Month: May 2013
Even academics disagree.
Let’s try to use more specific definitions.
Community. A community is a group of people whom have
developed online relationships around a strong common interest. This means
people whom have crossed an agreed boundary. By developing relationships we
mean an extended reciprocity cycle and familiarity/trust in other members. By
common interest, we mean something members spend a lot of time thinking about.
act of creating a community and reaching critical mass. This begins in the
conceptualization stage of the lifecycle and ends when the community has
achieved a critical mass.
management. The process of developing the community
through the lifecycle to its maximum potential. This includes responsibility
for all activities in the community.
- Community organizing. The process of identifying community needs/desires and working with the community to realize those needs/desires.
For recognition to work, it has to be
Congratulating members on joining your
communities isn’t meaningful. Recognition is a complex tool. If it feels
slightly patronizing, it has the opposite affect.
The goal of recognition is three-fold. First, to
showcase contributions you want to encourage. Second, to reinforce existing
behaviour. Third, highlight the influence members have had upon your community.
Gamification is a terrible way of recognizing
members. Most automated methods of recognition are meaningless. Recognition has
to be given for meaningful acts in meaningful ways.
Don't recognise simple or basic acts of little significant. If a member hasn't done much to deserve recognition, don't give any. You undermine yourself if you give recognition for meaningless acts.
If a member has made several excellent
contributions in the community, then profile or interview the member, highlight
those contributions, but don’t give them a gold star.
Two years ago, someone approached us with a
They were going to create a crowdsourcing a site
where members would share product/service manuals. This place, they excitedly
explained, would be the ultimate venue in
the world(!), for product/service information.
You can guess our first question. “Who wants to spend their spare time sharing
product manuals with each other?”
Wikipedia, Kickstar, Kiva, and a few others have
created a success bias in crowdsourcing efforts. Like traditional communities,
most crowdsourcing efforts fail (abysmally). We only hear about the successes.
They fail because the motivations of users
aren’t considered. Why would people want to spend their spare time undertaking
that activity? If your answer is “because
it would help other people”, you’re going to struggle.
To understand any crowdsourcing effort we need
to understand the nature of commitment. People will undertake
crowdsourcing-based activity for one of three reasons:
to the topic. Wikis for Star Trek, Star Wars, traveling, and
a few others thrive through sheer passion for the topic alone. You’re not in
this group. Trust me, you’re not in this group.
of ownership of the topic. Wikipedia thrived, in part, because
anyone with a sense of ownership over a topic would create and curate that
topic on Wikipedia. I loved Seth’s IdeaVirus book, so I created a Wikipedia
entry for it. If you have a large group of people, each of whom have a specific
niche within the crowdsourcing effort’s broader topic, the idea of creating and
curating information can be powerful.
This also works for most review sites. People
whom have visited the venue or experience the product feel a sense of ownership
of that topic. TripAdvisor thrives on this.
reputation. This is related to the above. Many
crowdsourcing efforts succeed because members are trying to increase their own
reputation. By creating and sharing content, they’re enhancing their own profile
amongst their target audience. Quora is a great example of this.
to the group. This is the most common. Members are committed
to others in the group. This means they know and like other members. They want
to achieve something together. Unless members have a high level of familiarity
with others, this won’t work.
with the group’s success. Once a crowdsourcing efforts is
thriving, everyone wants to associate their own identity with the group’s
success. This doesn’t work for you until your crowdsourcing effort is thriving.
Of the five listed above, ownership,
increased reputation, and commitment to the group which are easiest to
If you want to build a successful crowdsourcing
effort, look for those that feel a sense of
ownership over niche topic, provide messages related to enhanced reputation, or build strong connections between the group before you begin.
If it’s too easy to join the community, the act
of joining carries no mental significance.
It has no impact upon whether
someone is likely to participate and become a regular member. If you incentivize registration, it may even do the opposite.
Yet joining a community should be easy. You
don’t want to turn away interested members through a difficult registration
If you ask members for a lot of information,
you’re going to lose a lot of members. Every extra question, click, or
word required to read and complete the registration form is going to lose you
We need a balance that embraces the idea of
group commitment. You can use three small tweaks.
a) Turn the registration form into an
Ask members why they want to join the
c) Ask members what they intend to offer
the community (skills, knowledge, charisma!).
If you prime members to commit to certain
actions before they join the community (in writing), you’re more likely to
convert them into regular members.
These questions achieve three goals. First, they
create a sense of exclusivity. People
want to join this community and be accepted as part of the group.
Second, they give you terrific information about
who your members are and what they want. You can also use this information to
introduce newcomers to the community.
Third, they prime members to participate and
accept the group identity.
The process of joining a community is more
psychological than physiological. Mentally feeling you’re a member is more
important than clicks and registered member counts. The process neither begins,
nor ends, with the registration page…but the registration page can help.
Sarah was completely right and lost her
role (fortunately, not her job).
During a member uprising, she explained in
clear, precise, terms, how they were wrong and the organization was right. Her
language was polite, if a little terse.
