Month: August 2013

Monthly Review – What Did The Community Achieve This Month

August 30, 2013Comments Off on Monthly Review – What Did The Community Achieve This Month

It’s easy to highlight what was popular each month in a monthly
review. This is somewhat useful.

It’s better to highlight what the community achieved each month. What
issues were resolved? How did the community improve its field? What body of
valuable knowledge did the community contribute? Who was helped and by whom?
Who is the member of the month?

It doesn’t take much extra time to create a
monthly review which every member looks forward to reading. 

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Community Reviews

August 29, 2013Comments Off on Community Reviews

Community reviews are useful.

Most communities would benefit from an area where members can submit

These reviews might include: 

  • Books they have read
  • Events they have attended
  • Products/services they have used
  • Tactics they have tried to resolve issues
  • Places they have visited 

…or anything else that might be relevant to the
community’s topic.

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When Do Members Participate?

August 28, 2013Comments Off on When Do Members Participate?

This varies depending upon the type of
community you develop. 

  • Communities of action typically have activity
    throughout the day.
  • Communities of interest are typically busiest in
    the evening and at weekends.
  • Communities of practice are typically busiest
    during the working day (professionals tend to switch off completely in the
  • Communities of circumstance vary depending upon
    whether it’s those dealing with a health issues that restricts the participants
    ability to work.
  • Communities of location are usually busiest in
    the evening and weekend – especially the weekend.

You can use Google Analytics to track
when most people visit your community.

Ensure your community is working the same hours that members are using
the community. For some community professionals, this might mean odd hours that
free up their regular working days to enjoy life and work in the evenings and

Also ensure that most of the activities that take place in your
community match when most people visit the community. 

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Professional Community Management Training

August 27, 2013Comments Off on Professional Community Management Training

Our Professional
Community Management training course
is once again accepting applications.

Most community professionals have incredible passion for their work
and some useful experience already. However, many lack knowledge, resources,
and understanding of social science.

This means they don’t have a reliable framework for launching a
community, growing and increasing activity in existing communities, nor an
understanding of the data/social sciences that underpins our work. 

For the last few years we’ve run a Professional Community Management
training course to turn good community managers into terrific community
managers. We’re pleased to announce that we’re once again accepting applicants
for next semester that runs from Sept
30 to Nov 8


Who: Richard Millington, FeverBee (and 10
participants per module)
What: Professional
Community Management Training (all 3 modules)
When: Sept 30th to
8th November
Where: Fully
online, distance, learning. No travelling or missing work required. All material
(lessons, guest speakers, resources, notes) are available online.

Learn more:

About the course

The FeverBee Community Management course will train you to grow and manage a
thriving online community for your organization.

The course trains you to apply proven knowledge and resources to tackle your
community's biggest challenges.

The course will take you through the entire process of developing your
community and maximising the value it provides your organization. We will
provide you with a full set of reference materials you can use for yourself,
your team, and the rest of your organization.

With our training, you can build bigger communities at a much faster pace. You
won't join the long list of organizations that launch a dead community. The
course will save you time, money, and ensure your community adheres to best

We don’t waste time talking about vague social business concepts, nor dwell
upon social media, instead we focus solely on the practical nature of building
bigger and better online communities.

The details

The course is an intensive, distance-learning (online), experience
which includes the following:

  • Live weekly lessons (which
    are also recorded so you won’t miss one). Each lesson also includes a Q&A
  • 100,000+ words of
     material covering
    every step of the community development process.  
  • Coaching sessions from
    the world’s greatest community specialists
    previous speakers have included; Justin Isaf (Huffington Post), Blaise
    Grimes-Viort (eModeration), Patrick O’Keefe (Managing Online Forums), Dianne
    Kibbey (Element14/Newark), Rachel Happe (Community Roundtable), David Chavis
    (Community Science),  Laura Dobrzynski and Robert Cartaino
  • A complete new book of
    case studies 
    you can use to guide your community’s
    development (and show the rest of your organization). 
  • FeverBee's personal
    coaching to support your community
    . We set aside time to personally coach
    each participant on their specific community situations.  
  • Template
    scripts/strategies and other documents we use for our own clients
    . You get
    the exact same materials that we use for clients. 
  • End of term
    assignments covering the course material focused specifically on your
    organization’s community efforts
    . By the end of this course you have a
    clear document, reviewed by us, to guide your immediate efforts. 
  • Access to key academic
    Undertake your own research with access to the key journals in the field.  
  • Certificate of
     Pass the course successfully and
    you will receive a FeverBee certificate of completion to support your
    professional career development. 
  • Problem-orientated live
    discussions with fellow participants
    . We tackle a major topic each week.
    Learn from other professionals facing the same challenges that you have.  

