Angela Connor, online community strategist:  » Online communities can change lives »

angela Angela Connor, online community strategist:  Online communities can change livesAngela Connor, auteur de « 18 Rules Of Community Engagement », a une vraie passion pour les communautés. En plus de précieux conseils, elle nous livre ici une belle leçon sur la mission et les qualités requises pour être un bon responsable de communauté. Indispensable.

You wrote « 18 rules of community engagement? ». Why 18?
When I sat down and really thought about all that I do and have done to nurture and grow an online community, the list was long. When I went back and edited the list, I ended up with 18.

When I tried to edit it even further, (with the goal of getting it down to 10) I could not bring myself to remove a single item because they all seemed crucial.

That said, I kept them all and ended up with 18. There’s nothing scientific about that, but I went with my gut and my gut told me that I needed to share those 18 rules with the world.

There is no comprehensive guide that teaches people how to do this. It is something we are all talking about and something that organizations want and know they need to do, but there is no book dedicated to engagement. Well, up until now.

Why do you enjoy managing online communities?
I like seeing people who under most circumstances, would never communicate, much less meet in person and forge relationships, find one another and make those otherwise uncanny connections.

The exchange of ideas, daily camaraderie and personal connections are a testament to the possibilities of social media sites. Online communities can break down barriers. They can change lives and give people things they may not have in their lives.

Today, people and companies are craving for online communities. Do you think that it’s just a momentary trend or something stronger and deeper that will last for a long time?
Oh, I firmly believe that this is just the beginning. We are living in the conversation age, and that is not going to change. Savvy consumers want and expect more. The days of simply broadcasting your message to the masses are over. Interactivity is the name of the game and if you are not listening and engaging, you are going to lose. This is no trend, it’s the future.

What’s your favorite tool for building online communities?
I enjoy communicating with members, posting comments on their blogs and learning more about them through their photo galleries and comments. What I like most is highlighting the best content and bringing prominence to the little guy. So my favorite tool is engagement. That is what I enjoy. I like starting conversations and giving people a place to voice their opinions and learn from others. I could do that all day.

In terms of the actual tools for the community I manage we have a custom CMS developed in house. For my own personal community, I use various social media platforms. Twitter, Friendfeed, Facebook, LinkedIn, Slideshare. Whatever the platform, I can find a way to build community.

How looks like your average day?
My days vary widely and because of that I approach each day differently. I simply never know what’s coming. I could spend a lot of time responding to emails from community members, discussing policies with my team of moderators, creating new content… it varies a great deal.

I am responsible for engaging our community of more than 12,000 members, increasing that membership, and providing vision and long-range planning and direction for all content areas while highlighting the best of our community-generated content. I also work closely with other divisions and use other social media platforms to connect with members.

What is the toughest part of your job?
The toughest part of my job is the ugly side that often appears when people can operate under a cloak of anonymity. I can’t protect members from all of the havoc others can wreak and I can’t protect myself from it either. That’s tough.

What makes you pride of your online communities?
I am proud of the way the community comes together and supports one another during times of need. My community has raised money to keep another member from being evicted from her apartment, supported the family of two members who died recently and even hosted a yard sale to raise money to help those who have lost their jobs.

I am very proud to have built a community and environment where people can ask for help and provide help for others. It is a very empathetic community, and that makes me proud.

What are the top 3 things a community builder should do every day?
Greet and welcome new members.
Compliment contributors
Provide useful content

What are the metrics you use to measure the strength and the vitality of your online communities?
I think time spent is very important.. I value TIME a great deal. And when someone gives of theirs so freely when there are infinite choices, it says a lot about your product.

I look at the content creation, comment volume, number of blog posts, etc.

But again, time spent is important. I’d argue that it’s even more important than the number of new members.

Do you post or comment on your online community when you are on vacations?
Dominique, this is an unfair question! Are you trying to expose me as a workaholic?? Okay, I’ll be honest. Sometimes, yes. It depends on the length of the vacation and whether or not I’m near a computer.

If I just take a few days off, I tend to post if necessary. I definitely check in and even manage some content. But you have to remember, I launched this community and there is no one more vested in its success than me. I did go to Missouri last summer and I stayed away from the community for an entire week. That was tough. I was worried.

What are the skills any community builder must have and/or acquire?
First a foremost you have to have a genuine interest in people. But I am going to tell you what is really needed: Razor-sharp interpersonal communication skills, the ability to exhibit an enormous amount of tact, an extremely thick skin and a boatload of compassion for people you would rather not give an ounce. Did I mention grace under pressure, courage under fire, openness to criticism and tolerance beyond belief?

That about sums it up. The rest is easy.

What are your favorites blogs & forums about community management?
I’m a big fan of Community Spark, Community Guy, Feverbee, FreshNetworks, Online Community Report, Connie Bensen, Venessa Paech and Chris Brogan.

What would you say to our French community managers community?
You have to genuinely enjoy dealing with all kinds of people. This can be challenging work and you must be willing to put in a great deal of work to find success. You can be extremely creative and have a lot of fun and that’s not something every position allows. It you can become adept at this craft your future will be bright. So learn all you can and communicate with as many other community managers as you can find because no two experiences are alike and we can all learn a great deal from one another.

*******
Angela Connor
Journaliste & Community Strategist
Son blog : http://blog.angelaconnor.com/
Son livre : 18 Rules of Community Engagement
Twitter : http://twitter.com/Communitygirl

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