Categories
Community improvement Community strategy Self development

Plan, do, review – take your community to the next level

Just imagine there’s a ‘life is a race’ metaphor here.

How are you with New Year’s resolutions? Perhaps you’re obsessed with planning and goal setting, or perhaps you shudder at the thought of targets, and colour-coded lists.

Planning isn’t just a January fad, but a helpful way to take your community to the next level.

Are you unsure where to start, or wondering how to create a plan and make it work?

In this blog, I’ve put together some helpful resources and explained how you can apply the ‘Plan Do Review’ model to help advance your community, your team, or your career.

Before you start …

Consider what you’d like to improve, or what you’d like to change.

Have you ever created a community strategy (i.e. studying your organisation’s strategic aims and deciding how your community will meet them)? This excellent article explains how to get started.

Could you put a community roadmap in place to introduce new features or activities? This article from Community Roundtable has great advice on what a roadmap is, how it can help, and how to adjust it to each maturity stage of a community.

Do you want to kick off a project to set targets and goals for your team? If you’re interested in how to help develop and upskill your community team, this comprehensive article will help.

If you want to advance your personal growth and learning, have you put a plan in place? Earlier this week, I got stuck with how to start my own. This insightful and honest review from a community leader I admire really helped me to factor in the importance of reflection, celebration and continuous learning.

light bulb in hands

Step one – plan

Once you’ve chosen what to work on, you’ll need to create a plan.

Start with benchmarking your current position, then consider what you want to change or improve. Be specific and then be selective – don’t try to change everything at once. Consider what would be most helpful. Decide what success will look like and confirm one or two outcomes.

Questions to ask:

Do you have different ideas about how to complete your project? If so, consider the most practical approach to take.

What resources do you need, and do you need to set a timeframe? Consider what works for your goal and your organisational context: you may choose to iterate and work gradually, or have a set target and timeframe.

How will you track progress? Set some milestones and put in breaks to review. If you don’t have a manager, find a mentor or colleague to discuss your project with.

  • For community or team projects, involve your team in generating ideas. Create a ‘community wishlist’ and prioritise ideas as a team. If a team member is excited by an idea, invite them to work with you, or delegate that task to them.
  • For community improvement projects, look at feedback from your community, drawing out comments about what isn’t working well, or suggestions for new features and activities.
  • For community roadmaps, look at your previous year’s programme of work and decide what you will stop, start and continue this year.

Step two – do

Get started!

Seek inspiration by identifying good practice or ask for advice from peers in a community of practice. You may find someone who has worked on a similar project or has solved similar problems.

If you have a big project, set milestones or smaller steps along the way to make it less daunting and help you progress.

Put time aside for focussed work. Test and review as you go. If you want to test how an idea works in practice, involve your team or a small group of active community members.

If you get stuck or overwhelmed, consider what the quick wins are, or limit your focus to one or two key areas. If you scale down to make progress, put everything else on your ‘not for now’ list to revisit later.

If your approach or idea isn’t working, revisit the plan and consider a different tactic. It’s the goal that matters most, not the method!

person writing on a board where there are post it notes

Step three – review

When you review, start by assessing your original goal, benchmark and success measure.

Did you meet your goal and if so, what difference has this made? What positive impact has this had? What needs have been met, or what problem has been solved?

What went well? Take time to celebrate good work and consider what you or your team found most enjoyable. If you’ve identified future project ideas or resources, add them to your ‘future projects’ list.

Don’t shy away from the things that didn’t work. Identify the specific things that didn’t go to plan. Do you know why? Identify what you learned or what could be done differently next time.

When you review, capture your key insights so you can use them to demonstrate achievements and lessons learned.

What photographers think success looks like. You say potato…

Toddlers, and trying again

Finally, I thought I’d share a pearl of wisdom that struck me when watching this strangely compelling viral video of a toddler race set to the theme from Rocky III:

Create a plan, find your own way to progress and if you hit a roadblock, keep going!

Find your own way and whatever happens, keep going!

(Credits: the viral video’s most likely source is this tweet. Original video from semi-pro basketball player and podcaster Will Ferris)

Categories
Community advice Community industry Self care

The truth about burnout and community

The first draft of this blog post opened with ‘we need to talk about burnout’ but from what I’ve seen in my research, the charity sector has been doing little else for several years. Look at this powerful confession piece from 2015.

Burnout seems to be a persistent issue. It’s relevant for community managers who are expected to manage an active online space, and particularly relevant for non-profit community pros who also have a duty of care to support people facing difficult issues.

a row matches that are burned out

Burnout is a persistent issue

There are hundreds of articles giving advice to stressed and overwhelmed charity workers, and much of the advice is excellent. My self care blog series brings together some of this advice and my own ideas to help community managers manage their own wellbeing.

Why is burnout such a persistent issue? Are we getting our self-care strategies wrong? Are community managers and charity workers neglecting good practice? 

Let’s start by understanding the causes of burnout. I’ve summarised three of the main causes of burnout, what can prevent it from happening, and the warning signs to look out for.

orange life saver ring on a wall

Lack of support

It’s important to find and develop your own support networks. This helps you to guard against having insufficient support, which is a key cause of burnout and particularly an issue for specialist roles like community management. 

In a community role you will handle conflict, rule-breaking, complaints and have responsibility for organisational risk and safeguarding. Support networks help community pros seek advice, refine their practice, seek reassurance and feel able to keep going. 

When your support networks break down, this can put you at risk of burnout. It’s important to put alternatives in place. Finding a trusted ‘go-to’ person to debrief can make all the difference.

woman walking along a line in the road

Lack of boundaries

If you’re running a 24/7 online space for an organisation, any issue can arise and you can feel huge pressure in handling everything. If this rings true for you, then you’re at risk of burnout.

Boundaries can help you to determine what your true remit is and identify the tasks that need to be escalated or passed on. If you’re struggling to determine or agree boundaries, or lack the autonomy to do so, you’ll need to get support to put these in place. 

Watch out when those escalation pathways break down. If you feel you have no one to pass up to, your work can start to feel overwhelming and isolating. It’s important to put in place one or two points of contact who are willing to support you or your team. 

breathe image

Inability to step away

Are you a sole community manager, or is it difficult for you to step away from your role? In any job, it’s important to be able to step away or switch off and it’s dangerous to expect one person to be the sole point of contact at all times.

Strategies to step away and switch off not only guard against burnout but also retain community managers who may ultimately choose to leave a role or organisation that impacts on their wellbeing.

You’re at increased risk of burnout when it becomes difficult for you to step away from overseeing your community. You need to be able to step away at the weekends or take a few days off in succession on a regular basis.

a collection of stationery

The role of your workplace

If you’re at risk of burnout are you solely to blame? A few days ago Harvard Business Review published a compelling article which argues that burnout (which impacts on productivity, turnover and absenteeism) could be due to your organisational culture. It says:

“…evidence is mounting that applying personal, band-aid solutions to an epic and rapidly evolving workplace phenomenon may be harming, not helping, the battle. With “burnout” now officially recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO), the responsibility for managing it has shifted away from the individual and towards the organisation. Leaders take note: It’s now on you to build a burnout strategy.”

In the article, experts advise organisations that want to tackle burnout to move away from putting the onus on employees to improve their own wellbeing, and focus on addressing the root organisational causes of burnout. The solutions are simple:

  • ensure people are treated fairly and have autonomy to make decisions
  • provide the right amount of work and work hours 
  • ensure people are supported and feel heard
  • give people clear attainable goals and acknowledge good work
  • provide an environment suitable for work, based on need, not gimmicks

A culture of openness, non-blame and empathy also ensures the sustainability of existing initiatives that are much easier to provide (including wellbeing programmes). This excellent article from Mind explains how having support and agreed boundaries on workload and work time can guard hard-working people from burnout.

book with title damn good advice, some food and a drink on a table

Helpful resources 

If you’re not sure where to start, head to this excellent Wellbeing Guide from Charity Comms, which includes advice on mental health and wellbeing, how to support others, and an article from me explaining how a three step framework can help when handling difficult issues.

