Month: July 2014

Member News

July 31, 2014Comments Off on Member News

Your members are always doing something interesting, even if they don't know it.

They're changing jobs, getting married, having children, launching major new projects being featured in the news, publishing a book, speaking at events, and attending events.

They have strong feelings and opinions on the topical issues in your sector. 

This is exactly the sort of content that members want to read. There are plenty of places where you can get advice about the topic. There are plenty of places that will tell you the latest news about the topic. There are almost none that talk about what people within that topic are doing. 

We often state that the best content for a community is content about the community.

This is true. It's the local newspaper for that particular, small, peer group. 

If you're not sure what interesting content is around, ask them. Literally reach out to 10 or so members and ask them what they're up to. That provides you with a week's worth of content and takes just a few minutes.

On October 29th to 30th, the world's top 250 community professionals are going to SPRINT in San Francisco. Will you be one of them?

VIP Members

July 30, 2014Comments Off on VIP Members

Don't target influencers when you launch a community.

The people with the existing audience and reputation are the least likely to convert into regular active participants.

They have little to gain from participating in your community at your beginning. 

You might succeed, if the community is super-exclusive. A community solely for the top influencers is hard for the top influencers to avoid. Yet the community would have to be super-small too.

Here's another approach. Offer a VIP membership application form. Have an area of the site where those who consider themselves VIPs can apply and join. Give them a unique profile, badge, and introduction to the community. Interview them for the community. Create a forum thread titled "Ask {VIP name}". Create a list of expectations. Collect a testimonial from them and put that on the site too. 

You can even create a unique link for the influencers to invite their audience to join too. 

Now you can approach the key influencers with something special. You have an existing community to participate in (and build a bigger reputation), a way to please their ego in every interaction they make on the site, and using them to promote the community to future prospective members. 

On October 29th to 30th, the world's top 250 community professionals are going to SPRINT in San Francisco. Will you be one of them?

Testing Ideas Quietly

July 29, 2014Comments Off on Testing Ideas Quietly

Greg and I have been testing a podcast for community professionals. 

It's not right for mass-consumption yet, but that didn't stop several of you finding it on iTunes and giving us feedback.

That's a neglected power of building a community. You can quietly launch ideas in stray areas of the site (or anywhere on the internet) and a few of your members will undoubtedly find it. 

This lets us test out a dozen or so ideas a year to get a feel for whether: a) we can sustain the practice of producing the idea and b) whether the idea is a good fit for our audience. 

We've tested out best practice e-mails (meh), bulk book sales (big fail), meet the experts (success), live scheduled webinars (works well), sudden impromptu webinars (bit awkward), mentoring sessions (sometimes works), whiteboard sessions (tough to produce) and maybe a dozen other ideas over the years. 

If you want to introduce a new idea, don't do it on the landing page or the discussion area. Do it on another page few members visit. Get feedback. Adapt or kill the idea. 

It's a lot easier to quietly test an idea, notice it doesn't work, and remove it than to launch something big and watch it flop. Many flops can be turned into future successes with the right feedback. You just have to launch them quietly. 

On October 29th to 30th, the world's top 250 community professionals are going to SPRINT in San Francisco. Will you be one of them?

Paid Membership Communities

July 28, 2014Comments Off on Paid Membership Communities

Some communities, like our own CommunityGeek, the great team at the Community-Roundtable, BackPackingLight, and eCommerceFuel are paid communities. 

To be a member you have to pay an annual fee between $24.99 (BackPackingLight) to $1,495 (The CR). Multiply this by a few hundred, or a few thousand members, and you have a business model.

This business model allows you to hire a community manager (we hired two for CommunityGeek) to cater very closely to the needs of members. It also allows you to create lots of perks/benefits for members, host member events etc…

The value here isn't in the content you create, although great content helps people sell it to their boss. The value comes in several forms. 

1) The ideas shared within the community that can save or earn you thousands. If a conference is worth $x,xxx to attend, an ongoing community should easily match that. If you get a great idea from a community that increases retention rates or conversion rates by 15%, how much is that worth over the lifespan of the community? 

2) The feeling that you're one of the best, elite, within the sector.

3) Deals with partners/vendors to get discounts on their products/services.

4) Getting immediate help with any question/problem you have from the experts in the field. 

These models work best when they're exclusive. They work best when you only accept the best. That means deliberately earning less (at least in the short term).

It also makes you independent of advertisers. This is a bigger benefit than we might think. You can stop the attempt to get everybody to join the community. Instead you can focus on getting exactly the right people to join. 

The Curious Case Of Privacy

July 25, 2014Comments Off on The Curious Case Of Privacy

If you were to read the news, you would assume all community members (and thus community managers) are very concerned with their online privacy. 

We have interviewed over 200 members (and prospective members), privacy wasn't mentioned. 

We have survey data from 300 community professionals, privacy wasn't mentioned. 

In our clients, it only arises in communities for very specific sectors (typically healthcare and finance). I can count on one hand the number of times we've had a real discussion about privacy. 

Just once in the past six month has privacy been something we've discussed for more than a few minutes. Even this was in the context of using privacy as a promotional tool for a community. 

This isn't to say privacy won't be an issue. It's just not as big an issue at present as media outlets would suggest. Seth might be right, people are happy to hand over their information…they just don't want to be surprised.

We're once again accepting applications for CommunityGeek, our exclusive community for community professionals. 


250 Community Professionals Are Going To SPRINT, Will You Join Them?

July 24, 2014 Comments Off on 250 Community Professionals Are Going To SPRINT, Will You Join Them?

FeverBee's Community SPRINT
October 29th – 30th
250 Community Professionals

Yes everyone, this is it.

On the 29th to 30th October, we’re going to run the event we’ve been planning for the best part of the year. If you sign up this week, you get both days for $315 (or much less).


Are you going to SPRINT?

On October 29th – 30th, we're going to bring the world's top community experts (some you know, some you won't) to Share Practical, Relevant, Ideas and New Tactics (SPRINT).

Day 1 will be an intensive workshop. We’re going to train a small group of you in advanced community skills.

Day 2 will be a more traditional conference featuring the best experts in the world. This event will be dedicated to the one thing, getting practical actions from top speakers to increase activity in your community. 

No fluffy high-level ideas you can’t apply, just great people sharing specific, relevant, practical ideas and new tactics. 


The problem with most events

If you go to as many events as we do, you know that too many events have speakers that don’t give you anything new you can take back to your boss or immediately apply to your community.

Think about it, when was the last time you applied something you learned at a conference?

We're going to change that. We’re going to force every single speaker to be very specific in their suggestions to you.


Best speaker line-up ever? 

For the past few months I've been badgering my friends to agree to share their precious time at our event.

The line-up is best I've ever seen for any community event.

The line-up includes:

  • Myself, Richard Millington (FeverBee)
  • Loree Draude (Head of Communities, Google Adwords)
  • Jeff Atwood (Founder, Discourse)
  • Philippe Beaudette (Director of Community, Wikipedia)
  • Caty Kobe (Director of Communities, OpenTable)
  • Justin Isaf (Rugged, rogue, Community Consultant, Communl)
  • Rachel Happe (Founder, Community Roundtable)
  • Allison Leahy (Director of Community, FitBit)
  • Douglas Atkin (Head of Community, AirBnB)
  • John Baku (Founder, FetLife)
  • Rob Ludlow (Backyard Chickens, seriously – check it out!)
  • Dianne Kibbey (Head of Communities, Premier Farnell)

These are the people actually doing the work and getting incredible results. 

Every single one of you will walk away with great ideas – or you can claim a full refund (seriously!).

Get your ticket here:


The Agenda

We're adding the last few speakers to the agenda as we speak.

The current agenda breaks down as follows:


October 29th – Intensive Workshop

On October 29th, we will be training a smaller group of you in specific community skills.

This will include:

  • Data and Analytics (how to measure/what to measure/setting up analytic systems)
  • Optimizing a community website.
  • Using social science to persuade members to join a community.
  • Moderation and conflict resolution.
  • Converting newcomers into regulars. 
  • Building a powerful sense of community.
  • Boosting the search rankings of your community.  
  • Core relationship-building skills.
  • And plenty more…

October 29th – Evening: Social Gathering (CMGR SF Meetup)

Susan Tenby and the CMGR SF Meetup team have kindly delayed their event by a week so we can join them for an evening of socialising, beer guzzling, and getting into the SPRINT spirit.

Meet and greet not only your fellow attendees before the big conference the next day, but also many of the great people in the San Francisco community scene.


October 30th – Conference

This is the main conference day. This will begin at 9am and end around 5.30pm.

Each speaker will be given 30 to 45 minutes to share their best ideas you can apply to your community. 

Sessions include:

  • Richard Millington: How to use proven social science to increase activity in any community. 
  • Justin Isaf: How to reduce your moderation costs from $1.00 per comment to $0.05 per comment
  • Loree Draude: How to measure the ROI of Customer-Service Communities.
  • Douglas Atkin: To be announced.
  • Jeff Atwood: How to optimize any community site (tips anyone can apply) 
  • Philippe Beaudette: How to build a powerful volunteer army with proven psychology.
  • Rachel Happe: How to get employees participating in internal communities
  • John Baku: How to ensure members keep their details private
  • Alison Leahy: How to build a global, multi-language, community (and community team!)
  • Rob Ludlow: How small businesses can launch thriving online communities from scratch. 
  • Caty Kobe: To be announced.

