Online Communities in the Post-Facebook Era

Matt Mecham’s code has powered far too many online communities to count. Developing popular online community software since 2001, he worked on YaBB and founded Ikonboard, before co-founding Invision Power Services, the company behind Invision Community.

Given his long view of the industry, Matt sees the timeline of online community as progressing through a few eras: The early years, when he began developing software. The middle years, where platforms became more cognizant of UI considerations and SEO. The recent years, Facebook opening to the public and the resulting impact. And now, which he refers to as the “post-Facebook era.” Where will online communities go in that era? Plus:

  • The community software business shift from licensing to SaaS (software as a service)
  • New features vs. bloat
  • Why he turned down a job offer from vBulletin

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How Community Platforms Address the Member Life Cycle

When a member makes a post on your community, there is a status associated with that post. How long they have been a member, how many contributions they have, their reputation, whether or not they are a staff member – all of these things impact their status.

While the content of the post may remain the same, the status of the member changes, as their reputation does or they are removed from staff. Still, when you view their post – old, new, good or poor – only their current status tends to be reflected. That’s one of our topics this week, as we celebrate 2 years of the show with Mark Williams. Plus:

  • What community platforms can do to encourage co-creation
  • Why Mark voted to deprioritize community at the company where he works
  • Early gamification systems

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Building Executive-to-Executive Online Communities

A lot of value can be found for executives within an online community of their peers. But how can you get them make time to participate, and to let their guard down enough to actually share meaningful things?

That’s the focus of this episode with Adam Zawel, who built and managed executive-to-executive communities for more than a decade. Plus:

  • Deciding when to allow the fish and the sharks to interact
  • Why it’s good to be snobbish
  • Helping community members who aren’t allowed to post due to company policy

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A Forums-Focused Digital Agency

Audentio, the parent of ThemeHouse, is a forums-focused digital agency, with high profile clients like AVForums, Mac Rumors and Android Forums.┬áThere aren’t too many (any?) agencies focused this seriously on forums, working at such a high level.

Founder and owner Mike Creuzer has been working in forums since he was 11, starting on an MSN TV, and they’ve had a massive impact on his life. Though currently focused on XenForo, Mike and Audentio have worked with many forum platforms over the years, giving him an interesting perspective on the space, and where it’s headed. Plus:

  • How a Harry Potter forum taught him more about being a person, than about Harry Potter
  • Why being a developer-friendly forum platform is important
  • The forum platform Audentio is migrating people from the most

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Building a Community for People With Dementia

Most of the members of the Alzheimer’s Society’s Talking Point community don’t have dementia. But 4% do. And that creates a unique challenge when it comes to designing an online community.

Features that we might take for granted, like saved drafts, take on a whole new meaning when you are experiencing short term memory loss. Community manager Serena Snoad joins the show to talk about building a welcoming community for people with dementia, plus:

  • How memory loss impacts how they moderate
  • Debriefing sessions that Serena offers to staff members who have handled a stressful issue
  • Why XenForo was the right software choice for them, in their recent relaunch

Disclosure: Serena has kindly supported our show’s Patreon campaign. I’ve known her for years, and it has nothing to do with her being a guest on the show, but I felt it was worth mentioning.

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Online Community for a Funeral Insurance Company

We’ve covered a lot of community use cases on Community Signal. Here’s a new one: An online community for a funeral insurance company.

That is just one of many communities that Kirsten Wagenaar has helped build, in her 8+ year career in online community. As the founder of CMNL, the organization for Dutch community pros, she has been among the leaders in growing the community industry in the Netherlands. We also discuss:

  • The reasonable approach to community ROI
  • How client expectations for community tools are sometimes disconnected from reality
  • Kirsten’s advice for starting your own community association

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Delphi Forums, the Enduring Legacy of an Online Pioneer

Pioneering online service Delphi, launched in 1981, has been a lot of things over the years, as ownership changed hands several times, and priorities shifted. But in 2017, what’s the enduring legacy of Delphi? What remains today? The forums.

Dave Cayem spent 15 years at Delphi Forums, surviving multiple acquisitions and eventually leaving as vice president and chief community officer, before moving on to senior community and customer service roles at CustomMade and Booster. Dave shares stories from his time at Delphi Forums, plus:

  • Introducing a freemium model when people are already used to free
  • How Dave addressed a community that was “not too pleased” when he joined CustomMade
  • The similarities between community and customer service that he didn’t fully appreciate until switching from one to the other

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The One Community Metric to Rule Them All

You just took a new community job, and you’re already feeling the pressure to prove your worth. You need some quick community wins. What metric should you focus on?

Bas van Leeuwen has an answer. He is the co-founder of community metrics dashboard Community Analytics, and community measurement fills the second half of this episode. Analytics aren’t scary or difficult, you just have to know what to look for. Plus:

  • The state of community management in the Netherlands
  • Integrating community into an “inside-first” company
  • Bas’ one community metric to rule them all

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When You Ask a Room Full of Senior Staff What Community Is

In January, Project Management Institute community engagement specialist Marjorie Anderson delivered a presentation to a room full of senior staff. She asked them a question: “Can anyone tell me what community is?”

Surprised by the answers she received, Marjorie endeavored to make community more well understood by those in the organization. Those efforts are a topic on this episode, as are Project Management Institute’s move to close 36 communities or practice in favor of ProjectManagement.com, a previously independent community that they acquired at the start of 2014. Plus:

  • Why Marjorie initially thought she wouldn’t be a good fit for a community role
  • The communities of practice model, and why it no longer served PMI’s members
  • What Marjorie is focusing on as she revamps their community metrics

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