This article from the Blurt Foundation shares 15 ways to switch off and is helpful for anyone who is struggling to wind down, or wanting to learn creative ways to make the best use of downtime.

If you’ve been feeling stressed, anxious, low or are experiencing poor sleep, take a look at Good Thinking. This is an initiative aimed to support Londoners but has useful advice for everyone including a self assessment tool, guidance and tips on useful apps.

If things are really hard for you at the moment and you’re struggling to cope, please talk to someone. Why not speak with a trusted friend – they don’t need any qualifications other than the ability to listen. 

Look after yourself – your wellbeing is important.

breathe image
Categories
Community operation Self development

Empathy: why it matters and how to use it in your online community

Why empathy matters 

Who cares? Why does empathy matter and how does it make a difference in a business setting?

Empathy isn’t a fluffy discipline but is incredibly important for effective communication and valuable to any professional communicator.

We all know what bad communication looks like – times when a message seems tone deaf, where you’ve not been listened to, they’ve missed the point or worse, patronised you.

When you feel this way, you’ll disengage, trust will be damaged and you may even walk away. In a community setting that’s bad news, particularly for the organisation you work for. 

Community is about connection – about fostering mutually beneficial relationships between people with a shared experience, and those relationships benefit the organisation as well.

Empathy drives connection.

When you feel heard and supported, you want to continue that positive relationship. When you feel understood you’re likely to feel like you belong and that encourages you to return. When you feel like you belong, you’re more likely to want to support the community, or the organisation it represents. You may even champion it.

What empathic communication involves

Empathy is about putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. It’s about considering the other person, their words, and their experiences. This means having a laser focus on what they say. This means you meet the person where they’re at.

It’s not about jumping straight to your own experience, making judgements or comparisons, or telling someone what to do in a forceful or patronising way. This leads to a person feeling like they’re not an equal or worse, that they shouldn’t have bothered saying anything. 

How to apply empathy

The best way to apply empathy is to learn to read a message as if the person is speaking to you. Tuning into someone else takes time and effort to do.

You’ll find yourself doing the following:

  • Looking at the words they use
  • Noticing the formatting of the message (bold, colours)
  • Looking for the big things they’re saying (or not saying)
  • Observing the emotions used
  • Noting any key questions.

Before replying, you’ll ask yourself ‘what’s the big thing it seems this person needs?’ and ‘what don’t they need?’

Constructing an empathic response

Your answer will consider what you’ve observed.

Book bin that says: Think before you speak. Read before you think.

You’ll avoid making judgements. You’ll summarise what the person said. If you want further clarity you might ask questions or say what it sounds like the person is saying. You might give the person options of things they could do, or ask them follow-up questions if you’re not sure.

You’ll re-read the message to be sure you’ve got it right. After all, your aim is to meet the person where they’re at, and encourage the person to keep in touch.

Setting boundaries

When we support other people as part of our jobs, we can feel that we need to solve everyone’s problems. Unmanaged, that responsibility leads to burnout.

Empathy should have two steps: we listen and show we’ve listened, and we give options of information/support or further help. 

Remember – empathy is just about understanding and connection. Keeping this clear boundary in place means you can be confident you’ve done all you can. 

graffiti message says you got this

Learning as you go

Empathy comes naturally to some people, but to others it feels uncomfortable. If you’re in the business of connecting people, it’s important to know the tools to connect with others, and empathy will definitely help you to do that.

Keep trying, and keep revisiting those key listening skills mentioned earlier. Make empathy a key skill for your team and plan to talk about how to take a supportive and listening approach to your communication. In time, empathy will become part of the way you support your community.

I’ll end with a challenge – remember the times you really felt you were listened to, you really felt like you belonged. Think of the difference it made. That’s why empathy matters.

Categories
Case studies Community advice Community improvement

Percy Pig, and the art of listening to your community

What do you do when you have a customer riot on your hands?
The Percy Pig sweets are a bit of an institution hence the exaggerated media response to a recipe change from M&S… Even the Guardian’s Food section have gotten involved!

Oh Piers, you’re surely running out of things to get outraged about …

M&S have used it as an opportunity to invite their brand community to form a feedback panel. I think this is an interesting move and shows the opportunity of acting on feedback and hoping to turn things around.

