The backend of my blog is a lot like a time capsule. My practice back in 2007 was to collect similar links and curate them in a blog draft for later sense-making. Once I got beyond about a dozen such posts—let alone past the three-digit milestone—it became too much to manage. They sat … until now.
While some of the information is out-of-date or even pointing to missing links, the collection I assembled on the topic of building and leveraging an online community is still relevant today. In particular, I have been enamored with the following:
Weak Ties are Key to ROI
Joshua Porter’s explanation of weak ties includes a couple references, including the original Mark Granovetter work on the subject and a contemporary article by Andrew McAfee. The motivation for these works is the eternal question of ROI with social media (i.e., What do I get for letting my employees waste time?). My work at SociaLens repeatedly tells me this question hasn’t been answered for most people and that it won’t without some first-hand experience to give one the fluency to see new value.
Leadership Must Engage
1) Visibly manage volunteers
2) Stay active and visible in the community.
3) Don’t let resentments fester
4) Define community boundaries, communicate them, and enforce the rules
We see many instances of initiatives failing not because of poor strategy, tools, or content, but because those with power don’t participate or empower people to take ownership of the effort.
Be a Thought Leader Who Facilitates
David Wilcox has some advice on reaching out to bloggers in an acceptable way, but the most interesting nugget is a simple graphic showing the importance of facilitating conversation. The traditional mindset about online publication is to control the content (i.e., the message) and make it the center of all interactions (i.e., drive traffic to the blog). An alternative take is to become a respected thought leader who helps community members connect with each other.
Simulate Community Dynamics
This is the one of the last links I looked at back when I was doing my Relational Design dissertation topic the first time. Now that I’m back, I’m looking at Aldo de Moor’s work on system dynamics in community design as a foundational part of my research. In this paper, de Moor identifies a few building blocks for building a model. Stocks are resources that provide system memory. Flow is a change to a stock over time. Feedback loops reinforce or counteract what is happening in the system. A delay is a process whose output lags behind its input. These elements are arranged to simulate community dynamics by adopting a design theory (problem, hypotheses, components). I think this is a great approach for both analysis of a community and the design to adjust problematic behaviors.Tags: community, design theory, dynamics, engagement, facilitate, insights, leadership, model, ROI, thought leader, weak ties