Month: July 2013

…But, sometimes you don’t want ripples

July 31, 2013Comments Off on …But, sometimes you don’t want ripples

The exception to yesterday’s post is when you don’t want further
activity on a contribution.  

If the post quality is bad, misaligned with the community’s goals or
from a person you would rather not participate in your community, then don’t

Completely ignore the post. Participate in the activity you want.
Highlight this activity. Ensure other topics quickly appear above this

It’s manipulative. Not everyone will agree. However, there is more to
ensuring high quality content than removing the bad material. 

We Want Ripples

July 30, 2013Comments Off on We Want Ripples

Anticipated reciprocity (or efficacy) comes up a
in research about community motivations.

Any time someone makes a contribution to a community, they want a
reaction. A good reaction is good. A bad reaction is less good. But zero
reaction is catastrophic.  

If a member gets no response more than once their chances of
contributing again drops close to zero.

When we throw a stone in the community water, we want to see the
ripples. No ripples, no more stones.  

Responding to every contribution yourself doesn’t scale. Nor does a
patronizing response along the lines of “thank
you for your contribution, we appreciate it!

The challenge is simple and difficult. Find others as motivated as you
to make sure everyone that makes a contribution sees a good, quick, response.
This response includes a question that prompts further discussion.  

Endorsements and calls to join

July 29, 2013Comments Off on Endorsements and calls to join

This is a simple growth tactic for business-orientated communities.  

E-mail managing directors, HR representatives, CEOs and other relevant people at large companies. Tell them the community has some terrific knowledge being shared. Would they like to ask their staff to join?  

Set up a link where these members can join for free* (and get a bonus/something extra – ideally a summary of the community’s best tips so far).  

Once it works at one organization, you can approach their competitors. They don’t want to miss out on letting their employees join for free (or get some unique/exclusive access).  

Now do the same for those that run relevant groups, meetups, and others in your sector. Having a trusted person invite their audience to join your community is more effective than you doing it.  

* I’m aware most communities are free to join. The act of saying this has a far higher conversion rate. 

Pushing Through

July 26, 2013Comments Off on Pushing Through

This is the Google Analytics unique visitors data from a former


Look at the far left. This is when the community began. The
community had minimal traffic, minimal growth. In fact, it began to shrink to
close to zero half way through the year.

This is the point when the community manger loses their hope
(or passion) for the project. This is the point when most organizations cancel
their communities.

This is the point where organizations need to push through.

Traffic picked up just after the summer and grew slowly, but
steadily, until January 2010 when growth took off. Do you know what we began
doing differently in January?


This is just the purely random tipping point where the
community reached enough people that it gained attention beyond its borders.

There are a lot of lonely community builders posting daily
questions that receive few responses, hosting events few people attend, and
creating daily content that hardly anybody reads. This is lonely, frustrating
work. You have to push through this phase.

Focus on those first 50 active members, write about what
they’re doing, identify the most interesting discussions, build strong relationships
with each of them.

The danger isn’t that you never reach the tipping point. The
danger is you give up just before you do.


Feature Creep and Rejecting Platforms

July 25, 2013Comments Off on Feature Creep and Rejecting Platforms

Feature creep is dangerous for communities.

It results in organizations rejecting perfectly good
platforms. Instead, they spend $100k+ developing a bespoke platform. This is
incredibly risky.

First, you have to find a company with a proven track record
of developing successful community platforms. This means visiting the platforms
they created. Look to see if there is any activity between members on that platform.

Second, you have to give the company the right
specification. If you haven’t created a community before, that’s difficult.
Then you also need a wireframe. Most bespoke community platforms end up as
content sites. Why? Because everyone has far more experience creating content
sites than communities.

There are a staggering number of organizations willing to
hand $100k+ to people with no track record developing successful communities.
This isn’t a place to learn on the job. Future fixes and changes are costly.
That’s money that could be spent hiring more and better community

Don’t develop your own bespoke community platform. With few
exceptions, your community can survive without that 1 feature a platform is
missing (calendars, resources areas, wikis, blogs, groups, multimedia sharing,
and gamification/voting).

If you are developing your platform, then make absolutely sure you have people with a
track record doing this. If you want a shortcut, look at a successful community
(not content site) and copy as much of that as possible.



Making Sense of Data: Is Your Community Healthy?

July 24, 2013Comments Off on Making Sense of Data: Is Your Community Healthy?

This question came up recently:

Should you be
concerned if the % of engaged members has fallen from 7.88% in March to 5.03%
in June?

It’s tough to answer this
without more data.

For example, if the community has been growing, there might
be more members participating more frequently. However, the total % of active
members to registered members would be lower. This indicates lower conversion
rates (newcomers to regulars) or higher turnover of existing members (existing
members sticking around for less time). Both are a cause of concern, but hardly

However, if the community hasn’t seen a significant increase
in registered members, this shows that members are leaving. This is a major
cause of concern.

This is why we need more than one data point. We need to
track membership, activity, and sense of community.


First, lets analyze membership. We want to know:

  • The
    number of active members within the previous 30 days
    . This is the key
    metric to highlight whether the community is heading in the right direction.
    The overall number of active members shows how your community is doing. Note we
    want absolute numbers, not percentages.
  • The
    number of new registrations
    . This shows whether the community is still
    attracting new members. If this begins to drop, activity will soon follow. This
    shows how successful your promotional efforts have been. 
  • The
    number of newcomers to regulars
    . We covered this here. Broadly,
    we want to track how many newcomers make their first contribution, and how many
    stick around 6 months later. This shows if you’re wasting potential.

Now you have a story. If the % of engaged members has
declined, you can show it’s either because conversion rates from registered
members into regular participants is lower or existing members are drifting
away (or a combination of the two). Once you identify the problem, you can
tackle it with specific interventions.


Next we track activity metrics. This includes the following:

  • Total
    number of posts
    . This is the broad metric that shows how successful your
    community is. If it’s going up, that’s usually a good thing. If it’s going
    down, that’s a bad thing. A decline in participating members isn’t so bad if
    the ones you’ve got are more active.
  • Number of
    new discussions
    . This shows whether the community is stuck within a limited
    number of topics or has plenty of fresh ground to cover. If your concept is too
    narrow, you might have very few fresh discussions. This can also indicates that
    members have increasing or decreasing levels of social fear.
  • Number of
    responses per discussion
    . This shows whether the discussions being initiated
    are of interest to members (and whether members are visiting enough to see
    these discussions). 
  • Number of
    posts per active member
    . This shows whether members are more or less
    engaged in the community. Use active member, not registered members to get
    accurate data.
  • Visits
    per active member
    . This and time on site (below) validates the trend
    highlighted above. If members are visiting less frequently, that typically
    indicates a major cause of concern.  
  • Time on
    site per active member
    . This shows whether members are finding something of
    interest when they do visit the community. 
    Shorter time spent per vision doesn’t matter, but total amount of time
    on the site does.

Ideally, you want to remove the top and bottom 15
percentile, but this is rarely possible.

These metrics paint a vivid picture about whether your
existing, active members are more or less engaged in the community. They
specifically highlight anything that might be a cause for concern.

If you want to answer questions about how your community is
doing, begin by getting this data.


Almost Every Branded Community Fails – Some Case Studies

July 23, 2013Comments Off on Almost Every Branded Community Fails – Some Case Studies

I recently searched for “online
community” on a marketing site. It gave me a long list of organizations which
have launched a community over the last five years.


Here is a
quick summary of the first 12.  

EasyJet launched a community which
was actually a blog. The link no longer works.

Arsenal FC launched a community with
10Duke to 'add value' to existing memberships. The link no longer works

BBC created a community
called Soup
for aspiring comedians. The website is
still there, but the site has been closed to new contributors.

created a community for post offices. The link no longer works.

Beta launched DaddyBeGood to be
the Mumsnet of fathers. A famous cricketer appeared in ads promoting the site.
The site underwent a rethink a year later and has
now vanished.

Earlier this year LurPak relaunched BakeClub. Members upload pictures of what they have baked and tag them on
Twitter/Instagram with #bakeclub. The site is getting about 5 new contributions
a day.

PBS launched PBS Learning
Media a community for
teachers. Today it’s a site that features resources but no place for members to

Sony launched VAIO Nation for new
and established artists to share skills and tips. Today the link has vanished.

EasyJet launched a customer research
community which began well and attracted 1000 members. Today
it no longer
seems possible
to register for the community. There
is a GetSatisfaction community for EasyJet which receives a few comments a day.

Beta tried again in 2011, this time launching High50 a community for
those 50+. The site is still going today, but
lacks anywhere to interact and none of the articles receives comments or are

Free Magazine launched a community,
bizarrely, for people that use the London Northern Line. The link no
longer works

Phones4U launched a ‘fun community
where members can do surveys’ called TheUBar. This community
will let you enter your full information and then demand you answer a series of
questions until you get one wrong. You’ll then be told you can’t participate
any more (this is very common in research-based communities)

There are 871 results for “online
community” on the BrandRepublic site. The ones above are the first 12. I’d
guess that the remaining 859 results feature a 95% to 100% failure rate.

Why is nearly every branded community a

This may not be true (I suspect it is),
but we can say for sure that almost every organization that announces the launch of a new community fails.

The mindset that leads an organization
to announce a community launch via a press release is also one that leads to
failure. It requires lots of promotion, 1000 members overnight, sets high
expectations, and fails to convert a rush of interest into long-term
participation. We covered this in a free eBook two
years ago.

This is
the opposite of how communities develop.

Once participation levels drop,
interest from the organization wanes and the website disappears a year or so
later. Dell’s Digital Nomads was a
classic example.

Common mistakes

There are a number of other common
mistakes. Here are a few:

  • Don’t develop your own platform. Most of
    the examples above launched their community on their own, bespoke, platform.
    This is a mistake. Use an existing platform (Lithium, Yammer, Jive, Teligent,
    Socious, Ning, HigherLogic, Vbulletin, Drupal Commons, Vanilla Forums, and many
    more are all better platforms than you will develop.
  • Don’t hire a marketing agency. Almost
    every example above hired a marketing agency. Don’t do this. Few marketing
    agencies have ever built a successful, genuine, community. They’re expensive
    and take a promotion-driven approach.
  • Don’t create a content-driven site. Content
    is great for readers, but typically bad for communities – especially when it
    displaces the areas where members can interact with one another. The evidence
    of the term ‘site editor’ for many of the above communities indicates the
  • Don’t go big quickly. Big
    launches don’t succeed. They attract a lot of members who get a bad first
    impression and then prove difficult to convert into regulars. Start small, grow
    big steadily. 

If you
want to get this right, you can do one of two things.

First, you can learn as much as
possible about communities. There are plenty of resources, training courses, and books to help you.
Don’t build a community until you really know a lot about communities.

Second, you can get help from community
specialists. There are numerous people around, ourselves
, that focus solely upon communities.


On July 1st, Google
is shutting Google Reader down.

This means we need to persuade
you to take one of two actions.

Click here to
subscribe by e-mail

Move your
Google Readers feed to Feedly
takes about 2 minutes)


Resisting The Temptation (creeping doubts)

July 22, 2013Comments Off on Resisting The Temptation (creeping doubts)

We’re in the process of growing
a community for community professionals.

This has meant living by our
principles (and being our own client)

This means having a refined concept that excludes 90% of our
possible audience. It means launching with a tiny, small, group that share a
lot in in common. It means resisting the temptation to promote it on the blog,
e-mail our mailing list, or let anyone join.

It’s a small, exclusive, community highly focused upon one
specific area of the topic.

In theory, this is easy. In
practice, you face your own doubts (and greed).

  • Wouldn’t it be better to have a broader concept
    and more members?
  • Wouldn’t it be easier to get as many people to
    join the community as possible to get the community off the ground?
  • Can we really commit one person to do this

However, a broader concept would be less attractive to
everyone. It would put us in competition with the existing, terrific,
communities. It would kill the community in the long-term.  

A big promotional push wouldn’t let us convert many members
into active participants, nor check that we have a popular concept, and a
proven method for sustaining activity.

Every person that launches a community faces doubts that it
won’t succeed. Like hosting a party where nobody shows, it’s embarrassing and
costly. You will face the daily temptation to go bigger and quicker. That’s a
mistake. You have to fight this temptation.


On July 1st, Google is shutting Google Reader down.

This means we need to persuade you to take one of two actions.

1)   Click here to subscribe by e-mail (best option)

2)   Move your Google Readers feed to Feedly (it takes about 2 minutes)


FeverBee Is Hiring A Community Manager

July 20, 2013Comments Off on FeverBee Is Hiring A Community Manager

We're hiring a community manager for a terrific new project. 

We're building an exclusive community for people that love the data and psychology side of communities as much as we do. 

Read this before you apply. 

Based upon past experience, I suspect we'll get around 200+ applications. To save us both time, please make sure you match the following criteria. 

