Taking a Week Off

Community Signal is taking this week off and will return next week. Due to a series of unfortunate scheduling conflicts, we were not able to record an episode in time. Our next episode will be released on September 19. I apologize for the delay.

If there are any recent episodes that you haven’t listened to, this would be a great opportunity to catch up!

Thank you for your patience and for listening to Community Signal.

The Skills You Gain From Starting a Community

Andy McIlwainIf you’re interested in community as a profession, and you’re looking to build your experience, start an online community. This industry is full of amazing people who trace their roots back to taking initiative, not simply reading and studying, but actually doing. Our guest on today’s show is an example of this.

Andy McIlwain, who works in community at GoDaddy, will tell you that he has only been doing this “professionally” for one year. But his experience in community dates back to the late ’90s, when he began to moderate and manage gaming communities on a volunteer basis and as something he did on the side. But when a perfect job opened up at GoDaddy, he found that the skills he had been building for the last 15+ years translated pretty easily to the corporate world. We also discuss:

  • What ezboard and Medium have in common
  • The partnership model for growing online communities
  • How GoDaddy identified the customers they wanted to be early adopters in their community

Continue reading “The Skills You Gain From Starting a Community”

Supporting the Mental Health of Front Line Community Pros

Joi PodgornyCommunity pros on the front lines, the ones who stand between your members and disturbing content, are often viewed as expendable. Use them up, and hire more. Even though they may see the most psyche-damaging content the internet has to offer, companies usually do not make their mental health a priority.

Joi Podgorny argues that not only should companies offer this support, they have an ethical responsibility to do so. This episode is all about how these professionals should be treated by their employers, which will allow those employers to get the greatest work out of them. Topics include:

  • How to ensure remote workers aren’t viewed by the office as outsiders
  • The ways that companies can emotionally support the moderators of sensitive content
  • Why taking care of other people’s kids online is so impactful

Continue reading “Supporting the Mental Health of Front Line Community Pros”

How Marketers Should Approach Community

Ted SindzinskiTed Sindzinski is a world-class digital marketer, who has led those efforts at SVS, Monster Cable/Beats by Dr. Dre and Jenny Craig. He’s also done something that most marketers never have: co-found a large, category-leading online community.

There aren’t many digital marketers that have the understanding of community that Ted does, an understanding that he applies to marketing efforts to leverage the power of community (especially third party communities that the brands he works with don’t own) to drive sales and revenue. Among our topics:

  • Justifying the investment of a forum outreach program
  • How community owners can convince companies to make them part of their paid media spend
  • The ways that businesses can begin to understand the impact communities are having on their sales

Continue reading “How Marketers Should Approach Community”

SWAT Team Commander and Community Moderator

Alex EmbryAlex Embry has been with me as a moderator for more than seven years. He also happens to be a SWAT team commander and training sergeant at the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office, outside of Chicago, where he has worked for 12 years.

He is one of two moderators, of my current team, that works in law enforcement. This isn’t something we did deliberately, but I also don’t think it’s a coincidence. There are some really interesting correlations between good law enforcement and good moderation. That’s what we explore with Alex on this episode, including:

  • Why policing and moderation are about more than identifying violations
  • How to limit and address abuse of power and corruption
  • When suicide and offline threats should be taken to law enforcement

Continue reading “SWAT Team Commander and Community Moderator”

Managing Oprah’s Community

Jenn PeddeOprah Winfrey has one of the strongest personal brands in the world, with a massive legion of fans, subscribers and supporters interacting with her online initiatives every single day. This includes a substantial online community and UGC-tied efforts.

Jenn Pedde spent almost two years as lead community manager for Oprah’s online communities. This included tranisitioning from the previous community management team, that had been in place for 16 years, as well as moderation, staffing, community engagement, customer service and more. Plus:

  • Why (some) for-profit companies should launch alumni networks for ex-employees
  • The creation of #cmgrchat and the viability of Twitter chats in 2016
  • Imposter syndrome and how Jenn felt it when taking over the Oprah account

Continue reading “Managing Oprah’s Community”

The Application of Community Guidelines

Zack SheppardWhen it comes to community guidelines, there is a lot more to them than just writing and publishing a single document. The application of them spawns a series of processes that ensure consistency and keep them up to speed with challenges currently facing the community.

Zack Sheppard has spent time in community at Flickr, Pinterest and Kickstarter, helping them to develop guidelines, enforce them and train staff members how to do so. This episode features a loose discussion around internal and external community guidelines. Plus:

  • The value of a strong mentor in the community space
  • How enforcement guidelines help create consistency between staff members
  • What it’s like to update the guidelines of a community like Flickr

Continue reading “The Application of Community Guidelines”

Medical Research in Online Communities

Amrita BhowmickAs health care and pharmaceutical companies aim to better understand specific medical conditions, they are turning to online communities of engaged patients, to conduct research and recruit for clinical trials.

Listener Jenn Lebowitz suggested that we try a Q&A episode, so we’re doing it! If you have any questions that you would like me to answer on the air, please submit them!

Health Union is at the center of these efforts. Their business is managing a collection of communities, each focused on a different medical condition. They generate revenue by connecting companies with the people in their communities – the patients those companies want to serve. This episode features a deep drive into these programs with chief community officer Amrita Bhowmick. Plus:

  • Why health care companies are choosing to work with online communities
  • What does the community get out of participating in research?
  • How Health Union seperates community from sales to avoid a conflict of interest

Continue reading “Medical Research in Online Communities”

The Power of Explanation and the Curse of Knowledge

Lee LeFeverThe ability to communicate clearly is so important for community professionals. We say this a lot, but we rarely break it down much beyond that. What we really mean is that you have to be able to explain things. Explanation is a skill.

How you explain something is as important as what you’re explaining. It impacts how well your message is understood and whether or not people will be supportive of it. Quality explanations make your life easier. Poor explanations make it harder.

When I need help explaining something, I turn to Lee LeFever, a pioneer in online explainer space as the founder of Common Craft. They have helped Google, Intel, LEGO, Ford, Twitter and others explain their products to the world. What many don’t know is that Common Craft was actually started as an online community consultant and Lee has a great background in the community space. We discuss:

  • Why you should create explainer videos for your community
  • How to explain changes and problems
  • The reasons that explanations fail

Continue reading “The Power of Explanation and the Curse of Knowledge”

How Companies Can Ethically Engage on Reddit

David DiGiovanniReddit is an online community, possibly best described as a series of smaller ones, much like independent niche online communities. One subreddit (or section of Reddit) can be completely different from another.

But just like other niche online communities, these subreddits can be very beneficial to businesses – if they participate in the right way. If you’re sloppy or fail to account for the community norms, you could do substantial damage to your reputation. This episode features David DiGiovanni. He helps companies and individuals tap into the power of Reddit in an ethical way. Plus:

  • How to host a successful Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything)
  • Should companies launch and manage their own subreddits?
  • What tactics does the Reddit community frown upon?

Continue reading “How Companies Can Ethically Engage on Reddit”