Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Why You Should Be Interested In Community Management

The Creation of a Community

A year ago I created The Leaky Wiki, a community-based, parody news site. Here's a quick way to describe it. Think “The Onion,” but with content created by a community of writers.

I co-developed the site with a guy in Omsk, Russia, through oDesk. He was 12 hours ahead of me, so when I was settling in for the night I was also passing on development requests. During the development phase I wrote all of the articles, learned social marketing the hard way, and got dumped by my girlfriend for lack of attention. 

The Creation of a Community Manager

My body and mind were crumbling under the weight of doing everything alone. Thankfully there was a point where I had three other people writing for the site. I kept writing, but I started putting energy into encouraging the other writers. Without them, I would be back writing everything myself. That’s when I shifted from being the community creator to being a community manager.

Now, eight months later, The Leaky Wiki is getting 15k unique user visits a month. There is a small, dedicated group of people doing most of the writing, voting, and editing. If someone wants to take on responsibility, I give him or her a chance. If it doesn’t work out, we talk about it and make adjustments. If there is turbulence in the forum, I watch to make sure it is resolved diplomatically.  Amazingly, the less I intervene, the more people step up as leaders.

My role now is to I make sure every-day community tasks are being taken care of. I work with the community to improve the site’s features. And I facilitate personal growth through delegating important tasks and coaching from a distance.

Why Community Management?

  • People depend on you.
  • It’s a challenging role.
  • You are in the position to facilitate personal growth.
  • Your community will amaze and surprise you.
  • You are always learning from people in the community.
  • You co-create products with end-users.
  • You’re right in the middle of emergent behavior in the new, massively networked world.
  • If you enjoy social technology, this is the place to be. (see what Vanessa DiMauro, CEO of Leader Networks, has to say in this blog post)
Online communities are the centerpiece of social media. When you think about the goals of social media (or social business as a whole, for that matter), building relationships among people is critical. Online communities are the ultimate manifestation of relationship-building activities. They are the best way to build deep online relationships with the people and organizations that matter to your company – customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders, and others.