All participants receive lifetime access for their organization to all
of the above. You can use the same materials to train future community managers
at your organization. 

Previous participants

Our previous participants have completely changed the way they
approach their communities and achieved incredible results.

Previous participants of the course have included community managers
from a range of big and small organizations (and several great entrepreneurs).
This includes Oracle, EMC, Amazon, Lego, GreenPeace, Wikipedia, Save The
Children, Fidelity, Avid, Brown-Forman, Johnson Controls, Autodesk, Ziff
Davies, PatientsLikeMe, TeachFirst, and many more. 

Our previous participants have applied to our principles to develop many extremely successful communities. If you want to read the
testimonials from previous participants, click here.


You can sign up for the full course (1 module per semester), or for a
single module.

Module 1 – How to start an online community ($3650 USD / £2300

This module will take you through the process of growing an online
community from scratch. It covers the basics of online communities, audience
and sector analysis, platform development, seeding and launching the community,
and growth to critical mass.

This module is for organizations in the early stages of developing a

Module 2 – Successful Community Management ($3650 USD / £2300 GBP)

This module will explain how you can manage, grow, and increase
activity in your community. This covers growth, converting newcomers into
regulars, content, moderation & discussions, events & activities, and
relationships & influence.

If you have an existing community, this module will help you maximize
its benefit to your organization.

Module 3 – Advanced Community Strategy ($3650 USD / £2300 GBP)

This module will explain the advanced aspects of community management
and strategy. This covers how to develop a practical community management
strategy, measure an online community, increase the return on investment of
your community, scale the community, and applied social sciences.

If you have been in community management for a while, this module will
ensure you have the ability to develop, grow, and scale multiple communities.

Full Course – ($8000 USD / £5000 GBP – 28% discount) 

  • Module 1 – How to start
    a community
  • Module 2 – Successful
    community management
  • Module 3 – Advanced
    community management

Our guarantee

We know investing money in any course can feel risky. Therefore we
offer all participants a full refund if they’re not happy. We’re proud to say
that only 1 participant has ever requested this.

This shifts the risk fully on us to make sure the course outperforms
your expectations.

If you are interested, learn more at our newly launched
course site:

If you have any questions, e-mail me.

Enrollment ends either on Sept 30 or when the course is full.

Once you enroll, we will provide you with a pack to get started. This includes
reading material and a few simple exercises. 

The course is open to a maximum of 10 people per module (30
people per semester).

Registrations are accepted on a first-payment basis. 

Your Boss Now

In our experience, the biggest reason why people
don't take this course is they don't ask their boss in time. 

If you need to get permission to take this course, now is the time to ask.

Send this blog post/e-mail to your boss. Please call us with any questions (+44
20 7792 2469)

Is 1 community per every 4 users sustainable?

August 26, 2013Comments Off on Is 1 community per every 4 users sustainable?

Referring back to the Amcor

far, around 800 users are live with the platform – called Amcor Connect
internally – and have already created more than 200 online communities aligned around
common business issues.

Is 1 community per every 4 users

The minimum for a focused working group is typically 8 to 12. Any
fewer and the group struggles for activity, relevance, and breadth of

Given that a large number of users (perhaps 50%) are probably not
participating, we can predict that the overwhelming majority of these
communities are dead.

This is ok if each was a short-term group that resolved the
issue.  Yet if this is the case, perhaps
they work better as simpler forum discussions with published results?

If they are ongoing groups, however, then this presents a problem. New
members browsing through groups are going to find that the majority of groups
are dead. This doesn’t bode well for their future participation.

Be careful of pushing members to create and join multiple groups in a
short amount of time, because they might just do it. 

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The Simplest Route Is Usually The Best

August 23, 2013Comments Off on The Simplest Route Is Usually The Best

We typically advocate the simple

If you want members to join, ask
members to join.

If you want members to
participate, ask members to participate.

If you want a platform, pick one you can launch within a few
minutes (or copy another successful community). 

If you’re having a lot of
trouble with a member, remove them.

If you want regular activity,
host regular events.

If you want interesting
discussions, initiate interesting discussions.

If you want great content, write about the great things
happening in the community (best discussions, new members, upcoming events).

If you don’t have any great discussions, interesting new
members, or upcoming events, then initiate discussions, invite interesting
members, and organize exciting events.  

If you want volunteers, ask who
wants to volunteer.

