Free Video – Learn An Entirely New Way To Approach Community Management

February 11, 2012 Comments Off on Free Video – Learn An Entirely New Way To Approach Community Management

This week, I gave a webinar to 100 students on The Pillar Summit's Professional Community Management mailing list (you should join).

The webinar was designed to change the way we approach community management. 

We covered:

  • Why most community managers waste 80% of their day. 
  • A completely new approach to online community management that every community manager can embrace.
  • Proven techniques that keep people engaged and participating.
  • What you need to do at every stage of the community lifecycle. 
  • How to gain and measure the ROI of an online community. 

You can view the full video here:

The feedback we received was incredible. We hope you enjoy it. 

If you want to learn more, enroll in the Pillar Summit’s Professional Community Management course.

We have weekly live lessons, a library of case studies, 100,000+ words of written material incredible guest speakers, access to key academic journals, template scripts/documents, and unlimited access to our consultancy support. 


How To Build An Online Community: The Ultimate List Of Resources (2012)

February 2, 2012 Comments Off on How To Build An Online Community: The Ultimate List Of Resources (2012)

This is a collection of my favourite and most popular posts from the last five years. It should give you a great overview about both the strategy and the process of creating an online community from scratch.

The Online Community Basics

  1. A Primer About Successful Online Communities
  2. The 11 Fundamental Laws of Online Communities
  3. Building An Online Community: How You Start With 0 Members
  4. How Do You Build An Online Community?
  5. 7 Contrary Truths About Online Communities
  6. Don’t Start A Community For Any Of These Reasons
  7. Basics Community Building Principles
  8. What Is An Online Community?
  9. Different Types Of Communities
  10. The 4 Fundamental Things A Community Provides Its Members

Strategy & Planning

  1. The Map: A Proven Process For Developing Successful Online Communities
  2. How To Develop Your Community Management Strategy
  3. How To Write A Practical Online Community Plan
  4. Setting Objectives For Your Online Community
  5. Settings Targets For Your Online Community
  6. Starting An Online Community? First Get The Concept Right
  7. Planning For A Big Online Community?
  8. How Big Should Your Community Be?
  9. The Online Community Ecosystem
  10. Which Communities Tend To Succeed?
  11. Big Launch Syndrome: Don't Faill Victim To This
  12. Why Will People Participate In Your Online Community?
  13. Getting The Appeal Right
  14. A Simple Formula For A Successful Online Community
  15. Audience Analysis In Online Communities
  16. Base Your Online Community Around Real People
  17. How To Position Your Online Community
  18. The Importance Of Developing A Strong Community Identity
  19. Don’t Target The Wrong People
  20. How To Make An Accurate Membership Projection
  21. Naming Your Online Community
  22. 12 Ways To Doom Your Community Before You Launch
  23. A 3-month Pre-Launch Strategy
  24. The Assets Businesses Need To Develop Successful Communities
  25. Don't Dilute The Community Identity

Building An Online Community Website

  1. Test Before You Invest
  2. How To Design Your Online Community
  3. 20 Things That Should Be Included In Every Online Community Website
  4. The Perfect Landing Page
  5. 8 Overlooked Elements Every Online Community Should Have
  6. A Radical Change In Our Approach To Community Platforms
  7. Developing Forum Communities
  8. Easy Ways To Add Value To Your Online Community
  9. The Toolbox Of Community Reputation Systems
  10. A Simple Reputation System
  11. Pick An Online Community Platform That Works
  12. Stopping Human Spammers
  13. 7 Things A Community Can Live Without
  14. The Problems With Incentives
  15. A Basic Online Community Wireframe
  16. Essential Elements Of Community Platforms
  17. The Notification Cycle
  18. The Case Against Facebook As A Community Platform
  19. Using Your Real Estate: A Quick Case Study
  20. Easy -vs- Difficult -vs- Impossible: Exporting Community Data
  21. Refine or Develop?
  22. Social Density In Online Communities

Launching An Online Community

  1. 5 Things Every New Online Community Should Focus On
  2. 20 Ways To Start An Online Community
  3. Never Wait For The Website To Be Ready
  4. Seeding Your Online Community
  5. Who Are You Trying To Reach?
  6. Who Do You Need At The Beginning?
  7. How To Find Your Community’s First Members
  8. The Founder Role In Starting A New Community
  9. Create An Easy Reason To Take A Small Step
  10. How Small Businesses can Launch Successful Online Communities
  11. Simple Steps To Creating An Online Community

Converting Newcomers Into Regulars

  1. How To Convert Newcomers Into Regular Members Of Your Online Community
  2. The Ultimate Welcome For Your Online Community’s Newcomers
  3. How To Keep Newcomers Hooked For 21 days
  4. Awesome Questions To Ask New Members Of Your Online Community
  5. Which Visitors Are Most Likely To Become Regulars?
  6. Create A Welcome Pack
  7. The Online Community Joining Process
  8. Optimize That First Contribution
  9. How To Help Members Overcome Their Fear Of Initiating Discussions

