Month: February 2015

Initiator Inequality

February 27, 2015Comments Off on Initiator Inequality

Participation inequality is a bunk idea.

Initiator inequality is not.

Most people are happy to follow the crowd and not risk social rejection.

Finding the people that are happy to initiate things (events, discussions, new ideas), put themselves up for acceptance/rejection is more difficult.

Build a list of people that have put themselves forward to do things within the group.

Most of the ideas will be bad, don't worry about that, let them know you always want to hear their ideas.

Soon they'll have an idea you can help them implement. 

Why Evidence Doesn’t Change Someone’s Mind

February 26, 2015Comments Off on Why Evidence Doesn’t Change Someone’s Mind

Imagine a friend reads an article which uses scientific references to prove that vaccinations might be linked to autism. 

He doesn't have a scientific background to critically examine the evidence, so he adopts the belief and finds others that feel the same. The belief becomes core to their group identity. The more he advocate in favour of this belief, the more heavily he is accepted as a member of the group. He feel united in a common cause. He's in the powerful numerical minority. 

Let's call this group the believers

Now an opposing group highlights evidence that disproves their beliefs. Let's call this group the non-believers

To accept this evidence, the believers would have to reject the social group which gives them their own identity. That's not going to happen. Instead, the believers challenge the evidence. They look for any perceived error they can hide behind. They refuse to accept any evidence that changes their world view.

If they were to change their view, they would neither be welcomed into the opposition group and rejected from their own group. Worse still, any believer would have to endure the humiliation of backtracking on their often stated opinion.

Sure enough, the evidence becomes irrefutable. The believers still don't wish to lose their identity. They take a different approach. They claim a conspiracy! (it's impossible to prove there isn't a conspiracy).

It sounds maddening, but from an evolutionary psychology perspective, it's quite logical. Historically, we don't survive well when we're alone. We want to be in groups. To be in groups we need to show we're a reliable member. Sustaining group beliefs is how we do that.

3 years after President Obama released his birth certificate, 15% know for sure he was born outside the USA. 

So why bother even trying to confront these groups? 

Because 52% believed he was born outside the USA in 2010. 

You can't change someone's views by presenting evidence. You can however do three things. 

1) You can create personal doubt. When the issue dies down, someone might quietly change their mind. 

2) You can present a different identity they can join. This identity isn't based on the typical believers/non-believers divide. Find a new paradigm to unite the group.

3) You can stop new members joining. Every new group needs a replenishment of members to survive. You can create that. 

Always allow every member to express a relevant, legal, opinion. Never allow that opinion to pass unchallenged. 

Flood of Traffic

February 25, 2015Comments Off on Flood of Traffic

What would you do if your community suddenly received a flood of traffic?

My article in The Guardian today.

Also follow #fbsprint for the best advice from our SPRINT Europe event today. 

Abandoning The Fixed Idea

February 24, 2015Comments Off on Abandoning The Fixed Idea

We need to do more audience research and better audience research. 

If we do it right, we'll overcome our fixed idea.

2 years ago we had a client who planned to launch an online community.

She conducted interviews with 10 to 15 members. In about half the transcripts, the interviewee wasn't initially blown away by the idea. Gradually, however, she talked them around.

Can you spot the problem? 

She's not going to have that depth of interaction with every prospective members. 

Most are simply going to think it's not a good idea. The community is dead upon launch.

Don't undertake research to validate your existing concept, do research to identify a potential concept. 

You should never ask "do you think a community about {x} is a good idea?"

You should be asking open questions about their biggest interests/challenges and sculpting a community around them. 

It's really hard to ignore your own biases in the conceptualisation stage. So write out exactly what you think the community should be before you begin the research. At least then you can be aware of them. 

Design An Organisation For A Community, Not A Community For An Organisation

February 23, 2015Comments Off on Design An Organisation For A Community, Not A Community For An Organisation

Yammer and Zappos are changing how they work internally.

37 signals did the same a long time ago. 

Many other organisations are tinkering with their top-down hierarchical structure in favour of a community-driven approach. 

And what does a community generally consist of?

  • Smaller, autonomous, empowered groups.
  • Overlapping groups for communication/relatedness.
  • A single, high-level, source of what's new in the community.
  • Boundaries that people have to cross to be accepted as members.
  • Opportunities for each individual to take on additional effort.
  • Heavy emphasis on casual, social, interaction.  
  • Plenty of short-term milestones. 
  • Plenty of rituals and traditions.
  • Shared symbols.


Small Changes At A Time

The problem is most of us lack the power to design an organisation for a community. 

At the UN, we once had a consultant come in and explain what our digital team should look like. The fundraising/communication department should be merged, a head of digital should be appointed, and so on.

It all made perfect sense. Sadly, it ignored reality. The fundraising and communication department wasn't keen on being merged, neither head of the department wanted a new boss, and even if they did there was a hiring freeze in place. 

It would be great to be able to design social systems from scratch. Sadly we don't get to do that. 


Small Nudges At A Time

Instead we look for what's possible in each organisation we work within.

Looking at the points above, how can you nudge your organisation closer to that reality? 

Get the social structure right, and using the community platform will be easy. 


We can't have a head of digital, perhaps, but can we have a single, source, of information for news about the community, smaller work teams, and maybe better casual, social, interaction. 

Small incremental changes will add up to a big change over the course of a year. 

Anyone tell an organisation to use Yammer to communicate with each other internally. Few can design an organisation to thrive using Yammer. 

There are two sides to a successful online community. The online platform and the social structure of the participants. We would benefit from spending as much time on the latter as we do on the former. 

In Person Meetings Reduce Online Anti-Social Behavior

February 20, 2015Comments Off on In Person Meetings Reduce Online Anti-Social Behavior

From this terrific piece in the New York Times: 

The Gyges effect, the well-noted disinhibition created by communications over the distances of the Internet, in which all speech and image are muted and at arm’s reach, produces an inevitable reaction — the desire for impact at any cost, the desire to reach through the screen, to make somebody feel something, anything


A 2009 study by Marco Iacoboni, a neuroscientist at the Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, explained the connection: “Through imitation and mimicry, we are able to feel what other people feel. By being able to feel what other people feel, we are also able to respond compassionately to other people’s emotional states.” The face is the key to the sense of intersubjectivity, linking mimicry and empathy through mirror neurons — the brain mechanism that creates imitation even in nonhuman primates.

The connection goes the other way, too. Inability to see a face is, in the most direct way, inability to recognize shared humanity with another. In a metastudy of antisocial populations, the inability to sense the emotions on other people’s faces was a key correlation. There is “a consistent, robust link between antisocial behavior and impaired recognition of fearful facial affect. Relative to comparison groups, antisocial populations showed significant impairments in recognizing fearful, sad and surprised expressions.”

This ability to see a face and instantly know more about an individual is a key reason why online community professionals should bother hosting offline events for their audience. 

That shared humanity is a powerful force for uniting groups and building a platform for creating tangible and intangible value. 

The Post-GamerGate World For Community Managers

February 19, 2015Comments Off on The Post-GamerGate World For Community Managers

For decades, sexist, homophobic, and anti-minority behaviour was a sad, inescapable, reality of most online communities.

Community pros generally responded to the norms of our time. We removed the worst of it (by our own subjective standards) and tolerated the rest. That usually meant that misogynist ("you bitch!") and homophobic remarks ("your gay!") survived.

We claimed it was too big of a problem to deal with….'boys will be boys!

GamerGate proves you can't do that anymore. We should never have accepted it in the first place.

You have to decisively deal with the intolerant, extremist, elements of your community or they will define it.

You can't lag behind the norms of our time, You should pioneer positive norms of our time. Online communities can be the final sanctuary for intolerance or the first bastion of tolerant discourse. 

If you don't rid yourself of hate and intolerance, it will seek company in your community. The only option is to enforce rules that don't tolerate hatred of any kind to any member for any reason.

To raise your hands and say "we don't moderate here" is a terrible defence if members are using your community to plot personal attacks. 

You are morally (and often legally) responsible for everything that happens in your community because you're the only person that can shut it down. 

Tell your members that they can debate the issues until they're exhausted, but don't ever direct hatred towards the member themselves.

When you go from "you're wrong!" to "you're an idiot" you've crossed the line.

