Month: May 2014

What’s A Good Objective?

May 30, 2014Comments Off on What’s A Good Objective?

Too many posts begin with "establish your objectives".

That's simple enough to say. Much harder to do. 

We take a slightly different approach. We establish objectives that are one of the following:

1) The biggest win. This is the single greatest thing the community could accomplish for the organisation. What is the ultimate turnaround here? What would it look like? 

2) The quickest win. The second is the quickest win. This is far more common. What is the quickest goal a community can achieve for the organisation?

The benefit of both should be obvious. The biggest win is usually the thing most likely to have the biggest, long-term, benefit to the organisation. Retention rates, new business, reduced costs are all good here.

The quickest win is more common. This is something that the community can quickly establish to showcase the benefit of the community internally and to members. It builds momentum and increased collaboration. 

For organisations that are fully supportive of the community effort, go for the biggest win. For organisations that aren't fully aligned, go with the quickest win. 

Impact of Voting Systems in Communities

May 29, 2014Comments Off on Impact of Voting Systems in Communities

In CommunityGeek, Juergen shares this article about the impact of feedback that every community professional should read

He believes it shows positive feedback has no impact upon the quality and quantity of participation, negative feedback encourages users to post more frequently at lower quality. 

I'm not sure that's precisely what the data shows.

I think it shows the following:

1) Downvotes (negative feedback).

Users whose posts receive downvotes post more frequently, but their posts receive a greater number of downvotes in the future. They are also more likely to give downvotes and stay in the community for a slightly longer period of time than average and positive feedback groups. 

2) Upvotes (positive feedback).

Users that receive upvotes also post more frequently, but their posts do not receive a greater quantity of upvotes in the future. 

3) Average users

This is the most interesting area. Users which receive neither positive or negative feedback post far less frequently and are most likely to leave the community.

The definitions of 'quality' (number of positive votes) and feedback (quantity of posts) are open to challenge. A study on the quantity and quality of comments received would be far more interesting. 

For two simple action items, positive voting has no major visible negative impact upon future participation. Negative voting is likely to encourage negative behavior. Posts that receive no visible feedback are likely to drive members away. 

Get Existing Members To Ask New Members Questions

May 28, 2014Comments Off on Get Existing Members To Ask New Members Questions

Every single one of us has expertise on something.

If you're 25 years old and living in London, you know a lot about being 25 years old and living in London. 

If you also work in marketing. You know a lot about being 25 in London and working in marketing. 

Usually, in the age of LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and search engines, you can uncover more interesting things that your new members are an expert on. 

When you're introducing new members, introduce them, their expertise, and invite members to ask questions about their expertise. 

"One of our newest members this week is Richard Millington. 

He's founder and managing director of a community consultancy.

Ask him how to get a community up and running. "

The goal is to get existing members to ask newcomers questions, not vice-versa.

This ensures newcomers feel they have expertise and can be valuable in the community.

Help Us Host An Amazing Community Event

May 27, 2014Comments Off on Help Us Host An Amazing Community Event

If you've been to as many events about communities as we have, you know that most focus on a very basic level of communities. Most end without the participants learning anything useful. 

We're hoping to change that by hosting an event in the USA this year.

If you have 5 minutes, please help us by answering these questions: 

Click here >

We will send everyone that completes the survey a free gift.

Mobile Experiences in Online Communities

May 26, 2014Comments Off on Mobile Experiences in Online Communities

The present approach to community mobile sites is to reduce the quantity of information being revealed to a few key points.

Therefore we go from a traditional community site to something that simplifies the images completely. 


Backyard Chickens regular site above.

This becomes the mobile site shown below:



Clearly this is better than sending members to a full-site on a tiny screen. I suspect it doesn't go far enough.

I'd look to create a tinder-like experience /p>

TinderHere users can quickly swipe to the left (if they don't like) or right (if they like the individual). 

You can apply the same principle. Users can swipe to the left to move to the next discussion (or profile), or right if they want to add a comment to the discussion (or connect with a member).

The benefits are three fold.

1) A member can quickly scan through lots of things until they find something they want to participate in. They don't need to study a tiny screen.

2) It's a more fun experience. People can easily dip in and out. It doesn't require you to study everything that's happening in the community. It augments your existing activity. 

3) It's an addictive experience. It uses the principle of variable rewards. Similar to checking your e-mail. Sometimes it might be a terrific discussion you want to participate in. Sometimes it might be a waste of time so you swipe to the left. 

