Monthly Archive for July, 2010

Community Manager Tip: Members Notice Everything

You can’t get away with hiding anything in an online community; community members will notice even the smallest things. While this is true in communities of every size, it is especially noticeable in large communities with many members. People are often under the mistaken impression that they can post something in a wiki or other content system, and as long they don’t link to it, no one will be able to find it. However, we have these things called search engines and recent changes pages where people can find everything. This is especially true now that everything seems to have an RSS feed or email notifications, since many users choose to have changes, like new web pages or wiki recent changes feeds, pushed to them to review whenever they have a few spare minutes.

This creates some interesting challenges and advantages for community managers:

  • Advantage: Posting information early, especially in a wiki, gives you a place to collaborate with others and make the document better. Don’t worry about trying to hide things – get them out in the open early, and let people help you improve.
  • Advantage: People will also notice spam quickly, and if you make it easy to report spam, you can keep the community spam free.
  • Challenge: Once the information is out there, it is public. Deleting data on the internet is a myth, since it is cached, mirrored and in RSS feeds, and removing information from your community is likely to cause more negative responses than leaving it alone.

Additional Reading

Part of a series of community manager tips blog posts.

Photo by Keven Law used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.

Blogging Elsewhere

Here is a summary of links to my posts appearing on other blogs over the past couple of weeks.

GigaOM’s WebWorkerDaily*

MeeGo*

*Disclaimers:

  • GigaOM’s WebWorkerDaily: I am a paid blogger for the GigaOM network.
  • MeeGo: I am a full-time employee at Intel and contributing to MeeGo is part of my job.

Community Manager Tip: Nagging as an Art Form

I often tell people that nagging is a big part of community management. Yes, you could call it by some other nice names, “encouraging”, “managing”, “asking”, “requesting”, but the reality is that it can seem a lot like nagging. As community managers, we stay focused on what the community needs, and this often means that we need help from others to provide information, blog posts, technical details and more.

Yes, the term nagging seems a little harsh, and this is probably more like project management, but the end result is to get people to do something without making it seem like you are nagging, so here are a few tips:

  • Provide context for what you need to help people understand why what you require is important.
  • Manage your tasks like a project with a roadmap, and give people due dates and reminders.
  • Offer to help if possible. Sometimes people are unfamiliar with community technology (blog software, wikis, mailing lists, etc.), and offering your help the first time to get them started can make them more comfortable and self-sufficient later.
  • Have backup ideas and keep in mind that not everyone will deliver on time no matter how many times you ask / nag, so it can help to plan for a little extra knowing that not everything will be ready when you wanted it.

Additional Reading

Part of a series of community manager tips blog posts.

Photo by Flickr user Elliot Brown licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Community Manager Tip: Value of Waiting

Most community managers keep a close watch on their online communities to be able to respond quickly, but really good community managers know when to respond right away and when to wait. If something is truly wrong, you should step in immediately to let people know you are working on fixing the issue, and when someone has an urgent or quick question, responding right away can help a community member get through an issue and back to being productive. However, there are many times when waiting and watching can be the best strategy.

Here are some times when you might want to wait:

  • For less urgent questions, wait to see if another community member responds. This gets more people participating and active in the community.
  • When someone is attacking and highly critical, a response from the community manager can seem defensive or self-serving. By waiting, you might find that other, more neutral community members come to your rescue. You can add more details later, if needed.
  • During controversial discussions, it can be useful to wait and let other people weigh in with opinions. If the community manager responds too early, you can shut the discussion down rather than learning where people stand.

Additional Reading

Part of a series of community manager tips blog posts.

Photo by Flickr user Vincent van der Pas used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license.

Techniques for Monitoring Online Communities: WebVisions Video

Our WebVisions panel about Techniques for Monitoring Online Communities was just released on video thanks to the wonderful team over at Strange Love Live.

I’m a little biased since I was moderating the panel, but I thought it went really well thanks to the amazing people who were part of the panel: Marshall Kirkpatrick, Justin Kistner and Nathan DiNiro. These three have some awesome tips and techniques that they shared during our session. Enjoy the 60 minute video!

Blogging Elsewhere

GigaOM’s WebWorkerDaily*

MeeGo*

*Disclaimers:

  • GigaOM’s WebWorkerDaily: I am a paid blogger for the GigaOM network.
  • MeeGo: I am a full-time employee at Intel and contributing to MeeGo is part of my job.

Community Manager Tip: More Listening, Less Talking

The balance between listening and talking is a tricky one for many community managers, especially new ones. As community managers, we get excited when people participate, but if we start to jump into every conversation or reply to every thread it can be a little overbearing and can shut the conversation down too early. I try to listen first, and respond later to give more people a chance to participate.

A few tips for finding the right balance between listening and talking:

  • If you are consistently the top contributor as the community manager, take a hard look at whether you are posting too often.
  • Wait a bit before responding (unless the request is urgent) to see if someone else wants to chime in with a response or an answer.
  • Read the entire thread before responding to make sure that you are listening to all of the various opinions, especially before making a decision that impacts the community.

Additional Reading

Part of a series of community manager tips blog posts.

Photo by Flickr user Ky used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.