Month: December 2016

What’s Happening In The Community Platform Market?

December 22, 2016 Comments Off on What’s Happening In The Community Platform Market?

IDC released their report on the community platform market.

Read it for free here: (Via Rachel)

…and then enjoy a great Christmas and New Year.

Using Existing Traffic As A Proxy Metric

December 21, 2016 Comments Off on Using Existing Traffic As A Proxy Metric

Many people we speak with have either no idea of how fast the community will grow or a completely unrealistic idea of the rate of growth.

You might not be sure how many members will join your community when you launch, but you can put together an approximate guess.

You just need a few useful metrics:

  1. Unique clicks on most and least clicked-through tabs on the site (average monthly website traffic is a good proxy too)
  2. Number of mailing list subscribers.
  3. Average click-through rates to mailing list emails.

Now assuming you create a tab for the community on the site and promote the community through your mailing list, you can combine the traffic for each (between high and low estimates for tab-traffic) to put together a rough estimate of people that will reach the community landing page.

Now assume a 50% overlap between the two and cut the number by half. Then assume only 10% of those will click to register. Then only 50% of those will complete the registration process.

Your end number is your one-month benchmark. This number is often far less than most people imagine.

After the initial launch, you can usually assume a rate of growth consistent with the sustainable click-through rate on your site. Your rate of growth should speed up over time due to search and referral traffic – as per the community lifecycle.

The ‘One-Off’ Initiatives

December 20, 2016 Comments Off on The ‘One-Off’ Initiatives

Distinguish carefully between a one-off activity that spikes a particular type of engagement and a long-term process.

There is no shortage of one-off activities which will spike activity for a short amount of time. Discussions about politics, designed lurker days, and many off-topic discussions can spike engagement for a short amount of time.

But looking for spikes isn’t a strategic approach to achieve success over the long-term.

The novelty quickly wears off. Metrics return to what they were before. You’re still left facing the same problems. If you can’t run the same activity every week, you have to wonder if it’s worth running the activity at all.

A big win is different. A big win is a change in processes (i.e. how you approach tasks and allocate time) that achieves a very different outcome. A big win often begins from the mindset of ‘what can we collectively work towards that will benefit us the most?’

Building a definitive knowledge base for your field can be a big win, hosting a secret Santa is a big spike.

Sometimes you need a spike to blow-off steam and remind members you exist. Most of the time, however, you should be working towards the biggest possible benefit for your community’s collective energy.

Using Trending Topics / Discussions Within An Online Community

December 19, 2016 Comments Off on Using Trending Topics / Discussions Within An Online Community

If you wake up in the morning and 3 people have mentioned an issue that has arisen before, that’s a sign.

It’s a sign a lot more are about to ask the same question.

Make this a trending topic. Provide regular live updates on how you’re taking action. Make sure this appears at the top of your community.

This is one of the places where a community can really excel. You can use a single discussion thread to identify a new problem, collate the impacts of the issue from various people, let key product people know about the issue (with a link to the discussion), test and cultivate different solutions, then publish the solution to everyone who participated in the discussion.

Crucially, add any new updates by replying to the discussion (to update previous participants) and editing ‘updates’ to the original post too for newcomers to get the latest information without wading through the rest.

There are some places where a support community can really shine. This is one of them.

My Boss Won’t Let Me Is The Best Cop Out

It’s too easy to say “my boss won’t let me”.

It lets you hide from any risk or responsibility.

It lets you tell your buddies; this would’ve been great, if only…

It lets you believe you are great without having to prove it.

I’m often amazed by how many community pros walk away from great companies because they didn’t get everything they demanded.

Are there many organizations that will give a new employee everything they demand? I doubt it.

I have a friend onto his 3rd company within 14 months. Each time he walked away within 3 months claiming “my boss wouldn’t let me do {x}, so I quit”.

You can keep jumping from one organization to the next if you like. You might even get lucky and find the one boss in a thousand who will cede such control to you upon demands. But we can agree it’s unlikely and no way to build a career.

The other option is to confront the two impossible choices.

1) You can get used to doing things without asking. If it works, you’re a hero. If it fails, it’s your head (maybe). You take all the risk and you get the reward if it works.

2) You can learn to get your boss’ support. This is harder. You need to get good at building relationships, learn what your boss needs and solve her problems first. You need to build a reputation for executing on what you say, build a decent case, and drive an emotional narrative.

Neither option is easy. The easy thing is to walk away and start again somewhere else.

Ultimately you’re going to need to decide which of these two options matters most to you. You need to decide how you’re going to act when your request gets turned down. Are you going to put everything on the line to do something great or muddle on through? Are you going to walk away from your community when things get hard or fight for your community?

You’re not going to find a boss that will hand you a blank check. Time for plan B.