* * * * * 

How we best moderate online communities and prevent intolerance is one of the big issues we'll be discussing at SPRINT Europe next week. You can still sign up here

2015 Happenings

February 18, 2015Comments Off on 2015 Happenings

A few happenings:

1. Sarah Judd Welch launched

2. David Spinks relaunched CMXHub and is about to announce CMX East

3. Lauren Perkins published the Community Management Playbook

4. The Community Roundtable have launched their 2015 SOCM survey

5. HigherLogic published their Community Management Handbook

6. Patrick O'Keefe is publishing more than ever at ManagingCommunities

7. Swarm Sydney is coming up, as is Lithium Linc 2015 in San Francisco and the 2015 Community Leadership Summit in Portland

And we're just one week away from our own SPRINT Europe in London. 

Plenty to see, do and read. 

FeverBee Is Looking For A Brilliant Community Consultant

February 17, 2015Comments Off on FeverBee Is Looking For A Brilliant Community Consultant

We're growing the FeverBee team once again.

This time we're looking for a community consultant, this is the most skilled level we hire for.

It's someone who can confidently guide clients in a variety of sectors through the process of developing, growing, and benefitting from a thriving community. 

It means developing client strategies, advising on platform design and implementation, analysing data, understanding personality issues/psychology, and excelling at working within organisations to make a community happen.

You know the common hurdles organisations face when they launch a community and how to overcome each of them.


You are amazing…

You need an incredible track record of launching and growing online communities. You have terrific references. You know everything there is to know about the community space. You can point to real online communities you've developed for organisations and explain the steps you took to make them succeed. 

The perks are good. You get to work from anywhere you want (I've spent the past 6 months travelling). You set your own schedule. You get advanced training in community management and consultancy. You get to travel nationally and probably internationally too. You get a training/reading budget. You also get to work with the people I rate as among the very best in the business. 

Most importantly, you get to help some of the biggest and most complex organisations building communities today. 


The Process

If this feels like you, you should get in touch (skip the CV/resume, just tell us what you can do).

We'll respond immediately. All applications are strictly confidential. You can expect to speak with each one of our team to understand if the role is right for you. 

How We Decide To Join Social Groups

February 16, 2015Comments Off on How We Decide To Join Social Groups

We can break into four categories:

1) We join groups where we know existing members. We get an invite from our friends and we join. 

2) We join groups that are likely to increase our self-esteem. The group is doing important work, is exclusive, or has an impressive membership roster, so we join to feel better about ourselves. 

3) We join groups with members most similar to us. People have a similar demographics, habits, or psychographics to us (usually a new passion) so we join because we're like them. 

4) We join groups by pure chance. We stumble into a group by chance, so we join. 

The first two are much stronger motivators than the latter two. We're far more likely to join a group as more of our friends join the group. We're far more likely to join groups if it makes us look and feel better about ourselves.

The problem is most community builders rely on the latter two. They stress and promote how similar the group is to prospective members or hope members stumble across it by search/chance. 

if you want more members, either use your existing members or ensure the group increases the self-esteem of members. 

If you want to learn how to attract sustainable growth in communities, come to SPRINT Europe next week. Tickets are still available. 

The Culture Of The First 100 Members

February 13, 2015Comments Off on The Culture Of The First 100 Members

I recently removed a comment on CommunityGeek.

It didn't violate any rules or user guidelines.

We didn't receive any complaints about it.

It just felt a little mean.

If we allowed it, more mean comments might follow. The community might gain a reputation where the mean community professionals spend their time. That's not where we want to be. 

You have a small window in the early stages of building a community to set and establish culture and traditions. This is such a delicate time in the process of building a community. You can carefully highlight, select, and remove posts/members to suit the culture you want to create. 

The first 100 members will determine how the following 1000 behave. Best to make sure they behave the right way.

p.s. Two of our speakers will explain how to create and establish culture at SPRINT Europe on Feb 24 – 25. Click here if you want to come to Europe's biggest community management event. 

Accidently Building Cliques

February 12, 2015Comments Off on Accidently Building Cliques

If a member is highly active, they're already highly motivated.

You don't reinforce their motivation by offering rewards and recognition, you undermine it. 

Worst still, if you give a lot of recognition to a small group you'll create a clique. Everyone outside that small group will feel like an outsider. 

Far better to spend your time helping your current outsiders to feel like insiders. 

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