  1. You're crazy passionate about the field of community management (not social media platforms, but proper communities). You can show us the material you've published, events you've attended, and things you've done to advance the field. If we can't see what you've done already, we won't hire you. 
  2. You're well connected. You can prove you have strong links with other key people in this space. You have the credibility to call upon other people you already know to participate in the community. 
  3. You have experience. We're not looking for a rough diamond this time, we're looking for the final product. We'll provide training, but we want someone that has built a community before – and can send us the link to that community. 
  4. You love the data/theory side of building communities. We'll test you on this, so know your stuff. If you don't know the principles of data or any key theories behind community development, this is not for you. 
  5. You're a do-er and 100% reliable. If you always do tasks at the last minute, this isn't the job for you. We want someone that gets stuck in and achieves results. We have very little patience for excuses. 

If you're applying from outside of the UK, be aware you will be responsible for fulfilling your tax obligations. 


The Perks

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 field.
  • Work from home and with flexible hours. You decide what hours you work (with agreed results to achieve). You can have a job and a life. You can go to the gym or meet friends in the afternoon, work the hours you feel most productive, and swap days as you see fit. 
  • 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 achieve goals in any manner you like. This is an entrepreneurial role. You will be building and managing a community. 
  • Travel to events. 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.

Send your application to [email protected]

* Note: We are not looking to hire social media managers.

The right way to initiate a discussion

July 19, 2013Comments Off on The right way to initiate a discussion

Sometimes, when we advise an organization to initiate
discussions, the community manager will make one of several mistakes. The most
common is to lack any rationale for asking the question. For example:

Subject: What does everyone think about {x}?


know in the global age of communication that {x} is going to be of
ever-increasing importance. What do you think about {x}? What is your
organization going to do to prepare for {x}? Let us know what you think.

Humans don’t speak like this. It feels close to corporate
speak. It lacks individuality. The worst offenders will deter a lot of future

Initiating a popular discussion requires empathy. The most
popular discussions are those based around the most provocative topics and asked the right way.

To increase the number of responses your discussions
receive, things can help. First, include why the discussion is relevant to you.
How does this discussion affect your life? Second, be very specific about what you’re asking. What do you think about {x} is very broad. Far
better to ask if {x} is better than {y}? Or if {x} will affect {y}?

Let’s try a simple rewrite:

Subject: What software is best for {x}?

anyone know what software is best suited for {x}? My company has tasked me with
replacing the current software with something new, given how popular we suspect
{x} might become.

anyone else done this? What sort of costs are we looking at? Any problems we
should be aware of?

Once you receive a few responses, you can ask further
questions about this topic within that thread (that’s why they call it a
discussion!). Eventually, you can summarize the best advice in a short
white-paper for members to share and download.


On July 1st, Google is shutting Google Reader down.

This means we need to persuade you to take one of two actions.

1)Click here to subscribe by e-mail (best option)

2)Move your Google Readers feed to Feedly (it takes about 2            minutes)

Topical Stories

July 18, 2013Comments Off on Topical Stories

It’s common for a community professional to publish a
daily/weeky list of relevant stories.

This helps most people stay informed (and helps the
community professional become an expert).

If you do this, however, you need a strong filter. If there aren’t any big enough stories, don’t
publish any (this takes a little courage). Only allow the stories that are going
to have a long-term impact.

Over time, you can add editorial, link these to relevant
discussions, and interview/host guest discussions with those featured in the


On July 1st, Google is shutting Google Reader down.

This means we need to persuade you to take one of two actions.

1) Click here to subscribe by e-mail (best option)

2) Move your Google Readers feed to Feedly (it takes about 2             minutes)

Conceptualization: How To Invent and Reinvent A Community That Explodes To Life

July 17, 2013Comments Off on Conceptualization: How To Invent and Reinvent A Community That Explodes To Life

Most communities fail because the initial concept is flawed. 

If you've been thrown everything at the community, and it's still not working, you need to change the concept. 

Tomorrow (Thursday) @ 2:00pm EDT (7pm BST // 9am PDT) we're hosting a free webinar which will explain the entire process of creating a powerful community concept.

If you want a community which explodes to life upon launch, this webinar will help. 

You can sign up here:

©2021 FeverBee Limited, 1314 New Providence Wharf, London, United Kingdom E14 9PJ FEVERBEE