Month: January 2015

Member to Member Webinars

January 30, 2015Comments Off on Member to Member Webinars

Here’s a simple idea.

Set up a weekly (or monthly) webinar slot.

Members can put themselves forward each week to share a story, teach a skill, interview someone they admire, or simply share something they’ve learnt recently to other members of the community. 

Record the webinar and make it easy for attendees and the member to share it widely. 

Over time you’ll build up an incredible repository of niche information. 

Why Most Branded Communities Fail

January 30, 2015Comments Off on Why Most Branded Communities Fail

If you're curious why most branded communities fail, PR Week published an article of mine this week. 


p.s. time is running out to sign up for SPRINT Europe's community management event

A Useful Resource

January 29, 2015Comments Off on A Useful Resource

Many sites are combing the best of social science with technology.

Here’s a resource detailing a few of them:

Minutia Trips Up Advocacy Campaigns

January 28, 2015Comments Off on Minutia Trips Up Advocacy Campaigns

Most advice on nurturing advocates can be summarized in four steps:

1) Find people passionate about your brand (usually those that contribute the most)

2) Give them exclusive access, information, and possibly freebies.

3) Connect them with one another to build a community to share advice/feel a sense of connection. 

4) Give recognition, training, and encouragement to do their work. 

If this worked, we would see many more successful advocacy campaigns. 

We don't because this advice works best when the community manager is tweaking the activity of existing highly active members rather than creating advice/expertise from scratch. It's much easier to change the behavior of current members than convert newcomers into advocates. 

Second, the minutia matters a lot. The exact words you use in the approach, your own personality/nature on calls, the subtly appeals to increased social status will largely determine whether this succeeds. If you don't have world-class social skills, you're going to struggle. 

p.s. One common problem is the brand tells the advocate what they want her to do. Far better to ask the advocate what she wants to do and provide all the resources/support to achieve that. Encourage accountable autonomy. 

Human Nature Undermines Smart Groups

January 27, 2015Comments Off on Human Nature Undermines Smart Groups

Bringing the smartest people into the same room rarely leads to successful, positive, outcomes. I can think of 5 reasons for this. 

First, the people you’re approaching probably lack the diversity of experience and expertise to create a new outcome.  You probably know the perspectives and views of the person you're approaching, or you wouldn't be approaching them. If you can’t solve the problem already, more of the same doesn’t help. Including more women is a major asset. You need people who have opinions/views you're not already familiar with. 

Second, the group you’re approaching probably considers themselves smart. They’ve been praised for it many times. They have egos. They hate to admit they’re wrong. They hate being challenged by others. It leads to stubborn conflict. The group may comprise people who consider the other members their biggest rivals. 

Third, people may be hesitant to challenge others if they have a vested interest in that individual's support in the future. They're equally worried about putting forth and opinion and being shot down by that group. 

Fourth, the status quo supports the smart group, it helps them build and sustain their reputation. They will typically support ideas that maintain the status quo (i.e. their ideas). it's these ideas which are the cause of your problems in the first place. 

Fifth, smart people really care about important things like group process and facilitation. How are opinions solicited, supported, and debated? Smart people only create smart opinions in smart groups that have smart processes. 

I'm sure there are more. 

Some things can help.

Submitting and debating ideas anonymously can useful. It frees everyone to support/criticise/debate them. Forcing people to support their points with evidence is also useful. It counteracts one loud person forcing their view upon the other. Addressing the concerns above can also help. 

10 Community Skills You Can Learn In 1 Month

January 26, 2015Comments Off on 10 Community Skills You Can Learn In 1 Month

In less than a month, you can learn how to tackle many of the biggest challenges we face. 

We're going to learn how to:

  • Select, develop, and design a community platform. You're going to learn how much a community platform should cost, the process for developing a community platform, who to trust, how to develop frameworks, and plenty more. 
  • Grow a community in a sustainable way. You're going to learn the difference between attracting your first few members and growing a community over the long-term.&
  • Scale a community team. You will learn how to find the best community professionals, how to recruit them, how to train them, and how to keep them motivated over the long-term. 
  • Ensure members privacy and deal with security threats. You will learn how to help members keep their data private and how to know if you're community is being hacked (and how to stop it).
  • Increase the level of activity of each member. You're going to learn how to use both specific types of activity and psychological appeals to increase the level of activity of each member. 
  • Use social media to increase activity. You're going to learn that social media hype is over. There are two very specific ways to use social media to drive growth and activity. We're going to teach you both and how to use each. 
  • Monetize and harvest benefits from a successful community. What are the proven ways to make money from existing communities? How do we ensure a community generates a clear return on investment. 
  • Get your members to advocate on your behalf. You're going to learn a range of social triggers that motivate us to participate more in our social groups. You can use each of them to get members to attract others and advocate on behalf your brand. 
  • Improve your SEO ranking. SEO is rapidly changing and it's a field most of us know little about. We're going to teach you how to make several changes to rank far higher on terms you want to own. 
  • Develop an actionable community plan. You're going to learn what a community plan really looks like and how is put togeher and becomes actionable. 

