What do we all do? - Evan Hamilton
Session goal was to discuss exactly what all the community managers present actually do, on a practical level. Notes by AdamW, all errors, misrepresentations and omissions are my fault! Please flesh out your own name, company and thoughts if you like.
stephen spector: email. First: answer community members (i.e. not internal stuff). What do you do with people who email you five times per day? When do you stop communicating? Guy who's looking for a job. How do you handle 'stalkers'? evan: how do you deal with increasing numbers of communications? How do you prioritize? Stephen: talk to big companies or small companies? jana: redirect the 'stalker' to other resources, or reduce expectations by saying you'll get back to them later - don't reply immediately.
cat allman - some people are crazy and go way outside scope - correcting someone's python homework? noticed the person had other staff CCed. so, spot the complete cranks and cut them off.
jono: important to hang out with community in a social context, not just strictly business. noticed people would start thinking he had a grudge against them if he didn't talk with them regularly. so: delegate - talk to leaders of community areas regularly.
van riper: try to schedule time out of 'react mode'. design process to reduce the need for react mode rather than just reacting all the time.
jane wells: redirect people to public forums if they have questions that are of wider interest, to spread the answers and allow replies from more than one person.
stephen: facebook, google+: do you follow people? can you unfollow them? question: how much time do you spend thinking about the community? should you spend quiet time thinking in wider terms, computer off etc? evan says he does this once a week on thursday mornings. jono: depends on the kind of person you are. know when you're the most inspired and recreate those conditions. weekly team calls - roundtables, status updates, boring stuff. so: add a more interesting discussion of a community area. events are important because they get people talking to each other.
jana boruta: how often should you have events? jono: every six months. quoting someone else - people need to get together every six months to maintain bonds of friendship. jana: every month? stephen: impromptu events - if you have a small geographically contingent community you can just snap organize an event - tweet that there'll be a hackfest in two hours and people will show up. jana: type of events? hackathon, contest? stephen: both. group discussion - how far are we involved in organizing events? differs among the group - some people seem to be unofficial event managers, some people are not involved at all. evan: maybe being unofficial event managers is a bad use of time? cat allman suggestion: for small communities, co-locate with a big well-organized event.
jana: size question? evan: show of hands - how big is your community. show of hands. under 50? none. under 500? 20%. under 1000? 10%. over 1000? 70%.
jono: challenge is less number of contributors, more the number of teams. smaller numbers of teams is better. adam: proxy for keeping people working on different areas together and in communication.
jono: 'community management' as an occupation for people who aren't really doing community management? explanation: company thinks the way to build a community is to hire a person and fly them around the world to give presentations. worries that companies which do this will see no return and think community management is useless. at first he did this when he joined Canonical and felt it didn't really achieve a lot. he wasn't online or responding to emails. didn't bring value to the company or community. van: doesn't know everyone in the community, feels that travelling is valuable to get face time. jono accepts the amendment, what he's worried about is the non-stop conference carousel, including events that really don't include _your_ community.
mark: coming up with shared terminology? naming things like 'event evangelism'. what is the skill set of a community manager? jeff potts: evangelism and community management are different. stephen thinks a certain type of evangelism is part of the community manager job, but not microsoft-style outward evangelism. jono: evangelism is best coming from people who are well-respected within the milieu and are actually part of the project being evangelised. jana: worked for a company who would fly everyone everywhere and sponsor everything with no regard to cost or RoI. track the results of evangelism exercised - do the people you evangelize to show up in the community? meghan: we find the evangelists.
[Editor's note: this is what I was getting at with the title so I'm going to be a presumptious jerk and highlight this section - Evan]
evan: we all have different conceptions of community management, so let's have some people say what is their concrete definition? cat: edit blog posts, sometimes write them. submit to 3 conferences per year. lots of email. evaluate funding opportunities. deal with accounting. deal with community controversies. connect people from outside the company with people inside the company. put on events (together with team). lars: encourage people to do stuff - e.g. 'you just wrote this code, why not blog about it?' deal with management. ross: be the no person: stop other teams doing bad things, represent community to company.
carolyn: take feedback from community on new features and new apis, help them to navigate them. acting as go-between between external developers and internal engineering. ross: difference between community marketing and community management. jose: sees his role as almost entirely marketing. is everyone in marketing? general response 'no'. ross is a direct report to a co-founder. jose: who does ross show roi to? ross: to the co-founder. lars: when there's an initiative, he assesses it to see what the effect was - should we do more of this? build up a portfolio. erich13: we're all doctors with completely different specialties.
adam: difference between roles are different communities. jono: community management as a profession is very young, so people who hire community managers don't know exactly what they're hiring.
evan: what things do people do that they think they shouldn't do? jana: not just building a community but working with existing users. stephen: you're essentially product management. meghan: feedback from community to product is important.
stephen: spends half his time on social networks. adam: don't spend any time on social networks.
jeff potts: buckets his activities day to day. proactive - writing code, working on tools and infrastructure. engage - try to encourage community members who are doing good things. expose - looks for add-ons and contributions that he wants to publicize. run and maintain - measuring and monitoring, analytics. planning - higher level, take time out and plan. reporting - reporting! lines up projects within the buckets.
[Editor's note: See Jeff's blog post on the subject at: http://ecmarchitect.com/archives/2011/07/24/1436 ]
mark: if i don't know what i do, how could you? liked jeff's buckets. jono: as long as the profession isn't clearly defined, we become dumping grounds for miscellaneous projects. he likes this as he likes to do lots of different things, and it helps community managers build credibility as generalists. evan: what if the company hires someone to take over one of your small jobs? worries about perceived value of his work. todd: hard to take satisfaction from moving ten things forward one inch, rather than one big leap. even harder if it's 'these ten people moved things one inch and i facilitated it'. jono: being a manager means other people get the kudos. lars: we need a model of the profession to help us move forward. meghan: feels like she goes around fighting fires, and there's no strategic way to do community management.
adam: how many people are managers within their company? yes 70%, no 30%.
eric: what if everyone wrote their job description? adam: everyone do it and put it on the wiki.
lars: don't like the term 'community manager'. lots of people agree. other ideas - co-ordinator? gardener? champion? jono likes manager: communities need leadership, it's good to have someone who is defined as taking a stand and moving the community forwards.
evan: how many people have an annual review? 60% yes.
jono: how we define what we're going to accomplish? his team sets out a six month plan to coincide with the release cycle. evan: sees the ultimate goal as customer acquisition. eric: do we define how we're going to accomplish it? hp has a playbook for implementing community: prescribed steps for building a community.
van: after the community grows to a certain size, the role becomes about providing the resources to sustain it. jim: measuring size is easier than measuring softer things like satisfaction of people participating. ross: posts per thread, intervals, not numbers of posts.