Posted by: Andrew Hemingway | November 15, 2010

Online Community Management- Watching…Always Watching…

There is one main responsibility of a shepherd- care of his flock. It is his job to watch after his sheep to insure they grow healthy and are safe, well fed, etc. He is there to watch his sheep. A blog I reference often is Sheep 201, she was talking recently about normal sheep behavior and it made me think…

Changes in normal behavior can be an early sign of illness in sheep. The most obvious example of this relates to the sheep’s most natural behavioral instinct, their flocking instinct. A sheep or lamb that is isolated from the rest of the flock is likely showing early signs of illness (unless it is lost). Even the last sheep through the gate should be suspected of not feeling well, especially if it is usually one of the first.

A shepherd has to always be watching…not just for the big dangers lurking around every corner, but for the internal issues as well, in fact these are often the most destructive.

I thought about the communities that I have managed and the community mangers that I have relationships with and over and over this same principle is true of online communities. Unfortunately I know that very, very few community managers would know if their members were “sick”, or acting differently.

Are you watching your community? This like a shepherd is your singular responsibility. Do you watch your sheep? DO you know how they normally act, behave? Do you monitor them all the time so you would know when one or more of them are sick?

You need to know your community and watch your members, to be effective as a community manager. There are many tools now available to monitor and report on your community but nothing works better than being a part of the community. Engaging with the members and building a relationship with them. This at the end of the day is still your most valuable tool.

I hope that you spend some time today just watching and getting to know your community. Look for that member that is just about to leave and build a relationship with them to ensure they receive all the value possible from your great community.

Interested in community monitoring tools? I have some reviews coming up very soon.



  1. Brilliant blogs.

    I managed a community for 6 years and am not doing consulting… trying to educate people by explaining that just installing nice software doesn’t make real community happen… and certainly not real community that reflects your organization’s values or brand. There is something to it that is more psychology or sociology than it is technology.

    Love your thoughts. Love finding someone else who gets it.

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