Sometimes it’s more complicated than this, but this is less
often than you might imagine. 

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Community Science – A Challenge Most Community Professionals Failed

August 22, 2013Comments Off on Community Science – A Challenge Most Community Professionals Failed

We presented a genuine client
case study to a group of community professionals.

The challenge was to diagnose the health of the community.
We provided figures, data, full access to the same resources we had and very
broad guidance. The guidance was broadly to track the number of active members,
track the posts per active members, and see what’s happening.

There was a catch (that most missed). The platform the
client was using didn’t track any of the above.

Very often, a client community
is a puzzle with pieces missing.

Most people fell into one of
four groups.

Group 1 didn’t bother to reply to the challenge. Presumably
they lost interest in the job or were overwhelmed by the challenge.

Group 2 responded to say it’s not possible without more
data. One participant’s dad called to complain the challenge was too difficult and we were violating US
employment law. This wouldn’t help our clients much.

Group 3 tried and failed. They used the easy, available,
metrics to get the wrong answers. For example, they divided the total number of
posts by the total number of registered members. This presents a figure that
will usually decline forever (can you guess why?).

Group 4 (around 1% to 3%) made a reasonable attempt at this.
First, they identified relevant proxy

For the number of active members within 30 days they
typically used Google Analytics to review the number of unique visitors to a
member’s only page of the community within the previous 30 days. 

Then they used a large random sample of these active members
to track the number of contributions (this is a LOT of work) or, more simply,
divided the number of posts that month by the number of active members that

A few even realized you could list members by the number of
contributions they had made and made a reasonable effort at removing the top
and bottom 10% to exclude the outliers (members that skew the stats by posting
100 times per day).

The Results

If you do this properly you will get data that looks similar
to the graph below. The number of active members is increasingly as is the total
number of posts in the community. This would make the community appear healthy.

However, by tracking the number of contributions per active
member we clearly see this community is heading for disaster (as seen below –
posts per active member on the right). 


If we had followed the data provided by group 3 (that used
the wrong metrics) we might conclude the community was healthy and growing at a
steady rate. We wouldn’t identify the problem here (declining interest, reduced
social bonds, poor conversion, rapid growth reducing social ties) and takes
steps to resolve it.

This is the art in community science, constructing reliable
models to get valuable data to diagnose and improve the health of a community.

As we’ve seen, very, very, few
community professionals can do this.


Groups 1 and 2 didn’t bother to try. They had absolutely no
grounding in how to analyze communities. This is the group that’s flooding the
community space at the moment. This group’s approach to communities can be
summarized under be nice to people on the
. They don’t appreciate the value of the science-driven approach.

Group 3 appreciates the value but not the methods. Reading
books on this topic would help, as would constructing models to measure your
community that go beyond the data Google Analytics gives you (e-mail me if you
want my feedback on your model – I’m eager to help).

Group 4 are the most valuable people in the community space
(so valuable we recently launched a community just for this group). This group
can effectively analyze a community using data and develop theory to identify
what to do next.

Sorry for the long post, but this is important. If you’re in
the community profession, go beyond being nice to people online. Focus your
efforts on getting good data, mastering theory, and effectively putting this
into action.

There are thousands of community professionals that can be
nice to people online and a mere few community scientists. 

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Habitualizing Community Use Is Hard

August 21, 2013Comments Off on Habitualizing Community Use Is Hard

Enabling people to make
stories like this
happen is easy.

You just select or develop a platform. This isn’t the hard
part. The hard part is habitualizing use of the platform.

How do you make the community a
place your employees go to every day?

Too often companies try to go big. They spend a lot of
money, host a big launch, make big statements, and expect results to happen.
This is contrary to how communities (internal or external develop).

You need to focus your efforts on a few. Focus on single,
solvable, issues. Build momentum. Work with a group of believers within the
company.  Don’t try to win over the
doubters, work around them. 

Make the community something that shows value and people
begin to hear about. Let members choose to join it. Ensure the community is a
platform through which people can build their reputation within the company.

Only once it’s established should you consider
big announcements and broader efforts at persuading people to join. 

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Removing Members Is Rarely Catastrophic

August 20, 2013Comments Off on Removing Members Is Rarely Catastrophic

Removing one of the most active
community members can be scary.

What happens if activity

In truth, that’s almost certainly not going to happen. You
can probably remove your 10 most active members tomorrow and not suffer
anything more than a momentary dip.

Group dynamic theory would postulate that when a highly
active group member is removed, another moves in to fulfill his/her place. They
begin receiving increasing levels of attention for their contributions (which
otherwise would be crowded out) and thus participate more.