Growing Your Online Community

  1. Why People Aren’t Joining Your Online Community
  2. Create A Criteria
  3. Types Of Community Growth
  4. How To Get More People To Join Your Online Community
  5. Basic Tactics To Grow Your Online Community Without Any Promotion
  6. Target Clusters Of People At A Time
  7. How To Get Members To Invite Their Friends
  8. 3 Perfectly Acceptable Ways To Invite Someone To Join Your Online Community
  9. Growing From A Social Media Following To Small Groups
  10. How To Persuade Your Employees To Join Your Online Community
  11. How To Get The Best People To Join Your Online Community
  12. The Right And Wrong Way To Grow A Forum
  13. The Problem With Asking Members To Invite Friends
  14. A Free Invite With Every Purchase
  15. How To Convert Existing Contacts Into Active Community Members

Increasing Participation

  1. Why People Join And Participate In Online Communities
  2. A Brief Guide To Reaching Unbelievably High Levels Of Participation In Your Online Community
  3. Increasing Activity And Participation In A Community
  4. Creating A Sense Of Community
  5. Sustaining Long Term Participation In An Online Community
  6. The Basics Of Increasing Interactions In Any Online Community
  7. Why Members Participate: Fame, Money, Sex, Power
  8. A Few Quick And Simple Tips To Boost Activity In Your Online Community
  9. 4 Types Of Contributions You Want Your Members To Make
  10. The Only Way To Keep Everyone Active
  11. 20 Questions which Will Stimulate Activity In Your Online Community
  12. 7 Kinds Of Conversations That Always Stimulate Activity
  13. Concentrate Activity
  14. How To Find New Discussion Ideas For Your Online Community
  15. Simple Tactics To Encourage Your Members To Talk More
  16. 10 Simple Ideas To Increase Activity In Your Community
  17. 9 Ideas To Revive Your Stale Online Community
  18. Sense Of Ownership
  19. When You Have Lots Of Members But No Activity
  20. Epic Events
  21. How To Find Major Issues To Boost Activity And Unite Your Community
  22. Why People Stay In Your Online Community
  23. Create A Guide To Be A Top Member
  24. Trade Control For Participation
  25. What You Can Do To Make Your Community More Fun
  26. 8 Ways To Encourage Individual Contributions In Your Community
  27. The Benefits Of Off-Topic Conversations
  28. Open -vs- Closed Questions
  29. A Simple Way To Stimulate Interesting Discussions
  30. How To Make Your Online Community More Responsive

Managing an Online Community

  1. The 10 Principles Of Professional Community Management
  2. Building An Online Community Team: The 5 Roles You Must Fill
  3. High Value Community Management
  4. What Tasks Should Online Community Managers Prioritize?
  5. Community Management: Planning The Week
  6. Moderation Strategy
  7. Interact With Your Community Like A Human Being
  8. Attaining Power And Influence
  9. Hierarchy Of Communicating With Your Members
  10. Uniting Your Online Community: Creating Strong Ties
  11. The Art Of Forging Strong Friendships
  12. How To Subtly Influence Members Of Your Online Community
  13. How Many People Can You Really Look After?
  14. Creating Momentum
  15. The Personality Of Community Managers: A Few Tips
  16. A Brief Guide To Building Relationships With Your Top Members
  17. 10 Excellent Rewards You Can Offer Members
  18. Creating Titles For Members
  19. How To Use Transferrable Elements To Develop A Strong Sense of Community
  20. The Unlimited Supply Of Important Work You Need To Do
  21. The Small Simple Processes Which Make The Biggest Difference To Your Community
  22. How To Handle Troublemakers
  23. Finding Inspiration In Other Communities
  24. Reorganizing Your Forum
  25. Allocating Your Time As The Community Grows
  26. The Status Dilemma: Don't Bite The Hook
  27. 11 Processes For Scaling Online Communities
  28. Huge Online Communities: What Do You Work On Next?
  29. Resolving Problems
  30. Building Strong Relationships Between Members: A Few Practical Steps
  31. Removing A Provocating Member
  32. Why Fights Are So Important
  33. A Guide To Rewarding Members Of Your Community
  34. Never Reward Your Volunteers
  35. Community Guidelines
  36. The 24-Hour Response Rule
  37. 14 Events You Can Organize And Celebrate In Your Online Community
  38. What Would A Passionate Community Manager Do?
  39. Link Your Community Management Activities
  40. Member Lifetime Value


  1. The Secret To Awesome Content
  2. Converting Traditional Content Into Community Content
  3. Information Needs And Why Content-Driven Community Strategies Are Flawed
  4. The Problem With Great Content
  5. Writing Content That Bonds Your Online Community
  6. 20 Fantastic Content Ideas For Your Online Community
  7. The Power Of Exclusives
  8. Interviewing Members
  9. Every Online Community Needs A Local Newspaper
  10. An Online Community Newsletter Clinic


  1. Measuring An Online Community: Master Your Data To Gain An Unfair Advantage
  2. Measuring The ROI Of Online Communities
  3. Community Health Index
  4. Ace The Community ROI Question
  5. What Matters (and what doesn’t)
  6. This Wasn’t Part Of The Plan
  7. How To Check Your Community builder Is Doing As Promised
  8. A Faith Challenge
  9. Measuring DIY
  10. Proving Benefits Of Building A Community
  11. Me And You, Them And Us
  12. How To Spot Your Community Is In Trouble: 8 Red Flags
  13. The Huge ROI Of Small, Exclusive, B2B Communities


  1. The Definitive Guide To Monetizing Your Community
  2. Becoming A Community Intrapreneur
  3. 40 Ways To Make Money From Your Online Community
  4. The Pros And Cons Of Charging For Membership
  5. Community Souvenirs
  6. How To Give Sponsors Access To Your Online Community
  7. Integrating Your Community With Your Business

Branded Online Communities

  1. Never Let Your Company Start An Online Community
  2. 10 Things Organizations Should Be Comfortable With When They Launch A Community
  3. 12 Steps For Successful Online Communities
  4. Brands Must Use Their Unfair Advantage To Build Successful Communities
  5. A Case Study Of A Branded Onine Community
  6. Why Most Online Communities Shouldn’t Try To Create A Community
  7. Why Branded Communities Fail
  8. 6 Huge Advantages Big Organizations Have Over Amateur Community Builders
  9. A Requirement For Branded Online Communities
  10. Brands: Get The Benefits You Want Without Upsetting Members
  11. Common Branded Community Mistakes
  12. The Choice Most Brands Don't Know They Have
  13. The 2 Most Common Reasons Why Branded Communities Fail
  14. Decide Between These 2 Types Of Communities
  15. How Do Online Communities Make Your Business Money?
  16. Why Amateurs Build Better Online Communities Than Businesses
  17. Failed Corporate Communities
  18. Your Dream Online Community

Non-profits and Online Communities

  1. Fundraising From Online Communities
  2. What Non-Profits Need To Change


  1. The Slow And Steady Evolution Of A Successful Online Community
  2. 15 Examples Of Successful Online Communities
  3. 15 Ideas You Can Steal From The UK’s Best Community
  4. You Can Learn A Lot From This Wildly Successful Community
  5. The Best Online Community You Can Begin Today
  6. Case Study: How To Improve A Recently Launched Community
  7. Perhaps The Best Online Community I’ve Seen
  8. What Is A 'Successful' Community?
  9. The Genius Of Kotex's Community
  10. 10 Examples Of Great Online Communities
  11. A Great Example Of An Online Community
  12. Never Hire A Marketing Agency To Build Your Online Community
  13. A Great Example Of An Online Community
  14. Hampton People
  15. A Great Examples Of Game Mechanics In Online Communities
  16. The Usual Errors From The Big Brands
  17. Importants Lessons From A Failed Online Community
  18. A Lesson In Successful Communities
  19. The Evolution Of A Big Community Launch
  20. Stories, Clicks, and Relationships: The Sad Story of MetroTwin


  1. A Simple Example Of A Great Online Community
  2. 8 Brilliant Posts About Online Communities
  3. Essential Reading For Online Community Managers
  4. Forrester Wave Report


  1. How To Improve Any Online Community Without Spending A Penny
  2. Great Findings From Social Sciences Applied To Online Communities
  3. Creating A Community From Your Social Media Efforts
  4. The One Essential Task For Newly Hired Community Managers
  5. Rethinking How We Hire Community Managers
  6. The 7 Most Likely Ways Your Online Community Will End
  7. Struggling To Build An Online Community? Try This Easier Approach
  8. The Easiest Solutions To Your Community’s Biggest Problems
  9. 10 Steps To Building An Online Community In Your Spare Time
  10. 8 Ways To Merge Your Online Community With The Real World
  11. How To Revive Your Local Community
  12. How To Create Exclusive Online Communities
  13. 6 Social Psychology Hacks For Online Community Managers
  14. 5 Features Of Really Strong Online Communities You Can Embrace
  15. Searching For Online Communities
  16. The One Book Every Community Manager Should Read
  17. Rules For Growing A Group Of Insiders In Your Community
  18. Community Awards 2010
  19. Beyond Your Website
  20. What's Wrong With Community Management?

Reports & eBooks

  1. The 2011 State of Community Management Report
  2. Howard Reingold – The Virtual Community
  3. The State of Online Branded Communities
  4. The ROI of online customer service communities
  5. The Forrester Wave Report
  6. eModeration White Paper – Communities of Purpose
  7. Deloitte – 2009 Tribalization of Business Study
  8. Lithium – Community Health Index
  9. Radian6 – Building & Sustaining Brand Communities
  10. Jono Bacon – The Art of The Community
  11. Forrester – The ROI Online Support Communities

Websites & Assocations

  1. The Community Backchannel
  2. The Community Roundtable
  3. The OC Report
  4. e-Mint
  5. Facebook Community Manager Group
  6. Community Builders
  7. The Community Manager
  8. Online Community Managers
  9. The Community Management Group


