Category Archives: Community

How to Deal With Antagonistic Members

Many community managers are either too slow or too fast to remove antagonistic members. They either remove the antagonistic member without fully realizing the role this individual plays within the community, or they spend copious amounts of time trying to convert the antagonist into a happy member.

One community manager I spoke with a few weeks ago had recently spent half a day resolving a problem with antagonistic members. That’s insane, what happens when you have 20 antagonistic members a week? Are you going to spend ALL your time on your community’s unhappy participants?

raeg_week1

Antagonistic members aren’t always bad. They can provoke discussions, highlight topics that other members were hesitant to address, put forward opposing (if unpopular) view- points, and prevent groupthink in communities. Communities where everyone agrees and gets along are dull.

Even the most antagonistic members can unite the community against them. This sounds crazy (and I’ve received plenty of criticism for it), but a community united against a few individuals can actually derive benefits.

The question you need to ask is: Does this antagonistic member kill or boost discussions?

cartoon drawing of a face off

Antagonistic members might not be breaking any rules, but may still have to go simply by virtue of squelching every discussion they participate in. Otherwise, antagonistic members should be allowed to stay because they have a beneficial impact upon the community.

Don’t fall into the reactivity trap. Don’t get sucked in to spending hours of your time trying to deal with antagonistic members. Make quick decisions and take quick actions.

I often offer clients a six-step escalation process:

  1. Do nothing. This is my favorite step. It doesn’t require much work. If neither the number of participating members nor the quantity of contributions is declining, let it slide.
  2. Reason/befriend/distract. If the antagonistic member is clearly a problem, you react in one of three ways. First, if it’s likely they don’t realize they’re antagonizing members (this is surprisingly common, usually a personality issue), explain they need to tone their language down because members have been complaining. If they have a genuine grievance or concern, try to ask them what the real problem is and how you can help solve it.Finally, if they are focused upon one particular issue, distract them by giving them a column, or responsibility for a certain topic to express their viewpoint.
  3. Suspend. If none of the above works, suspend the member and explain why.  Suspension can range from three days (one day isn’t enough) to one week. You can do this manually or use any system you like.
  4. Ban. If after a suspension they still cause problems, remove them from the community. Lock the account or ban the IP address from registering an account.
  5. Edit/Repel. Some members continue to register new accounts (or mask their IP address). They’re intent on causing trouble. Some community managers get caught in a cat-and-mouse game. They ban the new accounts and others continue to spring up. An endurance game, it continues until one side gets tired. It’s best left to volunteers. I’ve had some success by editing comments posted by the member to something softer (usually complimenting other members).
  6. Contact ISP/Police. If the member continues to return or is engaged in threatening/illegal activity, either contact their ISP or the police. You can jump straight to this stage if necessary.

The goal of this process is to move from one stage to the next whilst spending as little time on antagonistic members as possible. The danger is rarely antagonistic members themselves; it’s the amount of time you spend on them. Over time, you neglect your happy members and can lose many members as a result. Make sure that doesn’t happen to you.

Images courtesy of th02 and raidho36 

Business Fights Poverty: A Community With a Cause

Business Fights Poverty - A social impact community built on the Ning PlatformBusiness Fights Poverty was established in March of 2008 to pioneer new ways of fighting poverty utilizing economic and business opportunities by groups and individuals. Founder and Director, Zahid Torres-Rahman discovered and implemented the perfect platform for his idea through a chance conversation and a day’s worth of work. “A technology guru friend of mine first told me about Ning over breakfast, and by dinner I had set up the community.” Since its creation, the community has continued to evolve and expand its public profile. Business Fights Poverty has bloomed from 1,000 members after one year to more than 10,000 members today.

Openness, community, professionalism, respect, and integrity are the five core values that drive this vibrant network of business professionals, academics, philanthropists, and non-government organizations – all of whom share a passion for fighting poverty through business. Business Fights Poverty utilizes inspiring blogs from members, face-to-face events, and a powerful resource hub to captivate potential members and engage current ones. Their community also serves as the central station for public outreach via social outlets like Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin. All these components have come together to make it the largest organization of its kind and a vital resource in the fight against poverty.

Zahid Torres-Rahman

We reached out to Zahid Torres-Rahman to get the inside scoop on how his community has grown and helped created a brand with public impact:

What made you start your Ning community?

