Month: November 2013

The Social Science Behind Regular Community Visitors

November 13, 2013Comments Off on The Social Science Behind Regular Community Visitors

Fear of missing out (FoMO) is now salient. 

Every time you visit Facebook, Twitter, or your community site, you can see everything you're missing. That might be holidays, parties, events, speaking opportunities, and successes that some people gained…but not you. 

This especially affects the young (notable young males), those in negative moods, lower life satisfaction, and lower needs satisfaction (autonomy, competence, and relatedness). 

Now consider this. We have an innate need to impress our peers. We want to achieve a positive distinctiveness among our perceived peer group. 

Therefore, we use our profiles to construct our ideal identities. We use our profiles to create the people we want to be (or the people we want our peers to think we are). We select the best picture, most interesting/positive information, and do everything we can to ensure our profiles reflect us in a light that will impress our peers. 

Now combine these three elements; fear of missing out, ideal identity construction, and desire to impress others. This is a powerful force of nature to attract regular, repeat, visitors. 

For better or worse, FoMO is an effective appeal to encourage people to visit and participate in communities. If you drop a few names of other members (within the peer group), mention a few events that people missed out on (especially social gatherings or speaking events), and highlight the success people within the group have achieved, you can increase the number of visits and participation. 

Also read Seth's take

The 23 Most Community Manager Things That Have Ever Happened

November 12, 2013Comments Off on The 23 Most Community Manager Things That Have Ever Happened

Buzzfeed recently struck upon a winner

They pick a popular group and write about some funny occurences amongst that group.  Screen shot 2013-11-08 at 11.03.42

It should be obvious why this is popular. 

1) Group identity. It's about a group who derive a large part of their identity from thisgroup. We like to read information about the groups we belong to. The meta-information is typically more popular than latest news.

2) Symbols. Every post is filled with symbols that have a unique meaning to that group. The posts are only funny/interesting, if you're a member of the target group. 

3) References history/shared stories. This content creates a sense of connection among the members of this group. It reinforces the community identity by referencing its own history and shared story (some might say, myth-making). 

4) Networks. The bonds between these groups are strong. There is an easy medium (typically Facebook/Twitter) to share content among these groups. 

The takeaway here could be that you start a discussion in your community asking what's the most {topic} things that have ever happened? This would probably be popular. 

The better takeaway is to infuse the elements above (notably symbols and references to shared history) throughout your entire community. 

 

FeverBee Is Hiring A Community Manager

November 11, 2013Comments Off on FeverBee Is Hiring A Community Manager

We're hiring a community manager for our exclusive CommunityGeek community. 

This community is for people that love discussing the social sciences (and data), side of communities. It's exclusive, we only let people with a significant level of experience/expertise join, and it creates a lot of value. 

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 know a lot about the social science of communities. Ideally, you can show us the material you've published, events you've attended, and things you've done to advance the field. You should already be reading a lot about psychology, social psychology etc…in academic articles. 

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. 

4) You're a do-er and 100% reliable. Everyone works from home. They have results to achieve. You get things done. 

 

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, pick up kids from school, and work the hours you feel most productive. 
  • 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. You can come up with ideas and make them happen. 
  • 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 countries.

Send your application to [email protected]

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

Create A Unique Journey

November 8, 2013Comments Off on Create A Unique Journey

ModelMayhem is a community with two core constituents; models and photographers.

There are many communities where two groups like this come to meet. 

For these communities, you need them to self-identify on their first visit. You need to create separate user journeys for each group.

What interests one group won't interest the other. Create different registration pages, confirmation e-mails, and guide them towards participating in discussions most relevant and topical to their unique interest. 

Have two distinct e-mail lists too. Send different newsletters to both groups. In larger communities you might have a dozen unique user journeys depending upon the visitor's source, identified interests, sub-interests, or demographic/habit/psychographic variables. 

Much more work perhaps, but much more effective.

Dropping The Direct Nudge

November 7, 2013Comments Off on Dropping The Direct Nudge

We have been testing a different approach with a client.

It's an inception-stage community. Typically, the community manager continually nudges members to participate. This usually works.

Recently, we're using a different nudge.

If someone isn't participating, we drop them an e-mail. We ask them a few questions about their work, or their challenges, or about their experience/expertise. We ask them for advice on a problem we're struggling with. We write a statement or two we suspect they might agree with. 

We don't ask them to participate. We rarely even mention the community. We're finding this achieves better results. 

The more participants know and like the founder of the community (or community manager), the more likely they are to participate.

This is especially true in the early stages. You can pester members to participate. Sometimes it might work. Another (perhaps better) approach is to build a genuine, honest, relationship

A Simple Method To Diagnose A Failing Community

November 6, 2013Comments Off on A Simple Method To Diagnose A Failing Community

Low activity is a relatively simple problems to diagnose. 

If you have low levels of activity, you have three questions to answer:

1) Does the target audience know the community exists?

