4 Replies Latest reply on Feb 3, 2012 12:43 PM by cflanagan17

    What does it take to build a successful community? How many hours a week will we need to dedicate? ...

      What does it take to build a successful community? How many hours a week will we need to dedicate? How much content will we have to create and post? Can you provide us with a fail proof best practices list?


      These are questions that I get asked quite often as a Community Manager, and to be completely frank-I struggle to answer with complete confidence. I honestly don't know if there is a specific and accurate answer to each of these questions. And yet, not providing an answer is not an option; the best I can do is think, research, ask, and then provide guidance based on my own experiences, what I have read, and what others are saying.


      As technology and time progress, so too will the answers to these questions. And thus we must continue to ask ourselves them everyday.


      In order to start documenting the many answers to these questions, I would like to open it up to YOU: community users, and thus community experts. Do you have answers? If so, post below!

        • Re: What does it take to build a successful community? How many hours a week will we need to dedicate? ...

          My answer would be it depends!  I don’t know that there is anything failproof when dealing with humans. There’s quite a bit of uncertainty in this whole thing – the human factor and what works in one community may not work in another because of differences in the audience/community expertise, goals, triggers, etc.


          Our community continues to grow but has a long way to go before I would call it an outright success. The things that seem to be succeeding are  activities that are compelling and have gains for the users. So for an professional association, the ability to form groups and to collaborate on documents together is an easy case to make because they do that already offline and the online community makes that interaction more efficient.


          I think it takes more time to make a community successful than people realize, especially for a large externally-facing community. Although a community manager (who I think should be full-time and may need staff) should be facilitating conversations and helping your organization leverage the technology to its needs, a large part of your organization should be helping to populate and engage the community.  


          Just my two cents…


          1 person found this helpful
          • Re: What does it take to build a successful community? How many hours a week will we need to dedicate? ...

            In my experience, the time allocated for the Community manager (CM) is not a static amount and it depends on the type of community.


            -For example, when first launching a community, the community manager must spend up I think at least 50% of their time (assuming they have another full time role in the org) cultivating the community. Working with the advocates or core team to foster engagement and participation.  Setting up events like webinars, virtual meetings, audio conferences, etc to build the momentum are key to reaching some critical mass. 


            -I have seen community managers spend 100% of their time towards building their community, then tapering off as their core team and advocates step up to accelerate the overall engagement.  I think the effort a CM dedicates to their communities are directly related to the overall success of those communities.   Once the community reaches a certain level, then I have seen the CM reduce their time to 10-20%, and take more of a coaching role in terms of time dedicated.


            -my other point about dedication of time and efforts revolves around the type of community.  In my experience, I think Communities of Experts (CoE) are easier to manage and grow then Communities of Practice (CoP). The CoE members consider themselves "experts" and want to showcase their knowledge or they are newbies to the topic(s) and joined to learn more about the topic(s) discussed in the CoE.  For CoPs, I think you have the 90-9-1 behaviors where the Community Manager must try to foster along with the advocates an environment where the "lurkers" (read-only members) can feel comfortable to come out of the shadows and contribute.  I can see no other way for that to happen unless the CM really drives the engagement from all members, actively recruiting new members, and ensuring the community is popular from sharing the knowledge and information produced from the community's existence.


            -For Commuities of Interest (CoI), i think it depends on the topic and the passion for that topic....so that is a wildcard regarding time needed to grow such a CoI.


            ..my 2 sense..

            • Re: What does it take to build a successful community? How many hours a week will we need to dedicate? ...

              Are you talking about an internal (employee) or external (customer facing) community?

              If it's internal, how big is your organization?

              If it's external, what industry are you in, or will the community serve? (i.e. if it's consumer brand, you better dedicate one person! if it's a niche topic, the sizing might vary depending on who else might be helping with "content.)


              And yes, it depends.