All around the world exceptional people are finding new ways to fight poverty – by creating new jobs and economic opportunities in low-income communities.   The challenge we set ourselves back in 2008 was to help turn these individual acts of inspiration into a broader movement for change.   We wanted to build a sense of community by connecting these intense, but often dispersed pockets of energy.  We wanted people to be able to find, engage with, learn from and be inspired by like-minded peers.  Ning made this all possible for us – by offering an affordable and easy way to build an online community.

Have you achieved this original objective?  How else has your community helped you and your business, brand or mission?

I think we have come a long way. We’re now the largest community of our kind, with a brand that is steadily growing in profile.  We publish a great story every day, and pretty much all of these come from community members.  We are increasingly active in the real world too, with face-to-face events and publications.  At the same time, I feel that we are only at the beginning of an exciting journey.   We are constantly trying to learn and improve.  We recently hired FeverBee, following a Ning webinar (which you can watch again here), and they have been giving us some great advice on enhancing our member engagement.

If you had to pick one measure of the success or impact of your community, what would it be?

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We track all the usual metrics about visits and member engagement, but for me nothing beats the personal stories that I hear from members about howthe community has helped them – whether to find a new job; connect with potential project partners; or just to be inspired by what others are doing.  I enjoy reading what our Members of the Week say they hope to get out of being part of the community.

How long did it take your community to reach critical mass?

It took us a year to reach 1,000 and four more to reach 10,000.  But one thing we have come to appreciate is that it’s the number of actively engaged members that matters, and that’s where our energy is now focused.  The great thing about Ning is that by massively bringing down the costs of organizing online, it has made it possible to create successful, small, specialist communities.

What tactics drove the most growth and activity in your community?

We have focused our energy on three areas. The first has been on building the community brand.  We worked with professional graphic designers to develop a strong look and feel for the site, and we invest in great photography to illustrate stories on the site. The second area is around content.  We have put a lot of energy into our editorial calendar – to build up a strong flow of timely, high quality and interesting content, primarily from our own members.  We drive traffic to this content through our weeklSocial Mediay broadcast messages, and we are also very active on Twitter (@FightPoverty) and other social media sites. The third area is around member engagement. Every year, we have an active programme of face-to-face and online events, such as webinars.  Through our “Member of Week” and “Star Member” initiatives, we profile our most active members.  We have high hopes for our new member’s Forum, and have other ideas in the pipeline to encourage member interaction.

What feature(s) are most important to your members?

Right now, our blog is the most popular feature on our site, followed by our events.  Over the next few months, we are looking to grow our forum as a way to generate more member-to-member engagement. We’ll also be more closely integrating our offline and online activities – so for example, we’ll be running online discussions linked to our face-to-face events. Following member feedback, we’ll also be launching a jobs board.

Do you have any advice for other people building online communities?

We recognized early on that community management is a full-time and professional activity!  Continuous investment of time and effort is needed to encourage member activity and network growth. On top of that, listening and responding to what your members want is critical.   Recognizing when things are not working is important too! For us, we have been on a continuous learning journey, and are constantly looking to improve the site. I am a fan of the Ning Creators Network – and have picked up many great tips there.

What’s the craziest story you have about your community?

The craziest story is from our first day. A technology guru friend of mine first told me about Ning over breakfast, and by dinner I had set up the community. I was the first member and my wife was the second. I remember telling the third member – a colleague of mine who was working for a charity at the time, “I know you are only member number 3, but I promise that one day there will be many more of us!”

There is an African proverb that has been an inspiration to me: if you want to travel fast, travel alone. If you want to travel far, travel together.  For me that is at the heart of what the global Business Fights Poverty community is about, and I am excited about what the future holds.  I believe that for all the amazing things we are doing individually, if we can do more together – as part of a movement for change, the possibilities are limitless.

How User Guidelines Help Your Community

By Patrick O’Keefe

Online community guidelines detail the types of behaviors that are and are not appropriate on your community. They include things that some might consider obvious, but they also include items that are somewhat unique to you and your community. I liken an online community to a country. Each country has culture, laws and social norms that make it different from every other country.

I believe user guidelines are pretty important. Let’s discuss why.

  • They Level the Playing Field and Mitigate Uncertainty

The absence of guidelines leads to people making up their own or thinking that anything goes. With no official set of guidelines that is applied consistently, you instead get everyone else’s interpretation of what they believe “should” be alright. In some cases, this may also lead to them defending their interpretation against the interpretation of another member. Certainly, that can get messy. But the uncertainty of it all is a big turn off because most people aren’t going to be the ones bold enough to try to set their own guidelines. They are more likely to join a timid group that is unsure of what is acceptable and, as such, just tries to play it as safe as possible. For some, this will just mean that they decide to go elsewhere, to another community that has a more established structure that matches with what they are looking for in a community.

Good guidelines, like good rules and laws, tend to help us to all participate on a level playing field.Once we know the ground rules, we are free to express ourselves in a manner that respects them. Some may view guidelines as restrictive but, just as much, they free people up because they no longer need to worry about what might or might not be OK.

  • (Some) People Look for Them

Now, I know what you are thinking. “No one reads them.” You’ve probably heard someone say it before. However, the truth is that some people do read them. I’m not saying it is a lot of people, but some members do seek them out, especially new members, but also veterans in search for a refresher. Those people who do look for them are trying to do the right thing. They want to make sure that something is OK. This is why it is not only important to have guidelines, but to link them in visible areas, such as your header, footer, near areas where contributions are made (like reply boxes), in staff member signatures, etc. If everyone knows where they are housed, it maximizes the usefulness of your guidelines.

  • They Serve as a Vision Statement (of Sorts)

Community guidelines are a living document and, more than a set of rules, they speak to the type of community you are and the audience that will most appreciate what you have to offer. No community is for everyone. Even a community for everyone isn’t because not everyone wants that. Your guidelines help to demonstrate this and help people to come to that understanding sooner. Vision statements tell people where an organization wants to go in the future. Your guidelines should speak to that. And if a part of your guidelines ever stops speaking to that, you should change it.

  • They Give You Something to Refer To

This may be the biggest one. If you try to apply any sort of standards to your community and you don’t have any sort of public guidelines, it feels unfair and arbitrary. How can people know that something violates the guidelines if there aren’t any guidelines? If you remove content without guidelines to refer members to, then it looks like you are removing content based on imaginary rules that only exist in your head. It doesn’t inspire confidence. When you remove content, you notify the person who posted it and tell them why. When you tell them why, you include a link to your guidelines, so they can see the publicly posted standards that all members must adhere to.

To sum it up, having guidelines isn’t about making sure that everyone reads them. Instead, they exist to serve as a point of reference, so that everyone knows what standards exist and what is expected. There is no guess work, there is no mystery. This helps to create an environment of honesty and fairness.

 

Patrick O’Keefe is the author of “Managing Online Forums,” a practical guide to managing online communities, and “Monetizing Online Forums,” a guide to generating revenue from them in the right way. He blogs at ManagingCommunities.com and can be found on Twitter at @iFroggy.

 

Images courtesy of OregonDOT and mtsofan

20 Conversation Starters That Will Get Your Community Talking

Are you struggling to stimulate activity in your online community? Do you have lots of members but little participation? Try asking the sorts of questions that stimulate discussion in every online community.

Here are 20 to get you started:

