Are you ready for community?

When I’m asked to help a company with a community strategy, I juggle mixed reactions. I’m thrilled someone is interesting in developing community, having watched it become the most powerful asset for many companies. And I’m immediately concerned it might be for the wrong reasons (which will doom it to failure). Sadly it’s often the latter. To figure…

Silence & the value of ‘slow’ community

Sitting here watching the dramatic siege in Sydney’s Martin Place unfold with the rest of Australia and many around the world, it’s impossible to avoid the social media noise. It’s still humming. It’s speculative, occasionally hate-filled, intermittently impassioned. If you turn off your devices (and good luck with that), it follows you to the news. It’s prompted me to…

Social Media or Community?

I’ve led social media and community management for companies, hired, and worked with many social media managers and community managers. Let’s be honest – the two roles are often confused. The number of blog posts explaining the difference should be a tip-off. (I like this one, fwiw: Differentiating Between Social Media and Community Management – Rachel Happe, Community Roundtable)…

Facebook goes back to the future with Rooms

Pseudonymity in online community received a boon last week from an unlikely source. Facebook, King of ‘real name to rule them all’ culture online, launched a beta version of a new app called Rooms that lets users create a virtual chat community around any topic they want using a pseudonym – and without a Facebook…

What makes a good community manager?

Too often people hire community managers when they’re really looking for a social media marketer, an SEO specialist, or customer service officer. These can all be helpful skills for an online community manager (and are frequently expected of a community manager), but recruiting to those backgrounds is looking in the wrong place. It starts with knowing what you…

9 lessons from theatre for community pros

Before I became a community manager, I studied at Tisch School of the Arts and worked in musical theatre. I grew up a performer and still work as a choreographer. Since transitioning to a career in online community, I’ve found I draw on lessons from that former life regularly. After participating in a Google Hangout about…

Why anonymity matters in online communities

In the last decade we’ve seen a not so subtle push toward “real name” culture by online giants like Facebook and Google. These businesses monetise your data, so the more they can quantify and attribute, the richer their offering and profit margins. It’s a legitimate business model, but has nothing to do with building or managing great online communities. Anonymity…

Your community needs censorship

Communities aren’t democracies by default. They’re governed by a social rules and norms – whether publicly stated and consistently enforced, or organic and unspoken. If you want to build a successful community, you should be aiming for the middle of those two poles: A conduct framework that is relevant and real to your community members, and…

On whose terms?

Popular photo sharing network Instagram changed its privacy policy and terms of service last week, and sent the web into a tailspin with the fine print about sweeping rights claims to monetise and re-purpose people’s photos. The Instagram end game looks to be allowing companies to pay to promote themselves to your followers, using photos you took…

5 tips for community governance

I was asked for five tips on community governance by the lovely April Allen, over at Knowledge Bird. Here they are. 1. Self-moderation is a myth Some communities are proactive in regulating tone. Usually these are communities that have been around for some time, and have had a chance to establish a sense of group identity. But even…

Are you too old to be a social media manager?

The myth of the digital native has been soundly debunked, but the final nail in its coffin may well be Cathryn Sloane, unwitting poster child for the worst of Gen Y cliches. Cathryn’s post ‘Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25’ enthusiastically makes a case for its self evident title, predictably spinning up a…

10 reasons online communities are like kittens

1. Everybody wants one for a present. 2. Too many are abandoned after the infatuation wears off. 3. They need help with the basics (nourishment, safety, companionship) 4. If you forget those basics, they will cry, or bite you when you least expect it. 5. You don’t choose them, they choose you. 6. You never…