What Tasks Should Online Community Managers Prioritize?

January 31, 2011 Comments Off

Recently I mentioned you need to plan your day in advance. You can only do this if you know how to prioritize your work. Which means, you need to know what your priorities are. What is the most important work in your community?I would prioritise your work as follows:

  1. Technical problems. If the community is down, all focus should be on getting it back up asap. This is the only fire-fighting I'd accept to delay anything else.
  2. Initiate your strategy for the week. What are your long term plans for the community? What's the next step you need to take for that to happen? What events are you working on? What amazing thing are you planning for your community? What content do you need to create, discussions initiate, messages send  or who do you need to call to develop your community beyond what it is today.
  3. Draft upcoming pieces of content. Complete your upcoming content for the next few days. This might be interviews with top members, advice/opinion columns or solicit opinions from members in a summary piece. Make sure your regular scheduled content is drafted.
  4. Contact top members. Contact your top members and find out what their views are and how they're progressing with whatever they are keen to do. See how you can help them. Ask questions about things you have in mind for the community, gain their feedback and act on it. Keep your bonds with top members strong. 
  5. Community development. What events or cool projects is your community working on? What entreprenurial things are you doing in your community to push the barrier? Reach out to potential partners, try to interview a VIP, plan a future website upgrade. Do whatever is going to have a huge impact in the near future.
  6. Invite members to join the community. Reach out to 2 –  3 people you would love to join the community and invite them to join. Take time to craft your approach, personalize it
  7. Participate. Now you're ready to participate. Respond to questions. Ensure everyone is getting a response. Give your opinion on issues. Initiate discussions which you think will generate further activity and engagement.
  8. Resolve disputes. This is far down the list, as it should be. Don't let resolving disputes dominate your work. Your work is to develop your community, not merely maintain it. Always push the barrier of what you community can be. Leave petty disputes until last.
  9. Collect and analyze data. This isn't so much on a day to day basis. However, you should be spending time collecting metrics you're measuring from the community and analyzing them to develop your future strategy. 

There is far more work on the day to day managing of communities than here. Those with corporate clients have to spend time updating them with relevant facts (tip: do it after you resolve disputes). However, this should provide a good idea of where to start in your day to day work. 

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Planning

September 19, 2010Comments Off

Over-planning is bad. It create fixed objectives, misplaced expectations and inflexible strategies. Over-planning restricts growth and constricts members. It pushes members away.

Under-planning is worse. You create the website and wait for people to show up. You don’t actively target members, nor have a set plan of activities to develop the community. This doesn't work well, neither.

Most organizations either over-plan or under-plan. Most organizations fail to build successful communities.

There are some things you need to plan. Namely:

  • Who you are going to approach to join your community.
  • How you're going to approach them.
  • What you're going to say to them and why they should join
  • Is your recruitment strategy mass, micro, invitational, referral-based?
  • What activities will convert newcomers into regulars and regulars into top members.
  • What events will you do to retain interest in the community?

As a general rule, don’t plan anything that requires an action on the part of members to happen.

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