Why I love online communities
15 years in community management aren’t sufficient to explain my mother what is my job. Anyway, they sculpted in my mind why I love communities so much and why I love my job so much that I want to share my experiences with you.
A major area of debate for organisations is often considering the importance of the community manager, and what exactly the role entails. As a general rule, in my opinion every online community should have a facilitator: some communities require more work than others as they mature, some others don’t. The role is extremely important in the early days to encourage and stimulate activity and adoption, and then to ensure people remains focused on its primary objectives and becomes self-sustained. These rules go for everything: I experienced kids (DeaKids), female teens (KissMe, Girlfriend), teen gamers (Gamesnet), sport fans (Juventus), pet lovers (Petpassion), foodies and local flavor lovers(Yelp) and travellers (Musement) and they all shared these characteristics.
I‘m saying facilitator rather than moderator because in a business-focused community, there is less of a need for policing of the community, rather for driving and seeding it. Clearly there is a secondary role relating to monitoring inappropriate content, but it is not the main function. The community manager has two priority areas: people and content. He is responsible for growing membership and activity within the community and, on the content side, the challenge is to ensure that there is a constant stream of new content being added either personally, or by users or experts from inside or outside the organisation.
In an externally facing community the facilitator is likely to be someone in marketing or customer relations: whatever the background of this person, it is vital that they have good communication and social skills, the ability to convey these in written communications, and a strong love of the community initiative.
So, from here on, we start our trip through community experiences and tips together!