Month: August 2014

SEO and Communities

August 29, 2014Comments Off on SEO and Communities

Communities can improve your SEO

Type chickens into Google and Rob Ludlow's Backyard Chickens is the second result.

SEO can improve communities.

You can get more traffic from people searching for relevant terms. 

But there are far easier, quicker, and more reliable ways of improving your SEO and your community. 


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?

http://sprint.feverbee.com

We Don’t Like Outsiders

August 28, 2014Comments Off on We Don’t Like Outsiders

Be very careful about being the outsider.

It's almost impossible to build a community from a group of people if you're not one of them.

It's harder to tell a group of people what to do if you're the outsider. 

They don't know you. They don't trust you. 

The CHIP process is designed to overcome this for new communities. You become one of the group before you try to build a community among that group. 

If you're taking over an existing community, take a LOT of time to get to know a large number of members before imposing your will. 

Be one of the group before you lead the group. 


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?

http://sprint.feverbee.com

Why Community Professionals Feel Like Victims

August 27, 2014Comments Off on Why Community Professionals Feel Like Victims

There is an overhyped fear that members might get upset. 

I'm really not too worried if members get upset. I'd rather they didn't get upset, but it's not a big deal if they do. 

People get upset all the time. Some people have personalities where they're prone to being easily upset. 

It's whether being upset has consequences. The answer is usually no. 

I care about whether members visit less, participate less, or buy less. If being upset correlates with one of those, then it's time to take actions. 

In a large enough community, a minority will be upset about anything you do. Some just won't like you because you're the authority figure. 

The danger is spending too much time trying to make these people happy. They will never be happy. Spending your time placating the negative members will leave you emotionally drained. You feel like the victim.

Spend your time helping happy members do something great. You will feel much better.


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?

http://sprint.feverbee.com

The Type Of Audience You Foster

August 26, 2014 Comments Off on The Type Of Audience You Foster

If we want to write posts that are popular and widely shared, we know how to do it.

1) Use a benefit-led headline. "7 Ways To Get The Audience You Crave!"

2) Use bullet points. A lot like these, only more of them and not numbered. 

3) Keep it short. Keep the posts to around 150 to 250 words. 

The problem with attracting the masses is it rarely benefits you much.

By every standard metric (views, shares, likes, tweets), this post about calculating the ROI of customer service communities was among the least popular I've ever written. 

It also gained business from 2 new clients (from 4 that approached us), 4 new members on CommunityGeek, and several interesting discussions via e-mail with people I admire.

By that measure, it's quite possibly the most successful post I've ever written. 

This isn't an isolated example. It's happened several times. Long, detailed, posts that cover a very specific topic in depth aren't shared, but attract exactly the sort of people a company like us needs. They are a flag for a specific group of people. 

We face this choice when building our communities.

We can round-off the edges in our work to attract the masses. We can make the process of finding, joining, and participating in the community easier and easier. We can churn out ever-generic material using all the latest viral techniques to attract the crowd. We can initiate discussions that appeal to the mass. 

This might give you a quick blip in the numbers, but it won't lead to a long-term, sustained, community.

Far better to do the opposite. Initiate discussions, create content, and organize events that go very deep into niche topics. You will attract exactly the sort of people you want. 


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?

http://sprint.feverbee.com

Make Your Community About The Topic, Not The Brand

August 25, 2014Comments Off on Make Your Community About The Topic, Not The Brand

Zappos recently dropped their jobs board in favour of a talent community. 

Jobs will no longer be advertised. Jobs seekers join and participate in the community. They will interact and learn directly from employees.

Zappos will hire people from the community when jobs become available. 

If we excuse the terrible platform (no interaction is possible at the moment), there are some logical problems with talent communities like this. 

1) People don't look for a job until they need one. It's an event, not an interest.

2) Current employers won't be happy with employees interacting in another company's talent community (a few might even join their competitor's communities). This will be a big risk.