  1. Alison Michalk
  2. Amy Sample Ward
  3. Angela Connor
  4. Blaise Grimes-Viort
  5. Community Roundtable
  6. Connie Benson
  7. Dawn Foster
  8. Dave Cayem
  9. Debra Askanase
  10. eModeration
  11. Eric Foster
  12. Holly Seddon
  13. Jake Mckee
  14. Jeremiah Owyang
  15. Jono Bacon
  16. Judi Huck
  17. Kirsten Wagenaar
  18. Laurel Papworth
  19. Lauren Klein
  20. Mario Ogneva
  21. Martin Reed
  22. Matt Rhodes
  23. Michael Norton
  24. Patrick O’Keefe
  25. Phil Wride
  26. Rachael Happe
  27. Sue on the web
  28. Ted & Rosie O'Neil
  29. UX Booth
  30. Vanessa Dimauro
  31. Vanessa Paech

Academic articles

  1. McMillan and Chavis (1985) Sense of Community
  2. Robin Hamman (1997)- Introduction to Virtual Communities Research and Cybersociology Magazine Issue Two
  3. Moore and Serva (2007) Understanding Member Motivation for Contributing to Different Types of Virtual Communities: A Proposed Framework,
  4. Williams and Cothrel (2004), Four smart ways to run online communities (Sloan Management Review, 2000)
  5. Bughin & Zeisser, (2001) The Marketing Scale Effectiveness of Virtual Communities
  6. Iriberri and Leroy (2009) A Life-Cycle Perspective on Online Community Success
  7. Ridings and Gefen (2004) Virtual Community Attraction: Why People Hang Out Online, JCMC 10 (1), Article 4
  8. Ardichvili, Page and Wentling (2003) Motivation and barriers to participation in Virtual knowledge-sharing communities of practice, Journal of Knowledge Management, 2003; 7,1
  9. Wang and Fesenmaier (2003) Understanding the Motivation of Contribution in Online Communities: An Empirical Investigation of an Online Travel Community, Electronic Markets, Vol 13, No 1.
  10. Sugiyama and Rothaermel (2001) Virtual internet communities and commercial success: individual and community-level theory grounded in the atypical case of, Journal of Management 27
  11. Sangwan , S (2005) Virtual community success: A uses and gratifications perspective
  12. Andrews, D.C (2002) Audience-specific online community design, Communications of the ACM, Vol 45, N. 4 
  13. Barab, S.A, MaKinster, J.G, Scheckler, R. (xxxx) Designing System Dualities: Characterizing An Online Professional Development Community 
  14. Baym, N.K. (2007) The new shape of online community: The example of Swedish independent music fandom, First Monday, Volume 12, Number 8 – 6 
  15. Stanoevska-Slabeva, K. (2002) Towards a Community-Orientated Design of Internet Platforms
  16. Arnold, Y. Leimeister, J.L, Krcmar, H. (2003) CoPEP: A Development Process Model for Community Platforms for Cancer Patients, Community platform engineering process
  17. Porter, C.E. (2004) A Typology of Virtual Communities: A Multi-Disciplinary Foundation for Future Research, Journal of Computer-mediated Communication, Vol, 10. No. 1.


If you like these resources, be sure to sign up for our training courses. Learn how to develop and manage a thriving online community for your organization. 

The Huge ROI Of Small, Exclusive, B2B Communities

January 31, 2012 Comments Off on The Huge ROI Of Small, Exclusive, B2B Communities

One client is in the early stages of community development.

It's a highly specialized community. It targets people within a niche, of a niche, of a niche. The total target audience is no more than a few hundred people. 

Why bother with a community that targets a few hundred people?

Because these are the few hundred people that matter. They are the people whom make buying decisions, give proper feedback, and use the products/services. 

Individuals in these communities can each be worth six to seven figures in revenue. This tiny, exclusive, community that no-one will know about (that's by choice), can generate a greater ROI than the likes of Dell, Best Buy, and most of the communities you've heard about. 

Whilst it might be the huge, customer-facing, communities that get all the attention. I suspect it's the small, exclusive, communities that generate the bigger ROI.

Registration is now open for The Pillar Summit's Professional Community Management course. This is an advanced, online, course which will equip you with the skills, knowledge and resources to be a world-class community manager. Click here for more information.

Learn The Skills, Knowledge, and Resources Of World Class Community Managers

January 30, 2012 Comments Off on Learn The Skills, Knowledge, and Resources Of World Class Community Managers

Over the the past decade, we've developed and refined a process for developing successful online communities for clients. 

We identified where clients are in their community efforts and then provide them with the skills, knowledge, and resources they need to progress their community further. 

Usually, this meant the client had an idea for the community but didn't know how to implement it. So we explained what they needed to do at each stage.We developed their strategy and community platform in line with best practices. We ensured they didn't make the mistakes many brands make. We gave them our proven scripts, templates and guides. And we trained their staff. 


The problem with consultancy

Unfortunately, this is time intensive. We can only take on a handful of clients a year and not every organization can afford our time.

So last year we wrapped our entire approach up into a course organizations could take. 

The course was the most advanced of its kind.

It's intensive, fully online, and highly practical. It delivers hands-on coaching, refers to over 100 case studies and just under 300 references to peer-reviewed material. We teach students how to develop communities and how to apply this knowledge specifically to their own community efforts.

We've run the course twice now and been blown away by both the demand, quality of participants, and results achieves by our participants. 

So we're very happy to run the course again this year.

We have opened registration for The Pillar Summit's Professional Community Management course. You can download the prospectus here:


(only read on if you want more information about the course)


The Pillar Summit Course

The Pillar Summit is comprises of 3 modules:

1) How to start an online community. This takes the participant from conception (just coming up with the idea of a community) through to critical mass (when the community has reached the stage where growth/activity have come self-sustaining)

2)  Successful Community Management. This is our flagship module. This covers how to manage an active online community. Specifically, it explains how to grow a community, moderate a community, build relationships, what types of content to create and how to sustain high levels of activity amongst members.

3) Advanced community strategy. This module covers scaling a community, how to develop and executive a community strategy, measurement, metrics and gaining a positive ROI. We also go deep into community and group theory. 


During this course you will learn how to: 

  • Develop any community concept from scratch to critical mass.
  • Identify the resources your organizations needs to dedicate to the community. 
  • Select and develop the best platform for your online community.
  • Ensure people join and participate in your online community.
  • Sustain high levels of engagement in your community.
  • Use advanced social-psychology, and community-psychology techniques to develop a strong sense of community amongst members.
  • Tackle common community problems such as participation inequality, disputes, low engagement, and weak growth.
  • Participate in a platform and build relationships with members in line with proven relationship-development theory.
  • Measure the community using reliable metrics.
  • Gain a clear, provable, ROI from your community efforts.
  • Train other members of your community team.


How The Pillar Summit is taught

The Pillar Summit is an online course taught through both extensive written material (over 70,000 words) and a series of live, interactive, webinars. 

Webinar lessons are scheduled twice a week (so participants around the world can participate) and recorded to ensure no participant misses a lesson. 

During lessons we explain how to apply the material to your community efforts. We outline the material, use case studies, and help you use the material to improve your community efforts. 

In addition to this lesson, we also offer a huge number of extra benefits. These include: 

  • One to one coaching. We coach participants how to tackle their community-specific issues. 
  • The Pillar Summit’s Community Management Playbook. Learn how to tackle the most community problems communities face. 
  • Proven scripts for inviting members to participate, news posts, soliciting volunteers etc…
  • Weekly live-discussions. During these discussions we tackle common problems faced by members every week.
  • The Pillar Summit's case study eBook. We provide participants with an eBook for case studies in successful community management.
  • Template strategy documents, website wireframes, content and action calendars. Drag and drop your activities into our pre-designed documents. 
  • Checklists for your community efforts. Ensure you're following best practices and are undertaking every necessary activity to develop a successful community.
  • The Pillar Summit’s Community management Bible – the full text of every lesson. We don't share this with anyone else.
  • Access to several community management journals. Access a variety of academic literature to online communities. Especially use for niche industries.
  • Guest speakers from some of the world’s top online communities. Every week, we have a live webinar featuring a community manager of a highly successful online community.
  • Open-clinic hours where you can seek help for any problems faced by your community.
  • Practical assignments. These help you apply the material learnt during the lessons directly to your community efforts.


Previous participants

Previous participants have included community managers for Oracle, Amazon, Lego, GreenPeace, Telligent, TeachFirst and a range of marketing agencies, non-profits, and associations. 

Previous participants have given the course incredible reviews


Registration for The Pillar Summit closes on Feb 19. 

If you want more information either download our prospectus at this URL: or visit

We hope to see a few of you there.  

Asset Based Community Development – Let More Members Be Involved

January 17, 2012 Comments Off on Asset Based Community Development – Let More Members Be Involved

Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) is a different approach to traditional (offline) community work from Kretzmann, McKnight and co

Traditionally, a community organizer talks to members. They identify what problems members have, summarize these and bring the community together to resolve them. There is a problem with this approach. The community is forever seen through the lens of the problem. It focuses people on the negatives, not the positives. 

ABCD is different. ABCD seeks to utilize the assets within the community. They find out what skills and resources members have. Then find ways people can use these assets to help the community. It's a more sustainable approach, it doesn't forever perceive the community through the lens of its problem.

Online we take a similar approach to community organizing. We identify a strong common interest, then bring people together to talk about it. But we tightly control it and struggle to let more people become involved.

I suggest you give members a chance to contribute their skills and resources to the community. Let members list their skills/resources in their profile. Ask your members, who are good at writing, web development, marketing or show great interpersonal skills.

It shouldn't take long to find volunteer roles for these skills, nor find members who have skills in, say, HR to use them to help community members get jobs. 

Individuals love to feel appreciated for the skills they believe they have acquired. Online or offline, people want to feel they have contributed. It makes sense then, to include ABCD within your community approach. 

It sounds like a warm, fuzzy, idea and inconsequential to getting real ROI from an organization perspective. But having a community in which hundreds of members have a genuine sense of ownership is more important than most imagine.

