Community and social computing
I should be getting some early copies of my new book, Social Networking for Business (Wharton School Press, 2010) straight from the printer/binder just before Lotusphere. I'm planning on bringing some to hand out at the event either during lunch--our BlueIQ Social Software Adoption team will be hosting two tables with signs, so come by and talk to us. We'll be chatting on just about anything around adoption, how we do it in IBM, and what you can do with social computing.
If you haven't seen it yet, it is available at, Amazon, Barnes&Nobles or other booksellers around the 24-29th this month. Kindle versions should be out a few days earlier.
A discussion on community manager or builder's skills on Twitter incited me to post this list below. The following are various personality traits, behaviors and skills to look for in a Community manager or builder, straight out of my new book, Social Networking for Business (Wharton School Press 2010):
- Listening: A large part of a community manager’s role is being responsive to the members of the social group, noting their issues and tone, and having the patience and willingness to put things aside to pay careful attention to issues and problems.
- Talking: Writing or talking about their experiences, ideas, events, or other insight in a natural or casual tone helps users get to know the CMs better. This is not about marketing or making sales pitches, nor is it an extensive academic or official report.
- Taking notes: Good community managers are always taking notes, literally or mentally, and saving or organizing them in a retrievable fashion. In a conversation, they are listening carefully and taking notes on the key points the other person is trying to make. If CMs need to write something down, they can ask users for permission to take notes. With problem issues, CMs might perform the physical act of note taking, either with pen and paper or through tagging and writing online; mental notes often get lost or forgotten. The notes saved are helpful in other activities.
- Building relationships: Listening and talking sets a frame to build relationships with members. This is not just remembering the names of members, but also paying careful attention to their motivations, interests, activities, relationships, and other facets of their lives.
- Engaging in remote or virtual interactions: Being comfortable working in an environment in which you might never physically meet the users you work with is important. Online environments frequently do not require a physical office location, giving community managers the freedom to work from home or other venues. This also means having the responsibility to actually perform work in such a remote environment and to avoid distractions. However, this is not exclusive; knowing how to interact with members you have never met in face-to-face situations is also useful.
- Energizing members: A good community manager’s personality engages and energizes the people he or she talks to. These community managers like to shine the light on others’ activities and bring awareness to such activities they consider significant.
- Mediating: Within any social group, some degree of debate or argument eventually will arise. Community managers can play a role in mediating or arbitrating when things get rough. They don’t need to be the ones to find every solution: it’s better if the parties come up with a proposed solution: but they need to be open and seen as neutral.
- Voicing for the membership: Community managers might need to negotiate with other parties: whether competing for attention in the same organization or working with other sites, events, or groups: to bring attention to their own community or members. Community managers should be able to act as a voice for the overall group to the sponsoring organization or to other groups.
- Finding a way: CMs must handle a variety of issues—some I see occurring repeatedly, and others are fairly unique. Community managers need to have a drive to find a way to solve problems. This means persistence, intelligence, creativity, social awareness, and more. No template exists for this role—it requires an instinctual nature of wanting to help people.
I noticed Hutch Carpenter's (@bhc3) post about this proposed session in Enterprise 2.0 conference where he's talking about different forms of competition. I had to share this excerpt from chapter 4 on Social Tasks of my book on the different forms of working together on a social/collaborative task.
Another excerpt from :
Another excerpt fromSocial Networking for Business
"The next step of defining a social task is to consider how members perform this task collectively. Social software aggregates the behavior or content from many individuals into overall results or collections of results. However, you can use different methods to perform aggregation:
- Independent: Members work on the task separately, but the results are aggregated across all members. Their discrete actions and results might not be directly visible to others: the results are visible only as an converged aggregate value (for example, closed ballot voting).
- Autonomous: Members work on the task separately of each other, and their results are distinctly visible to other members as separate work. This creates opportunities in which members might benefit from information that multiple other members share. A collection of divergent results across the many members or a single convergent result (such as brainstorming on ideas) can occur.
- Consensus: A group of members works directly together on the task with the intent to deliver an overall collective result, even if it’s not unanimous or convergent. Tasks often require analysis, discussion, and debate to arrive at a collective answer. The ultimate goal is to converge and deliver a single collective result, but members might not always agree on one answer and there sometimes produce multiple options as results.
- Deliberative: A group of members works directly together without the intent or necessity of coming to a consensus on a single result. These are typically discussions or interactions that can spread out in many directions, depending on how subsets of members interact.
- Combative: Members must compete against each other to derive the best result from the group, denying other choices.[i] Unlike consensus forming, only a single answer is provided from all the choices the group generated.
Glass, Designing Your Reputation System in 10! Easy Steps, IA Summit
Per Rachel Happe's post on the value of community management, I wanted to share some thoughts on the value that the role of a community manager can bring to a community and to a business sponsoring the community. These are excerpts from the chapter on community and social experience management in my book (Social Networking for Business, Wharton School Press, 2010). Hopefully they stand alone, although the chapter provides relationships to the bigger picture.
The core competency here is in terms of facilitating relationships and communications between different parties. There are in fact many different types of interactions that this role takes on. In as such, this means they participate as a part of many different role-interaction patterns. This is significant since when such patterns are frequent and repeated, it becomes almost transactional, and therefore measurable. If you need the example of a more common role-interaction pattern: think of a support call from initial contact to completion after a solution or resolution has been reached and the customer is verified as satisfied. Each such complete interaction has a measurable value; or you could also measure it in terms of cost or time it took to conduct that interaction end-to-end. Finally, you could also measure it in terms of quantity of those interactions actually reaching completion rather than partial or incomplete resolutions (likely meaning an unhappy customer left hanging).
The RI patterns for Community managers are of a different sort but the following tables give some suggestions of the kinds of patterns they could participate in.
Table 9.1 -- The Value of Community Managers
Table 9.2 Supporting Customers or Partners
There's another table on their roles within the enterprise supporting employee and organizational interactions.