Learn How to Be a Great Online Community Manager
Ten quick tips on online community management:
1. Divide community into top uses vs. engaged users vs. readers (lurkers–even if that might be a semi-offensive term)
2. Engage community members about how they found you & why they stay round & participate (this is likely to be different for different types of users–so knowing this allows you to help them & also serve them far better)
3. Engage communities which work and find out why they work.
4. Engage community managers via email, etc.
5. Read about the sociology of groups & specifically groups online.
6. Find out what makes a community of practice (specifically what makes professional communities of practice work). For instance, Articulate.com has a fantastic community in the Rapid Elearning space which is pretty impressive.
7. Learn the rules & break the rules.
8. Always be A/B testing (pay attention to analytics.)
9. Figure out if there is a personal touch you can add or a community play.
10. Make your most engaged users feel successful and valued. (ie MVP status and other potential gamification principles)
To me the seven of the hardest questions in online community management:
1. Seeding it with content (what content to seed & how much?)
2. Solving the chicken and egg problem of getting users (which is more than just marketing)
3. How can we optimize for our experts or top users/contributors?
4. Isolating how you add value & why among the myriad of options they have–why they should choose you.
5. How can you communicate your value quickly and easy?
6. How can you make interaction & search fun and easy?
7. What are the rules & how do you best enforce the rules? (also how to deal with spam & how to identify spam–also how to deal with commericial content or rather advertising)
Finding out how to learn new skills for a community manager involves:
2. Asking/getting feedback from experts (or at least semi-successful practitioners)
3. Testing/Prototyping-creating a community of yourself or getting the opportunity to manage a community (either via volunteering or another method)
4. Study community management case studies (both successes and failures). Ones that other people suggest–but also ones you are genuinely interested in. One of my favorite communities is Yelp, which is focused on local restaurant reviews. They are a fantastic case study and an industry standard (and have a unique offline component too–they have an Elite user group which has meetups where they talk become early trier…and early adopters of local businesses–particularly in the food/beverage industy)
5. Participate yourself in online communities and keep a document of stuff you like and stuff you didn’t (interface, topic, rules, etc…)
6. Community or target market feedback. This generates target/market fit and avoids you developing something that no one wants or they only want a little bit.
Cool info graphic on community management:
Cultivate those characteristics. You are a cheerleader & entertainer & leader & information filter. If you can be an cheerleader & that comes through as authentic–there is a real multiplier on your efforts.
Ultimately, why do people join communities in the first place?
Why do they come back?
I’m sorry this is an indirect answer to your underlying question. I hope this helps.