Mobile user experiences are new and exciting. I don't think the answer is simply to have a smaller, narrower, and longer version of existing sites.

The answer is to create a fun, breezy, experience for people on the move. 

The Efficacy Of Technology-Enabled Tactics

May 23, 2014Comments Off on The Efficacy Of Technology-Enabled Tactics

Poker gaming machines moved quickly from one hand at a time to three, then to 50, then to 100.


Gamblers quickly became fatigued with their current level and sort the next, high, adrenaline rush (I strongly recommend reading Addicted by Design by Natascha Dow Schull (or watch her HabitSummit talk here).

This tilts poker game designers to create ever-more intense games. It forces them to create an ever bigger adrenaline 

When Copyblogger (and buzzfeed) popularized question headlines and number-driven posts (6 ways to…) they spread rapidly. Now we're experiencing fatigue of these. 

Not long ago, The Daily Mail discovered that writing really long headlines attracted more clicks. This secret spread to all newspapers. Soon, we'll become bored of this too.

This is the recurring cycle. First a new technology makes a new tactic viable (processing power, analytics, cloud computing search engines etc…). People discover and succeed with the tactic. Everyone uses the tactic. The audience becomes fatigued with the tactic. The tactic's efficacy declines.

For example, adding a photo to tweets and Facebook posts increases clicks (you're taking up more space). This works until everyone adds photos to every tweet and Facebook post. Then the efficacy of the tactic fades. 

I would argue that new technology-enabled tactics are unlikely to have anything longer than a short-term boost in your community. Avoid them. Focus on the hard working of building the sense of community. This will always pay off more over the long-term.


Communities Based Around Distinctive Personalities

May 22, 2014Comments Off on Communities Based Around Distinctive Personalities

Remember MTER framework (below)?


The topic, that very thing that your community is about, should be based upon one or more of these. 

Typically organisations opt for things that are expensive or spend a lot of time on. However, if you look at the most popular communities on the internet, you'll notice that most of the world's largest forums aren't clearly based upon any topic at all. 

Many of them are based upon having a distinctive personality. This is reflected in how they discuss themselves. 

Reddit clearly falls into the distinctive personality category. It attracts an audience of generally young men drawn to the personalities reflected on the site. 

4Chan goes for the shock-treatment. MetaFilter and Something Awful cultivate unique personalities based loosely around topical news and entertainment. 

GAIA Online (8.5bn+ posts): "Welcome to Gaia's forums, where millions of members gather to discuss random stuff, make new friends, complain about life, argue about nothing, laugh at dumb pictures, discuss serious issues and/or curse like sailors"

None of these has a specific topic focus. All of them cultivate a very distinctive personality that appeals to different groups. Those personalities are representative of who we believe we are (or who we want to be). 

We haven't explored the nature of cultivating distinctive personalities in communities. We haven't explored removing members for being too boring, for example, nor removing content because it's not funny/shocking enough. We haven't explored the other end of the spectrum neither, the serious debate about the big issues. If the market for frivolous is big, there should also be a market for the serious and substantive too. 

The benefit of cultivating a distinctive personality is you don't narrow your audience to existing customers or people solely interested in a specific topic. Personalities transcend topics. 

The most addictive communities out there today are those that have cultivated very distinct personalities. 

The Name Matters

May 21, 2014Comments Off on The Name Matters

Coursera have launched a Global Translator Community.

You can join it, translate materials into different languages, and call yourself a global translator. 

But wouldn't it be better to call yourself a Translator 

The names we pick for communities aren't critical, but they are important. When we join a community we're accepting the group identity and sacrificing a little of our own. The stronger the group identity, the more we tend to participate.

Therefore the name matters. Global translator is neat and tidy, but hardly inspiring.

I'd pick something more active.

I'd have levels based upon how many languages they have translated a course into e.g.

  • Translator Scout (2 languages),
  • Translator Ranger (3 languages).
  • Translator Captain (5 languages)

The name matters. Make sure yours is something your audience wants to associate themselves with. 

Why We Need Skilled Community Professionals (MyNewHolland Case Study)

May 20, 2014Comments Off on Why We Need Skilled Community Professionals (MyNewHolland Case Study)

Here's a task, set a google news alert for the phrase "launches an online community"

Whenever an organisation launches a community (and uses the phrase in a press release), you receive a notification. 

Now you receive a weekly stream of the latest communities which have been launched. 

You will notice that most of them violate every best practice in developing a successful community

Let's take MyNewHolland, a community for all farmers which launched last month

  • No two-qualifier target audience. A community for all farmers ignores the qualifier rule; a community needs to have a specific audience with at least two qualifiers. There are existing, established, communities in this field. Don't compete against them.
  • No activity above the fold on the landing page of the community. The homepage provides places where you can interact (if you click), but doesn't showcase current interactions between members. 


  • Hard to find discussions. If you click join the discussion, you still can't find the discussions. You're taken to another long-copy content page. It's not immediately clear where people can participate in the community. 


  • No existing activity prior to the launch of the community. There is no existing activity in the community. Even if you click comments, you see that there only two visible comments – both several weeks old. There in no existing, established, base of activity to grow upon. The social density is also very low. There are far too many features and places to do things.. 
  • No, quick, clear win. There is no quick, clear, goal that members can help the community achieve. What is the big discussion, resource being created, or single, uniting, reason for members to participate in the community right now? 

These are just five of dozens of issues we can quickly spot.

In nearly every single aspect of the community, it has violated best practice and is almost certain to die. There is a reason we need skilled people to do this work. Now, more than ever, we need people that can confidently guide their organisation through every process of getting a community off the ground. 

This is the reason I suspect our course had it's biggest intake so far. The demand for learning the skill of building a community (and knowing what resources/knowledge) is required is high. The current abilities are low. If you're launching a community, you need experience to do this well. 

Great Speakers Talking About Online Communities

May 19, 2014Comments Off on Great Speakers Talking About Online Communities

Upcoming Events

May 16, 2014Comments Off on Upcoming Events

We've negotiated a few discount codes for events I'll be speaking at over the next two months. 


CMXSummit. New York City (June 12th – 13th): 300 people

If you build communities for organisations, this is the key event you should attend. It's going to be a collection of terrific speakers giving advice at an advanced level about successful communities. If you only attend one event, attend this one. 

Discount code: FeverBee20 (20% discount)

Registration link: Click here


ForumConSan Francisco (June 19th): 400 people

 If you work in the forum space, this is the biggest event in your sector. Forums are changing and evolving at an impressive rate. Mobile technology along with new platforms are providing remarkable opportunity to grow and develop your community. The top experts in the forum space will be sharing their best tips, and I'll be discussing the psychology behind thriving communities.

Discount code: FeverBee25 (25% discount)

Registration link: Click here


MozCon. Seattle (July 14th – 16th): 1300 people

MozCon is 'the' big event for the inbound marketers of the word. Getting people to visit your site is one thing, keeping them there, engaging them, and then using that engagement to lead to beneficial outcomes is crucial. If you want a broader perspective on managing communities, attend this event. 

Discount code: FeverBee50 ($50 discount)

Registration link: Click here

We hope to meet many of you there. 

Understanding Motivations Of Community Members

May 15, 2014Comments Off on Understanding Motivations Of Community Members

Recently, we have been experimenting with how to significantly improve the way we communicate with members. We do this by better understanding their motivation. 

McLlelland identified 3 needs as motivation.

  • Need for achievement (n'ach)
  • Need for power (n'pow)
  • Need for affiliation (n'affil)

If you knew which motivation was most important to your members, you could tailor your communications and activities to match. 

Imagine if in every communication with any member you had a good idea of what motivated them? That would be a powerful, effective, tool as a community professional. 

Option 1 – Sample of members do the test

One option would be to use an adapted version of the thematic appreciation test (TAT) to survey a good sample of them. This would reveal which motivation trumped the rest.

The problem is you might get a result such as:

  • n'pow: 40% of members
  • n'affil: 35% of members
  • n'ach: 25% of members

Based upon the above you might cater your communications to the need for power at the expense of the other two. Essentially, you would cater to the 40% and ignore the majority of your members. This would do more harm than good. 

Alternatively, 40% of your communications could be about n'pow, 35% for n'affil etc…Again, this still leaves out the majority on every communication/activity. 

Another problem is members might have all 3, some might only have just one. Your community is a conglomerate mass of different people with different personalities. Every person will score differently. 

Option 2 – All members do the test

A second option is to create ever more focused segments based upon their answers to TAT. Then you can send specific messages which would appeal to specific groups. 

The problem here is you would need every member to respond to the above to find what segments works best for them. That's unlikely to happen. 

I suspect that a combination of the above is the best approach. First, use a reward to get as many members as possible to complete your adapted TAT. Link their score to an integrated solution, such as Salesforce. Then create groups based upon the score. 

If they don't complete the test, send communications that would reflect the majority of the scores received so far.

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