Percy Pig Panel

Calling all Percy fanatics! You’ve probably heard that our Percy Pigs are now 100% veggie-friendly. We know some people have their tail in a twist over this so we’re giving you the chance to have your say. Watch the video, tell us why you’re the ultimate Percy super fan and you could be one of the 100 people on our #PercyPigPanel who’ll decide if we should introduce a special edition Percy pack with gelatine back in. T&C's > http://po.st/PercyPigPanelTandCs

Posted by Marks and Spencer on Thursday, May 2, 2019

What can other organisations learn from this? How often do we ask people for their feedback and actively involve them in producing or improving products? How often do organisations reach out when they face criticism?

Listening matters

Actively listening your community is incredibly important for charities for the following reasons:

  1. Charities rely on people power and trust to generate funds to keep operating
  2. Charities rely on people power and trust to get support for their work, to galvanise campaigners, recruit volunteers and attract staff
  3. Charities should be led by and reflecting the voices of the people they are seeking to support
  4. Charities should be willing to listen to their supporters, service users and audiences to ensure they’re heading in the right direction.

Practical examples for charities

Below I’ve included some practical examples of how this can work.

Involving people when you are creating a new product or service via existing service user groups, giving engaged people a voice. Tip: this can be incredibly powerful but needs to be carefully framed and ensure that the ‘asks’ don’t cut into the other activities (what they turned up for).

Creating online feedback discussions via discussion threads, Q&A sessions or setting up a feedback platform. Tip: be careful to ensure that you engage with and facilitate the discussion where possible so people feel heard.

Involving people when making changes via workshops, online surveys, and testing sessions. Tip: again, it is really important to consider how to meaningfully facilitate this work and to frame it correctly.

Framing matters

Why does framing and facilitation matter? Bringing people together and leaving them without guidance can lead to chaos. There is nothing worse than people giving ideas you cannot implement and then feeling that you’re refusing to hear them, or receiving no response after giving feedback and feeling their input isn’t valued.

As for Percy, here’s hoping he will be around for many years to come.

Categories
Community industry

Our little corner of the web: caretaking and community

Today the web is 30 years old.

The founder of the web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee has written a passionately worded article about the future of his own invention, and hints at how community building plays a key part.

Opportunities and dysfunctions

Tim explains that the web has become more than just a place to find information, which was the initial purpose of the HTTP part of the internet we know as the web. The web is also a place to connect with others. It’s not only a shopping mall but also a service provider. A place to find humour, kindness and mutual support.

welcome sign with the image of a house, a cat and the word welcome

There are three key dysfunctions that are harming the web today, according to Tim: deliberate malicious acts, intentionally manipulative systems, and unintended consequences from things that had good intentions.

I think a fourth dysfunction underpins how those three dysfunctions are able to happen – the lack of effective resources (machine and human) for managing online spaces. In other words: ineffective or insufficient community management, design, development and web administration.

As recent articles have alluded to, Facebook’s failures indicate that their platform could be working as intended. Their response showing a new interest in ‘private spaces’ shows a possible change in direction – but time will tell.

red wall with a sign with the word private

Caretakers of the web

For websites, communities and networks to work well, we need community managers, moderators, designers, developers and web administrators.

We also need well-trained and well-resourced people and tools, ethical practices and organisations held to account by effective laws. This is vital to ensure the web is well managed, and users are protected from harm.

The Web Foundation which is working to bring this about with their Contract for the Web which asks people to:

Be creators and collaborators on the web so the web has rich and relevant content for everyone.

Build strong communities that respect civil discourse and human dignity so that everyone feels safe and welcome online.

Fight for the web so the web remains open and a global public resource for people everywhere, now and in the future.

The role of community

Community Managers have a key role to play in caretaking our own online communities and looking after our little corner of the web.

We have the ability to establish our own cultures – offering connection and encouragement, and enabling people to feel that they belong.

We’re able to manage expectations – removing damaging content, encouraging positive behaviour and closing the door on people who harm the wider community.