The responsible was predictable. Members
Facts aren’t the solution to anger. Telling
an angry person they’re wrong, (even if they are) will exacerbate the issue.
The issue is the emotion, not the facts. You can’t outright reject someone’s
Worse still, Sarah thus made herself the
sole target of that anger. Members will never accept her now. That made her
people are angry, they want to be listened to. I’d suggest you respond with a
message similar to:
Clearly something has gone wrong here, I’m furious and
very sorry about that.
Let’s try and fix this.
Rather than overwhelm all discussions here and lose
track of everyone’s comments, I’ve set up a thread/group here for people
that want to fix it. If you have the time, please come and help.”
This simple message (or any variation you
like) aims to achieve three things:
It listens to members and takes
their emotional side.
It gives members a place
(outside of the main discussion area) to talk more and help resolve the issue.
It shows you intend to take action to resolve it.
In this place, you can
gradually ask members to come up with a solution and gradually highlight the
possible constraints you’re working in.
It might not always work, but it’s far
better than telling angry members how wrong they are.
We have two mental buckets; work and play.
The work bucket is where we place all the
activities we have to do. This bucket
is incredibly crowded. It’s tough to rank highly on any list of priorities
The play bucket is where we place all the
activities we get to do. This bucket
is relatively empty. You might have TV, surfing the internet, spending time
with friend and family.
Many people work ferociously during the
day, complain about a lack of time, and then spend 3 hours watching TV in the
Most communities do everything they can to
get themselves placed within the ‘work’ bucket. They tell people to
participate, they talk about the tangible benefits from joining and
participating in the community, and they ignore all the potential ‘fun’ aspects
from the community.
As you’ve guessed, it’s far better to be
placed in the ‘play’ bucket. Reddit is clearly a community in the play bucket.
No-one would consider it something they have
The only way to get yourself in the play
bucket is to make your community fun. That means livening the mood at times and catering to an individuals social needs – not just their information
Here’s a common (and tedious) question in
community circles; how do you prevent burnout?
This question allows people to talk about
themselves. It allows people to brag (and lie) about what they do with their
Most participants declare they prevent
burnout by doing sports, travelling to exotic places, going to cool bars, doing
interesting hobbies, or anything that reflects positively on them.
People are desperate to impress their
peers. They love to participate in off-topic, status-jockeying, discussions.
It’s why some people tweet every run they take or every airport they visit.
They’re trying to impress their peers “Hey,
I’m healthy AND on business trips!”
However, bragging has an inverse correlation
with an individual’s self-esteem. Broadly, the more you feel compelled to brag,
the lower your likely level of self-esteem. Since those with high self-esteem
are also likely to be powerful, self-actualizing, people, you might lose valuable
contributors by catering to the bragging crowd.
It might be an easy way to facilitate
discussions, but it has long-term consequences.
Set up Google alerts for your topic and the
You want to find people that are publishing
a book relevant to your topic.
Invite them to a live interview for the
community and ask for 20 copies to giveaway. Authors are very keen to reach
this specific group of people.
Look on LinkedIn for people that have
recently joined a relevant company at a high position. Invite them to do an
interview for the community talking about their life and career. Create a
regular column of people on the move within your sector (Jeremiah did this well
Afterwards, ask if they would like a
regular column or can give your community exclusive first look/trial versions
of the product to generate buzz.
Search for terms relevant to your topic and
the word conference/event/exhibition/tournament. Find who runs the event. Ask
for a discount for members from your community. Interview the person behind the
There are many key people in your sector.
Your community should build relationships with every one of them.
You want these key people to endorse your
community, help you get exclusives for members (news or products/services), participate in your community, and
promote the community to their own audiences.
For most communities, awareness is your
biggest barrier. This is easy to change.
If you don't try to prevent your community from doing something bad, you're morally responsible for the outcome (perhaps legally responsible too).
It might be fun to join the Amy Baking Co fan page and watch the increasingly furious, aggressive, messages. It might be fun to let your members relentlessly hound someone they (and you) dislike.
Yet actions have consequences. You can't predict what happens when your members hound an increasingly unstable person. Especially one whose business and reputation has been publicly destroyed.
History suggests this has the potential for tragedy. It's the potential for that tragedy which should prompt you to action.
There are many grey areas in moral responsibilities for community actions. This isn't one of them. Online bullying is real. It has proven, fatal, consequences. No-one, especially not the members doing the bullying, wants that outcome. Be sure to tell your members that.
…and this goes for our fellow community professionals too.
As part of our consultancy, we spend a lot
of time reviewing a client’s existing plans for a community.
There are a variety of things we look out
for. Some we’ve listed below:
- Do you have clear, ROI, goals?
i.e. not likes/engagements but one of these?
- Do you have a framework for
measuring the health, progress, and ROI of the community? Is this framework
logical and valid?
- Have you set a specific time to
collect and analyze the data you need?
- Are your data collection methods
- Is your community concept clear
and based upon research you’ve undertaken?
- Are you taking the right
actions for your stage in the community lifecycle?
- Do you have a plan to
proactively grow the community?
- Are you targeting a specific,
segmented, group to join the community? Is your approach genuine or does it
- If you’re just launching, do
you know specific who to contact and have you already established relationships
with this audience?
- Do you have a process for
converting a newcomer into a regular?
- Are you inviting members to do
something specific within the community?
- Are you optimizing the newcomer
to regular conversion ratio? Do you know where members are dropping out?
- Do you have a calendar of
discussions you plan to initiate over the next 3 months? Is this based upon
- Are you highlighting and
promoting the most popular discussions in the community?
- Are your discussions linked to
your events and content?
- Do you have a process and
criteria for removing negative members from the community?
- Have you reviewed whether your
community needs to concentrate or dissipate activity?
- Have you established a weekly
calendar of content categories?
- Are you creating daily content
about the community?
- Are recruiting and making it
easy for members to submit their own content (not just providing the means, but
also the motivation)?
- Does your content establish a
social order and narrative within the community for members to follow?
- Are you organizing and
facilitating regular online activities for members? (webinars, live chats,
- When will you host an offline
- Are you documenting the results
of previous events and publishing these somewhere?
- Has the community manager
chosen a path to gain influence within the community (reciprocity, likability,
- Have you identified the top
members of the community, is there a plan and specific time set aside to build
relationships with these top members?
- Is there a plan to recruit
volunteers to help contribute guest content, undertaken community activities,
and provide regular support?
- Are the opinions of members
- Does your platform feature the
latest activity, above the fold, on the landing page of the community?
- Is there a clear place for
members to interact with each other, not for the organization to interact with
- Is the platform easy to modify
and update? Or will it require a lot of maintenance? Has it been used before to
develop successful communities?
- Is the platform open, with all
content accessible to non-members?
- Are there any plans to concentrate
or dissipate the level of activity in the community?
- Is there a community history, a
good FAQ, and a simple registration form?
- Does the organization understand
what a community is, how to participate in the community, the benefits of a
community, the time it takes to develop a community, and the resources a
- Is there a full-time community
- Are more employees than just
the community managers participating in the community?
- Is the community integrated
with the product, price, place, and promotion of the organization?
- Does the organization have the
ability to scale the community?
Let’s try this again, we’re hiring.
We’re looking for someone that wants to
change how people build communities.
The current approach is completely wrong.
It is too reactive, too focused on platforms, and too similar to marketing. As
a result, most communities fail.
Even those that succeed struggle to reach
their potential. By applying the principles of social science, we can change
This is a message we want your help in
We’re hiring a community advocate.
We’re hiring 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 without fail.
We’re looking for someone that has a
passion for communities and a great track record for making things happen.
We’re looking for someone with a genuine
desire to help people build better communities.
We’re looking for someone that truly loves
connecting with their fellow community professionals and building positive
1) 100% reliable. This is a job for a doer.
You making things happen. You crush deadlines with time to spare. If you
struggle, panic, or withdraw when confronted by deadlines, this isn’t a good
fit. If get a charge from getting things done and making things happen, drop us
a line. Reliability is essential here.
2) A great communicator. You should be
happy introducing yourselves to individuals and groups, building strong
connections, selling your ideas. Strong self-confidence helps a lot here.
3) A community expert. It’s going to be
tough to do the job if you don’t know the material. It helps if you’ve read our
book, understand our principles, and developed communities of your own.
4) A terrific writer. You need to be able
to create material that helps people build better communities. If you can’t
write articulate ideas in a concise manner, this isn’t for you.
5) Eager to change the world. I know,
this sounds lame. This isn’t a spreadsheet role. This is about changing the
world. The world would be better if there were more successful online and
offline communities. People active in communities are happier, healthier, and
wealthier. This is work worth doing. This should drive you.
This is an intense role. It will involve
connecting with key people and organizations, producing regular material, attending
events, and achieving real, visible, results.
At FeverBee, we hire terrific people and
provide a platform for them to do their life’s work. To help you do that we
provide the following:
- Full training in communities and community development (with certification). We’ll train you to be a leading expert in this
- Work from home and with flexible hours.
You decide what hours you work (with agreed results to achieve). You can go to
the gym in the afternoon, work the hours you’re most productive, and have a
social life during the week.
- Access to our virtual assistants. You
can keep the mundane, repetitive, tasks off your desk and free up your time to
focus on your key goals.
- Freedom to develop your own projects. We
believe in freedom and responsibility. You can determine how you will advocate
- Travel to clients and events across four continents. Some see this as a burden, others a perk. Take your pick. Our work
has taken us to UK, USA, Canada, China, Australia, Denmark, Germany, The
Netherlands, France, Lithuania, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, and a few more.
Please no cover letters, CVs/resumes. We want
to see your drive and persuasive skills. Call us and persuade us you're right for the job.
(0)20 7792 2469
Our accountant would prefer we hired
someone in the UK, but you’re welcome to persuade us otherwise.