3) Too many places to participate. If everyone has a talent community, a job-seeker will have to participate in several communities to establish and build a reputation.

4) No evidence of better employees. There's no evidence that hiring from a talent community leads to better employees than hiring through other channels. 

5) People are joining to get a job. Once they either get a job (elsewhere) or realize their odds of getting a job are low, they will leave. Their only reason for participating is attached to getting a job – and there aren't enough jobs to go round.

A better approach isn't to build a talent community for the brand. It's to build an exclusive community for the topic or create something like StackOverflow. 

StackOverflow is a community for people to resolve questions about the topic. People can build up a reputation by answering and helping other people. It doesn't limit the number of members to those solely interested in the company. Everyone can participate without fears of their boss finding out.

When it comes time to hire someone, recruiting someone with a high StackOverflow score probably works well. 

What's the downside? Other companies might recruit from the same place. What's the upside? That will send even more prospective job seekers to your community.


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?

http://sprint.feverbee.com

Stealing Ideas From Other Online Communities

August 22, 2014Comments Off on Stealing Ideas From Other Online Communities

You should borrow as many ideas event, discussion, and content ideas from successful communities as you can.

A few examples of these.

Visit 5 communities of the same type (place, practice, interest, action, circumstance). It doesn't matter if they're in your topic.

Click on the general category of discussions. List the discussion by the number of views/replies. Make a list of great discussion ideas. 

Take the StudentDoctor site below:

Studentdoctor2
Some of these are too specific to student doctors.

But we can certainly see discussions "If you could do it over again would you?", "How to blow your shot at …" and "Most ridiculous question from a {x} while {y}" being popular in other communities too. 

That's 3 possible discussions from just the first top results from the first community you've researched. We also notice they do a popular "20 questions with…" feature. We can bring this to our communities. Then we see they have a big list of free downloadable resources. There will be ideas here we can borrow.

Now we look at the business side. What do they have listed on their advertising material? Any ideas there? What partners do they have? Is there any inspiration for organisations our community can partner with? Can we also create a job/career center for our communities?

That's a lot of inspiration for just a few minutes of research into popular communities. 

If you browse around enough communities you begin to find the types of content, discussions, and events that have universal appeal (e.g. Ask me anything!) and can develop a big playbook of tactics for any community you ever work on. 


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?

http://sprint.feverbee.com

How Companies Should Participate In Communities

August 21, 2014Comments Off on How Companies Should Participate In Communities

I remember drafting this 3.5 years ago. 

Every rule still stands.

  • Respond to discussions about the brand. Most communities have a search feature. Use this to figure out what people are saying about the brand and respond appropriately. If you can’t respond to a complaint directly, ask the member how they would like it to be resolved.
  • Participate in debates not connected to your products/services. This is easy, safe, territory and establishes your credibility as a serious participant in the community.
  • Make friends. Be genuine members of the community. Make friends with others. Engage in the off-topic areas of the community. Congratulate people on their achievements. Suggest things in the community. Be a person first, a company representative second.
  • Ask for opinions on products/services. Be careful with this. But, occasionally, ask people for their opinions on a specific aspect of a product or a service. Giving members options or choices works better than generic What do you think of our new {widget}.
  • Ask for help. If you need people to help your company with something, ask for help.
  • Offer something exclusive to the community. If your company has the means to offer some exclusive products or run a competition, contact the community admin and see if they are ok with you doing it.
  • Give exclusive information. Give members of a community some exclusive information about your brand or product. This doesn’t have to be big, but just things that will solicit interest and start some rumours about your work.
  • Contact the community owner/admin. When possible, contact the owner/admin of the community. Ask if you can do anything to help or if there are any special brand guidelines to be aware of.
  • Disclosure. Use the signature to reveal that you are an employee of the company you work for. Where relevant, include it in the text of your messages e.g. “I agree, at Widgetco we tried both of these options….”

Read more here: /2011/01/how-brands-should-engage-with-online-communities.html


 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?

http://sprint.feverbee.com.