We’re also able to empower and enable – sharing useful information with newcomers, helping to co-create resources that benefit the community, and signposting people to specialist help and support.

multiple people building a house together

Community Managers who are dedicated to making the web a better place for everyone are worth their weight in gold.

Thanks to the commitment and hard work of many digital roles including community managers, the future’s looking good on the web. Here’s to another 30 years!

Categories
Community advice Self development

The best way to Help other people – Part two

This is part two of a blog series discussing self-care strategies for community managers at charities. [Read part one]

Looking after yourself is a tried and true ‘best’ way to help other people. Here are five more self-care strategies that help motivate and empower you, and keep you safe from burnout.

6. Look at ways to scale support for your community

Consider whether there are options to increase support for you and your community.

Get an agreement not only about your own responsibility for ‘out of hours’ but identify who could offer support so you can take leave. You may want to delegate to others in your team to cover agreed tasks, or to agree an ‘urgent queries only’ cover with another colleague working in a service user support role. Set clear expectations and ensure they’re clear on what’s expected, by sharing your processes, FAQs or letting them shadow you.

Look at other ways where you could agree support. For example you could ask colleagues with subject knowledge to help answer hot topic queries, or even answer questions on your community. You could agree an escalation process or a knowledge sharing agreement with your Helpline on more complex or emotive queries.

If you have a staff team, make sure you can all cover your basic BAU tasks like email enquiries and moderation. If your community is growing and you have an active member base, consider inviting members to support the tasks of welcoming others, being helpful, and flagging problems. You may also want to consider giving experienced members the opportunity to help with moderation. This can radically increase the effectiveness of handling spam and urgent issues, particularly out of office hours.

picture of toy monkeys in a chain of support with the background of a blue sky

7. Take breaks

This is obvious advice but I think people in digital support roles need to hear that they have permission to step away from their community and their day job. Your community is probably open 24/7 but you shouldn’t be.

This can be as simple as setting screen breaks, or checking in with other colleagues during the day to switch perspective. There are notable benefits of stepping away from your screen, particularly in the evenings.

If you can (and it works for you) agree at least one day out of office on a regular basis particularly for planning or development tasks when you may need to get your head down and focus. Set expectations with your team or with colleagues.

Most importantly, ensure you use annual leave – you’re entitled to it! Spend that time doing the things that matter to you.

8. Learn reflective practice

Reflective practice is so important for community managers as so much of your job is about handling issues, resolving conflicts and balancing the expectations of your organisation and also your community members.

You may be faced with emotionally charged conflicts, waves of resistance or abusive responses to moderation. An avalanche of issues can lead you to question your decision making and affect your confidence.

Reflect on how you respond to issues – not only what you say but how you say it. Catch yourself doing it right, as well as assessing responses that could have gone better. Consider your own emotional response.

Look on feedback as an opportunity to improve, or a way to recognise what is already working well.

I’d recommend spending time coming up with a list of ‘review’ questions that you can use to support yourself or others on your team. See the reflective practice model below for an idea of what to include.

When a challenging issue comes along (particularly an upsetting one), you can reassure yourself and your team by working through those questions and checking in on what you did well and could do differently.

9. Build your support network

Community management can be tough, and it can be an isolating role.

Build a network of support for multiple reasons – for buy-in, peer support, debriefing, advice and constructive challenge.

Start with people in your team, or people who also have user-facing roles in your organisation to offload, share perspectives and build a mutually helpful approach. This will prove especially helpful when you need to take a united approach to handling a major reputational issue.

Find people in similar organisations and build connections and trust. Ask questions, seek support, share war wounds (yes, this!) and explore ideas.

There are a number of comms-focused communities of practice in the UK charity sector, including Digital Charities on Slack, Third Sector PR and Comms Network on Facebook. For those running peer support communities there’s Modbods on Facebook.

Outside of the charity sector, the CMX Hub and CR Table groups on Facebook are worth a look to connect with others working in community management.

Try to find someone who has similar – ideally greater – knowledge and experience. No one knows everything. Find a mentor if you can, and make use of their experience to grow. Finding someone who will respectfully challenge you will help you to improve.

