Avoiding groupthink in online communities

by Martin Reed on 10 July 2014 in Snippets

An unavoidable cliché: variety is the spice of life.

Something to be aware of as a community manager, though.

Your community learns from your leadership. They learn what the community’s accepted behaviors and norms are.

What you do influences the culture of your community.

Make sure you’re not creating the same type of content over and over again.

More importantly, make sure you’re not rewarding the same type of behavior over and over again.

If you’re always directing the spotlight at community members who are making the type of contributions you want to see in the community, you’ll be attracting more of the same.

Useful and valuable content, no doubt.


When everyone thinks the same, when everyone concedes their opinion to the stronger personalities, when everyone is scared to go ‘against the grain’, your community becomes dull and lifeless.

It’s your job to stir the pot and make sure things stay interesting.

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Can you be trusted, community manager?

by Martin Reed on 22 June 2014 in Snippets

If not, quit now.

To be an effective community manager, trust is absolutely vital.

Your employer places their trust in you. Your members place their trust in you.

You need to be able to follow through on your promises. You need to always under-promise and over-deliver. You need to be able to keep secrets (plenty will be shared in a thriving community).

You need to respect privacy and you need to respect the community guidelines you’re responsible for enforcing.

What does distrust breed?…

…Nothing you want in your online community, that’s what.

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The best ideas won’t always come from you

by Martin Reed on 6 May 2014 in Snippets

Sometimes your community will come up with (and act upon) their own ideas. Sometimes these ideas will work. Sometimes they won’t.

What I can tell you is this: most of the time, their ideas will work – and their success rate will always be higher than your own.

The reason for this is simple:

When you come up with an idea, you’re making an educated guess at what individuals in your community want.

When members of your community come up with an idea, they’re telling you exactly what they want.

Ignore their ideas at your peril.

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3 things all online communities need

by Martin Reed on 14 April 2014 in Snippets

Let’s boil this right down.

At a bare minimum, all online communities need:

1. A clear, communicable identity and purpose.

You need to be able to keep the purpose of your community short and snappy.

Think elevator pitch – but even shorter.

If you can’t condense the purpose (and benefits) of your online community down into a few sentences, then it isn’t focused enough.

2. To focus on the best.

You should be continuously striving to be the best in your chosen niche.

Your community needs to be able to attract the best members, it needs to create the best content and you should always be drawing attention to your best content and your best members.

3. Appropriate barriers to membership.

Free, quick and easy isn’t always desirable.

You may want to make it difficult to join the community. If you’re running an online community for professionals, you may want to put up an application form (not everyone gets in). You may want to charge an application fee.

Many forget that how you allow people to join your community has a big influence on the type of community you’ll be managing.

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Who is your online community for?

by Martin Reed 5 March 2014

This is especially relevant if you’re at the planning stage for an online community or if you’re stuck with a community that doesn’t seem to be working. The purpose of your online community needs to be aligned with the desires of the members you’re hoping to attract (and keep). The problem is, most of the […]

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Community building success from just one new member

by Martin Reed 14 February 2014

In the early stages of community building, you’ll spend a lot of your time attracting new members. You’ll seek out your ideal members, build relationships with them and invite them to join your community. There’s no denying that this can be a labor intensive process. Getting members on board one by one may seem like […]

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5 ways to address stalled community conversations

by Martin Reed 16 October 2013

A very basic mistake I see being made time and time again in online communities (particularly new ones): failed threads. I wrote about this back in 2009 but I still see it all too often, so today I am revisiting the topic. If you’re seeing new conversations end before they’ve even begun (there’s a new […]

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Community building and social media marketing done right

by Martin Reed 13 August 2013

You don’t need a fancy website to build an online community. Going to your audience is far easier (and often more effective) than trying to get your audience to come to you. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to trip up and do this all wrong. The big (and common) mistake Simply spend money and bombard […]

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Community building without words

by Martin Reed 30 June 2013

Sarcasm aside, there are some great shortcuts when it comes to community building. My favorite is worth a thousand words. Pictures. Pictures (and more specifically, photos) are hugely underutilized and undervalued in online communities. Community managers do a bad job of encouraging picture sharing and community software tends to make photo uploading cumbersome and unintuitive […]

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Find that opportunity to engage your community

by Martin Reed 1 May 2013

There are so many opportunities to engage members of your online community. Think: Pets Children Relevant current affairs Member birthdays (but do it right) The welcome email (but do it right) Interesting hobbies (do you enjoy¬†clam digging?!) Member achievements (in the community and in their personal lives) Community milestones (forget numbers – this is more […]

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