Lift11: Tiffany St James, How to encourage involvement in online communities

[fr] Notes de la conférence Lift11 à Genève.

Live and India-lagged notes from the Lift11 Conference in Geneva. Might contain errors and personal opinions. Use the comments if you spot nasty errors.

Community engagement benefits: connecting with like-minded individuals, p2p recommendations, resources, stimulation, engagement with people in their spaces…

Gardening community. Craigslist. Communities of practice. Communities of circumstance (people drawn together by events).

Types of online community:

  • led by individuals vs. organisations
  • conversation-oriented vs. content-oriented

[photo coming]

But there are also risks in online engagement. Also, the engagement has changed over the last five years. “UM Social media Wave 5″.

OK, we know all these things, so what?

Trust in communications has changed. More powerful than professional sources: good contact on social network (3rd most powerful recommendation source, just after family member and close friend), author of a blog you read regularly, main contacts on Twitter.

Smart mobs, democracy in action? People are using social media on a lobbying level. Use of #cnnfail hashtag to get more coverage on CNN about Iran.

Last year: BP and pollution.

The truth will out: gagging order on the Guardian about Trafigura.

What can we learn from wikileaks? Tiffany threw away her notes to follow Tapscott: we are going to be naked in this age of hyper-transparency. So we better be fit.

Using social media for good: microloans, green stuff, human rights.

Individuals can have enormous power (cf. Beth Kanter — she’s just one person!)

Turning online action into offline action. Big businesses are also using it for good: promoting local endeavours that they want to champion. Voting causes up and down.

Connecting like-minded individuals: nike

All very well, but what does this mean for me? Should I throw a party or join one? Create a community or join an existing one?

You need to first identify relevant communities. Search google with relevant keywords.

Criteria: number of posts and topics, their date, the member list, structure and management, contact details of moderator…

Never underestimate the ressources needed to simply host a community and manage it.

Set an objective:

  • listening?
  • stimulating a discussion?
  • looking for feedback on a particular issue?
  • co-producing something?

Rule of participation inequality: 90% of people in the community are lurkers, 9% intermittent contributors, 1% heavy contributors.

Need to change strangers into lurkers. Change lurkers into commentators. Turn the commentators into creators.

Another way of manifesting a community is to develop a partnership.

Continual optimisation: not that many metrics we can use, but there are some. Some KPIs (what are we trying to achieve that we can measure?)

There isn’t enough work on exit strategies for a community. Change of government: how do you stop maintaining some of the communities set in place? If no strategy, hurt and disgruntled participants. You can’t just shut things down. Be transparent about your exit strategy: what will happen when it’s over?

5 things to look out for:

  • myth: build it and they will come
  • don’t be too too strict
  • conflict: moderator/participants (not too much ego in moderators)
  • not too complex
  • don’t neglect the community and the moderator interaction

Code of conduct: credible, consistent, transparent, etc.

Are you ready for this?

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