Skip navigation

Jive Internal Communities

2 Posts authored by: crossman

kevin-avatar.pngOne of the most unexpected experiences I had at JiveWorld was the single thing nearly every person I met mentioned to me: "I recognize you from your avatar."  I certainly expected people to recognize me by name perhaps, having been active in the Jive Community for almost three years. But to specifically mention the avatar got me thinking. Then I remembered an online acquaintance who introduced himself to me earlier at the conference. I heard his name but it took me a while to recall who exactly he was - until I pictured his name next to his avatar and then everything clicked. The trick with this fellow (who I'll leave anonymous...) was that his avatar wasn't a photo of him but was let's just say something more conceptual. It was hard for me to make the connection.

 

So, let's talk about "best practices" for avatars.

 

One thing I hope we all agree upon is that some avatar, any avatar is better than then "gray man" system default. Nothing says "don't take this person seriously" than a generic avatar.

generic-avatar.png

There's a very humorous entry on the Joy of Tech blog about avatars.  The premise, used for humorous effect, is that your avatar tells us about your personality. Do you have a photo of your child, or a group shot with you and your spouse? Or a cartoon character? Either way, it definitely says something about yourself (even if the snarky example doesn't always apply to everyone with a cartoon avatar).

geek-culture-cartoon.png

Avatar rules that might apply on Facebook or more socially-oriented communities are definitely different for business/professional communities such as the Jive Community or LinkedIn. On Facebook it can be fun to use the logo of your favorite sports team, but unless you work for the league or team it probably isn't the place inside a business community. Twitter is a unique example since for many it is definitely very business-oriented (for those trying to expand their reach as experts in the field), whereas others treat it very much like Facebook where there isn't much business talk. So, depending on how you use Twitter the best practices might vary.

 

Portraits for Avatars on Business-Oriented Communities

 

My opinion is that for business-oriented communities you will never go wrong using a portrait of yourself as your avatar. A good tight shot of your face at a fairly direct angle is best. Smiling if you want to project optimism, or a thoughtful look if you want a more serious tone. Either way, a good photo says "I know what I'm doing and I want you to get to know me."  And, despite a little snark, Joy of Tech agrees:

geek-culture-portrait.png

We all want to have good taste, right?

 

Now I'm sure some of you are saying "But, Kevin, I don't take good photos. Where do I get a good photo of myself?"  And I for one definitely understand this. I wouldn't say I've loved a lot photos of myself. But, this is still no excuse. With digital photography as pervasive and inexpensive as it has gotten, if you don't have at least a single fairly good photo of yourself you really aren't trying very hard. If a good avatar is important enough it even might be worth paying for; my avatar was taken at MacWorld Expo and the digital rights were $15 for a screen-resolution sized photo. I thought maybe it was a bit expensive but I'll tell you I've never regretted spending a few bucks to get one of the best photos of me ever taken.

 

For those of us who've attended JiveWorld over the years, this process is made even easier since Jive has provided professional photography sittings. These can definitely be a great way to get that special photo of yourself, suitable for "framing" inside your avatar in the Jive Community. 

 

Here are some examples of avatars that I think show of the personality of the people in question, but also make it easy to learn someone's face for those times when you meet in person (all avatars used with permission from Gia Lyons Deirdre Walsh  Tracy Mauer  and Trisha Liu).

gia-avatar.png  deirdra-avatar.pngtracy-avatar.pngtrisha-avatar.png

 

__________________________________________________

 

Kevin Crossman is the Enterprise Community Manager at Juniper Networks and a Jive Champion. He helped launch Juniper's Jive SBS based environment and supports other content management and collaboration tools at Juniper.

 

Kevin is a proud member of the Social Business Council, a collection of managers in large enterprises that are charting the course for 2.0 adoption.

 

You can connect with Kevin via direct message or via Twitter at @kevincrossman

 

The views expressed here are my personal opinions, have not been reviewed or authorized by Juniper Networks and do not necessarily represent the views of Juniper Networks.

photo.jpgWhat does it take to be an effective community manager?

 

Many talents are necessary, of course, but one in particular presented itself as I began planning recently for a family vacation. The skill in question was what Dawn Foster called "workaholic tendencies," and the idea isn't that you are literally working all day but that you're available nearly anytime to respond to questions or to moderate hotly debated topics.  My problem wasn't the vacation, but that my family was traveling to the "large square states" in the western United States where cellular data reception isn't always available. I was also traveling to western Canada where data roaming charges will question any employee's committment to "stay connected" to the workplace.

 

The other key behavior that comes into play is what Dawn calls "self motivation," but what others might describe as "control freak." You can definitely use that second term for me. It's okay; I wear it like a badge of honor. But, it's kind of hard to stay connected to your community and stay in control when your next bit of network connectivity is six or eight hours away. Plus, it might be nice to actually spend time with the family on the family vacation.

 

So, what's a good community manager supposed to do?

 

Most communities aren't led by a single person, so community managers definitely need to foster collaboration within their support teams. In my case, we have an extensive set of training and reference documents in our "Help" space for our internal employee instance of Jive called Matrix. This content is customized for our environment and addresses features and functionality, access/login issues, and other frequently asked questions. My support colleagues used this material to learn Jive quickly, and it is often useful in responding to questions from our users.

 

Secondly, we developed a series of templates for responding to common questions. These are used to respond to Helpdesk tickets or direct emails to our admin team's email alias. This keeps the messaging/tone consistent and is an efficient way to handle common questions that have links to reference docs or training. We store these in a restricted-access space available to the support team, and each of us can edit these over time to keep up with changes to our site.

 

I was very fortunate to have a great team working with me. This allowed me to really let go and trust the team to support the community in my absence.  This is perhaps the most important part of the formula, because if you stress out over every possible and nuanced "I wouldn't have said it exactly like that" support response you'll never have a trouble-free moment ever again. You learned how to do this stuff through trial and error, and your colleagues deserve some consideration and freedom in this area too. So, you have to give your team opportunities to learn for themselves.

 

With these in pieces in place, our community was well supported even with the community manager off the grid.

 

In all honesty, I was impressed by my colleagues’ efforts in supporting Matrix while I was away. And I impressed myself by letting go, at least for a couple weeks .

 

__________________________________________________

 

Kevin Crossman is the Enterprise Community Manager at Juniper Networks. He helped launch Juniper's Jive SBS based environment and supports other content management and collaboration tools at Juniper.

 

Kevin is a proud member of the 2.0 Adoption Council, a collection of managers in large enterprises that are charting the course for 2.0 adoption.

 

You can connect with Kevin via direct message or via Twitter at @kevincrossman

 

The views expressed here are my personal opinions, have not been reviewed or authorized by Juniper Networks and do not necessarily represent the views of Juniper Networks.

Filter Blog

By date: By tag: