January 30, 2014 Comments Off on viglink.html



As a surprise bonus, we’re also sharing a bunch of other free resources below. This includes:

I hope this helps. Don’t hesitate to e-mail [email protected] if you have any questions. 

Most Community Professionals Can Use Data Better

January 27, 2014 Comments Off on Most Community Professionals Can Use Data Better

There isn't a clear link between data we collect and actions we take. 

We recently discussed metrics in CommunityGeek. Everyone can identify metrics they measure, but no-one could explain how they use this data. 

It should work like this. You visit Google Analytics (or Omniture, or whatever) to collect specific data. You don't browse, you know exactly what you need. You drop the numbers into your model. This model has a decision point. Based upon this, you perform pre-determined actions. 

Here are a few examples.

1) 3 month decline in unique, new, visitors = more time on growth channels.  You measure the number of unique, new, visitors each month. If it begins to decline in 3 successive months, you spend less time participating in discussions and devote more time to promoting the community. This might mean creating slides of best advice, sharing case studies in external channels, or establishing sustainanable growth methods

2) 3 months of 30% visits from mobile = a mobile optimzed site. You decide that once mobile visits accounts for 30% of all visits in 3 successive months (not a blip), you will develop a mobile-optimized site. Each month you track the % of visits from mobile. Once the above condition is met, you invest in a mobile site. Again, here data directly affects actions. 

3) If new registration to contribution number > 5%, keep intervention. You made an intervention in the welcome e-mail to get more new registrations to make a post. The previous number was 5%. If this has increased, you will keep it, if it has fallen, you will try something different. 

A few important points about community measurement. 

  • Begin with a hypothesis, model, or condition that affects specific actions you take. If you don't have this, you're wasting time. 
  • Don't confuse health with ROI. Don't confuse community health metrics (growth, activity, sense of community) with the community ROI metrics (increased revenue/reduced costs). 
  • Measure what's important, not easy. What's important to measure and what's easy to measure are two different things. To measure the conversion funnel involves pulling data that spans unique visitors * unique new visitors, registrations from member database (different system), systematic sample to see how many made a contribution (manual observations). Not easy, but incredibly important.  
  • Spend only a few minutes in the analytics package. You shouldn't spend more than a few minutes in any analytics package. You're looking for numbers to drop into your model. Nothing more. The moment you begin browsing, your going to find noise, not signal. 

Here is the key question. Are you collecting data for your own vanity? Are you collecting data for your own self-validation (or self-preservation)? Or do you have an actual model and method of using the data. 

Unless you know exactly what you're going to do with data, there's no point in collecting it.  


January 6, 2014 Comments Off on Moz



As a surprise bonus, we’re also sharing a bunch of other free resources below. This includes:

I hope this helps. Don’t hesitate to e-mail [email protected] if you have any questions. 


December 16, 2013 Comments Off on GiftWorks

Thanks for listening to my webinar for GiftWorks. If you would like more information, you can download half of my book, Buzzing Communities, for free.

Buzzing Communities cuts through the fluff to offer a clear process for creating thriving online communities.

This book combines a century of proven science, dozens of real-life examples, practical tips, and trusted community-building methods.

This step-by-step guide includes a lifecycle for tracking your progress and a framework for managing your community efforts

Enter your e-mail address below to receive 50% of Buzzing Communities for free!


As a surprise bonus, we’re also sharing a bunch of other free resources below. This includes:

I hope this helps. Don’t hesitate to e-mail [email protected] if you have any questions. 

How To Harvest Value From A Community

December 9, 2013 Comments Off on How To Harvest Value From A Community

Developing a community and harvesting value from the community are two different challenges.

It's possible to develop a very successful community that struggles to generate meaningful value to the organization. Just ask Reddit

Organizations develop communities for one of these benefits. Some benefits they achieve quite naturally. Members that actively participate, build relationships, and develop a sense of community are prone to sharing knowledge, purchasing more of the product/service, and increase customer retention. 

Usually, however, you need a plan to harvest value without upsetting members. Advertising, spam, and promotional activities usually upsets members. The key is to add value and be trustworthy. 

1) Reach out to members with problems. If a member mentions a problem, ensure this is logged into a CRM system (salesforce integrates well with most platforms), and have someone from the organization personally contact them to help resolve the issue. If this is an existing customer, you will probably retain the customer. If it's not, you can make a recommendation or free trial of a product/service you sell that might resolve the problem. This works best when it is a community for the topic, not your products.

