plan for the launch and a small plan for post-launch that struggle the most. 

Rivalries, Conflicts, Grievances, And Communities

April 18, 2013Comments Off on Rivalries, Conflicts, Grievances, And Communities

3 years ago, when my barber first heard I had moved to the area, he took it upon himself to tell me about the local community.

There was a deep sense of community. There was a shared history. The community had faced some big problems and chalked up some impressive achievements.

There were big personalities too, mighty organizations, and a familiarity between most of the long-time residents.  

Most interestingly, there were rivalries, conflicts, long-held grievances stretching back decades. Some families didn't like other families. Sometimes this erupted into furious rows both online and, more commonly, offline in the market. 

Despite this, everyone believed in and supported the community. They all felt a part of the community. No-one wanted to leave the community.

Much the same is true in online communities. There are big personalities (that annoy many people). There are rivalries, conflicts, and grievances. There are people that say controversial things. 

Real communities have all these things. 

Too frequently, we see these as edges to be sanded off to achieve a more harmonized community. It's better just to see it as part of what the community is. A community isn't harmony. There will be people that don't like each other, that bear grudges, and this will occasionally erupt into an open debate.

Don't overreact. Don't shut down the debates. Don't remove the big personalities. Don't sand down the sharp edges. People are far more likely to stop participating in a community because it's boring, than because there are people, opinions, and activities which they don't like.

Overcoming The ‘Too Busy To Participate’ Problem in CoPs

April 17, 2013Comments Off on Overcoming The ‘Too Busy To Participate’ Problem in CoPs

About half of our clients manage communities of practice (CoPs).

The most common problem facing those involved in communities of practice is busyness. Their target audience is too busy to participate in the community, or so they claim. 

This is almost never true. In almost every sector you can find an example of a successful community. It can be doctors, lawyers, accountants, teachers. You will find successful communities. 

The challenge is changing the prospect of the community. If they community is something they have to do instead of something they want to do, of course they will never have time. In fact, they wil never make the time. 

Too often, the community feels like extra work. Too often, it's presented as extra work "hey, please can you share your best advice about {x}" or "please can you participate in this community, or "please write a column about {x}"

Some CoP managers listen to their members complaints of being too busy and go too far in the opposite direction. The opposite direction ignores the work required from members. This is also bad. "Just click this link and you'll get great advice about "x". If you only stress the benefits members get just from reading, members are only ever going to read. The levels of participation will be minimal. 

A happy balance is needed. From the very first contact about the community through to regular participation, there needs to be a stress on something that makes members want to participate.

This might mean appealing to utopian motives; such as creating something bigger than themselves or changing the industry. It might mean appealing to their ego and stressing that this is an exclusive community with invited-members only. It might mean appealing to their social needs, and creating a community where they can talk to and impress their peers. 

There is no shortage of basic tactics to persuade people to participate. It's the strategy and appeal that makes the difference. Everyone makes the time for the things they want to do. The community has to be something they really want to do. 

The Psychological Impact Of Interactions

April 16, 2013Comments Off on The Psychological Impact Of Interactions

When you reply to a fun, closed, question on Facebook it doesn't affect you on a deep level. 

It doesn't increase your connection to the organization or fellow likers. It has little influence on your future actions (and certainly not your buying habits). The only thing that changes are the engagement stats. They skyrocket.

If you were to look at VisitSweden's Facebook page, clearly they have high engagement rates. They have hundreds of people liking posts, commenting on posts, and even sharing posts. It looks terrific. 

Therein lies the problem. It looks so much better and more active than their community did. They decided to close the community and focus on social media platforms. 

If look at engagement metrics, this makes sense. Closing struggling communities is a good idea anyway. But it's mistaken to believe that the types of interaction are interchangable between platforms.

In dedicated community platforms people talk to each other, not just the page admin. They build relationships with each other. They visit daily to satisfy their social needs. This has significant, long-term, impacts on future actions and, yes, buying habits. 

The FB page has few discussions. No-one is getting to know other people on the page. This is an audience, not a community. Despite all the engagement, it will be tough to demonstrate any measurable impact. 

Interactions aren't equal. interactions between members are very different from interactions with members. Responding to a Facebook post has a far weaker psychological commitment than participating in a discussion with other people. Likes have no beneficial impact. 

Visitsweden

You can look at the interactions themselves above. They don't bring the same value as discussions which take place in community platforms. They don't bring new value, new information, encourage high levels of self-disclosure, build relationships between members, nor build bonds between members. 

This presents a problem for a community professional. You're going to get pressure to move to social media platforms. You're going to find it easier to develop a page that looks really active and pleases the boss. Yet you also know this page doesn't have the same impact as community platforms do. This is a really, really, tough argument to make. But if we don't make this argument, we'll find it impossible to build communities.

FeverBee is hiring a Community Advocate

April 15, 2013Comments Off on FeverBee is hiring a Community Advocate

In our quest to help people build better
communities, we’re once again expanding our team.

This time we’re looking for
an advocate of best practices, someone that strongly believes in the power of
communities and wants to bring proven practice to a range of different sectors.
Think business development more than consultancy/sales.

We’re looking for someone that can build
positive relationships with a range of groups/organizations, help promote and
advocate the use of social sciences in communities, and take on and deliver
projects to completion.

Specifically, we’re looking for someone
that can:

1)  
Expand community development best
practice into different regions and sectors.

2)  
Build mutually beneficial relationships
with a variety of different organizations, groups, and influencers.

3)  
Create, publish and promote content
that spreads best practice.

4)  
Organize events that champion
community development and connect thousands of people around the cause.

Last time we advertised a role, we received
over 200 applications. We’re hoping to narrow that down a little this time. 

You should be the following:

1)  
A natural communicator. You are
perfectly happy introducing yourself to groups, building connections with a
variety of people, selling your ideas (and our consultancy/training). Don’t
apply if you’re not, we’ll weed you out.

2)  
An expert in communities. You
should have read most of the material on this blog, bought the book, and agree
with our principles. Experience building and managing your own communities is a
major plus.  

3)  
A terrific writer. You need to
have a clear, concise, writing style.

4)  
Experienced in advocacy. You
should understand how to create excitement and interest around different
topics. You know how to promote something valuable without being sleazy.    

5)  
100% reliable. You say what
you’re going to do and do it. Missed deadlines are a cause of panic (and
short-lived employment).

6)  
Driven like a maniac. You have
a burning, unquenchable, desire to make change in the world. You want to show
off your intrapreneurial spirit.

Please no Klout-obsessed social media
junkies. If your idea of this role is participating
in the conversation
all day long on Twitter, don’t apply.

If your vision is to be making dozens of
calls every day, approaching groups/organizations, building mutually beneficial
connections to people that matter, producing and packaging materials, achieving
real results, and working with an intensity that comes from a true belief in
the power of communities to change lives – we want you. This is a role for a
do’er more than a thinker.

 

Benefits
of FeverBee

  • You get full training in
    communities and community development – along with our own certification.
  • You get freedom to develop your
    own projects and deliver on them.
  • You get to work from home and
    set your own hours. If you want to hit the gym in the afternoon, go ahead. 
  • Your work matters. You get to
    see organizations connecting thousands of otherwise disconnected people into
    strong, beneficial, groups.  

To apply, give me a call and persuade me
that you’re perfect for the role.

There is no deadline, we’ll stop looking
when we find someone we like.

Richard Millington

[email protected]

+44 20 7792 2469

©2020 FeverBee Limited, 1314 New Providence Wharf, London, United Kingdom E14 9PJ FEVERBEE