Upcoming Issues In Community Management

November 19, 2011 Comments Off on Upcoming Issues In Community Management

Of all the topical issues in community management, there are a few I would be pay special attention to.

  1. The blurring lines between offline and online community development. What can each learn from each other? How are they merging with each other?
  2. Legal issues in communities. What are we responsible (liable) for and what can community managers, collectively, do to ensure sensible laws or regulation is in place to protect community professionals.
  3. Establishing the ROI and justifying our own value to community managers. Engagement isn't the outcome, a clear ROI is the outcome.
  4. Proven community/social theory into community management.What is proven to work? What is the social theory that underpins our work? What can we point to and say with confidence that this is applicable to all types of communities?
  5. The convergence or fragmentation of community management and other social fields. How do we establish community management as a unique discipline within the social fields. What is a community and what is a community manager? What is their role and activities?

There may be more, but these seem pretty important to me. 

What Is A ‘Successful’ Online Community?

November 18, 2011 Comments Off on What Is A ‘Successful’ Online Community?

The ComBlu report was released yesterday.

Amongst it’s many perplexing elements was the assertion that BravoTV is a brand that gets it? Why does Bravo TV get it?

Bravo does a great job of giving consumers a ritualized experience across programming landing pages and communities. Ritualized content and experiences are an important aspect of community life, and are an important return motivator.”

You might imagine from such a statement that BravoTV’s community would be thriving.

Only it isn’t.

In fact, they struggle to get more than 10 members participating in a community at any one time. Try the boards for TopChef, Millionaire Matchmaker, What happens now, My Life On The D-List (just change the number at the end to find a variety of dying communities).

If simply posting a standardized thread each week and leaving people to their own endeavours is seen as good community management practice, what exactly is bad community management? This is community management by autopilot.

Screen shot 2011-11-17 at 19.14.46
It gets worse, BravoTV ritually abandons communities with the rise and fall of each show.

My point isn’t to demonise BravoTV so much to highlight that much of what is considered good community practice bares so little relevance to what makes a community a success.

Ritualized content and standardized platforms do nothing to help a community, they might even prevent a community from developing a unique identity.

You judge a community’s success by it’s stage in the life cycle, the number of interactions it generates, it’s members sense of community and the ROI it offers the organization. ComBlu defines success by what features the platform offers. By that assessment, nearly all of the most successful communities would be considered failures.

ComBlu credits Bravo with an array of successes which have no impact on the community’s success. Only one suggestion is offered:

[..] On our Bravo wish list? A better gamification or reputation management system.”

There are a variety of things the community needs, a better gamification system certainly isn’t one of them.

How about hiring a community manager to take responsibility for stimulating discussions, getting members to respond, sustaining high levels of activity? How about allowing off-topic discussions? How about letting members initiate their own discussions? How about interacting with members and building relationships with them? How about developing a sense of community between members?

This isn’t just limited to BravoTV. WholeFoodsMarket is struggling to sustain activity, American Express’ Top Flyer looks quiet and Business Travel ConneXion’s has had 3 participants in the last 10 days.

Throughout the report we see the communities deemed successful are very much the opposite. In many, you can’t find where members can interact. Content sites branded as communities are still content sites.

And this is the crux of the problem. Too many brands don’t care (or don’t know) if they have beautiful, if little-used, content-based sites they can call communities or if they actually have a thriving online community. It’s far easier to develop content sites. Those in the ‘community space’ know this. It requires little skill to create and publish content. You can’t really fail, it’s all about your actions.

But building a community is much more difficult (and more valuable).

We must peel back the layers of content and see if people are actually participating. We must stop classifying success/failures by what features the platform offers. We need to find a proper criteria for success and useful case studies to follow. At the moment, we appear to have little of either.

High Value Community Management

November 3, 2011 Comments Off on High Value Community Management

What can you do that an intern with a few weeks training can't do?

If you spend your time welcoming members, removing spammers, responding to comments, writing content, answering questions, resolving disputes, and tweaking the platform, then you might struggle to think of an answer.

Worse, your answer might be to proclaim that you're less likely to make mistakes

That's not good enough. 

All these tasks are important, but they're not difficult. They can easily be outsourced. They treat the community as a problem to be managed. The company just wants the community taken care of. They don't want to be bothered by it. 

So what's high-value work when it comes to developing communities?

Exactly that. High value work is developing communities.

I'd pay a premium for a community manager that can analyze where the community is now and set a direction for the future. This would include an action plan about what s/he would achieve every single week.

I'd pay a premium for a community manager that can ascertain the ROI of the community and then steadily increase it. 

I'd pay a premium for a community manager that can create and execute a defensible plan for growing the community, increasing participation and building a strong sense of community amongst members. 

I'd pay a premium for a community manager that can steadily build an internal network of support for the community, and increasingly integrate the community into the organization's activities. 

I'd pay a premium for a community managers that proactively cultivate relationships with the top 100 members of the community and those in the community's ecosystem. Can you use your earned influence to shape what members do in the community? Can you get top people in your sector to give interviews, participate in events and submit guest columns to the community on a monthly basis? Can you get media coverage for your community as often as Mumsnet does? 

