Amber Robinson, the national parenting editor at Fairfax Digital’s Essential Baby & Essential Kids, takes B&T through what makes a great community manager, why Reddit’s ex-CEO Ellen Pao was screwed and why 7-Eleven can recover.
During this year’s community management Swarm Conference held at The University of Sydney, Robinson described how Fairfax’s Essential Baby and Essential Kids has become the largest community forums in Australia.
Tips for building an online community
“The first fallacy with running a community is if you build it they will come. Everybody wants a social media presence and they just expect users to flock to it. To create a solid, self-sustaining community, you need to be put some thought into what you’re making,” Robinson said during her presentation
“You need to build a community with a future goals in mind, think about how your community would look with 5,000 members? What about 500,000 members and one million discussion threads? How are you going to characterise the content there? How do you see members interacting with one another? All of these things need to be thought about before you just get out there and launch something.
“The second major fallacy that people have about online communities is that once you launch it you’re done. That even if you do manage to successfully build an new community, attract new users during your initial launch that’s not enough. The community is its own engagement strategy.”
Robinson used the reddit revolt from earlier this year as an example of what community managers shouldn’t do.
“If you look at this timeline, she got the employees offside, the members offside and then the moderators offside. Every single one of them you can recover from, but to kind of piss off everyone it’s really putting the community at threat,” Robinson said during her presentation.
“I would have consulted more with the paid staff and volunteer moderators, had them on side because if you’re not on side with them then you can’t win,” Robinson told B&T.
“As a community role you’re not just representing the shareholders and the business goals, you are actually representing a group of people, you should be fighting for them not against them. It doesn’t sound like she (Pao) really consulted and looked after her staff, and keep them on side.”
“I think as a community manager, you can bounce back from the occasional big disasters because usually your moderating team are aligned to your cause,” Robinson told B&T.
“The public has turned against 7-Eleven but the community managers are standing with their organisation and trying to work together to solve the problem; but with Ellen and Reddit everyone was fighting you didn’t have the sense the employees, volunteers, users and business were all together-there was just no unity there.
“I’m sure 7-Eleven will get pass this but they will have to make some business changes, but at least they’re all aligned in the message they are giving out.”