In addition to that we're going to have workshops the day before with myself, Caty Kobe, Jenn Lopez, and Joe Cothrel. We're also going to have Mumsnet founder, Justine Roberts, on stage to explain how she created a community which changed the nature of UK politics and influenced an election. eModeration will also be hosting an afterparty with a free bar. 

The cost to attend is £250. That's about 1 to 2 day's salary for most of us.

Believe me, it's a great deal and we would love to have you there.

The entire FeverBee team will also be around during the week to meet up for coffee, drinks, and food with attendees. 

You can sign up here:

Tagging Members

January 21, 2015Comments Off on Tagging Members

Some platforms make it easy to  ‘tag’ people in to the discussions.

If yours doesn’t, consider moving to one that does.

If yours does, use the feature a lot.

If you can get all members to tag in others they think have the answer, it becomes a powerful cycle. 

Tag those you want to hear from, have relevant experience, or just need a nudge to get involved. 

Sarah Hawk Joins FeverBee

January 21, 2015Comments Off on Sarah Hawk Joins FeverBee

We know a lot of great community professionals.

We know a lot of user experience experts too. 

I can't think of many that have a proven track record of doing both. 

Which is why we're thrilled to welcome Sarah Hawk to FeverBee 

Sarah, from UXMastery and SitePoint, is easily at the top of both groups and exactly the type of person we love to hire. 

Here are some great links we recommend you check out to learn more about user experience and communities:

You can also read about how Sarah migrated the SitePoint community to Discourse here, here, and here.  

Our recruitment philosophy is to hire people at the top of their game and give them everything they need to do work they are proud of. Sarah is certainly at the top of her game and we know she's going to make all of us proud. 

Newcomer Questions

January 20, 2015Comments Off on Newcomer Questions

Telling a newcomer they should have ‘read the FAQ’ or ‘searched for previous questions’ on the topic before they posted is a bad idea.

In fact, it's the most sure-fire way to guarantee he won't participate again. 

Two options. One, remove the post and answer it by e-mail rather than publicly rebuke him.

Second, and better, highlight how it’s about time this topic came up again, identify any possible new information on the topic, reference previous discussions on the topic, and any useful link in the FAQ.

Perhaps invite other experts in that topic to update their views?

Your members should feel terrific about asking their first question, not foolish. 

SPRINT Europe: The List Of Benefits

January 19, 2015Comments Off on SPRINT Europe: The List Of Benefits

A quick reminder you now have one month to sign yourself up for SPRINT Europe

Here's all the tools to persuade your boss to let you attend. 

  1. The speakers are the best in Europe. We have Mumsnet, Google, GiffGaff, eModeration, Hootsuite, Etsy, MacMillan, Pearson, FeverBee etc…
  2. You get access to all the best speakers in the USA too. 
  3. Our workshops will tackle your biggest challenges and help you hone your skills. 
  4. You walk away with advanced skills in growth, community psychology, converting newcomers into regulars, platform design, nurturing advocates, and sustaining high levels of activity. 
  5. You get access to CommunityGeek, an exclusive community for community professionals. Get feedback from the top professionals away from the public glare.
  6. Build relationships with all the top organisations in this sector. Great for recruiting, learning, getting jobs, and other opportunities. 
  7. Access to our full library of resources (web specs, cost structures, template job descriptions, calendars, scripts for getting people to join and then to participate).
  8. Free videos from our on-demand training course.

All for the same cost as 2 to 3 days of your salary.

Believe me, it's a good deal for improving yourself as a community professional as you're ever likely to get. 

p.s. If you or your organisation are interested in reaching a passionate audience of European community managers, click here


In Times Of Threat

January 19, 2015Comments Off on In Times Of Threat

Every group has the tendency to unite when faced with a threat.

It's an adaptive instinct to survive in environments when threats were more serious than today. 

Today we unite when faced with existential threats, perceived threats, and even minor insults. We unite if someone removes our right to do something (or we think they will). We unite when one of our group (or a friend of the group) is attacked (or faces a perceived attack).

