Friday, June 13, 2008

Tish Grier on Effective Community Managers

Who says Friday the 13th is unlucky? And to underscore that point, Tish Grier, Chief Community Officer for Placeblogger and Online Community Developer for NewsTrust offers us Seven Traits of Highly Effective Community Managers

Mainly aimed at news organizations considering engaging their readers beyond being readers, there are some great observations are hidden within each of Tish's listed habits:

"...if your site's mission is primarily to drive traffic to your site, you should rethink creating your online community in the first place. Site traffic tends to be driven more by better site design and search engine optimization than by getting all interactive on the citizenry."
Online Community is not a hammer looking for a nail. Experienced folks know what community is good at and what is it not. Tish's advice to reconsider your community strategy even before you hire is sound.

"...your potential community manager should be open, congenial, and can handle difficult situations with tact and diplomacy (not like a cop or Marine sergeant)."
There are exceptions to this, but mostly when working with young teens in a competitive (gaming, sports fans) arena. I personally love Optimus Rhyme's nerdcore song "Obey the Moderator!" but I would not hire someone with attitudes of controlling the community from the top-down.

"...don't confuse liking technology with loving it beyond everything else."
This is especially true for those of us living close to cities that innovate technology. I am considered a bit backwards because I don't have an iPhone yet. When interacting with your community, your community team will likely be giving a leg-up to others who are experiencing networking, connecting, trust and community online for the first time (or giving it a second try after a bad online experience). Knowing when to dial the techno-lust back several notches is vital to not alienating valuable people.

"...any editorial work or reporting should be secondary to the community, because community work can be very demanding."
Recent discussions with people considering hosting community or networking online have shown me that people still underestimate the amount of work that can go into fostering trusting relationships within a community and with your organization.

"7. Life experience trumps youthful enthusiasm."
I quoted only the header for this last one because the entire paragraph is worth reading. In fact, it should be the first paragraph you read.

I'll add to it, though. It's not as hard as you might think to teach people how to use technology. It's harder to teach people how to manage conflict, build trust, recover and learn from mistakes. When looking for a community manager, look for activities that include group leadership, improvisational skills and the ability to handle projects with large groups. The best community managers I have seen and hired are people who had some aspect of these in their past experience: improvisational theater, leading volunteers, organizing long-term groups based on a hobby or activity.

I'm wondering if a session on hiring a community manager might be a welcome for next week's Online Community Unconference.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Open Comment Season on John McCain site

While riding home from another excellent Online Community Roundtable, I read this tweet from penguinasana: "Someone left the john mccain store comments unmoderated:".

Yup. Take one part political candidate, one part open review system, and two days of not moderating said commenting system and you get a repeat of the 1997 Amazon Family Circus reviews.

When I took these screen shots there were over 60 reviews along these lines:

"Set expectations regarding when the review will be published."

Which implies that reviews will be moderated. Not an unreasonable expectation.

UPDATE: I checked the morning after this post and they yanked all reviews and killed the reviewing system. My only comment is that you, dear reader, do not make similar mistakes because while McCain voters likely approve of this kind of authoritarian control, your customers or clients likely will not.