Tag Archives: bill johnston

Olliance Online Community Webinar

This post originally appeared on the Olliance Group blog and is reposted here.

billdawnI am excited to announce that our first Olliance webinar will be on the topic of Online Communities: The “Secret Sauce” for Today’s Competitive Businesses. On November 17th, I will be leading a discussion about defining your online community strategy, best practices for participation, and effective community content planning.

I am delighted to be joined by Bill Johnston, Chief Community Officer at Forum One, who will be sharing some research data and insights about effective online community metrics and reporting along with extending your community using social media strategies.

Attendance is limited, so please Register Now.


Date: Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Time: 11am Pacific / 2pm Eastern
Cost: Free

More Details

Learn how top organizations are incorporating community into their strategic and tactical plans. The adoption of social networks, user forums, and message boards has never been higher, and today’s top-performing enterprises are finding ways to leverage this. The webinar will introduce you to many essential concepts:

  • defining your online community strategy
  • the right and wrong way to engage and participate in online communities
  • running an effective beta program with seeded content
  • effective content planning
  • identifying and implementing an effective metrics and reporting strategy
  • extending your community into a social media presence

Register Now

Online Community Research and Social Media Planning

As I work with clients to build online communities, I find that external community sites like Twitter and Facebook are becoming an increasingly important part of the overall online community strategy. As a result, I was excited to read the results of Bill Johnston’s recent Online Community Research Network study on this topic. The study looked at how organizations are incorpating external communities and social media sites in their online strategies. Bill posted more information about the results in his post, but here are a few of the highlights.

Twitter and Facebook are the highest priority external community sites for most organizations followed by LinkedIn. This is consistent with what I have been hearing from clients. My clients also tend to ask about YouTube and occasionally MySpace.
Each organization’s business goals for using external community sites are slightly different, but some of the most important goals included:

  • Educate and inform
  • Peer-to-peer evangelism
  • Retain customers / loyalty

The most surprising part of this research is the number of people who don’t think they need a plan for these efforts. I disagree.


It’s important to approach your external community efforts (including social media) with clear goals and some thought (i.e. plans) for how you want to approach each site and how everything fits together. The plan should include objectives along with roles and responsibilities that clearly outline who will update each site, how often, and with what content. Without good planning, your corporate presence is likely to look either disorganized and scattered or abandoned and barren.

I think this helps highlight the difference between knowing how to use communities and social media for personal pursuits and knowing how to engage in them to meet the specific objectives of an organization. I don’t have a plan for how I use social media in my personal life, but I do work with clients to help them put together strategies, plans and content roadmaps for using external online community sites. If you don’t already have a plan for your external online community engagement, you should find someone (internal or external) who has experience building corporate online community strategies and plans to help you get organized. You don’t need to spend months on the plan, and it doesn’t need to be a 100 page document, but you should have some kind of written plan.

Does your organization have a plan for your external community efforts?

Online Community Culture Research

Yet another great research report coming from Bill Johnston of ForumOne. The topic of his latest report is Online Community Culture. 75 people participated in the study, so the sample size is fairly small, but is what you would expect from a niche survey of people managing online communities.

The study found that the most important factors in establishing and maintaining a community’s culture include:

  • Quality, up-to-date content
  • Clear objective / value statement
  • Strong moderation / facilitation

My past experience managing communities leads me to agree wholeheartedly with the findings that these three factors are critical for having a healthy community culture.

  • Communities without great, relevant content tend to wither away as participants decide to spend their valuable time in communities with higher quality content. The culture gradually disintegrates as key people leave. When I have spent some extra time creating content and encouraging other people to create great content, the community activity levels and culture seemed to show improvement.
  • A clear objective / value statement for the community keeps everyone working toward the same goal. My worst experience managing communities came from an environment where there was disagreement among the top management at the company about the value and objectives for the community. It was impossible to build a community culture without a clear objective / value statement.
  • Strong moderation / facilitation helps keep the community clean and on track. Members don’t want a community full of spam or other worthless content.

I encourage you to read the entire blog post about the Online Community Culture report (or the entire report if you are one of the lucky people with a subscription). The blog contains additional data points, quotes from the survey comments, and a great analysis near the end of the post.