There are a lot of high-value community management tasks that are incredibly valuable to a community. The key is they're all proactive and focus upon development, not maintenance. They treat the community as an asset that needs more attention and nurturing, and not a problem to be managed. 

If you came in to work today without a plan for what you want to achieve in your community this week (not actions you take, but an improvement in the state of the community), then you're probably not doing high value community management…yet.

Final Day To Join The Professional Community Management Course

October 31, 2011 Comments Off on Final Day To Join The Professional Community Management Course

Today is the final day you can sign up for The Pillar Summit's Professional Community Management course

Are you happy with your community efforts? Are you getting the value you wanted? 

For many of you, I suspect the answer will be 'no'. 

So what are you going to do about it?

If you're a community manager, you should consider taking this course if:

  • You want to know how to grow, manage and scale your online community.
  • You want to significantly boost levels of participation in your community.
  • You want to make sure you pick the best platform and have optimized every area of the platform.
  • You want to tackle any problems your community faces, such as low levels of participation or unclear ROI.
  • You want proven scripts, content templates, strategy outlines and our playbook to persuade members to join, participate and stay highly engaged.
  • You want one-on-one coaching to improve your community efforts.
  • You want to make sure you avoid the mistakes that cripple most branded communities.
  • You want to go to work in six-weeks and explain the community strategy and the resources you need from them.
  • You want to know how to measure your community and assess exactly how much it's worth?

If you're an employer, you should consider putting your community manager on this course if:

  • You want the person responsible for your biggest fans, donors or customers to be a highly trained professional.
  • You want the community to generate a real, measurable, return on your investment.
  • You want a community manager that will proactively develop the community, and increase it's value, as opposed to maintaining things the way they are.
  • You want a data-driven, highly-informed, professional who can develop and execute a realistic community strategy. 
  • You want a confident community manager that can tell you what they need and when they need it.
  • You want a community manager that can train others in growing and managing online communities.
  • You want to be sure you're following the best practices in your community efforts. 
  • You want to work from a proven template to develop further communities for your organization/clients. 
  • You want to be sure your community managers is equipped with proven principles to grow, develop and manage your community.

Course Fees

The fee for the complete 18-week course is £5000 gbp. This covers the full three modules and all associated resources. 

You may alternatively select a single 6-week module at £2300 gbp which suits your current needs and experience. 


We provide an incredible amount of value for this course.

This is the first professional community management course in the world. In addition to the course lessons which combine proven principles of social science, with technology expertise and practice strategies, we provide a community platform, proven scripts, guest speakers, one-to-one coaching, our playbook, set assignments to ensure learning and give you our rather precious Pillar Summit bible.

Finally, we offer a full money-back guarantee. If you're not happy you can request a full refund within the first five weeks. 

Your next step

If you want to take this course, you must reserve your place by October 31st. You can e-mail us to reserve your place. 

Payment must be made shortly after the course begins. We offer both 3 and 6-month payment plans for those who find a single lump-sum difficult. 

You find find more information about the course at:

If you still have doubts, here is what previous participants of the course have stated:

What other people have said about the Pillar Summit?

The Pillar Summit has been a truly valuable experience to me. The course outperformed my expectations and has sent me away fired-up with inspiration and concrete plans. I believe this will make a real difference to the value of my community." - Vanessa van Donselaar, Greenpeace

Richard's Professional Community Management course was an opportunity to go beyond daily blogs. He provided extended analysis that I could read in my own time; invaluable twice-weekly tutorials which alone were worth the course fee; and, of course, access to an online community of other community managers. I gained insight into the mechanics of community technology and the dynamics of bringing people together online, and, most importantly, how to apply this theory to the communities I run.” - Jacob Kester, Teach For All

I found that this extremely well researched course not only provided a clear understanding of the theory, but pushed to tactical application in a way that makes the material tangible to the end user. The assignments should not be viewed by community managers as additional work, but instead as a guide for executing well on their job. A community whose manager executes as spelled out in this course will certainly be well on their way to achieving world class status.”  Cecilia Edwards, Senior Vice President, Telligent

Pillar Summit exceeded my already high expectations. It gave me deeper and broader understanding on how to build and run a real “2.0 level” on-line community. Now I have a clear action plan for my start-up community. Richard was a real Pro coaching and guiding the active and interesting group with very different backgrounds. The modern way of learning gave opportunity to participate in active and deep dialogue and problem solving within the group. Real life experience & best practice sharing and common problem solving worked fine. I can really recommend Pillar Summit for those who want to reach “the next level” of their on-line community. - Jorma Lehtinen, Notium Ltd Oy

I greatly appreciated and valued participating in the Summit course. It was chocked full of great information to guide our community development from the ground up. The course provided a unique and very key realistic approach to developing a community–doing the up front planning and spade work to make it successful. I’ve found this to be largely lacking. For many it may seem a tough pill to swallow but the successful results are definitely worth it! - Laurie Maak, West Ed

We hope you will join us:

The One Essential Task For Newly Hired Community Managers

October 25, 2011 Comments Off on The One Essential Task For Newly Hired Community Managers

If you’ve just been hired for a branded community, you have one essential task.