10. Redress the balance

Finally, one of the best ways to look after yourself is to take a balanced approach.

In this job you may handle difficult issues, support people in distress and take responsibility for resolving conflict. This comes with an emotional ‘cost’.

Redress the balance of handling heavy things by spending time doing things that make you feel energised.

What is meaningful and uplifting for you?

I support people who are distressed, bereaved and feel isolated. In my spare time I gravitate towards food movies, comedy and exploring London’s history. I offload with good friends in oak timbered pubs and walk the family dog.

To finish, I’ll share a video that inspired me to think about my own HappyList:

What’s on your HappyList? by zefrank. A part of me will always love this guy.
Categories
Community advice Self development

The best way to help other people

The answer: looking after yourself.

Really? How is looking after yourself a tried and true ‘best’ way to help other people?

If you work for a charity that might sound counter-productive. Surely your focus should be on the cause, the people in need, the people you support. Putting time into focusing on your own needs can feel distinctly uncomfortable, wrong somehow.

You’re probably under-staffed, under-funded, overwhelmed and trying to meet an increasingly endless wave of need. The challenges could include service users in distress, complex moderation issues, last-minute requests for case studies, problems that apparently only you can solve, and that regular ‘ping’ of emails on the work mobile phone.

Self care? 5 minutes of yoga, a smoothie and a smug self-help quote won’t cut it.

smoothie being poured away. image from unsplash

Ten self-care strategies 

Even with a low budget and limited resources, here are ten effective and helpful self-care strategies that work well for me. They can help motivate you, empower you, and keep you safe if you’re an online community manager at a charity.

1.Be clear about your remit

Doing this will help you to know what you should focus on, and what you should say no to. This can prevent feeling like you have to be all things to all people at all times, which leads to burnout.

Define remits around time by agreeing expected work hours and the type of issue that justifies attention out of hours.

Define remits around requests by agreeing the types of requests that people can make, and how you handle them. Don’t give any external (or internal) person a carte blanche to post requests without your involvement – that way lies chaos!

Define remits around moderation by being clear what you allow, what you don’t and why. This will set your culture and ensure everyone knows what is expected (more on that another time).

2. Talk to your Helpline team

If you’re regularly in contact with people who are emotionally distressed or experiencing really difficult times, this can quickly have a big impact on your own emotional wellbeing. If you have a Helpline team, speak to them about how they handle these feelings and the tools they have in place to help them support their callers.

In my experience, online community professionals for charities should learn empathic communication techniques used by Helplines, and apply them to their processes for handling moderation, complaints and other enquiries. Empathy and community go hand in hand.

3. Set a clear debrief and escalation process

Make sure you plan ahead and know how you will handle issues. This is a great way to retain control when unexpected and urgent things happen. You’ll feel calmer and reassured when you follow your own agreed process.

This should cover:

How you respond to reputational issues – from identifying a complaint to effectively resolving or escalating.

Getting the right skills and process for safeguarding users who may be at risk of harm or abuse. This is particularly important for charities and will help you to know you’ve done all you can to help users in the greatest need.

Agreeing a consistent moderation process that will help you to be confident in handling a wide range of issues.

The other important part of this is the debrief. Do you have someone to check in with after handling a difficult situation? Find someone to support you and help you to talk things through.

4. Look out for triggers

We all have things that upset us, make us angry or unsettled.

Trauma triggers can happen at any time. This could be a series of threads about losing a parent, a news story about sexual harassment, or a user being sexually abused.

Learning to recognise your own emotional response is important. Watch out for things that keep returning to your mind, or make you lose your calm.

It’s helpful to develop your own techniques for keeping one step removed from these issues. Empathic communication and reflective practice can help you to develop good techniques that enable you to offer support and keep you at a safe distance.

This will help to guard against burnout, or vicarious trauma.

5. Log and track positive feedback – why you do what you do

Appreciation matters (see previous blog). On a tough day when you’re facing budget cuts, crazy deadlines, and a wave of issues it can be easy to wonder why you bother.

Put a little time aside each week to log positive feedback – from simple thank yous to the detailed stories that help show the tangible impact your community has.

Invite others in your team or in your organisation to keep watch for feedback.