Roosevelt and Churchill in conversation

  1. What is your favourite ………. ? Asking members about their favourite anything will stimulate a response. Try it.
  2. What is your average day like? People love to talk about themselves. Ask them what their average day is like and they’ll tell you. They’ll also compare it with anyone else that answers.
  3. What do you think about ……….? Giving opinions is human nature. When you ask for opinions you’ll get a lot.
  4. What advice would you give to the person above you? Careful about these. Can stimulate a lot of activity, can also get way out of hand. Useful for a light-hearted touch to your community efforts.
  5. Can anyone recommend ……….? People like to be helpful and show off knowledge. Asking for recommendations will solicit knowledge and engagement from users.
  6. What is the worst thing that has ever happened to you whilst ……… ? Self explanatory. Let members share their stories. It’ll almost certainly boost activity and return visits. Members will slowly get to know and like each other.
  7. Can anyone fix ………. ? Present a difficult problem, let members try to suggest ways to fix it.
  8. What is the best/worst ………. ? Opinions, opinions, opinions. Solicit them in as many different ways as possible. Pick a sub-category and ask people for their best/worst suggestions.
  9. Who do you most admire? Pick someone in your niche you most admire and tell others why.
  10.  Is {x} really better than {y}? Make it controversial. Pick an issue members will be split on – but not divisively so. Ask questions about it. Let people take sides.A question and exclamation mark of jigsaw puzzle pieces
  11. If you weren’t ……… would you ………. ? Create a hypothetical situation in which all members can give their opinion on something radical.
  12. Who/What are your top 5 ………. ? Ranking is addictive. Ask people to rank their top 5 anything and then try to create an overall ranking based upon the community.
  13. How would you handle {topical issue}? If your members in charge, how would they handle a topical issue in your sector?
  14. What ………. do you use? Relevant in almost all online communities, ask people to compare what relevant products/services they use. Companies love this information too.
  15. Does anyone know how to ………. ? Does anyone know provokes interest, the how to can be broad or specific. People are likely to participate.
  16. Has anyone tried………. ? Again, has anyone is all-encompassing and people are likely to share their experiences.
  17. Is ………. right about ………. ? Take someone’s stance on a topical issue and throw it open to comment by the entire community.
  18. What would you do if ………. ? Create a hypothetical situation, perhaps a problem lots of people face, and ask members what they would do. Life problems work well here.
  19. What should every newcomer know about ……….Well, what should every newcomer know about something relevant in your sector? It’s great advice – perfect for a sticky-thread.
  20. Share your pictures/top tips here. Sharing advice and pictures can be an easy win for stimulating activity. Try it. I suspect you will find it easy to gain lots of valuable insights.

Your mileage with any of these questions will vary depending upon the topic sector and the progress of your community. However, if you’re looking to generate some activity, you can try a few of these basic conversation starters to get going.

The more open-ended the question, the more everyone can participate. When you post a question, try prodding a few members to reply and get the activity started.

Images courtesy of Zorba the Geek and Horia Varlan

Looking Back at 2012: Identifying Success

As the year comes to a close, it’s a great time to look to a few Ning Networks that have had great success throughout 2012 for inspiration. We asked Network Creators on our Creators Network to let us know how their year went, and we received some exciting stories of success and lessons learned.

These Ning Networks were led by creative, hard-working teams and have achieved their own forms of success due to their dynamic leadership. Using the words of wellkunnected.com Network Creator, Armani Rouse: “There isn’t a hack for had work and creativity!”

eCoronado.com

ecoronado

The eCoronado team showing off their schwag!

eCoronado.com is the most popular newspaper website and online community resource for Coronado, Calif. During 2012, the eCoronado team looked beyond their online tools and developed successful strategies to incorporate their community with offline events/ giveaways/ discount cards/ sponsors/ pretty-much-anything-they-set-their-mind-to.

In brief, they hired two paid writers, a site admin, and interviewed many candidates to bring on their 13th intern. They now have 20+ paid sponsors and have launched over 40 physical photo/scavenger hunt contests to drive activity. In their spare time, they hosted an anniversary party and bought hundreds of local members ice cream, created a local discount card in partnership with public schools and started rewarding top photo contributors with badges and company schwag.

We’re not sure when the eCoronado.com team finds time sleep between advancing their development strategy and hosting ice cream giveaways!

IAVA.COMMUNITYOFVETERANS.ORG

iava-logoSome networks define their success by the number of members they attract, while iava.communityofveterans.org has amassed 24,500+ members, this is not where they see their triumph. The IAVA community is part of the largest nonprofit organization helping Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.

The IAVA community team sees their triumph in the very real resources they have developed for their members. They implemented a Crisis Response SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) this year which was used to connect members with suicidal urges to life-saving resources. As Jason, the Network Creator, puts it: “Running a mental health / veteran network provided endless excitement. It’s been a crazy year on our network.”

They also had the opportunity to personally officiate a wedding of two long-time and active members of the community — who actually met because of the network — and secure a couple of grants to get some part-time support and a redesign for 2013. We look forward to continue to hear inspiring stories from this community in 2013. If you’d like to support an organization that Time magazine says remains the most important organization representing the new generation of veterans, please head to their donate page.

FOTOGRAFIAPUNTODINCONTRO.COM

sound check

Image by Riccardo Rossini

Italian photographer network fotografiapuntodincontro.com defines its success by the elegant, clean and efficient community they have created thanks to their decision this year to enable the option to have all new photos approved by administrators before they become visible. Riccardo believes this enables fotografiapuntodincontro.com to deliver the highest quality photos to enrich the member experience. “We are proud to offer in Italy something different about photography site, thanks to approval photo.”