Let's call this awareness. Does the audience you're trying to reach know you exist? Have you had regular, repeated, exposure to this audience? What is the link of communication from what you have done to the target audience? How do you know they actually read the messages you sent out? 

If the audience doesn't know you exist, they can't visit. If you want to resolve this, you need to engage in a lot of direct outreach, relationship-building, and promotional activities. 

2) Does the target audience visit the community? 

If the audience doesn't visit, they can't participate. This accounts for 90% of the communities struggling with low activity. The audience knows the community exists, but don't visit.

This is one of four problems.

1) they don't have a regular trigger to visit. Create a trigger. 

2) they are not interested in the community concept. Refine the concept. 

3) they don't want to. Build a relationship with that. 

4) they don't have the ability to visit (lack of time/internet). 

3) Does the target audience participate when they do visit? 

If the audience visits, but doesn't participate. This is because they haven't found something within the community itself which motivates them to participate or they're not able to participate due to some technology problems.

There are two ways to resolve this. 

The first is to tweak your menu of discussions. Make sure you have high-quality, topical, self-disclosure discussions which prompts members to participate. 

The second is to nudge members to initiate their own discussions. This has to rely on either appeals to resolve a problem, get support, or build their status amongst the group. 

If technology is the problem, you need to diagnose the entire newcomer to regular conversion funnel and resolve the areas where members drop-out. 

Use data to answer these questions. 

Once you know the problem you can create a solution. The solution is the easy bit. Most people simply don't identify the right problem. They try to change/tweak the platform without realizing most people don't visit the platform. 

Identify the problem, test different solutions. 

A Hard Dose Of Data-Driven Reality About Online Communities

November 5, 2013Comments Off on A Hard Dose Of Data-Driven Reality About Online Communities

Contrary to common perception, the popularity of online communities has declined. 

It peaked in April 2004

Screen shot 2013-11-01 at 09.33.02

This is partially attributable to the rise of social media.

As social media grew, the popularity of online communities dropped…at least a little. Companies that might've created communities are, for better or worse, now building Facebook and Twitter accounts. 

Forums have declined too. 

However, interest in communities has stablized. This is important. And it has important  implications.

First, communities aren't the future of everything. Yet nor will they die out. Like customer service (see Zappos), there will be some organizations which base their entire strategy around their community (Dell, Autodesk etc…). There will be many more that use it as a particular tool for a specific purpose.

Second, communities are boring. This is a good thing. As Clay Shirkey wrote; “Communications tools don't get socially interesting until they get technologically boring" We're over the hype plateau now. Communities are an available tool to achieve specific, measurable, goals. Organizations will need community professionals to use this tool.

Third, the continuing rise of social media isn't a threat to communities, not anymore. Both have found their place. Social business has also found its place too. 

Screen shot 2013-11-01 at 09.41.55
If you're working in communities, the stablization of interest is a good thing. It means we're beyond the hype. We can focus on applying real, proven, scientific processes to achieve real results. Don't fixate on the hype. 

How To Know Which Discussions Will Be Most Popular For Your Community (before you launch)

November 4, 2013Comments Off on How To Know Which Discussions Will Be Most Popular For Your Community (before you launch)

We have a template list of conversation starters for each of the five types of communities (action, circumstance, interest, place, and practice). 

Each is adapted to the specific community. We've covered this before. 

It's not difficult to build up a very large list of discussions to launch your community with (and by launch, we mean initiate and then nudge people to respond to, or inviting specifically for their expertise/interest in that discussion). 

You can build up this list by considering these questions

  1. What do people talk about socially at events?
  2. What have people said are their biggest problems? 
  3. What are the common goals/aspirations members have?
  4. What are the most popular categories in other communities?
  5. What are the most popular discussions in other communities?
  6. What are the common artifacts? 
  7. What do they spend most of their time doing? 
  8. What topics do people get emotional about? 
  9. What topics polarize people?

The second is research. To be more specific, we copy the types of discussions which have worked well elsewhere. Go to almost any forum and identify the most popular categories of discussions. Then within these categories, list discussions by the number of responses. You can find the most popular discussions of all time

Let's imagine we were interested in internet marketing. We search for internet marketing forums and find the WarriorForum

Screen shot 2013-10-23 at 16.46.54

Within this forum we can see many popular categories of topic (all of which could be a community by themselves. 

Screen shot 2013-10-23 at 16.46.23

If we select any category, Mobile Marketing for example, we can see the discussions which gained the most responses and are most popular within that community.

Screen shot 2013-10-23 at 17.01.03

Based upon this, we have a very good idea of what types of discussions (and how to structure those discussions) to appeal to our audience. 

This would include:

  • Lots of personal testimonies (bragging/status-orientated discussions)
  • Equipment related discussions. E.g. comparisons {x} -vs- {x}
  • How to articles
  • Showcase of the biggest successes
  • Hypothetical/opinion-seeking questions "do you really think that {x} will be the next big thing?

Now you apply this to your own community structure and begin the discussions. The same wording/structure for a similar community can easily apply to your own. 

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