If you have more time, share this feedback in your newsletters (anonymising details) or share with your internal contacts.

In community we spend so much time doing the job we don’t shout enough about the great value of our work!

Thank you note and a cup of coffee. Photo by Hanny Naibaho on Unsplash

To be continued…

This is part one of a two part blog series discussing self-care strategies for community managers at charities. [Read part two]

Categories
Community advice Community industry

Appreciation matters

You never forget the important milestones in life like graduating from University, getting married, or being called a despot for removing a racist joke.

You nostalgically nod when recalling the first time someone told you “I wish I got paid for sitting on the internet all day.”* Or that time the charity CEO said “What’s the point of Facebook.”**

breathe image

Not a lot of people know this, but today is Community Manager Appreciation Day. If you manage an online space where people come together, you’ll probably feel overwhelmed at times, and misunderstood by many.

If you work for a charity, you’ll be absorbed in the real-life experiences of your supporters and on the receiving end of anger, complaints or disrespect. You’ll know the importance of ‘smiling from the wrists down’ when responding!

You’ll never forget the first person whose distress brought tears to your eyes, the first threat to leave your community due to a misunderstanding, or the first time a much-loved member passes away. You’ll know how important it is to find someone to offload with.

toy monkey chain showing support

You’ll also remember the first time someone told you why the community matters to them and what they’ve learned as a result. You’ll know the great feeling of reading through positive feedback, or being able to direct someone to the support they need.

If you’re new to community management, some of those things may be new to you. In time, you’ll find your own highs and lows, and your own tips and tricks to manage through tough times, learn from mistakes and share the great moments.

If you’re a lone community manager, you may not know who to connect with or how to go about this. The best way to do this is to find people in similar roles at similar organisations.

If you’re a community manager and you’re struggling, please know that you’re not alone. That there are others who understand.

Keep on learning, keep on sharing, keep on doing. You’ve got this.

graffiti message says you got this

Happy Community Manager’s Appreciation Day! More about CMAD:

http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/category/cmad

*Yes that happened to me.

**That too. In three months they knew they were wrong. In 3 years, I built the brand community from 0 to 14,000 people across multiple platforms.

Categories
Community strategy

Starting with why

It sounds obvious. Why start another blog about community? There are plenty of blogs on this subject from content gurus, marketing ninjas and people who describe themselves in much less cringe-worthy ways.

Because most blogs seem to be written for community managers who are in it for the money. Sounds controversial. However, the vast majority of community management blogs, websites and events are tailored for people who are in the business of selling things and making profit. In it for the money. What if you work for a charity?

Your ‘why’ will be fundamentally different. Your purpose will be a cause or a challenge, and a belief that if people join you in that purpose, the world could be fundamentally different.

What if your primary aim is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable? What if your primary users have a health condition? What if you’re in the business of giving (as well as asking)? What if your main driver is to bring social change, to tackle isolation, or encourage people to volunteer?

To meet your aims, you’ll need engagement and resources like any other organisation. To meet your aims well, you’ll need to connect people around your cause. You’ll need to empower people, to support people, to learn from people.

You’ll need to bring people together because if they buy into why you exist, they’ll want to join you in making your vision a reality. That goes far beyond a website visit, a donation, a newsletter subscription and into the business of building and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships aimed at making things better.

Community Management – the profession that brings people together – is vital to the success of a charity. Community has been steadily gaining traction in the charity sector and I’ve been excited to be part of this work over the past 10 years.

There’s much more that can be shared, discussed and learned, and more that can be done – so charities can connect people and make things better. This blog is my way of helping to share experience with others and I hope it will be helpful.

Community has always been primarily about people. John Coate, one of the world’s first online community managers said: “We realised pretty early on that we weren’t in the computer business, we were in the relationship business.”

Let’s bring people together – for good.

I’ll finish by sharing one of my favourite TED Talks, and the inspiration for this blog post. Before you do anything, it’s worth starting with why.

Simon Sinek – Start with Why. Full talk.

If you’ve only got five minutes, the edited version is below:

Simon Sinek – Start with Why. 5 minute edited version.