Check out some of their featured photos; they truly are stunning. We’ll be keeping an eye on their network to see them grow and to enjoy more of their masterful shots in 2013.

PARENT-CHAT.COM

parent chat

Parent-chat.com is looking for founding members.

Three weeks ago, self-proclaimed web novice Jennifer realized her dream of managing an online parenting community with parent-chat.com. Having no experience whatsoever, she set about getting her network up and running and now has a solid founding-member base. The Network Creator, Jennifer, promises: “I am only related to 5 of them!” Creating something tangible from an abstract idea is definitely a great leap forward, so we’d like to congratulate parent-chat.com for launching their network in 2012!

Defining Success for Your Community in 2013

It’s important to remember that each community defines success differently. The end of the year marks a great point to look at your own community and decide what you define as success. Whether it is defined by page views, engagement, or financial profit, we wish you the best of luck in 2013!

“How to Grow an Online Community” — Recorded for Those Who Missed It

This week, we held the second webinar in our series with Richard Millington, one of the most respected voices in the field of community management. The first one was about increasing activity, and it was definitely the most successful webinar Ning has ever held. If you missed it, you can find it on YouTube or Vimeo. I absolutely recommend sitting down with a cup of something and watching it if you want to hear about increasing engagement in your community. It was a good one.

This one was a good one, too! And, like the last one, Richard gave away a PDF version of half of his new book, Buzzing Communities: How to Build Bigger, Better, and More Active Online Communities. I’ve been reading the book (and online reviews of the book) and it’s getting a great reception, as it should. It’s got a lot of advice that no one tells you when you start out managing a community, but even better than that it points to a lot of social science studies that put data behind ideas and hunches. Richard has a knack for pointing out things that question conventional wisdom and make you realize that conventional wisdom can be completely bogus. Simply put: His book is an excellent resource, and we’re thrilled to have Richard sharing his expertise with Ning Creators.

Or anyone else! Richard’s talks aren’t specific to Ning. Whether you’re a Ning customer, someone who runs a community on some other platform, or just someone who’s curious about how community works — or should work — we hope you’ll get something good out of this talk. Give it a watch!

How to Grow an Online Community from Ning on Vimeo.

A few things covered in this talk:

  • Should you grow your online community? You might be surprised to hear a contrary view from Richard when it comes to some kinds of communities.
  • Assuming you can answer that last one in the affirmative, Richard gives you 5 reasons you should grow and 4 channels you should use.
  • Word of mouth, promotion — and how to make sure all that effort isn’t wasted.
  • Very few people are able to effectively convert visitors into members. Richard shows you how to ensure more registered members participate.

Decorating Your Online Community for the Holidays

If you run an online community, what are you doing to mark the season? The last candle of the Menorah will be lit on Saturday, and many are eagerly awaiting a visit from St. Nick. Historically, there is a sharp downturn in web traffic for non-ecommerce websites around Christmas time. A jolly atmosphere that reflects shifts in your real-world environment creates new potential to bridge this lull and may even boost engagement in your community. Give members a reason to spread the joy with you.

Brick and mortar establishments don’t have a monopoly on holiday decorations. You can break out the twinkly lights, poinsettias and dreidels and set your online community ablaze with winter warmth and merriment.

Consider your community, however—you’ll want to update the look of your network in a way that adds holiday spirit but doesn’t overshadow your members’ main reason for visiting. Adding animated auto-play carolers to the main page could scare some people off, but including a festive banner, virtual mistletoe or twinkly lights can be charming and memorable.

Ning Network holiday design main page CSS and JavaScript

Twinkly lights with CSS

Ning Superstar soaringeagle shared the following CSS code that you can use to make twinkly lights brighten up your community.

#xn_bar,.xg_theme .xg_module_head {background-image:url(“http://webdeveloper.com/animations/holiday/christmas/gifs/xmas_light.gif”);background-repeat:repeat-x;}

See the festive holiday decoration live here.

Snowstorm with JavaScript

Scott Schillman has been “bringing snow to the web since 2003.” Even if you’re in Australia this December, you can enjoy a light snowfall with Schillman’s JavaScript hack. To add the snow effect to your network, you’ll need to upload the original file, grab the new URL for the snowstorm, paste it into the code (see below), and then add that code to the Custom Code section on the dashboard of your network. If this sounds complicated, head to our Creators community for some extra guidance.

<script type=”text/javascript” src=”Replace-this-text-with-the-snowstorm-URL”></script>

Seasonal header or banner images

Don’t want to introduce a cold front or controlled blizzard into your community? You’ve got options! You can pack quite a holiday punch into a banner or redesigned header image.

If you’re not already using the Instant Ad Boxes on your network, you can repurpose them for just about anything—holiday banners included. The Instant Ad Boxes are as versatile as a text box and up to three times as wide. To open up space above and below the header on your network, head to Dashboard > Settings > Features Layout. The, check the box(es) next to Instant Ad Boxes (at the bottom of the page) and click “Save.”

Next, you’ll need to find your holly jolly imagery. Creative Commons has a great search tool that will help you find images licensed for commercial reuse and modification. Christmas Stock Images is another helpful resource this time of year. If you want these graphics to stretch across the width of the page, resize them to 960px.

You can thread season’s greetings throughout your community by adding similarly themed images to text boxes elsewhere on the main page. Or, maybe try this: Update the default member profile image to a snowman.

Holiday-themed discussions

Invite your members to share tidbits of their own. Most embarrassing holiday moments? Most magnificent holiday moments? Favorite holiday cookie recipes? Point visitors to these timely discussions by linking directly to them from a text box on the main page. If you’ve already got a tight-knit group, you can use the Forum or a Message Broadcast to start a gift exchange or mobilize a charitable event.

When you’re taking down the decorations this year, leave a little something behind. The new year is a great opportunity to thank all your members for making the community what it is today. You can hang a ‘Best Wishes’ note to express your gratitude and issue one more gesture of good will before it’s back to business as usual.

Custom NingBot holiday cards

Head to holiday.ning.com to assemble your own NingBot holiday card. Choose a backdrop and dress up your NingBot with a rosy nose, elf shoes, a corncob pipe, nerdy glasses, angel wings, bunny slippers…the list goes on. Include a personal note and send season’s greetings to friends and loved ones who make your spirit bright.

Happy holidays!

Images courtesy of sammydavisdog and Christmas Stock Images

Earth: The Biggest Community of All

One of our absolute favorite movements/sites/events/unique-things-that-can’t-be-pigeon-holed-into-a-simple-category is One Day on Earth. If you haven’t heard of it, it involves many thousands of people (anyone who wants to participate, really) from all over the world filming snippets of video on one single day. People record what they think, what they do, what they need, what they love — whatever’s on their mind. Then, everyone uploads their clip to create a compelling time capsule that may just live forever. After the big day is done, the people behind the One Day on Earth project get to work editing it all into a movie masterpiece. It’s a brilliant idea that we look forward to at Ning every year.

I first stumbled across this Ning-driven site in 2010. I thought 10/10/10 was a very neat and brilliant idea. Since then, they’ve kept going. It’s no flash in the pan. On 11/11/11, they expanded their reach by sending 1,000 video cameras to places around the world where cameras are hard to come by. This year, they’ve gone even further and created a full-length film that compiles the past two years’ footage, which debuted on Earth Day earlier this year.

One Day on Earth is only going to get bigger, and you can be part of it. There’s still plenty of time to join in and participate (6 more days, in fact). Chances are you can accomplish this by simply taking video footage with your phone.

So, what are you waiting for? Take 15 minutes out of your day next Wednesday to film something extraordinary — or even just plain ordinary. Show the world who you are, where you live, what you do, what you care about — anything that’s important to you. If you’re a Ning customer, we’ve got an even better idea: Why not encourage your community to join in and film yourselves doing whatever it is all of you do best.

Everyone who contributes at least one minute of footage gets to watch the final film! But more importantly, everyone who participates gets to be part of something bigger than themselves. It’s community on the grandest scale imaginable. And it only costs a little bit of creativity.

One Day on Earth – Film on 12.12.12 from One Day on Earth on Vimeo.


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Sign Up for Our Second Community Management Webinar: “How to Grow an Online Community”

You know you’ve had a successful webinar when you get this kind of feedback:

An excellent talk, extremely useful. Packed with concrete stuff and techno-babble-free. Great Q&A at the end.

We strive to be techno-babble-free, so it’s nice to hear we succeeded last week during Richard Millington’s first webinar with Ning, How to Increase Activity in Your Community.