2) Develop new products/services for community members. If you can sell community membership, host events (with sponsors), merchandise, community yearbooks, or develop exclusive just for members, you create entirely new revenue streams. 

3) Exclusive offers for top members. If you let top members purchase products before others, purchase branded/limited editions of the product, share discounts with friends/colleagues, or even get exclusive information first – they're more likely to keep being a top member (and other members will attempt to reach their level). 

4) Sell the community outputs. The community is generated a huge amount of knowledge and fascinating material. Other people might pay money for this material. If you create guides, summaries, or ebooks containing the best material, other people in the topic may buy these. 

Don't be shy about harvesting value from the community. If you do it in a sincere, honest, and in a manner that adds value, it should benefit your members and your organization. 

The Power Of Creating A Strong Sense of Community

November 26, 2013 Comments Off on The Power Of Creating A Strong Sense of Community

We can agree a group of people standing in a room aren't a community. 

A community requires a psychogical connection – an understanding that they, together, are part of something. 

More than technology and interactions, we create a sense of community.

It's the most rewarding, positive, and powerful thing we do. 

We take groups of people and build a strong sense of community amongst them.

If, when looking at an activity, you ask; will this help us build a stronger sense of community?. The answer, 90% of the time, is no. You can skip these features, these problems, these activities. You can focus on the 10% of activities which actually help build a community. 

All the benefits (ROI) derived from communities is derived from creating a sense of community. If you can get the people you're targeting to feel a sense of community with one another, you're rewarded.

You're rewarded with increased propensity to share knowledge, high quanity and quality of interactions, better behaviour, increased retention, increased purchases of products. 

Better still, a strong sense of community makes everything else easier. It's easier to attract members, gain referrals, convert newcomers to regulars, sustain high levels of retention and participation. 

Yet, most don't even measure this. We don't check if the people participating in our groups actually feel a part of something. We don't check if they feel connected to one another. In fact, we rarely talk about creating a sense of community at all. 

When you create a strong sense of community, amazing things happen. 

When we're talking about a community, we're talking about the sense of community felt amongst individuals. This is what a community is. It's that psycholical feeling of being a part of something unique (and special). We need to talk more about it and engage in activities designed to increase this sense of community. 

A Simple ROI Challenge For Community Professionals

October 3, 2013 Comments Off on A Simple ROI Challenge For Community Professionals

We hosted a webinar two months ago on ROI.
A surprising number of people got this basic ROI question wrong.


  • A community entry survey of 100
    members that recently joined the community showed they spend an average of $100
    per year at the organization.
  • A survey of the same group of
    members a year later showed they spend an average of $130 per year. 
  • A survey of 100 comparable,
    non-members, showed they spend an average of $70 per year. 
  • A survey of the same 100
    non-members a year later showed they spend an average of $80 per year.
  • The community has 1750 active
  • What is the return of this
    community? (this isn’t a trick question – you only need the data above)

Try to solve it first.

The answer is below (highlight with your

$35,000  <- highlight this or copy and paste this into a notepad doc

This is a simplified exercise to highlight
a few key things when measuring the ROI of communities (especially those communities
designed to change buying habits of members).  

1)   Don’t attribute all sales
to the channel
. If your customers begin buying
through the community instead of the website, many would record this as a huge
ROI from the community. It’s not. It is just customers switching to a
convenient channel. You need to show that the spending per customer has increased. Surveys, database analysis, or
withholding works better than tracking sales through a medium. 

2)   You can’t compare buying
habits of members to non-members
. Those that join
the community are already those likely to buy more of what you sell. You have
to control for pre-existing buying habits by determining if spending increased
since joining the community.

3)   You have to control for
increased spending that would have occurred anyway
To put more simply, you have to know what increase in spending can be
attributed to the community. Imagine Apple releases a new TV. Both those in and
out of our theoretical Apple community will buy it. Yet many would show this as
increased spending since joining the community. Therefore we need to identify
what increased spending occurred amongst non-members (our control group here)
and remove this from the increase.

Using our over-simplified ROI example from
above. First we know from entry and year-later surveys how much the average spending
of members in the community has increased. It’s up from $100 to $130. An
increase of $30 per active member per year.

However, spending from non-members also
increased by $10. We can remove this from the $30 above as this is spending
likely to have occurred anyway.

We now know the spending of average members
increased by $20 which is attributable to the community. Now multiply this by
the number of active members in the community to get an annual return of

$35k per year would be VERY low for most
consumer-facing communities (it wouldn’t cover the cost of the community
manager), but this is just an example.

You can also include the same process to measure lurkers and include these in your calculations. 

ROI isn't a question we should run away from. It's a question we should run towards. 

Learning On The Job and Community Tips From Social Sciences

September 24, 2013 Comments Off on Learning On The Job and Community Tips From Social Sciences

If you have gotten value from this free blog over the years,
imagine the value you would get from a structured
Professional Community Management course

Some community professionals are against training. If they
learnt on the job, why can’t you?

Learning on the job takes a long time, you make a lot of
mistakes, and you don’t know what you’re missing. You might get by without
training, and many do, but we can agree you would be MUCH better with training.

During our course,
we show how you can use social sciences (something most community professionals
know little about) to immediately improve communities. Here are a few basic

Tip 1 –
Self-Disclosure discussions within the first interactions

You want members to participate in a self-disclosure
discussion within a matter of minutes of joining the community.

This means ensuring the post-confirmation e-mail, the first
visit, and any personal welcomes guide members to participate in these
discussions. If members participate in a self-disclosure discussion, they’re
far more likely to return and participate in further responses.

Yet, still most communities tell people to complete their
profiles first. This is a huge mistake. There is no causation from completing a
profile to becoming a regular participation in the community. There is from
self-disclosure discussions to regular participant.

By applying this, you can significantly increase the
newcomer conversion rates in communities. This is a simple piece of advice
that, once you know, you can apply to every community you ever work on. This
tip alone is incredibly valuable.

Tip 2 – Appeal to
selfish motivations

Members are rarely motivated by noble goals to share knowledge or improve the field. They’re motivated by appeals to selfish and
predictable self-interests.

Persuading members they’re experts (see labeling theory) and
their specific contributions are needed immediately increases your level of
participation. If you prime members when they join to highlight the skills,
knowledge, and resources, they have that will be useful to the community –
they’re far more likely to use them. This is known as ABCD – Asset-Based
Community Development.

Priming questions are useful for increasing activity. In any
interactions with members, you can refer to their answers to these questions.

Again, once you know this, you can use this to improve every
community you work on. You can also take this further. You can create a social
status ladder within the community by giving attention (through content,
discussions, and mentions of their names) to encourage further contributions
from those members and solicit it from other members.

Tip 3 – Embracing
Symbols Within Communities

Strong, authentic, communities share the same symbols. These
symbols are the words, ideas, images, expressions which have a unique meaning
to participants. By identifying and applying these symbols throughout your
community, you avoid the trap of the community feeling corporate/branded.

Better yet, you can increase conversion rate and levels of
activity in the community by using these symbols. Use these symbols frequently
in your content, in your copy, and name areas of the community after these

Tip 4 – Using social
value to increase activity

The quality and quantity of knowledge shared in a community
significantly increases when participants feel a strong sense of community.
Sense of community is something you can build and manipulate. Creating a strong
shared history, regular series of events, using community symbology (see
above), pushing for more ‘hardcore’ discussions and all the other specific
activities listed
can create strong sense of community.

The community where members feel a strong sense of community
are also those which last the longest, are the most active, have the highest
levels of knowledge sharing, and have the greatest return on investment.

The Incredible Value
Of Training

These are four tips from hundreds you can learn from
specific community training underpinned by social sciences. Without this
training, you might not have known one or even any of the above.

Training is a lifetime investment that both increases the
current value of your community and the future value of your community. Training
makes your existing community manager far more valuable.

There are four broad criticisms of community training. It’s
too expensive, it’s not accredited, online courses are a scam, and you learn on the job. Training is
always, ALWAYS, a bargain.

Yet training isn’t cheap. Training shouldn’t be cheap. Our
course limits the number of participants so we can focus on improving both
every participant and the specific communities they’re working on right now.
Training is for organizations that take their communities (and staff)

If you’re community isn’t where you want it to be, you need
a highly trained community professional. The spending on most communities ($40k
to $100k for staff, $5k to $500k for a platform, and plenty more in time,
opportunity, and reputational costs deserves it.

At the moment, most branded
communities fail. They ignore the basic principles of building communities and
fail. A highly trained community professional is the solution to these

A highly trained community
professional can guide you through the entire process of building a successful

We will teach you or your
team everything they need to know to be very, very, good at building successful
communities for organizations. You can see the taster videos we did on the
community membership lifecycle
, measuring
, the
different roles within a community team
, and the
community management framework

If this is what you need,
sign up for the Professional Community
Management training course

You have one week
remaining. We offer a full refund guarantee if you’re not happy (only one
participant in the course’s entire history has asked for this). You also get a
framed certificate upon completion:

RolandoBrown Certificate pic

Heather Ausmus certificate pic





July 16, 2013 Comments Off on Superfans

Michael Wu writes persuasively about the value of superfans for
achieving a remarkable ROI.

Michael’s method is to identify superfans and use
gamification, with rewards, to spur high levels of activity.

For a customer-service based channel, this might be the most
effective method to gain a positive ROI. You can find a group of people to
spend a lot of time answering questions.

To build a genuine community, I

First, the focus on the few incurs problems of perceived
. Members feel they can’t quickly break into the core group
quickly and stop participating.

Second, these communities are designed for participation
inequality. Every community has uneven participation level. However, this is a
problem to tackle not a goal to aim for. By addressing different needs of
members at each stage of the lifecycle, this can be significantly reduced. 

Third, gamification changes the motivation for participation
from intrinsic to extrinsic. Those motivated by extrinsic reasons are less
eager to participate. When the shine of gamification fades, overall
participation levels drop.

For getting a few people to answer a lot of questions, this
is a brilliant method. To sustain a thriving community, be wary.


On July 1st, Google is shutting Google Reader down.

This means we need to persuade you to take one of two actions.

1) Click here to subscribe by e-mail (best option)

2) Move your Google Readers feed to Feedly (it takes about 2             minutes)

Review Your Existing Community Plans

May 20, 2013 Comments Off on Review Your Existing Community Plans

As part of our consultancy, we spend a lot
of time reviewing a client’s existing plans for a community.

There are a variety of things we look out
for. Some we’ve listed below:


  • Do you have clear, ROI, goals?
    i.e. not likes/engagements but one of these?
  • Do you have a framework for
    measuring the health, progress, and ROI of the community? Is this framework
    logical and valid?
  • Have you set a specific time to
    collect and analyze the data you need?
  • Are your data collection methods
  • Is your community concept clear
    and based upon research you’ve undertaken?
  • Are you taking the right
    actions for your stage in the community lifecycle?


  • Do you have a plan to
    proactively grow the community?
  • Are you targeting a specific,
    segmented, group to join the community? Is your approach genuine or does it
    feel corporate?
  • If you’re just launching, do
    you know specific who to contact and have you already established relationships
    with this audience?
  • Do you have a process for
    converting a newcomer into a regular?
  • Are you inviting members to do
    something specific within the community?
  • Are you optimizing the newcomer
    to regular conversion ratio? Do you know where members are dropping out?


  • Do you have a calendar of
    discussions you plan to initiate over the next 3 months? Is this based upon
    audience research?
  • Are you highlighting and
    promoting the most popular discussions in the community?
  • Are your discussions linked to
    your events and content?
  • Do you have a process and
    criteria for removing negative members from the community?
  • Have you reviewed whether your
    community needs to concentrate or dissipate activity?


  • Have you established a weekly
    calendar of content categories?
  • Are you creating daily content
    about the community?
  • Are recruiting and making it
    easy for members to submit their own content (not just providing the means, but
    also the motivation)?
  • Does your content establish a
    social order and narrative within the community for members to follow? 

& Activities

  • Are you organizing and
    facilitating regular online activities for members? (webinars, live chats,
    challenges/quizzes etc…)
  • When will you host an offline
  • Are you documenting the results
    of previous events and publishing these somewhere?


  • Has the community manager
    chosen a path to gain influence within the community (reciprocity, likability,
    or expertise)?
  • Have you identified the top
    members of the community, is there a plan and specific time set aside to build
    relationships with these top members?
  • Is there a plan to recruit
    volunteers to help contribute guest content, undertaken community activities,
    and provide regular support?
  • Are the opinions of members
    regularly solicited?


