Tag Archives: marshall kirkpatrick

Online Community Podcast: Dawn Foster, Marshall Kirkpatrick and Alex Williams

If you missed the discussion that Marshall Kirkpatrick, Alex H. Williams, and I had in the Blogger Pavilion at the Business Leader NW conference yesterday, you can still listen to the conversation thanks to Luke Lefner of Broken Hours. You can visit his blog post about the discussion to learn more.

Podcast: Download

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts:

Community Manager / Social Media Jobs are Still Hot

ReadWriteWeb’s Jobwire site has been keeping up with who is being hired, while many other sites are focused on layoffs and the downturn. It’s exciting to see them publish their numbers showing that people are still hiring community managers and social media specialists.

I’ve been seeing a similar trend anecdotaly, and so far at least, I’m still getting clients who want me to consult with them to help build online communities, new blogs, or improve their social media presence.

They have some other data available in their full post, which you should take the time to read. It’s just nice to see a little good news about people getting jobs now and then.

ReadWriteWeb's Seven Social Media Consultants

Wow. I’m honored to have made Marshall’s list of Seven Social Media Consultants That Deliver Tangible Value on ReadWriteWeb today:

In this post we highlight seven social media consultants that consistently bring tangible value to the table. These folks aren’t full of hot air – they use their blogs to offer clear examples, links, tutorials and other resources you can put to use. If the goods you can see for free are so solid, that’s all the more reason to investigate paying for these peoples’ services.

The full list includes:

Specifically, here is Marshall’s assessment of my consulting practice (good and bad):

Dawn Foster is a relatively new entrant into the consulting world but her blog Fast Wonder is already pumping out the usable information and tools.

She’s built an enthusiastic community of supporters by delivering things like Brand Dashboards, Yahoo! Pipes and RSS Hacks and a review of a recent Community Manager compensation study.

While Foster’s work with research and tools is exciting, we feel less inspired by the parts of her discourse that are short on detailed examples. Her years of experience at Jive Software, Compiere and Intel are clearly helpful in consulting but we hope that with more consulting experience she’ll be able to offer a wider variety of examples to back up the advice she gives.

For a new consultancy, though, Fast Wonder is quickly gathering value through work with bleeding edge projects like the pseudo-stealth location-based social network Shizzow.

I’m OK with this assessment. I launched my consulting practice less than three months ago, so I think the criticism of needing more examples is fair. I’ve been working with communities in one form or another since around 2001 starting with open source communities on behalf of Intel. Later I worked for Compiere and Jive, and I am currently responsible for the Shizzow community. I also do quite a bit of community work within the Portland tech community through Legion of Tech by organizing local meetups and events. While I have great examples from these activities, it is still a relatively small number of companies. On the upside, my consulting practice is really starting to take off, and I hope to be able to offer more examples over the next few months.

Again, I feel honored to be included on this list, which includes several people that I admire and whose blogs I read regularly.

Community Management in Startup Companies

Marshall Kirkpatrick has a great post today on ReadWriteWeb: Do Startup Companies Need Community Managers? He does an amazing job of getting input from a wide variety of people for stories like this one about community. He solicited our feedback via a simple Twitter post:

Thinking of writing a story about whether startups need community managers. Thoughts? Email them to marshall@readwriteweb.com to share them

The response was pretty amazing with viewpoints that were all across the board. Here was my contribution to Marshall’s question: Do Startup Companies Need Community Managers?

It depends on the startup. For startups where community is a critical element of the product or service (Twitter, open source product, etc.), I think that a community manager should be an early hire. Having someone in place and responsible for managing the community helps make sure that the company is responding to the needs of the community. Without a community manager, the frantic pace of the startup environment can mean that the community gets neglected simply because no single person is tasked with being responsible for it. This neglect could result in failure for the startup if the community is critical.

In many startups, the community manager can wear another hat, too. I worked at one startup where I was the Director of Community and Partner Programs, since partners were a big part of the community. Other logical combinations include some marketing roles, social media (blogging / podcasting), developer relations (for developer communities) or website development depending on the skills of the person in the role.

I think that each startup needs to decide exactly how critical the community is to their particular business and use that information to decide when to hire a community manager.

It was really interesting to see all of the different conflicting viewpoints throughout the article. As someone who has been working with communities for a quite a while now, I’ve learned that every community is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all method to community management. This is why community management is so hard for people to grok. There are no hard and fast rules; things change constantly; and everything depends on the situation. Whenever I give presentations or training about online communities, during the Q&A portion I inevitably find myself repeating variations of the following theme: “It depends”. Each community is different, and what is right for one community may be wrong for another.

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts: