I am the Operations Manager for our external community, however we do have over 250 individual communities as well as 30+ product and service specific communities. Our admin team is very small - it's me and 1 1/2 dedicated resources who manage our support inbox, space creation, and some general moderation. So I absolutely understand what it's like to manage a large community with a very small number of dedicated resources.
We actually have a defined process for requesting a new group or space, and part of that process includes identifying an "owner" of the group. Typically, it's one or two people who are responsible for the new space. That responsibility includes content management, moderation, and membership management as applicable. The owners/moderators go through a formal training process that they must pass in order for the group or space to go live.
This process has been very effective to date. We do publish a scorecard each month that reflects activity, contributions, discussions, top users, hot topics, etc. This level of visibility also makes the owners more accountable for their role in managing their spaces.
I hope this helps!
Thanks for the feedback Kris. Unfortunately for me we launched with the 200+ groups none of which have an "owner" really. I would love to get the education dept to take responsibility for each of their spaces. Myself and my other admins are the only users who can create groups of spaces.
I like the scorecard idea. Do you manually take that info from the reports tab of each space?
Do you need all 200+ spaces? There might be opportunity to consolidate some (sub-spaces into spaces), archive any that don't have any activity or delete those that never took off. This will help consolidate the conversations and drive more traffic/activity in the more active spaces. We've now got 450+ spaces and are now going to start doing this.
Next, you can't do it all alone. With so many members and new ones anticipated in January, you can consider establishing a moderator program. This means giving the responsibility of moderation to community members that don't work for your company. SCN has been doing this successfully for years using both employees and non-employees of SAP. We also try to assign each space to an employee that's a topic expert so that there's someone to reach out too for difficult questions. This spreads the work around nicely but you will need to dedicate some time to managing the moderators: quarterly town halls, private mods space containing resources and discussions between mods seeking help, process for qualifying mods and assigning permissions, etc.
Couple of more things:
- Establish standards such as a time frame for answering questions. e.g. Only deal with open threads more than a week/two weeks old.
- Many new discussions might be repeats of something already asked. Preferably, these need to be deleted after warning the author to search before posting. (Maybe set aside one day a month to find these.)
We offer 168 different programs so I need to keep each of those + our Academic Help areas. I want to leave the social areas as well because they are more for open discussion as opposed to asking questions. My biggest concern is making sure questions are answered in a timely manner. We do instructor students to post questions to our academic help area because that is where we can most easily monitor. Of course they do not always do that and I do get dozens of repeat questions every day.
I did start creating private groups for my instructors with recent activity widgets on the home page to help them monitor all their spaces in one place (some have up to 12 each to monitor).
I like your idea of assigning moderators to non employees. Our plan was to have instructors manage their spaces according to which programs they teach but they say they have too much work to do so. So far I have had a handful of very active students come forward to support others in the community. Perhaps I can reward them with moderator status and create a special group for them. I'd have to consult my professional services team for assistance with permissions and qualifications. I don't want to just allow those with the most points because we have some users who know how to work the system.
I appreciate your feedback. I'm nervous about 2013 and want to get my ducks in a row so I am prepared.
Hi Erin -
I sympthize with your concern - we too have a very small team dedicated to answer questions of our over 300,000 members. While our Community is not a support Community - most of the questions are not directed at us as a company, but other members with expertise and answers. So we rely a lot on our members to help each other - which helps promote Community!
But, with that being said - we have hundreds of groups and spaces and would be impossible to manage with only 1 full time person. So, we try to direct all questions that need a company response into our "Feedback & Support" space on our Community, which is the only area we allow "guest" posts - and is for members to ask questions of us as a company, about their accounts and help using the Community features. We plaster this area in our site navigation, let people know about it when they register (Welcome email). Additionally, now that we have access to the @mention feature - we teach members (when they first join via the New Member welcome email and New Members blog post) about @mentions and we tell them that if they have a question, problem or find an issue feel free to @mention our support team (we have a shared support handle that team uses and goes back to a shared email box) and that way those questions that really need our brand's input are seen vs. getting lost in the massive amount of groups and spaces. The key thing here is to train people/make it super obvious and clear to new users where they can get help from you.
Hope this helps!
Would it be possible for you to share your defined process for requesting a new place/group. We just launched and still a bit shaky in terms of governance, so I was looking for some inspiration
Would you also share your scorecard-- this sounds cool! Is this a lot of effort on your end to create each month?