Archive for December, 2010
Having taken a nice break over the Christmas period it’s now straight back into the thick of things and this post runs along the same lines of thought as my previous one about how communities don’t sleep. During my time in gaming communities there is one thing I’ve sensed and I’m sure others out there will agree; time inside a community doesn’t equate to the same length of time in the real world. What I’m trying to say with this is that communities can be so fast-moving and so much can happen in a short space of time compared with the business world.
As an example, someone starts a thread or topic in your forum community that sparks interest and a debate, two days later it has 80 replies and 5000 views with users calling for an immediate response from your brand. How do you respond to this as a Community Manager and how do you try and keep up with the expectations of your users? It can be pretty tricky, especially if the rest of the business you work in works on a very different timetable.
One of the things I try to do in this situation is go for the quick wins and help those people that I know I can help in a short space of time. Anything after that will need a combination of information gathering and passing on to the people that can answer it but in doing that you start entering environments with differing timescales. The people in your organisation with the answers may not come back to you straight away while the users that raised the question may keep requesting a response. It’s a tough balancing act and one I certainly don’t have the answer to but it is something you should be aware of as a Community Manager. If your community is active with lots of users and centred around a brand or product there is a good chance you will start to experience this so keep it in mind.
One thing I’ve found working on the EA community is that it never sleeps; the English fans spend most of the time on it and when they are all heading to bed the Aussies and Yanks take over. As this is a continuous cycle it raises a valid point about support levels and how you manage your community.
What does your support plan look like for out of hours and busy holiday periods? Chances are your community may be more active in the evenings, at weekends and when people are off work for things like Christmas. If it’s just you managing the community with a team of volunteers and moderators it can be tough to try and find a balance without sacrificing all your time but depending on the size of your community it may be something you have to consider.
I know that if I left the EA forum over Xmas with no cover I’d come back to it and there would be a few hundred reported posts, PMs to deal with, accounts to ban and questions to answer. If you haven’t yet created your community this should be something to consider when you draw up your strategy as having periods without cover can lead to unsavoury behaviour from troublesome users and a bitter aftertaste for the general populace.
The key message to take away from this post; having cover for busy holiday periods is essential to keep your community on an even keel.
I finally got round to watching the film Inception at the weekend and it got me thinking. Ideas have always been dangerous things both for good and for evil. As a Community Manager you have to be mindful about how powerful ideas can be and what they can do to your community.
If your community is brand centred and part of it’s purpose is as a place to gather and collate product feedback and suggestions then keep a watchful eye on the ideas posted by your users. Whilst good ideas should be praised it’s your job as a Community Manager (based on the product knowledge you have) to determine what is likely to be possible and what’s never likely to happen regardless of who’s idea it is. You’ll need to keep on top of those ideas that won’t likely ever happen as if the community as a whole start to believe it’s a good idea and something that needs to happen it can change the atmosphere in your community overnight.
Groupthink is a well-documented type of thought and is just as relevant to communities as it is to anywhere else. People grouping together with one train of thought can have a negative impact on your community and lead to calls of “they never listen to us or what we want”. This can lead to dissatisified users with viewpoints that are hard to change and they can also become the vocal minority in your community. If this happens the decisions you have to make are; do you try and turn them round or is it better to remove them from the community in a bid to keep the majority happy?