This unity has behavioral implications.

We are more confrontational towards outsiders, more exclusionary against fringe/new members, and try to replicate the behavior of the group's prototypical members (we all act the same).

There is only one exception, hopelessness. If we feel we're doomed, that the threat is too big or our own power/resources too small, we disband. We take whatever approach best enhances our own sense of success. We grab and run

History's greatest leaders (and monsters) have all used the sense of threat to achieve their goals. It's a controversial, but valid method. A threat turned into a victory becomes a powerful unifier for any group.

If you're going to use this method, you need to achieve two goals.

First, create a threat that your members take seriously.

Second, always assure members that if they unite, share resources, each take on their fair sure, they will succeed. Never admit you might not succeed. 

On Feb 24 – 25, we're inviting 250 of you to hear the world's top online community professionals speak at SPRINT Europe in London. If you want to learn more, click here

You have 40 days remaining to buy your tickets

Specific Tactics To Increase Your Member’s Motivation To Participate In Your Community

January 15, 2015Comments Off on Specific Tactics To Increase Your Member’s Motivation To Participate In Your Community

In the Witch Doctors of Social post, we talked about optimal distinctiveness theory.

Members try to simultaneously mirror the actions of prototypical members to be accepted and impress other members to be afforded higher status. 

To accompany this, we need to understand self-determination theory. It's a cornerstone of community activity. 

Self-Determination Theory: 3 Specific Needs

Self-determination theory claims we achieve peak motivation when 3 specific needs are met. 

These are the need for competence, autonomy, and social relatedness. 

Most communities are quick-hit communities. Members participate to get an ego boost. 

In psychological communities (or 'imagined' communities), members feel a deep sense of connection with one another and the brand because they reach their peak motivation. 

We've adapted the below from Niemic, Soenens, and Vansteenkiste's (2014) table

Competence Tactics

Competence refers to our need to control our environments, experience mastery of our field, and tackle optimally-difficult challenges.

Members need to become better, smarter, and tackle bigger challenges via your community.

You can satisfy your member's need for competence by the following:

  1. Segment members by level (newcomers/veterans etc..) and setting optimal challenges for their skill level. 
  2. Recruit members responsible for introducing new knowledge from relevant sources to increase the skill level/knowledge of all members. 
  3. Allow members to host their own training webinars/history lessons on the topic. Create a culture of teaching.
  4. Adopt individual member challenges as a challenge for the group to solve. 
  5. Give unexpected feedback on good contributions from members.
  6. Initiate individual discussions with members to identify their barriers to success. 
  7. Provide immediate feedback on their actions and impact of their actions. 
  8. Create a clear structure of how far the community can go (with boundaries). 

Autonomy Tactics

Autonomy is our need to freely choose behaviour in line with our beliefs, values, and emotional states.

We want to choose our actions in line with our internal beliefs and goals. When we give recognition and rewards for actions, we reduce the sense of autonomy members feel. This works at both a group and individual level. To enhance the sense of autonomy, you can:

  1. Allow members to put themselves forward to run/create their own areas of the community.
  2. Call for suggestions/ideas and help members make them a reality. 
  3. Create a profile field for members to highlight their own goals and introduce them to members who can help them. 
  4. Elicit and acknowledge a member's thoughts and feelings in your private interactions (and encourage volunteers to do the same with members).
  5. Ask members about their values and beliefs, highlight how they relate to the community's. 
  6. Provide a clear reason when boundaries are established. 
  7. Don't use controlling language ("should", "must", "ought", and "have to")

Social-Relatedness Tactics

Social relatedness is our need to be accepted, to care for, and be cared for by others. 

If this need isn't met, our participation is typically driven by an unhealthy need to gain acceptance. This manifests itself in various ways (e.g. over-participation). 

  1. Use volunteers to create an environment of supportive response to every contribution.
  2. Be genuinely interested in members (remember or write down previous interactions with members). 
  3. Set stern rules about attacking newcomers asking entry-level questions. 
  4. Assume a warm, empathetic, non-judgement stance in every interaction with members. 
  5. Highlight something specific a member did and it's positive impact upon the community. 
  6. Provide opportunities for members to help one another (or create a place where members can highlight the help they need).

If you satisfy these three needs of members in any social group, you will get members participating for healthy, intrinsic, reasons and rationalising themselves that they believe in the community. This leads to higher unity with your organisation, yourself, and one another. 

It's work worth doing. 

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