We will also be allocating plenty of time to networking with your fellow community professionals and getting help on your toughest challenges. 

And lunch is on us!


October 30th – Afterparty

We haven't confirmed this venue yet, but expect a variety of beverages and all the usual fun.

Get your ticket here:


Early-bird Tickets – On Sale Now (for those that want to save money)

Tickets are available now for those of you that want to pay less than everyone else (and get some bonuses). These prices will rise on August 4th.

Here are five early-bird options.

  • $150 – Community star (conference only ticket) 
  • $560 – Brand Community star (5 conference only tickets – bring your colleagues!)
  • $315 – Community VIP (conference + workshop)
  • $1150 – 5 Brand VIP (conference + workshop for 5 people) 
  • $6,500 – THE SUPER AWESOME MEGA EPIC TICKET (Conference, Workshop, full access to FeverBee’s online training course, 10 books, ongoing consultancy form us, and communitygeek membership for 5 people for 1 year)

Want to pay even less? CommunityGeek members get a 50% discount!

Feel free to apply to first


Community Rituals

July 23, 2014Comments Off on Community Rituals

David Spinks has a fun tradition for the CMXSummit.

Everyone jumps up and applauds speakers as they walk on stage. 

It's fun for participants and a buzz for speakers. 

Some communities (especially those we're involved with) ask members to share their biggest mistake.

It breaks down emotional isolation from the community. It typically gets a good response. It's interesting to established regulars. It facilitates bonding. Sharing the biggest success/fear can work just as well. 

Small, exclusive, communities can profile newcomers or invite members to share their thoughts on one particular issue. 

This thread on Reddit documents an array of hilarious, shocking, gross, and unique rituals. 

Every community would benefit from having a ritual newcomers go through. Avoid the shocking and go for something fun and interesting. Try to get members emotionally invested in the community. 

Building Early Participation Habits In Your Online Community

July 22, 2014Comments Off on Building Early Participation Habits In Your Online Community

Here's a typical approach to growing a community in which members participate.

None of these ideas will be new to you. 

1) Ask your members to share their best advice, funniest story, biggest challenge, or anything else that is the 'best, most' or definitive response to the question. This drives activity from existing members. 

2) Publish this as an eBook. Each members gets their own page. Every page links back to both the member profile to ask for more information and a link to a relevant discussion within the community. This can be as big as you like it to be. You can also sell sponsorship in it to other companies if you like. 

3) Create easy 'share this' links. Which will send already completed tweets directly to the target audience. Everyone that reads it is invited to share it. 

4) Create a specific page for general links. People that click general links in the community go to a page designed specifically for them. On this page it welcomes newcomers and asks them to share their funniest/best stories for a second edition of the book. Ensure these answers are posted directly to a discussion thread. 

5) Give feedback on each participant's story and ask for further information. Drop each participate a message about their story and ask for further information/profile pictures/details about them on their profile for the book too.

6) Host an event where people can share/discuss their stories. Use GoToWebinar if you like. Mute and unmute people at will. Let as many of your members as possible share their stories and talk with one another. Record this and send it out to all members (with a link to share it).

7) Rate the stories. Have a poll where everyone can rate their stories to determine the order of the book. Invite members to share their stories to get more people to vote for them. 

8) Ask for the opposite. Now ask for the opposite. Ask for their biggest mistakes, their worst moments etc…This is purely for a fun outtakes book. 

If you've done the steps above correctly, you'll have a big batch of new members who have made several contributions in the community without even realizing it's becoming a habit. 

This group of members know each other, they've participated in live events, they feel a part of the community. All of the above is without introduction threads, pestering people to participate, and it uses existing motivations. 

You can make the process of joining and becoming a regular participant in the community as fun as it can be. 

Six Great Community Concepts

July 21, 2014Comments Off on Six Great Community Concepts

The best community concepts are aligned to an existing motivation. They help us do something we already want to do. 

The BJFogg model is a good way of talking about existing motivations. 

Most organizations develop a community about themselves. They’re shocked their precious members don’t want to talk about them. 

If members are visiting, but not sticking. It’s usually a concept problem. 

Base your concept around one of the six core motivations:




If you can identify the specific activity members like to do within the topic, it's easier to build a community around it.

People use the HuffingtonP ost to complain about Republicans, Wikipedia editors have 40,000 word discussions about grammatical rules, GAIA Online members talk utter gibberish (for 1.6bn posts), 4Chan members try to antagonize each other. 

You can pinpoint the single things prospective members like doing and develop an entire concept around that. 


Most customer service communities are based around solving a pain. 

The challenge is to pinpoint specifically what your audience is most interested in and build the entire concept around that interest.

BackpackingLight is a terrific example. It's not a community about travelling or backpacking, it's a community about having the lightest possible backpack. They identified the single core pain and developed an entire concept around it. Homebase developed an entire community for people that want to get into gardening, not the seasoned experts. 

You can ask members about their biggest challenge and build the concept around the answer. 


Many communities in the advocacy, health, and personal improvement sectors are based around hope. 

People participate in the FitBit community to improve themselves, likewise with the BodyBuilding forums. You can ask members what they want to achieve/be in the future and create the concept around that. 

Community organizers used hope to build a community. They asked people what they wanted to achieve, identified common themes, and worked towards achieving them. 


You can build communities around things we're afraid of/afraid of happening. CancerConnection ensures people won't go through cancer alone. HomeEnergyPros helps those worried about new technology/regulations in the sector. 

You can ask members what they're most afraid of and develop a concept to resolving that. 

Social Acceptance

You can build communities for the desirable peer groups we wish to be accepted within. Ask prospective members who we look up to and create exclusive communities for this group.

Diageo built a community for the world's top bartenders. We built a community for the world's top community professionals. Andrew built a community for the top eCommerce professionals. 

There's always a market for an ever-more exclusive groups. 

Social Rejection

Social rejection is harder to build a community along. Ask prospective members who we consider our peers and build a community for those groups. Very often, nothing will already exist. 

Many of the existing small, successful, groups on LinkedIn/Facebook are based around this. You can go large too. ModelMayhem is the definitive place for models in the USA. If you're not a member, you're probably not a model. 

Aligning any topic to an existing motivation.

Any topic can have a variety of possible concepts. Imagine you’re building a community for HR professionals. 

You might build a community for HR professionals to share their funniest or most memorable stories. This would be innately pleasurable. 

You might build a community for HR professionals to discuss a single big challenge they face.

You might build a community for HR professionals to change something in their sector or acquire specific skills.

You might build a community for HR professionals to tackle something they’re most scared of..e.g giving feedback to their boss in effective ways.

You might build a community for the top HR professionals or those with a high levels of experience.

You might build a community for HR professionals in the topic.

If you want to get immediately better at building communities, get the concept right. Get a concept that’s attached to an existing motivation. You will find members convert into active participants more easier.

I Created That

July 18, 2014Comments Off on I Created That

It's hard to see most established communities vanishing overnight.

This is because communities (the authentic, genuine, communities) are such a big part of who we are.

We take great joy and validation from participating in the community. In many cases, it's our conduit for identification. We know more about ourselves through our community interaction.

To walk away from a community would mean leaving behind a huge part of our identity.

But that only happens if it is an authentic, real, community.

It only happens when the community was stitched together over many years. It only happens when the community begins with a handful of members who knew the founder. The community grows slowly and steadily. Newcomers are carefully socialized. Culture is refined and occasionally pruned to reflect the tastes of members. 

Communities shouldn't begin overnight and they shouldn't die overnight. They take a lot of time. They take years, not months, of careful dedication. 

Most of you know this. You're in this for the long-haul. You're not here for the quick win. You're here to create something that provides huge benefits to members for years.

You want to point to something, many years from now, and say "I created that!"

Slow, steady, progress. Not big splashes.

The Myth Of The Superusers

July 17, 2014Comments Off on The Myth Of The Superusers

Superusers exist.

On every platform you'll find people that have reviewed thousands of books, posted hundreds of thousands of comments, attended every single event in the sector, have 1m+ friends etc..

But it's bunk to think that you can recruit them. 

It's almost impossible to identify them. Previous experience in other communities/platforms doesn't predict future effort. In fact, those highly active elsewhere are less likely to be highly active in your community. Why would they participate?

It's hard to identify them by personality type either. Slower self-esteem might cause higher levels of participation, but so might the opposite. 

The best you can do is recruit a bunch of people, provide plenty of opportunities for those that put themselves forward, and nurture the ones that do. Not all will become superusers. The secret isn't to pinpoint them at the beginning of the funnel, but to increase the size of that funnel (especially the immediate post-registration moment).

Buddy Systems

July 16, 2014Comments Off on Buddy Systems

The buddy system isn't a new idea.

You automatically assign a newcomer a buddy to guide them through the community development process.

In small communities you can handpick people. In larger communities you need a little more design and planning expertise.

When it works well, the conversion rates into active participants is far higher. People are guided through their first few interactions. However, if it appears forced/fake, it has negative consequences

This only works when the buddies can interact in a sincere and authentic way with new participants. Anything that appears robotic or automated tends to drive people away. 

We're once again accepting applications for CommunityGeek. Click the link to learn more.

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