When Community Members Die

Sue JohnIf you manage an online community long enough, you will have members who experience the ups and downs that life has to offer. They’ll accomplish great things. They’ll find love, get married and have kids. But they’ll also deal with personal loss. They’ll fall ill, and they’ll die.

Sue John, a community manager and engagement specialist at Emoderation, launched the definitive community for British expatriates. She guided it for 15 years, and it grew to more than 10 million posts. Not one, but (at least) four couples met and were married, because of that community. Members have also passed away. On this episode, we explore the joy and pain that comes with the long term management of an online community. Plus:

  • The credibility that comes from being the community founder
  • How to leave a community that you have managed for a long time
  • Why forum-based communities are Sue’s “first love”

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Your Community Team’s Personal Brand

Jenn LebowskiSome companies don’t want their employees, even their community team, to have a strong personal brand. They feel like time spent on a personal brand is time away from the business, and that the employee is building their brand on the back of the company.

That’s not the case at Health Union, an owner and operator of communities targeted at health conditions. They encourage their community team to build strong personal brands – during work hours – that they can take with them when they leave. Jenn Lebowitz, senior director of community development, is my guest this episode, during which we also discuss:

  • Why we don’t want people to become addicted to our communities
  • How Health Union uses a mix of in-office and distributed team members to ensure full coverage of their communities
  • Looking for the best in troublesome members

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Online Community Onboarding

Samuel HulickI love what Samuel Hulick is doing at UserOnboard. His teardowns of the initial onboarding efforts of popular websites, apps and social media platforms are insightful, humorous and good-spirited.

According to Samuel, “user onboarding is the process of increasing the likelihood that new users become successful when adopting your product.” Onboarding is a big topic for online communities. We want to increase the likelihood that new members will become amazing contributors. We couldn’t have a better guide than Samuel. Among our topics:

  • The creative, less disruptive ways of confirming email addresses
  • How to introduce new members to community functionality
  • Using lifecycle emails to engage members

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Combating the Biases That Lead to Unequal Credit

Carrie Melissa JonesWith an eye on the conscious and unconscious biases that lead to the contributions of women being overlooked and undervalued, this episode focuses on credit. Sharing it, taking it and ensuring it reaches those who have earned it; not just those who are the loudest.

My guest is Carrie Melissa Jones, the COO and founding partner at CMX. They recently released Keys to Community Readiness and Growth, a study aimed at helping brands prepare for success in their online community efforts. Plus:

  • The balance between praising the community and recognizing your own accomplishments
  • Celebrating churn
  • How CMX hopes to collaborate with other industry resources

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Here’s a Plan That Will Increase Customer Advocacy by 25%

Jay BaerWhen a company responds to a complaint posted in an online forum, they receive a greater boost to customer advocacy than when responding to complaints lodged through phone, email, social media or review sites.

This is according to a new study conducted by Jay Baer, for his latest book, Hug Your Haters. This episode focuses on modern customer service and how you can exceed customer expectations by understanding the untapped value of online forums and communities you don’t control. Plus:

  • How companies react when Jay tells them they should be in forums
  • Why customer support is a career opportunity for community professionals
  • The myth of call deflection

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Copyright (and the DMCA) for Community Professionals

Jonathan BaileyCopyright can seem like a big, intimidating topic. But it’s one of the most important areas of law for the online community builder, because we are constantly working with content. Sometimes our own, but mostly the content of others.

This episode is all about helping you to understand how copyright impacts your work. My guest is Jonathan Bailey, a copyright consultant at CopyByte and the author of Plagiarism Today, a respected publication on matters of copyright and intellectual property. Plus:

  • How the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) works
  • The copyright ramifications of animated GIFs
  • Who owns the content posted on your community

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Fan Sites and Angry Community Members

David DeWaldCompanies mishandle fan sites all the time. If you are lucky enough to have fans building resources and communities around your products, services or talents, you have something really special on your hands. Don’t ruin it.

David DeWald’s experience in community is diverse. He created a large, successful gaming fan site. Then, he leveraged that success to land a job in the industry, working at Acclaim Games and Bioware. In recent years, he has been building community for B2B companies, Thunderhead.com and Carbon Black. On this episode, we bridge these worlds, including:

  • The pros and cons of Jive-x (and enterprise software in general)
  • How to win over an angry or even “trollish” community member
  • That time I was threatened with a rapper’s entourage

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Community Professionals Should Own Retention

Evan HamiltonEvan Hamilton believes that community professionals should own retention. I’m a believer. If you read the description of the show in the sidebar, you’ll find this: “Marketing brings new customers. Community helps you keep them.”

This is a great way to communicate the business value of community. Rather than saying it’s about engagement or having a conversation, it’s about keeping our customers and increasing their lifetime value. Plus:

  • How commitment curves help plot a course for user contributions
  • Why free speech can be problematic for online communities
  • The legality of online community volunteers

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Community Signal Will Return Next Week

Unfortunately, the next episode of Community Signal will not be released on February 1, as expected. The show will return on February 8.

An episode was recorded, and while the content was great, the audio quality was not. Rather than push out a grainy episode (that can be re-recorded at a later date), I have decided to simply skip this week and get back on track next week. I apologize for the delay.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Online Community Software Must Improve Upon the Word Censor

Brian PontarelliFiltering technology is essential for large online communities and can be beneficial for communities of all sizes. But I almost never hear community and forum software vendors talk about it. Most communities are simply stuck with a basic word censor. Why?

That’s one of the questions I asked Brian Pontarelli on this episode of Community Signal. He’s the CEO of Inversoft, a leader in filtering tech for online communities. Plus:

  • Filtering systems that involve the user and don’t simply remove their post
  • The benefits of unified user management
  • Why Inversoft caters to smaller online communities

Continue reading “Online Community Software Must Improve Upon the Word Censor”