Last Friday, I had the pleasure of appearing on My Community Manager’s #CMGRHangout, a weekly Google+ Hangout covering online community management. In honor of Valentine’s Day, the episode was titled “Loving Your Community,” and we focused on how you can show your community members that you appreciate them.
The program is hosted by Jonathan Brewer and Sherrie Rohde, who do a really great job. When they invited me, they asked if there were any other community professionals that I’d like to have on with me. That led to us being joined by David Williams, Sarah Hawk and Sue John. Tim McDonald and Abhishek Rai completed the panel. In all, we had a really solid, veteran group with approximately 50 years of community management experience between us.
To give you an idea of what we talked about, here are the questions that drove the discussion:
- What do you really love about your community?
- How have you shown your community that you appreciate them?
- How have you helped your community to celebrate each other?
- How have you shown others in your community staff that you appreciate them?
- What is the most creative way you’ve seen love demonstrated in a community?
- If time and money were unlimited, what would you love to do for your community?
I’ll sum up my answers briefly for you below, with links to related articles I’ve written previously, but to get the whole story and hear what everyone else had to say (which was great), check out the stream.
What do you really love about your community?
The way people speak to one another. Compassionate, thoughtful, helpful responses. See this thread, for an example.
How have you shown your community that you appreciate them?
My job is to shift praise away from me. When people praise the community, I try to direct that to other people. I do this by recognizing great contributions and thanking the people who make them, in public and in private. Not as part of a formalized program (which we do, as well, such as Member of the Month), but just actively as I browse and use the community myself.
When we reach milestones, I acknowledge the community, not just as a generic mass, but as individuals. I name as many people as I can. I’d rather name people specifically and forget some, than not name anyone at all.
How have you helped your community to celebrate each other?
Yearly award programs are a great way to do this. When we celebrate major milestones, like 10 years online or 500,000 posts, we go a bit beyond the norm. We do interviews with the most impactful members, retrospective pieces (like this and this), live stream events and more. Basically, we invite members to reminisce and that leads to beautiful moments.
How have you shown others in your community staff that you appreciate them?
First and foremost, there is a constant process of saying thank you. I say it a lot. Listening can demonstrate appreciation and I listen a lot. They are my trusted allies. Members can offer great feedback, but staff members can be so valuable because they see what you go through and understand more sides of the issue, usually.
I talked about shifting praise above. Staff members are my favorite target to shift to. When we reach milestones, I pretty much always recognize them. I recognize personal milestones for them, as well, like birthdays and anniversaries. At the holidays, I send a card with a small gift. It can be fun to surprise people with something unique. When one of my staff members reached 10 years of being with me, I sent her a physical award and recorded a video of me presenting it.
What is the most creative way you’ve seen love demonstrated in a community?
I thought what I did for Jared’s wedding was pretty fun.
If time and money were unlimited, what would you love to do for your community?
I’d replicate my community in person and host a major offline event. If a member wanted to attend, I’d fly them in and pay their expenses. Special things happen when people meet in person.