In essence, removing a highly active member creates
breathing room for new highly active members – hopefully those less

However, it’s typically the most active members that are the
most troublesome. Those who feel the greater sense of ownership over the
community have less tolerance for those that don’t fit their notion of the
community. Wikipedia editor is a classic example.

Or to adapt a more common
expression; popularity corrupts.

You’re almost certainly going to have
troublemakers. Decide your tolerance levels. Removing one won’t be
catastrophic, but it will probably just create another. 

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The Dream Newcomer To Regular Journey

August 19, 2013Comments Off on The Dream Newcomer To Regular Journey

The dream journey might look a
little like this…

Step 1: The member hears about the community several times
through friends, via existing sites for news on that topic, and on social media
platforms. Better still, they hear about the community from a friend using a
community-exclusive link.

Step 2: The member visits the site and sees a list of
exciting discussions on the landing page with an open box asking for his/her
opinion on a major issue of the day. After the member submits an opinion, they
are prompted for an e-mail address and anti-spam code to register. It’s two
boxes only.

If they complete this, their comment already appears (it’s
deleted in 3 hours if they don’t click the e-mail confirmation link, after 2
reminders at one hour apart).

Step 3: Immediately they’re taken to a page that shows
meetups in their location, members in their location, or highlights some of the
community’s most popular discussions. 
For location, use the IP address of the visiting member. Dating site adverts
do this especially well (or mischievously).

Step 4: They receive a notification on the first reply (and
only the first) to their first contribution to the community. A volunteer
community member also contacts them to ask a few questions and begin building a
relationship with a view to guiding them to people with whom the newcomer can
forge strong relationships.

It’s important that the outreach is genuine, solicit real
responses, and the volunteers are fun, likeable, people – not drones. Drones drive
people away.

Step 5: After 5 contributions they receive an e-mail
inviting them to share their biggest success/failure. It’s a ritual. They get
access to see the stories from previous members. This is a highlighted active
area of the community. They also receive further information about the
community’s history, goals, and ideals.

Step 6: After a few weeks they’re sent an e-mail inviting
them to become more involved in the community. Would they like to submit
regular content, take responsibility for a particular topic, or help greet new
members? They’re told it’s expected that members will help out the community. 


What Is Interesting To Members?

August 16, 2013Comments Off on What Is Interesting To Members?

Established members typically visit every day (sometimes several times
per day). They look to see if there is something new and interesting to
participate in. If they don’t see anything, they leave for the day.

If they don’t see anything interesting for several days, they don’t
visit for several more days. Gradually, they drift away.

But interesting doesn’t mean content that we can read. In a community
context, interesting usually revolves around:

1) Can I impress someone else in the community
today? (status)

2) Can I feel a stronger part of the group today?

3) Is there something here that’s going to make me
feel good             about myself?   (emotional wellbeing)

4) Is there useful information that’s going to help
me in the future?

These are in order of the level of interest they provoke in members.

Don’t misunderstand the nature of interest. Don’t fill your community
with useful advice. This doesn’t let members impress other members. It doesn’t
let members feel a stronger part of the group. It doesn’t cater to a member’s

The best thing you can do is ensure your menu of
features a lot of interesting items, items that
allow members to increase status, bond, or enhance their emotional wellbeing.

This explains why asking “What’s your best advice to tackle {x}” is
better for communities than writing an article containing your best advice. 

Theme, Discussions, Activities, Growth

August 15, 2013Comments Off on Theme, Discussions, Activities, Growth

Begin with a theme; a topic you want to focus on in the community.

Initiate several discussions related to that topic. Make sure it’s a
topic that has come up several times before. Highlight or convert these
discussions into sticky threads. Ask people to submit their best stories, examples,
ideas, data, and any other useful evidence. Ask members how they would tackle
different situations related to that topic. 

Note – not every discussion needs to be about the theme, only enough to
make it clear that this is the theme for the month.

Organize a guest speaker for this topic, or invite a panel of speakers
to debate the topic. Initiate more discussions based upon this event.

Now write a paper that summarizes everything discussed in the
community with specific recommendations. Ensure the paper includes simple share
this links for social media platforms through different sections. Include links
back to relevant discussions within the community and the recording of the
event. Mention the contributions of as many members as possible.

Then send this PDF out to members (by e-mail) and invite them to share
it if they agree.

This should bring in new members, when signing up, ask members about
the biggest challenge they have. Use this as the theme for the next month…

Not only does this create great reference material and generate a lot
of activity, it’s also a sustainable way to grow the community. 

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