Posted by: Andrew Hemingway | November 17, 2010

“Handling” your community to accomplish business goals


How do you handle your community? This is a loaded question and one that cannot be explained in one post. Really, the question needs to be explained even before an answer can be given. So… What does it mean to “handle” your community?

Your community was created with a goal in mind. Well, I hope that is the case but most times this is not true. Let’s assume for this post that you or your company had a reason, a goal to establish a community online. Do you have that reason in mind? OK…

So with your goals in mind somewhere along the line you have to be able to accomplish those goals, and that means handling your community. Let me explain…

Shepherds raise sheep for commerce. To this end, they have to move them from field to field and protect them. Ensuring they grow strong and healthy and are able to be sold for a high price. But the shepherd must be pro-active in this effort. The shepherd does not put up a fence and the next day sheep show up, and the next day they are ready to sell. It is a process it is a LOT of work for the shepherd. It takes time…a lot of time. But the shepherd is pro-actively leading his sheep along the best most efficient path to market.

As Community managers we must be pro-active, we must be able to handle our members, to move them from field to field, and raise them to be strong healthy members that will reap benefits in the marketplace.

How do you handle your Community?

Though frequency and need varies, it is usually necessary to handle sheep several times per year for various reasons. Without an easy way to handle sheep and lambs, important tasks often get delayed or forgotten. Improper handling causes needless stress to both the sheep and the handler(s).

This is taken from an excellent resource on raising sheep. The author is an expert and has such valuable insight for us to glean from. Visit Sheep 201 for more.

The first step is to actively be engaging with your members. You need to touch your members early and often. Reach out to them and I mean on a one on one basis. Bulk emails are not the tool here, no matter how creatively you try to disguise they are bulk they always know. A personal email, an IM, something! you need to touch them. Doing this will build TRUST. They will come to trust you because they know you. They know you will not lead them down the wrong path, or harm them, they know that when you recommend and action that it is a good one. They will appreciate being handled at this point and moving them forward to your next goal will be much easier.

A thorough understanding of sheep behavior is the first step towards developing an effective method of handling sheep. Their strong flocking and following behavior tends to make sheep easy to handle, relative to other livestock species. Conversely, sheep will prove difficult to handle if you force them to act in ways that are not natural for them. – Sheep 201

Notice she says that forcing sheep to act in was not natural for them. How often this is happening in communities all over the web. It is crazy! We make our members do stuff online that we would never do ourselves. We expect them to just give us all their personal information because we are so nice. Wake up! Take a look at the way you are trying to handle your community and ask your self is this how I would like to be handled? Really some of the things I see are just amazing.

If you want a mutiny on your hands, or just a dead community then force members to act in ways that are not natural for them. If you would prefer a strong healthy vibrant community that is accomplishing business objectives then handle them carefully.

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