The event was our most well-attended talk ever, and it’s already getting tons of replay on YouTube and Vimeo. We expect it will be a valuable resource that will reach a lot of people over time who are looking for straightforward advice about managing their community.

It’s even better to hear feedback like this:

Your wish is our command, James! Response to this first webinar was so positive that we’re going to do another one next week….


Community Management Webinar #2: How to Grow an Online Community

When: Wednesday, December 12, 2012, 1 p.m. Pacific time

Richard Millington is back to coach Ning customers — and anyone else who needs advice — on how to genuinely make your online community a big success. In his first webinar for Ning, Richard talked about strategies for generating activity. This time around, he’s going to talk about growth. There are lots of things to think about when you think about growth:

  • Key steps to build your base.
  • You can grow too fast. Didn’t think that was possible, did you?
  • What is the total feasible audience size (TFAS) of your community?
  • If you only have limited administrative power to support the community, too much growth can actually hurt you.
  • If you already have a mature, happy, and highly engaged community, is an influx of strangers actually a good idea?

Whether you want to be the biggest community of sports fans in the world or just a private community of committed scrapbooking hobbyists, you want to find your ideal size — and getting there isn’t about papering email inboxes with a million invites. Smart community managers follow tried-and-true strategies. Richard will share some of the best.

Growth is just one way toward realizing a more valuable community, but it’s an important one — and one that nearly every Ning customer will be interested in. So, join us next Wednesday for another get-together with one of the experts in community management. We’ll start on time and pack as much into an hour as we can. We’ll stick around and answer some questions, too. Plus, Richard is giving away an excerpt of the e-book version of his new book “Buzzing Communities” to all attendees. It’s 50% of his book in handy PDF format. Free!


Help us reach every continent

Disappointingly, not a single person in Antarctica appears to have attended or watched the first webinar. So, we’re making it our personal goal with this second one to get the word out to at least one person in Antarctica. If you, um, happen to know anyone in Antarctica, we’d appreciate a little help. Or, if you just happen to know someone next door or a few cubicles down who manages an online community, let them know that this free session can help them do it better.

You can help us spread the word by pointing people to our Smore page for this webinar.


Buy the book!

Richard’s book is one of the best we’ve ever read about community management. He’ll be giving away half of the book at this webinar, but we think it’s definitely worth buying, either in physical or Kindle format. Buzzing Communities cuts through the fluff to offer a clear process for creating thriving online communities. This book combines a century of proven science, dozens of real-life examples, practical tips, and trusted community-building methods. This step-by-step guide includes a lifecycle for tracking your progress and a framework for managing your organization’s community efforts.

Ning Community Management Webinar: Online and Ready for Viewing

As community manager of our customer community, the Creators Network, I scour the Web looking for good advice on the subject of running online communities. It’s my goal to share the best things I find that can help our customers be better community builders, whether that is advice about how to design a Javascript slider or nuts-and-bolts tips for getting more responses out of community members by asking the right questions.

Pursuant to that goal, I subscribe to nearly every blog that’s remotely about community management, follow the most respected people in the field, and read waaaay too many blog posts about how social media is changing the world more than every other technological advancement since the printing press combined. There’s a lot of jargon and fluff (and frankly some nonsense) out there that’s masquerading as good advice for community managers. And there’s a lot of stuff that gets repeated endlessly. But every once in awhile, I find a few pearls of wisdom in this sea of advice. I find a voice that backs up common sense with data or very insightful reasons why a particular community strategy works. Richard Millington is one of those voices.

If you’re not familiar with him, Richard runs community management seminars, publishes a no-nonsense blog called FeverBee (which I strongly recommend you follow), and has a few books under his belt, including his newest, Buzzing Communities: How To Build Bigger, Better, And More Active Online Communities.

We were privileged to host Richard at a very well-attended webinar earlier this week: How To Increase Activity in Your Community. It was chock-full of useful advice, including a Q&A session where we gave out free copies of Richard’s new book. Even better, we gave every attendee 1/2 of his new book in PDF format. Totally free. Even better than that… you can still get a free copy for a limited time (even if you didn’t attend the webinar).

Want a free copy of the PDF?  Visit our S’More flyer page.


Did you attend? Enjoy it?

Thank Richard on Twitter for generously sharing his time with Ning Creators. Or…