The Unflappable Enthusiasm of “Weird Al” Yankovic

Posted by Patrick on August 10th, 2015 in Managing the Community, Thinking
Credit: slgckgc (CC BY 2.0)

Credit: slgckgc (CC BY 2.0)

On Saturday, I went with my brothers to the “Weird Al” Yankovic concert in Newport News, Virginia. I’m a big fan of Weird Al, and it was our second time seeing him. He puts on a great show, and we had a lot of fun.

If you’ve never been to a Weird Al show, it’s a little different from your average music concert. During the performance, the physical energy of the crowd more closely resembles what you might see for a big name standup comic, rather than what you’d expect from the fans of a popular rap, rock or pop artist.

In general, when I go to a concert, I’m not among those moving the most. I stand, I clap, I bop along to the music. I don’t tend to put my arms up, scream, etc. I’ll sing along if the artist wants it or I feel just right. But I am not among the most animated in attendance.

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to an Anonymous Online Community…

Posted by Patrick on July 30th, 2015 in Thinking

The vast majority of online communities are anonymous. The word “anonymous” can trigger all types of reactions. On one extreme, you might have some lowlife bullying and threatening another person. On the other end, whistleblowers. Most of us live in the middle.

But these communities aren’t anonymous as much as they are “share what you want.” Frequently, people will share quite a bit. This is very common, especially in niche communities.

I manage a martial arts community and, in general, many of the members that stick around, and become invested in our community, are the same members who share a lot about themselves.

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Where Your Community Is on Day 2,000 Has a Lot to Do with Who You Were on Day 1

Posted by Patrick on July 13th, 2015 in Developing Your Community, Thinking

This whole reddit thing is interesting. Not just what happened on reddit, but all the analysis of it. For the most part, people are focusing on what reddit did wrong in 2015. Not many are talking about what they did wrong in 2005 or 2006.

Whatever you think reddit’s issues are or have been, know that they are foundational in nature. The culture of reddit is deeply engrained. How reddit responds to change now is a direct result of choices reddit leadership made early on. They wanted to create a particular type of environment, and they succeeded.

But the reddit situation really doesn’t offer us any new lessons. All of this is really old community business, handed down to us by the ancients.

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“Don’t Read the Comments” is So Exciting to Me

Posted by Patrick on July 6th, 2015 in Thinking

“Don’t read the comments” is a common refrain these days.

Many comment sections – and communities, forums, Facebook pages, Twitter hashtags and wherever else we’re talking – are full of terrible things, thoughts and people. Terrible in the mind of the beholder, anyway.

“Don’t read the comments,” they say. “Never read the comments.”

That excites me.

To me, “don’t read the comments” is an opportunity. Because I know great comments and great communities are possible. I’ve spent my entire career building them. I’ve participated in them. I’ve met some of my closest friends in them. I want others to have that same experience. It’s not far-fetched at all. It’s very possible.

While there is magic in a great comments section, there is no magic to creating them. The answer, as always, is moderation, which is simply a mix of tools, people and strategy. You need all 3.

“Don’t read the comments” shouldn’t discourage us. It should be a rallying cry. There is work to be done. Let’s go do it.

You Should Launch an Online Community Independently with No Budget (If You Haven’t Already)

Posted by Patrick on June 8th, 2015 in Thinking

Have you ever launched an online community independently, with no budget? Without someone else’s money? Without a team supporting you? Without the resources of a larger organization? If you’ve never done it, and you really want to grow as a professional, give it a try. If you run community for a big brand, start an unrelated community on the side, in your free time.

I’m not talking about a Twitter following or a blog or something like that. I’m talking about a hosted online community where all contributions are equal and people engage with one another. A place where you are responsible for everything. Something goes wrong? You have to fix it.

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We’re Creating a Feeling, Not Just Community

Posted by Patrick on May 4th, 2015 in Thinking

Sean “Diddy” Combs is working on a new album, which I’m excited about. He recently posted some studio footage. The brief clip has a few seconds of a song, which Combs stops and then remarks:

“We’re making a feeling, people. Not a record. A feeling.”

They aren’t just creating an album or a sound or a song. They’re creating a feeling.

That’s how I look at online community. I don’t just want to create a website or a meetup or a group. I want to create a feeling. When I think about community, the first thing that flashes to mind isn’t software or numbers. I think about people. I think about feeling. How do I want people to feel when they visit this community?

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Community Software Could Help Identify Members Who Need Some Encouragement

Posted by Patrick on April 16th, 2015 in Thinking

If you are a particularly proactive community manager, you might notice when a member starts to become inactive and check in with them to make sure everything is OK or to see if there is anything you can do. In demonstrating that you care, you might be able to bring them back into the fold.

Why isn’t community software helping us do this?

I envision this working as follows. The person managing the community can define scenarios that would demonstrate a meaningful change in activity. For example, if a member has not made a post this week, but had made at least 30 posts in the 30 days before that, I want to see a flag in my dashboard.

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You Might Be Martin Scorsese, But Who’s Steven Spielberg?

Posted by Patrick on March 23rd, 2015 in Thinking
Credit: sbclick (CC BY 2.0)

Credit: sbclick (CC BY 2.0)

On the plane ride to SXSW, I watched The Wolf of Wall Street, which I had been wanting to watch for a while. The critically-acclaimed film was directed by Martin Scorsese, widely regarded as one of the greatest directors of all-time.

I have an Amazon Fire HDX (disclosure: I’m an Amazon shareholder) and, where possible, Amazon has an X-Ray feature where they will display a list of actors currently on the screen as well as information about the film.

During one of the film’s speeches, this note was displayed, from IMDb:

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Home Depot’s Online Community Isn’t Here to (Directly) Sell You Hammers

Posted by Patrick on February 19th, 2015 in How Should I Participate?, Interacting with Members, Thinking

Jay Baer recently wrote about the importance of owning your “social community.” The idea of building community in spaces that you control is something I’ve always felt strongly about, and it’s good that someone like Jay is talking about it. That will help the message reach more big brands.

His article led to a discussion on Google+, where someone pointed to some examples provided by Jay – like The Home Depot Community – and questioned if they represented real “engagement.” They mentioned that there were discussions with a handful of replies and “no likes.” There were plenty of views of the discussions, but not a lot of replies. So where is the engagement, they wondered?

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A-B-C. A – Always, B – Build, C – Community. Always Build Community

Posted by Patrick on January 19th, 2015 in Thinking
Always Be Closing

Still Image from Glengarry Glen Ross

There is a famous scene in the film Glengarry Glen Ross, when a character played by Alec Baldwin attempts to motivate a team of salesmen. One of the most quoted lines is: “A-B-C. A – always, B – be, C – closing. Always be closing.” They are salesmen – they should always be closing sales.

However, there is another ABC that most people would probably be better served by: Always Build Community.

When I spoke at CNN, I told a group of professionals there that if they built community around their work at the company, it would not only be good for CNN – it would be good for all of them, as individuals. It is one of the most important ways for them to avoid putting all of their eggs in one basket. Most of them have CNN in their Twitter handle. What I asked them was this: when you leave CNN, and take that brand out of your Twitter handle, will anyone still care about you?

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