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts:

State of the Online Community 2008

Bill Johnston recently gave a presentation about the State of the Online Community 2008: Key Findings from the Online Community Research Network, and I encourage you to take a look at it. As you can tell from the title, the slides contain highlights and important information from his research over the past year. Here are a few of my personal favorites among his key findings:

  • Most organizations do not have a comprehensive online community strategy.
  • Marketing typically owns the community (I have some thoughts on this).
  • Community manager roles are still evolving.
  • Many communities are not meeting expectations.

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts:

Community Manager Compensation Study

I’ve mentioned before about how great it is that ForumOne does focused, relevant, and interesting research on the online community market, and their most recent report is no exception. They just released the Online Community Compensation Study results a week ago. Since I participated in the study, I was able to get a free copy of the entire report, but Bill does a great job of summarizing the key points in his blog post.

The entire study was great, but I was particularly fascinated by two pieces of information:

  • Salary ranges are all over the board
  • Women’s salaries are quite a bit less than men’s

Salary Ranges for Community Managers

I’ve always said that community manager salaries cover a broad range, but I was surprised by exactly how broad the range is. My advice to people about community manager salaries is that community managers tend to make $50,000 to $150,000 per year; however, I was really surprised that it wasn’t more of a bell curve. I was expecting to see a few people around $50k, a few people in the $100k+ range and most of the community managers in the $75k range, but the real numbers are nothing like this imagined bell curve as you can see from the graph above.

The number of people in $150k salary range compared to the other salaries was the most surprising of all; however, I expect that these people fall into two groups:

  • people in higher level strategic positions in corporate environments who head a large organization responsible for the growth and management of multiple communities.
  • community managers with name recognition or internet celebrity status working in high profile positions as community evangelists

The lower salary ranges, while I didn’t expect them, are actually less surprising. I suspect that many people volunteer their time to help manage communities for little or no salary. The lower end of the range is also likely to include people managing small communities on a part-time basis or in startups.

In general, community managers for technical communities (developers, etc.) tend to make more than end user, social communities. Salary also changes significantly depending on whether the role is really more low-end, tactical moderation or something more strategic, like building a new community or revitalizing a troubled community site. Job experience, scope, management responsibilities, location and how well known the person is can also make a big difference in the salary range as mentioned above.

Salary by Gender

Unfortunately, women are making less than men by what seems like a large margin to me. I’m not even going to speculate on why this might be true because they would just seem like the same old clichés and excuses that we’ve been using since women first entered the workforce. I’ll just say that this makes me sad.

Disclaimer: The graphs come from the research conducted by ForumOne; however, my analysis and commentary is highly speculative based on what I know of the industry, not the data in the report.

For more info

Bill does a great job of summarizing the rest of the key points along more information about the demographic breakdown in his blog post. I would also encourage you to take a look at the Online Community Report blog to learn more about the research at ForumOne. They have some very interesting studies and are doing more detailed research into online communities than any other companies I’ve found so far.

Related Fast Wonder blog posts

Marketing and Online Communities Research

Bill Johnston puts together some of the most detailed community research that I’ve seen (if you’ve seen something better, I’d love to know about it!), and his latest is a report on Marketing and Online Communities.

The study explored the current state of marketing to online communities, from the perspective of both the online community host, as well as from the perspective of the marketer.

We discovered early on in the research process that while community hosts and practitioners were willing to share their experiences, most marketers were not. At the beginning of the research I conducted several in-person interviews, it became clear that most marketing and advertising agencies have not met with great success in their community marketing efforts, and are unwilling to talk about their experiences. What limited success marketers have had is generally viewed as proprietary knowledge within the agency, and is closely guarded.

Quoted from Bill Johnston on the Online Community Report Blog

As you can see from the above quote, marketing and communities don’t always mix. Participating genuinely and talking about ideas seems to be better than pushing hard-core marketing and advertising onto the community. I’ve talked about marketing and good ways to engage with the communities many times before, so I won’t elaborate here (you can read the related posts below if you haven’t already heard my rants) 🙂

You can download and read the entire report (after a small, relatively painless registration), and decide for yourself.

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts: