Member engagement is a popular term these days, applied to everything from customer loyalty programs to Facebook games to political…
Happy Community Manager Appreciation Day (#CMAD)! As I sat down to write a blog post dedicated to celebrating community managers…
For the past 15 years, cocktail parties were tough. When people would ask what I do for work, my response, “I build online communities for business,” would serve as a natural repellant to further conversation. Confused or suspicious about this mysterious response, the martini-holding listener would likely divert the conversation elsewhere in short order, as they had absolutely no idea what an online community-builder is or does.
I am happy to report that my social life is getting better these days, as online communities are all the rage. There are still elements of mystery that shrouds the community-building profession – but there is also a new-found curiosity.
So, late one evening, I tried write a description of what it means to be an online community builder. And instead of developing a cohesive job description, I wound up with a pile of words. (Leave it to a community builder to approach a puzzle with a unique solution!). While my outcome most certainly does not replace the utility of a straightforward party-line, I think it will resonate will community builders worldwide who have evoked a similar suite of words at the dreaded cocktail party… when faced with the question “what do you do for a living?”
Online social predators and community bullies pervade the internet. You know the type — out there in the social sphere…
In the community world, each member is a wonderful thing! There is a reason that every single community tracks new membership numbers—it is because every member counts! So it is the community managers’ job and duty to give to their members with features that matter, content that is relevant and human connections. It is the connection aspect that differentiates an online community from a web site. After all, without active members, there is no community.
There are different reasons why people participate in online communities. Not one size of inspiration fits all online community members. People tend to respond better to appropriately designed reward stimulus. Simply put, if they get what they need online, they will be more likely to continue their participatory acts. And, as any seasoned community manager knows, without the active posters, the community is just a content shell. Post-less communities don”t serve the customer needs as well as an active community does, especially within the B2B world as engagement is a main measure of social business success. So, when designing scalable engagement programs it is critical to first typify the categories of membership into profiles or personas in order to encourage and reward them for their online visibility.
Community happens when members have found each other and have a vested interest in collaborating through content and conversation. At the end of the day, people come for content and stay for community.
Closing an online community should not be undertaken lightly. It can send a strong — but wrong — message about your business and brand to members. Keep in mind your community’s membership may include your customers, clients, brand influencers and media contacts. Closing an online community can have far-reaching ripple effects on your brand and company reputation. So approach the decision cautiously, keeping member perceptions and the brand uppermost in mind. Here are some tips and advice:
The B2B online community manager role requires many communication skills, a willingness to be a master-servant to both the customers and the organization. They are often a sole practitioner — B2B online communities are typically understaffed, so their success depends upon their ability to make and sustain connections within the community and the organization. An ability to get online and check on how things are going while on the road, before breakfast, after dinner and in the middle of the night is also a plus.