Every New Question Asked in An Online Community Should Have Its Own Thread

Why not just have a single thread and let everyone ask questions there?

This is an approach pioneered by Sephora (3000+ responses to this thread and counting).

But if anyone searches on Google for any of these topics, will they land on this thread?

If the top contributors want to easily find unanswered questions to answer, do they want to wade to the end of 3k+ responses?

It’s hard to merge common discussions into a single, definitive, thread you can regularly update as new information comes to light.

If management want reports on which topics are most popular, which problems are most pressing, what terminology people are using, it becomes far harder to pull this data from 3k+ responses.

Reducing the number of threads is rarely the real problem. The real problem is developing a workflow that will efficiently let you respond to each question, update old questions with new information, merge similar questions, and gather insights from these questions. Focus on that.

The Strategic Community Mindset

December 15, 2016 Comments Off on The Strategic Community Mindset

We tested our Strategic Community Management course (price rising tonight) with 20 community professionals from the FeverBee Experts community.

We told them to focus on practicality. Could they apply the material to their own work?

Practicality is key.

Most strategic advice, for example, begins with “list your community goal/purpose”.

This advice wouldn’t cut it with any organization we’ve ever worked with.

Consider the obvious questions this simple task provokes:

  • How do you know the goal of the community?
  • Who decides what the goal of the community is? Is it you? Your boss? Your CEO?
  • What if people within the organization disagree about the goal?
  • What if the community goal is vague? Does it have to be connected to the ROI? What if you can’t connect it?
  • What if the community has no goal and was set up a while ago on a whim and is now really popular? (very common!).
  • Should a goal be something short-term and achievable or long-term and ambitious?
  • Should a community have one goal or multiple goals? What if you focus on one at the expense of others?
  • If you have multiple goals, how do you prioritize them? Does this change the community?
  • How do you even get the meetings with the right people to discuss these goals?
  • Will asking about goals now make you seem like you don’t know what you’re doing all this time?
  • What is the risk tolerance or acceptable timeline to achieve that goal?

Instead of simplistic advice we give course participants a template of 50 specific questions we’ve used in the past and provide contextual advice about how to uncover the goals of their community as part of a process.

You can see a snippet of this below (or click here):


Get support by asking these questions

Get support by asking these questions


The Strategic Mindset

Get really granular and really practical.

Your approach to uncovering community goals will determine the level of support you get.

Do they think of you as the community person who does the fun engagement stuff on the internet? Or are you a trusted consultant who is going to help them achieve their targets in the most cost-efficient way possible?

Imagine instead of listing goals on a whim, you took the time instead to identify and build relationships with senior stakeholders. Imagine you asked deep, probing, questions to uncover their goals. Imagine you collaborated with stakeholders on a basic plan you would execute. Imagine you kept them updated on progress towards their goals using their language and you stopped sending through engagement reports.

Now you’re no longer the person that talks to people on the internet. Now you’re their trusted consultant to achieve their goals in the most efficient way possible.

And it’s never too late to begin doing this.


Final Course Promo – Prices Rise Tonight

The Strategic Community Management course isn’t just about putting a community strategy together.

The course is about applying a strategic mindset to everything that you do.

That strategic mindset means:

  • Building relationships and becoming a collaborative partner to your stakeholders (not listening to your goals on a whim).
  • Only pursuing and reporting on outcomes of the community, not engagement metrics to become a respected advisor.
  • Identifying your biggest wins and cutting out activities which don’t help you get to those big wins.
  • Benchmarking your community against dozens just like yours to find the outliers you can get inspiration from and determine what is realistically achievable within specific time-frames.
  • Treating your community as distinct groups with unique needs and satisfying each of those needs with specific steps.
  • Being able to measure and prioritize different tactics to achieve your goals.
  • Building a measurement dashboard designed for your community and not relying upon Google Analytics.

These are exactly the skills we want you to acquire and be able to apply from this course.


Strategic Community Management Course Details:

The course will require 1 to 2 hours of your time each week. We’re not going to overwhelm you with thousands of words to read.

Instead, we’re going to pinpoint and focus on the key strategic wins above.

The goal is strictly quality over quantity. This includes:

  • 20 professionally filmed lessons.
  • 6+ guided sessions that begin in January. All sessions are recorded for you to watch at times convenient to you.
  • Personal coaching time with FeverBee consultants.
  • A Private community for course participants.
  • Template strategy and planning docs.
  • Template stakeholder documents.
  • Access to a list of 1500+ online communities for benchmarking.
  • A Comprehensive table of tactics aligned to specific goals (270+ tactics and rising).

The fee for this course is $685 until tonight. Group rates available.

Mirroring The Words Of Your Members

December 13, 2016 Comments Off on Mirroring The Words Of Your Members

Simple tip.

If you want someone to respond more positively, use their language.

