It’s time to formalize your role as community manager.
You have several communities in your life already. The different aspects of your life before have now become online communities. In my case, my professional network has moved to LinkedIn, my family and friends to Facebook, and my daily routines to Twitter. I also frequent blogs, newsfeeds, and trade journals and read, learn, and contribute to them. I am not only a member of those communities, I am the community manager.
I decide the information to contribute to each and the information I retrieve from each. I decide who to bring in and who to leave out. I am the super-user in my communities, and the driver for their growth. I decide the level of involvement in each. I decide how to cross-pollinate these communities to keep them healthy.
If you struggle to manage and balance the different facets of your life offline, online is even harder. My favorite factoid is that throwing technology at a bad process simply makes it bad-and-fast, not better. This is what is happening to us — we are falling behind in managing our communities without a strategy resulting in more time spent online that necessary.
You need a community management strategy.
You need to create a Vision, Mission, Goal, and Objectives for each of your communities. Decide the type and quality of information to contribute to each, the people you want to bring in and leave out of each, and how much time and effort you need to spend in each. If you want to bring in super-users to any of those communities, decide how and what are the benefits for them and you. Make a cross-pollination chart to know which information from which community should seep into which other. Make sure these policies are known to participants in each of your communities, and that you follow them.
Although it is hard to think of your Facebook friends and family as a community, it is far easier and healthier to balance that role that continue to complain about the time you “waste” on it. Time is only wasted if you have no purpose for the community. Make the time and effort you put into each community count.
What do you think? What techniques do you use to manage your communities? Any recommendations?