  • Does your platform feature the
    latest activity, above the fold, on the landing page of the community?
  • Is there a clear place for
    members to interact with each other, not for the organization to interact with
    the members?
  • Is the platform easy to modify
    and update? Or will it require a lot of maintenance? Has it been used before to
    develop successful communities?
  • Is the platform open, with all
    content accessible to non-members?
  • Are there any plans to concentrate
    or dissipate the level of activity in the community?
  • Is there a community history, a
    good FAQ, and a simple registration form?


  • Does the organization understand
    what a community is, how to participate in the community, the benefits of a
    community, the time it takes to develop a community, and the resources a
    community requires?
  • Is there a full-time community
  • Are more employees than just
    the community managers participating in the community?
  • Is the community integrated
    with the product, price, place, and promotion of the organization?
  • Does the organization have the
    ability to scale the community?

All of these are important questions to
answer. You can also use our community strategy template, development process, and checklist

FeverBee’s Community Management Course

April 22, 2013 Comments Off on FeverBee’s Community Management Course

In two weeks time, we're launching our community management course

If you're just beginning your community efforts, this course will guide you through the entire process of developing a community.

We will teach you how to conceptualize a community, develop an excellent platform, get your first members, initiate activity, and reach critical mass. You can avoid the mistakes that kill most branded community efforts. 

If you have an existing community, this course will teach how how to grow that community, increase the level of participation, and increase the ROI.

Most importantly, it puts in place a clear, replicable, structure for further developing successful communities. What you learn in this course you can apply to many others. 

This course brings proven social sciences into community development. This isn't a technology course. There are plenty of them. This is a course that explains how you can apply proven social sciences to develop thriving online (and offline) communities.

In addition, the course has an esteemed alumni which includes Wikipedia, Oracle, Amazon, Autodesk, LEGO, EMC, and many others whom have given us terrific reviews

Our aim is to ensure organizations have highly trained community professionals with the right knowledge, resources, and skills to develop their communities. 

The course includes:

  • Live and recorded lessons
  • Guest speakers from throughout the industry
  • Over 100,000 words of written material
  • Our own template scripts, templates, and strategies
  • Unlimited personal coaching
  • Access to our playbook and digital library of case studies
  • Graded assignments
  • A certificate of completion

We believe this is the best course of its kind.

If you want to learn more, click here:

Challenging Community Dogma

March 19, 2013 Comments Off on Challenging Community Dogma

We need to proactively challenge community dogma with hard data.

Much of what we believe to be true, is a myth. 

I used to think the best way to hire a great community manager was to find a great community and hire the manager. I was wrong. The best way to hire a great community manager is to find someone that's incredibly passionate about the topic and train them up. 

I used to think that gamification was terrific for online communities, I was wrong. Studies show that gamification has minimal impact upon communities and could be negative in the long-term. 

I used to think that Facebook was a great platform for building communities, I was wrong. It's now impossible to reach most of your audience on Facebook, they shift the platform often, and you can't customize important newcomer journeys. 

I used to think it was possible and easy to convert many lurkers into regular members, I was wrong. The data shows that aside from a few anecdotal examples, this won't happen. People become lurkers due to a lesser interest in the topic or lack of initial engagement. The best way to tackle lurkers is to engage them in active contributions from the moment they join the community. 

I used to think it wasn't possible (or necessary) to calculate the ROI of a community, I was wrong. It's essential. If you can't prove your community helps the organization (to a financial value), it should be scrapped. 

I used to think personal welcomes were a powerful tool for converting newcomers into regulars. I was wrong. Personal welcomes don't scale, they're usually done badly, and there are far better optimization tweaks out there. 

We're better at community building because we continually test our assumptions. We go out there looking for data/studies that supports or refutes our assumptions. We change our thinking based upon the evidence.

There are a lot of sacred cows we need to challenge. How we use our time, how/why we keep people in a community happy, who we need to focus our time on, what types of platforms work, the value of community guidelines, the benefits to organizations, group influence etc…All of these have incredible scope for improvement.

But first we need to accept that much of what we think is right about communities is false. If we can't accept that, nor feel comfortable testing our assumptions and changing our minds, we're not going to advance.