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The CMX Guide to Community PlatformsCMX has released The CMX Guide to Community Platforms, a free ebook that premiered at their most recent conference, but is now available for you to download by subscribing to their email list. It was authored by the CMX team: Carrie Melissa Jones, Yrja Oftedahl Lothe and David Spinks.

I contributed to the guide, sending over some long form thoughts on community platforms when they put a call out to the CMX community. I’m glad they were able to make use of them.

The 110-page long PDF provides general insights about choosing a platform and what to avoid. A wide array of currently-relevant platforms are profiled, broken up into several categories. These include forums, enterprise software, community feedback and support platforms, group platforms, content management systems, community relationship management, internal community and community that exists on outside platforms.

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This is What Community Strategy Looks Like

Posted by Patrick on April 30th, 2015 in Resources

Credit: Dhi (CC BY 2.0)

Credit: Dhi (CC BY 2.0)

If you want to know what community strategy looks like, watch the video embedded below. It’s a presentation delivered by Bill Johnston at SocialMedia.org’s Brands-Only Summit in October of 2014.

The presentation centers around the strategy that Bill put into place after becoming Director, Online Community & Customer Experience, at Autodesk in February 2014. Previously, they had a broken, disjointed community strategy – that he refers to as “no community strategy” – that suffered from a serious over-reliance on Facebook. When Facebook cut organic reach, they were hit hard.

There’s really no one I hold higher in our profession than Bill. He left Autodesk in February to start Structure3C, where he helps businesses grow customer communities.

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The Blueprint for a Successful reddit AMA

Posted by Patrick on April 27th, 2015 in Resources

The Marketer's Guide to reddit AMAs by Paul and David DiGiovanniI took some time, this weekend, to read The Marketer’s Guide to reddit AMAs by Paul and David DiGiovanni of GroupSRC. It’s a free guide, 30 pages in length, available if you subscribe to their newsletter.

Paul and David are focused on helping marketer’s use reddit in a way that is authentic and respectful to the community. If it’s for marketers, why am I writing about it here? Because it’s really a guide to hosting an AMA, and AMAs, when done right, are definitely a form of community building.

David has written a couple of guest posts here. If I had a question about reddit, I’d ask them. And that’s why I read the guide.

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Until recently, at KarateForums.com, we had this old photo album feature. I say old because no one used it, it was just there. Once upon a time, about 13 years ago, we launched the photo album, and people used it. But, as time went on, they used it less and less until 2012, where they stopped using it at all.

What happened? People adopted the most practical use for sharing photos: posting them in the forums. More people would see them, and you could have a better discussion about them. It only made sense. I embraced that idea long ago and stopped actively promoting the photo album.

And yet, it was still there. Which isn’t really a good thing. Even if I remove all references to it, the fact that it is still online, powered by old PHP code, connecting to our database, adds to the likelihood of a potential security issue. At the same time, I didn’t want to just delete the album completely like it was never there.

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Engaging News ProjectI was on a call yesterday with Bassey Etim of The New York Times and David Williams of CNN. We were preparing for our conversation down at SXSW, walking through various talking points.

At one point, they mentioned research conducted by Talia Stroud, an Associate Professor of Communication Studies and Assistant Director of Research at the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life at the University of Texas at Austin. Specifically, the finding that changing the “like” button to read “respect” meant that it was clicked more.

In doing some reading of my own following the call, I found the Engaging News Project, which Ms. Stroud leads. The project is dedicated to providing “research-based techniques for engaging online audiences in commercially viable and democratically beneficial ways.” A lot of their efforts have been focused on mainstream media comment sections.

Though the organization’s ideas are presented through the lens of a newsroom, there is plenty of thought provoking insight for people who manage community in other areas. Have a look at the research section and subscribe to the project’s Twitter and Facebook pages for more constant updates – plenty of which are directly relevant to community work.

The Community Professionals I Listen to and Why

Posted by Patrick on January 8th, 2015 in Resources

In December, CMX’s Facebook group hosted a discussion about community management mentors. In addition, David Spinks asked people who they turned to, in order to learn about community strategy.

2015 marks 15 years of community management for me (17 years of moderation) and, when I say 15 years, what I really mean is 15 years of learning. That’s what experience should be. 15 years doesn’t just mean that I started managing communities in 2000. It means that I started learning about community in 2000 and have continued learning ever since.

At a tech support community that I once managed, I had a member who mocked a staff member of mine because they had asked for help with something. The implication was that, because they asked for help, they were not qualified to help others or to be an expert. To ask for help – to learn about something you were supposedly an expert in – was a weakness, to that person. What a sad way to be.

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There are a lot of job opportunities out there for community management professionals. While the big job sites receive plenty of listings, the best way to cut through to the most attractive opportunities is to subscribe to resources that are dedicated to this industry.

By all means, create job search email notifications on Indeed and LinkedIn for all relevant keywords and titles. Be sure to include keywords that will sort out online community manager jobs from offline ones (like managing an apartment complex). Jobs do slip through the cracks – I’ve seen it happen – and subscribing to the big sites helps you to not miss them. But the best bet for finding a great job is to clue in to a few key resources. Here are my favorites. Even if you have been in this space for a while, you might not have heard of all of them!

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Everything in ModerationOne of my favorite community management blogs hasn’t published a new post in 10 years.

Last Wednesday marked 10 years since Tom Coates made his final post at Everything in Moderation. From September of 2003 through October of  2004, Coates made a total of 18 posts – 11 of them in October of 2003.

A mention of the blog was included in the earliest drafts of Managing Online Forums, going all the way back to 2004. The blog was not updated, but the link in the book stayed, as the book grew in length and became more published while publisher after publisher declined to release it. When the book was published in April of 2008, that mention remained because I liked the blog so much.

I forget how I discovered it, but once in a while, when I’m thinking about this profession, it’ll pop into my head. Coates shared a lot of value in those 18 posts. Here are my favorites:

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If you work in the online community space, I encourage you to learn about the history of online communities. Not only is it interesting; it’s beneficial to the work we do today. A little knowledge can go a long way. If you aren’t sure where to begin, the video embedded below is a great, approachable start.

The video is a conversation between Howard Rheingold, a well known online community pioneer, and his daughter, Mamie Rheingold, a project manager at Google whose work also involves community. Titled “Past, Present, and Future of Virtual Communities,” it was recorded during the Google Developer Groups Global Summit in June and released last week. I found it care of Bill Johnston.

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I’ve been a fan of Gary Vaynerchuk for a long time. Well before he released his first book, 101 Wines. I’ve also been managing online communities for a much long time. I always enjoy when Gary touches on our profession because he’s smart and, no matter what, him talking about it is good for us.

At the end of July, Gary talked about community management in a big way when he released a slide deck titled “Go Big on Community Management!” On LinkedIn, he wrote a blog post titled “Why Community Management Works.” On his personal site, he went even further: “If You Don’t Invest in Community Management, You’re Done For. Here’s Why.”

In the slides, Gary makes a point of saying that he has the data that supports the value of community management. “This time I have all the stats,” he writes. “Or at least the stats that mean something to all my corporate pals out there.”

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