I am dead serious about this. My first task when beginning a new community project is putting proper benchmarks in place.

By benchmarking, we mean collecting data and analyzing where your community is now. You want to know the growth figures, the participation figures, the sense of community data, and the current ROI of the community.

If you don’t have this data, you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing. How can you set a plan of action without knowing where your community is now? You’re guessing.

There are clear benefits here:

1) You establish your value. When you work for a brand, you have a cost. Your cost needs to be justified in a value basis. You need to show the progress you’ve made in a manner people can follow. You need to state how the community is doing now and where it’s going. You can showcase now only your value now but what your value will be in the future. 

2) You don’t get mired in your predecessor’s mistakes. If your predecessors haven’t done a great job, you want to draw a line under this. You want to clearly state what the problems are and focus on resolving them without being blamed for them.  

3) You can develop a realistic community strategy. If you don’t know where you are now, how can you plot a place for the community to be in the future? I have sincere concerns about any professional community manager working without appropriate benchmarks.

4) It focuses your efforts on development over maintenance. When you benchmark, and share those benchmarks, you focus upon developing your community. Most branded community managers focus on maintaining their communities, with benchmarks you (and your colleagues) will focus upon developing the community. As Peter Drucker noted, what gets measured gets managed.  

If a previous community manager has provided you data, check its validity. If you’re just starting a community, highlight what you’re going to measure now. If you’ve recently hired a professional community manager, ask them for their benchmarks.

We have a few places remaining on our Professional Community Management course. If you would like more information, click here.

The 10 Principles Of Professional Community Management

October 11, 2011 Comments Off on The 10 Principles Of Professional Community Management

We've reached the era of the professional community manager.

Those that run communities for organizations will be expected to know what they’re doing, not learn on the job.

I like Seth's definition here. Professionals have deep and broad knowledge of their sector. They know the theory behind their work. They know the case studies of success and failure. They test, measure and adapt. They work to understand what is/isn't working (and why).

In communities, professionals will be expected to excel in key skills. They will be expected to guide their organization through the community development process. They will be expected to prove their value numerically. 

Successful amateurs will still thrive, but organizations will want the reliability of the proven professionals. As part of The Pillar Summit, we have developed our 10 principles of professional community management.

We’re happy to share them:

  1. Professional Community Managers build a strong sense of community amongst a specific group of individuals.
  2. Professional Community Managers work from proven templates to develop their community through the community development process (they are proactive, not reactive).
  3. Professional Community Managers excel at building relationships both with and between members.
  4. Professional Community Managers master their data and use their data to optimize every activity and stage of the membership life-cycle. 
  5. Professional Community Managers have deep knowledge of technology, sociology, social-psychology, anthropology, network science, psychology, group dynamics and community development.  
  6. Professional Community Managers build internal and external systems to scale their communities without incurring a large financial burden.
  7. Professional Community Managers integrate the community with the organization's systems. 
  8. Professional Community Managers excel at stimulating and sustaining high levels of participation per member. 
  9. Professional Community Managers excel at conflict resolution and work from proven techniques to resolve potentially detrimental disputes.
  10. Professional Community Managers deliver a clear ROI to their employers (not fuzzy statements concerning engagement)

These 10 principles might change over the next few years, but I think we've made a good start. If you're hiring a community manager, does this sound like the type of person you would like to hire?

We opened The Pillar Summit's Professional Community management course to teach these skills, I hope you will join us

Learn To Develop A Thriving Online Community For Your Organization

October 10, 2011 Comments Off on Learn To Develop A Thriving Online Community For Your Organization

Community management needs to change. Too many branded communities are struggling when they should be thriving. Too many branded communities are good when they should be great. Too many aren't delivering the value their brands hoped for. 

Some brands are repeatedly making the same, curable, mistakes. Others need community managers who can apply advanced skills and knowledge to maximize their community's potential. We're going to change this. 

Today, I'm thrilled to open enrollment for The Pillar Summit's Professional Community Management course

The Pillar Summit is a master-class in community management. It will teach you how to grow, manage and rapidly develop your community. 

If you have ever struggled to get people to join, develop the perfect platform, sustain extremely high levels of participation, scale the community, or deliver a clear ROI, this is the perfect course for you. 

Our goal is to rapidly advance and professionalize the field of community management. Our goal is to introduce proven techniques, a broad body of cross-disciplinary knowledge and advanced skills to the industry. Our goal is to develop some of the best community managers in the world. We sincerely hope you will be one of those community managers

The last cohort included some of the best community managers in the industry, including those from Lego, GreenPeace, PatientsLikeMe and Telligent. 

Almost half the 30 places have been taken by those on the waiting list and friends/colleagues from past participants. Enrollments are offered on a first-come basis. We expect this course will be full within two weeks.

The course begins on October 31st. Click here for the full details