Crowds vs Communities

I am giving a workshop today on building community for a brand, and I dug up my old notes from a SXSW talk I gave a while back on the difference between crowds and communities:

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Photo Credit (cc) Andrew R. Whalley

What qualities make someone a good community manager?

Got a great question today in my inbox, “what qualities make someone a good community manager?

First, I can not promote the title community manager, because I do not believe the role is to manage the community. I don’t think the title is fair to the professional or to the community.

So, I can only promote titles like,

Community Architect A product centric person who designs and creates the spaces for communities to gather in and go about their life and work together

Community Curator A content centric person who is a good story teller, and can draw out great stories and examples from the community to reflect back to itself.

Community Cultivator A person who cares about rules and procedures and knows when to break them… the person who plants questions and content, moderates conversations, and mediates relationships.

Some of the qualities necessary for these roles are:

  • Compassion – you must love people in all their shapes and cultures and proclivities
  • Empathy – able to step in the shoes and head of anyone within the community, or outside the community
  • Strong Character – able to roll with the punches, dodge attacks, and defend community guidelines
  • Decider – gotta just make decisions quickly, communicate clearly, and keep moving

I probably need to add a hundred more, but these keep floating to the top.

Community College

I had a thought the other day:

“I wonder how many college students are looking for #cmtymgmt #octribe internships? Thinking about creating “community college” =)”

I have not nailed down all the details yet, but I’m trying to live my life as a draft, so I’m thinking out loud here.

Essentially, I’m trying to collect a group of folks interested in community cultivation, but who might not have quite the amount of experience many companies are looking for. We would talk shop about community cultivation, and I would be available as a resource to both the company and the intern, but the intern would get a TON of hands on experience.

be part of folk’s lives in a meaniful way

“Ok, but, enough about me…. lets talk about what you think about me.”

Every time I hear a company, agency, or “social media guru” talk about getting something to go viral, I puke in my mouth. Just a little bit. (I won’t even get into the downside of being a virus right now.) I just wish more of these folks would use their energy and creativity to focus on being meaningful in the lives of the people they want to reach, by providing value to them.

“If there’s a formula, then you’re doing it wrong,” Glover says. “It really is a social dynamic, being part of folks’ lives in a meaningful way.”

[ via Funny or Die Relies on Social Networks and Wit in Winging Its Success | Fast Company ]

Bonus thought: The easiest way to get someone to like you, is to be interested in them.

Users Are People Too

Just ran across my new favorite #loveyourcustomer hack!

Back in the video days of Seesmic it was very easy to ‘humanize’ our users. They were real talking faces streaming down our screens all day long. I got to know many of them very well. Literally watching them laugh and cry, some at their lowest moments without hope, others during a wedding ceremony or the first moments with a new child. We flew from around the world to cram ourselves into a basement in the middle of winter, just to hang out with each other. So many of these people are still my good friends today.

For many companies, however, it is not that easy to see the people behind the usernames. Especially not on such a consistent and personal basis. But, no worries, Joe Heitzeberg came up with a wonderful solution:

How do you take a team that’s swamped with work and make them become incredibly customer focused overnight? … Every day, print out a few hundred new user photo thumbnails and post them on the walls.

[ via ]

Three-minute Rule is a Great first step into Customer Development

Most companies I have spoken with–who are reluctant to explore the customer development process–feel that talking to customers is too hard and don’t even know where to begin. The secret (there is no secret) is to just start. It is much easier to have done something, than to think about doing something. In other words, JUMP IN!


Anythony Tjan has provided a great exercise that should make it easier get started:

You can learn a great deal about customers by studying the broader context in which they use your product or service. To do this, ask what your customer is doing three minutes immediately before and three minutes after he uses your product or service…

[ via The Three-Minute Rule – Anthony Tjan – Harvard Business Review ]

If you still need a little help, (i.e. want to wear a life jacket and an inner-tube before jumping in) then you need to learn how to ask your customers questions. The secret (there is not secret) is to just start. Pick one customer you have spoken to before (not so scary) and ask them those two questions: (1) What were you doing 3 minutes before you last used our product? (2) What were you doing 3 minutes after you last used our product?

Don’t create a form. Don’t send out a mass email. Don’t assign it to your sales team. Don’t make your intern do it. Pick up the phone and call one customer. You don’t need to promise them anything, and you better not try and defend yourself or your product. Just listen, learn, and share the love by saying thank you.

Now, you’re ready to swim in the deep end.

Tweets inspired by morning sessions at DreamForce

I would love to come back to these tweets and dig in a little further under the surface. But, I wanted to at least quickly capture some of the thoughts inspired by this morning’s sessions at DreamForce. (The #’s link out to the original tweet.)

Do you have a visual, defined, roadmap for customer success that you use internally AND share with your customers? #

Learning how Starbucks implements Salesforce products to build customer community. Incl. #

Community Building Goals: 1 communicate value 2 build internal support (culture) 3 Engage ALL users. Also, understand purpose of new ideas. #

Types of Customer generated Ideas: Top, First, New, Sleeper, or Validates (an internal assumption). Name and treat accordingly. #

Healthy communities increase customer loyalty, attract quality prospective customers, and acceleratecompany learning (transform us) #

“OMG! If we create customer communities, we might have to listen to them, and have a conversation.” FastForward: We got richer. #

You probably don’t have ONE community. Build in neighborhoods. #

Visionary leadership essential to transition into community engagement. Business value (though likely) cannot be proved up front. #

Sustainable Community – Over Eager Greeter

Ricardo Nunez made a comment in a previous post, that got me thinking about the transition from “engage and help everybody” to “the community maintaining itself”? A noble goal for cultivating a community. Though, like infinity, it is a goal you can never really reach. But, I wanted to share a few observations I’ve made that help move communities in that direction.

Part 1: Over Eager Greeter
Nov 18, 2009This one took me quite some time to recognize. My own excitement about greeting new members the second they joined the community (most services have the option to shoot off an email when there is a new member) meant that other members of the community didn’t get the chance. Obviously they could have gone up to greet people as well. But 8 (or 8000) “hi, welcome to x, let me know if you have any questions” would be awkward. and overbearing.

Related to this, some people just want to check out a new community. Maybe they don’t feel like they have *joined* anything yet, so pouncing on them the minute they “walk in the door” can throw them off guard and cause them to raise their defenses.

I don’t believe there is a magic number (i.e. 1 day or 386 minutes) of how long to wait before greeting new members. All communities have different cultures and purposes. Some have hundreds of messages/notifications per day. Some only meet once a month. Etc.

With each community (you probably have more than one in each organization) I try to figure out how much time someone might need to get a feel for the place, as well as the average time it takes for members the seize their opportunity to say hello first. Finally, I write the numbers down, and ask a few members if those numbers make sense. With that information in hand, I have a decent guideline for how long to wait before extending my own greeting.

photo credit: Photo Denbow

coming soon:
Part 2: Helping Should be Easy
Part 3: Make it Safe