Finding Interesting Stories About Members

August 20, 2014Comments Off on Finding Interesting Stories About Members

Following from yesterday.

It's hard to find interesting stories about your members.

If you're having a slow day, here are a few tips:

1) Ask 5 members what they think about a topical issue, publish the results in an article.

2) Research your member's LinkedIn profiles. Look for anything that makes an interesting story. One CommunityGeek member went from an account executive to a director of community within 18 months. That sounds like an interesting story. Another did a community of practice for Enron. It's not hard to dig up interesting stories.

3) Take news from Twitter/Instagram/Facebook profiles. Look for news about their jobs/careers/marriages/children etc. All of these make for good community news stories. Check it's ok to cover it first!

4) Ask big names what they're up to. People always want more news about the equipment they use. If you can get unique news, publish it. Almost everyone is doing something interesting in their lives. Or ask them a question that's come up in the community. 

5) Cover upcoming events. Write a story about an upcoming event (or a previous event). Who went? What was the gossip? What did they like/not like? Who were the stars of the events? 

6) Within the community. Find the stories members are sharing about themselves within the community. Create news posts based upon these stories.

None of these is incredibly time consuming. All of these leads to interesting content about people within that community. 


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?

http://sprint.feverbee.com

Looking For News About The Community Space?

August 19, 2014Comments Off on Looking For News About The Community Space?

Many of you know this already.

If you're looking for news about the community space, try the news page of CommunityGeek

It's devoid of fluff and opinion posts. We have enough of both.

It's purely a place to get news about what's happening in the community space. 

Try it: https://communitygeek.com/news.


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?

http://sprint.feverbee.com

Persuade Members They Can Make Unique Contributions

August 18, 2014Comments Off on Persuade Members They Can Make Unique Contributions

Here's the most persuasive tip I know to getting a member to participate. 

Persuade the member that their unique skills, experience, and expertise, can be useful to the community. 

If you can convince each member of that, you will find the majority of them participate. 

You can't automate this.

It goes deeper. It means having volunteers who do some research on new members, tell them what skills, experience, and expertise would be useful. Then guide the member to a place where they can put those assets to work. 


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?

http://sprint.feverbee.com

Unique, Shared, Experiences

August 15, 2014Comments Off on Unique, Shared, Experiences

Back in 2012, I invited a group of new friends to watch the chess boxing world championships conveniently hosted in London. 

Frankly, it's a ridiculous sport (it was created by a cartoonist).

But it's a fun event to watch. 

Since then we've jokingly shared the latest chess boxing news with one another. We mourn the retirement of our favourite world champions. We get excited when a title changes hands. 

As dumb and frivolous as this sounds, it's actually tightened the group considerably.

We have a unique, shared, experience that has created in-jokes and a sense of connection with one another. When a newcomer joins the group, we enjoy explaining the importance of chess boxing to the group.

None of this was the goal when we first attended the event. 

This is why unique, shared, experiences are so powerful.

They are the ultimate breeding ground for not just a fun time, but in-jokes, shared history, and a common narrative for the group. If you're trying to create a beater sense of belonging among any group, try creating a unique, shared, experience. 

(We've tried other events since. I recommend the Air Guitar world championships).


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?

http://sprint.feverbee.com

Would Your Company Like To Reach Thousands Of Community Professionals?

August 14, 2014Comments Off on Would Your Company Like To Reach Thousands Of Community Professionals?

We've decided to change how event sponsorships work. 

Most sponsors get a crummy deal. They get a few mentions, a tiny exhibition space, and maybe some polished material in gift bags. 

This rarely converts into sustained awareness, leads, or new customers. 

We've decided to change that. We've spoken to about two-dozen of you to find out what the dream sponsorship opportunity would look like.

Then we've compilled that into one document for our SPRINT event

If you want to reach 10k+ community pros, this might be useful: 

http://bit.ly/1psrQTd.

All sponsorships are on a first-come basis. 

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