It can be overwhelming to respond to 100+ questions per day. Especially when the majority of questions fall within a minority of topics. The temptation is to develop a standard response to these questions. These responses are accurate and require the least amount of time and mental energy.

The better you get at this the more you resemble a customer service rep than a professional community manager. That’s not a good experience for the member who wants a personalized response.

You can aspire to be more than this. You can aspire to make each individual feel they were listened to, that they had an impact, that they are not alone, and they are dealing with real people.

A great tip here is to mirror the exact words a member uses back to them in each response.

If a member refers to something as a software problem, a bug, problem, flaw, broken, not working, a glitch, an error, a fault etc…use that phrase back to them. Even if it’s to assure the member it’s not.

e.g. “I don’t think this is a software glitch, I think it’s more likely…”

Once you begin mirroring the words of members, they begin to feel they are getting a unique, personalized, non-robotic experience.

What Is A Customer Support Community For?

December 12, 2016 Comments Off on What Is A Customer Support Community For?

No-one saw the contradiction.

Closing your community down at the exact moment when people are most likely to begin using your products is nuts.

Closing your customer support line at the same time is even worse.

Ultimately, what is a customer support community for?

Is it for handling customer queries that slip through the usual customer service net? (perhaps non-standard problems, problems in different languages/cultures, support during out-of-hours moments?)

Or is it to handle the bulk of customer queries and leave the difficult personalized stuff to customer support? This means being as fast as direct support, ranking highly for relevant search terms, directing most people to the platform, being more accurate and communicating with greater empathy.

Pick one.

What You Can Learn From 1500+ Online Communities

December 11, 2016 Comments Off on What You Can Learn From 1500+ Online Communities

In the past few months, we’ve built up a list of every branded community we can find. We’re up to 1500+ English-speaking communities and growing (we’re excluding Facebook/LinkedIn groups etc…).

These range from the big giants in telecoms, media, and healthcare to tiny consultancies and independent retailers. We use this list to benchmark clients in almost any field.

The beauty of this list is it creates some common standards to track progress and it highlights the outliers.

For example, this is a (cropped) snap from a benchmarking report I’m putting together for a client.


That circle on the right is an outlier. We can deconstruct these outliers to see what they are doing differently and then use these insights to ensure our clients are better than anyone else in their field.

This is easy when you have 1500+ communities to work from.

If you sign up for our Strategic Community Management course, we will give you access to communities most similar to yours on this list.

You can then design your own benchmarks against competitors, identify outliers, and reverse-engineer what they’re doing to improve your community efforts.

Prices will rise by $140 this week, we hope to see you there. We hope you see you there.

p.s. Free webinar tonight on achieving your community’s big wins. Click here to sign up.

p.p.s. Last week to participate in the CMX research survey.

Bring A Smidgen Of Data To The Table

December 8, 2016 Comments Off on Bring A Smidgen Of Data To The Table

We’ve worked with several hundred organizations. Of them, only 1 had full and unrestricted access to every piece of data they needed.

The rest had to make a case with what they had.

You may not have access to Omniture, Google Analytics, or any other package that will let you gather all the data you need, but that’s no excuse for bringing no data into the meeting.

Even if you’re not asked for data, you should bring some evidence that you’re seeing success.

My advice, bring at least a smidgen of data to the table. Gather a sample of 10 to 20 members and see what they do differently once they join a community.

Does their spending increase? Do they refer others?

Can’t track it directly? ASK THEM!

You can be forgiven for missing pieces of the jigsaw. But you shouldn’t be forgiven for ignoring the puzzle altogether.

FeverBee Webinar for Community Professionals – Going For The Big Wins

December 7, 2016 Comments Off on FeverBee Webinar for Community Professionals – Going For The Big Wins

Too many community professionals spend their time engaging and participating in their community just enough to keep activity ticking over.

This is a tragic waste of the collective wisdom and energy of the community.

The connections we make in a community should enable us to create valuable artifacts which attract even more people to join and participate in the community.

We don’t need more tiny tweaks, we need big wins that get people excited about being involved in activity.

A big win gives you a sustained double-digit improvement in the metrics that matter to you.

This Monday, at 1pm Eastern Time, we’re hosting a webinar to help you focus your community efforts solely on the biggest possible wins. We want to help you move the needle.

The webinar will cover:

1) Why so many community professionals get stuck.

2) How most communities achieve phenomenal growth.

3) How to save time on tasks which don’t move the needle.

4) How to identify potential big wins.

5) How to prioritize your big wins.

6) A showcase of examples of big wins (we’re now tracking over 1300 branded online communities – more on this soon).

The webinar is completely free and it will include 15 – 20 minutes of Q&A to help you with your specific challenges.

Webinar: Click here to sign up.

Can’t make the webinar? You can see the slides embedded below:


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