Online Community Skills, Knowledge, and Tactics

September 17, 2012Comments Off on Online Community Skills, Knowledge, and Tactics

There aren't that many proven community building tactics

You can learn them all with relative ease. 

The challenge is when you use them and how you use them. The when requires knowledge. The how requires skill. 


When (knowledge)

You need to undertake the right tactics at the right time. This requires knowledge of community development. A community in different stages of the lifecycle requires different things. 

You would be foolish to individually invite members to a maturity community of 50,000 members. That's not a great use of your time. You would be equally foolish to try to secure promotional coverage for a newly launched community. That's not how communities begin.

You need to be fussy about which tactics you use and make sure you select the right ones for where your community is in the lifecycle. 

Fortunately, this is getting easier. You have a strategy template here, the community development process here, and a more detailed explanation here. Using these three, you should be equipped to use the right tactics at the right time.


How (skill)

This is the bit that requires skill. 

If the tactics is to individually invite members, then you need to be very good at contacting people and persuading them to join and participate in the community. This is not easy, even with a clear process. You have to be able to open discussions with strangers and convert them into ongoing relationships that benefit your community.

If you had a list of 100 customers right now, how many could you convert into founding members of an online community? 

This is one skill of many. Organizing successful events/activities is a skill, growing the community is a skill, knowing how to effectively initiate discussions that sustain high levels of engagement is a skill, project management is a skill, building effective processes to manage the community is a skill.

Like all skills, these need work. You need to practice them. You need to test different approaches, different ideas, and read up on each of these fields. You learn what tends to get people to open an e-mail, read the e-mail, respond to it. You learn when to ask for something that benefits you. You get a natural empathy for the situation. 


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