As a community manager, you’re always looking for ways to improve the user experience, upgrade the platform and implement enhancements when and where it makes sense. No problem. Being the great project manager that you are, everything is organized and documented. But I have to ask, after all that hard work to ensure a seamless member experience, when was the last time you looked at your maintenance page? After all, your online community maintenance page is what members will see when your site is brought is down to deploy those changes.
If you’re standing up a branded community, your maintenance page should reflect the same theme and associated logos. This is a very important point if your company has gone though a rebrand or launched a new product.
Even more important, the contact info displayed on the maintenance page should be current for obvious reasons.
So, when was the last time your maintenance page was updated?
Photo credit: justinbaeder
I can sum up this experience in 7 words; passionate nerd-fest with a side of awesomeness. The anticipation of getting inside, the energy levels on the exhibit floor, the excitement of the latest thing, the video games obviously and the people watching makes me want to attend year after year.
I was able to attend a handful of sessions, but I’d like to focus on two that made the biggest impression on me; “Online Gaming Communities and ‘Real Life’ Relationships” and “What the Heck is a Community Manager”
The goal of the “Online Gaming Communities and “Real Life” Relationships session was to discuss the communities we all have created and support, and how they impact real life relationships for gamers of all types. Basically, the relationships we form online, translate into tangible relationships offline by means of casual acquaintances, friendships or as far as marriage in the case of Morgan Romine (Frag Dolls Manager & PhD Candidate, Ubisoft) and her husband whom she met on Xbox LIVE. It turned into a very personal discussion and it was apparent just how affected the panelists were from their online interactions. Hamza Aziz (Community Director, Destructoid) went as far to say that “Online communities saved my life.”
Trolling is a product of online anonymity.
Online communities are social support systems.
What offline relationships have you formed as a direct result of online interactions?
The goal of the “What the Heck is a Community Manager” session was really to address what he or she does and why there is a growing number of community management positions at publishers and development studios. This was especially interesting. The attendee turnout was phenomenal. The panelists mostly spoke about their career paths, all of which were different. And each touched upon how they manage their respective communities.
There’s no direct path to becoming a community manager. Use the skills you have, network and be passionate.
Moderation of an online community is like giving a colonoscopy…you’re always in there looking for something wrong.
What words of advice would you give an aspiring community manager?
The Exhibit Hall
Ok, here’s the fun stuff. Armed with my iPhone and a Flip Cam, I set out to capture the essence of the event. Enjoy!
Level-setting Your Organization
Your online community will ultimately have two strategies, a community member strategy; what’s in it for your members and an enterprise strategy; what’s in it for you as an organization. I am going to address the latter with this blog post. Not so much the importance of having a strategy, but more of what it should contain. I think we can all agree that by definition, strategies are important, duh.
The strategy doesn’t have to be, nor should it be this long winded document with a bunch of legalese. Make it straight and to the point. Since online community interactions span all departments, it needs to be easily understood by all levels of your organization; from senior executives to the most recent hire. It should aim to level set your organization and take away the guess work and assumptions your colleagues may have of why you have an online community, what you’re trying to achieve and how it will improve (possibly change) the way you conduct business.
Here’s an outline of what your internal strategy document should contain:
A. What is your online community? – This should be your elevator pitch. A short summary that defines your online community and its value proposition.
B. Why an online community? – Address why you’re establishing an online community. The community must satisfy a need. Were your customers, internal or external, asking for one? Are you looking for support cost savings? Do you want to connect more closely with your customer base? List all those needs as if you’re building a case.
C. How did you get to this point? – Somewhere along the way, you did your homework and surveyed your customers on whether they are or would participate in an online community. Take this opportunity to back up your strategy with some key points from that exercise.
D. How will your online community complement your business? – Online communities won’t entirely replace existing processes. In most cases, they’ll act as an additional channel for you and your customers to interact. You’ll need to communicate how an online community will not cannibalize certain job functions or business units and instead, how they complement them.
E. Who will benefit? – Obviously, the answer is your internal and external customers. But be specific. Identify the exact departments and an ROI metric if possible.
Do you have an internal strategy document? What would you add to this outline?