Originally published December 15, 2015

Communities and Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs) need committed leaders. Community managers should know the subject in depth, have energy for stimulating collaboration among the members, and be able to devote sufficient time to leadership activities. These activities include scheduling and hosting calls and meetings, asking and answering questions, posting information which is useful to the members, regularly spending time expanding membership and increasing member contributions.


From What are you supposed to do in a community?

Community managers and ESN leaders should Schedule, Host, Answer, Post, Expand (SHAPE):

  1. Schedule: Line up speakers and set up events
  2. Host: Initiate and run conference calls, webinars, and face-to-face meetings
  3. Answer: Ensure that questions in the threaded discussion board/group receive replies, that discussions are relevant, and that behavior is appropriate
  4. Post: Share information which is useful to the members by posting to the community site, threaded discussion board/group, blog, and/or newsletter
  5. Expand: Attract new members, content contributions, and threaded discussion board/group posts

Adapting details from Knowledge Management Leaders & Community Managers: What’s Needed? a community leader needs to perform the following tasks.

  1. Improve business results through the activities of the community.
  2. Define, maintain, and execute the community plan.
  3. Implement people, process, and technology components for sharing, innovating, reusing, collaborating, and learning in the community.
  4. Define measurements for the community.
  5. Report regularly on the community’s performance against goals.
  6. Communicate regularly to the community and to potential members.
  7. Ensure fresh content is being shared in the community, multiple voices are being heard, lively discussions are recurring, and questions receive timely replies.
  8. Actively participate in the community, model the desired behaviors, and be visible as a leader and member.
  9. Network with other community leaders, both inside and outside of the organization to stay current in the field of community management.
  10. Demonstrate, document, and train on the use of communities and ESNs.

From 10 Tips for Leading Communities

  1. Carefully choose the community topic
  2. Publicize
  3. Increase membership
  4. Post and reply
  5. Use newsletters, blogs, and wikis
  6. Schedule and host events
  7. Provide useful content
  8. Tell members how they should participate
  9. Set goals and measure progress
  10. Solicit, find, and publicize success stories

From Community of Practice: A Real Life Story

  1. Have co-leaders for your community, assign complementary roles such as one person hosts and one person records, divide up the job of lining up future speakers, and ensure that at least one leader will be available for each call.
  2. Create an online agenda space for the community calls.
  3. Post files in the agenda space before each call, so members won’t ask “will the slides be shared?”
  4. Record the calls and post the recordings in the agenda space immediately following each call.
  5. Send meeting invitations by email to the members of the community and to all guest speakers.
  6. Send reminders to speakers — one month in advance, one week in advance, and the day before, and let them know how to submit slides and connect to the call.
  7. Be prepared for no-shows by speakers, last minute switch requests, and speakers who are confused about how to connect to the call.
  8. Send reminders by email the day before the call, and post reminders in your ESN group the day before the call and immediately before it is about to start.
  9. Post in your ESN group following each call with the transcript of any group chat held during the call, a link to the slides, and a link to the recording.
  10. To increase participation on calls, try posting the following in your ESN group; when we posted this, we received 122 replies.

Are you a knowledge management professional? Or a KM advocate? Are you interested in staying on top of the latest insights in knowledge management both within and outside of the company? If so, we are looking for you to join the Knowledge Management community and promote KM principles by actively learning from and sharing your knowledge with other community members!

Please reply here to note your interest — by doing so, you will gain the following benefits:

  • You will receive the calendar appointments for monthly KM community calls
  • You will receive reminders about the calls
  • You will have opportunities to help guide the KM community through activities like helping to identify potential topics for upcoming calls and prioritize those topics

Attributes from 7 Habits of Highly Effective Knowledge Managers

1. Adaptable

  • Flexible: willing to try different courses of action
  • Resilient: overcomes difficulties, withstands setbacks, and meets challenges
  • Open-minded: considers the opinions of others

2. Assertive

  • Takes initiative
  • Consistently achieves challenging objectives and meets commitments
  • Makes effective decisions in a timely manner

3. Calm

  • Maintains a high level of performance even when under pressure
  • Even-tempered even when dealing with unpleasant circumstances
  • Balances logic and emotions when interacting with others

4. Member-focused

  • Understands members’ needs and concerns
  • Responds promptly and effectively to member needs
  • Eager to be of help to users

5. Creative

  • Develops innovative approaches to problem solving
  • Invents new ways of doing things
  • Willing to try out bold ideas

6. Collaborative

  • Acknowledges others’ contributions
  • Works effectively with individuals of different backgrounds and from different groups
  • Willing to seek help as needed
  • Shares personal knowledge
  • Builds partnerships and networks

7. Curious

  • Stays current in the field
  • Open to new ideas
  • Asks others to share their knowledge and experience

8. Dynamic

  • Gets results
  • Balances analysis with action
  • Sets high standards

9. Influential

  • Gains support and commitment from others even without formal authority
  • Resolves differences by determining needs and forging solutions that benefit all parties
  • Facilitates teamwork across organizational boundaries

10. Personable

  • Gets along well with many different types of people
  • Nurtures new relationships
  • Well-liked as a community manager, professional colleague, and friend

Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs)

ESN group administrators should ensure that for their groups, the following are true:

  1. There are multiple group admins, all of whom are actively monitoring the group
  2. It is not redundant with other groups
  3. There are posts at least once a week
  4. Posts are from multiple people
  5. There are replies to posts
  6. All questions receive timely answers
  7. If membership must be approved, pending requests are reviewed and accepted or rejected
  8. There are posts which are not just shares from other groups
  9. Posts are of actual value
  10. Content is appropriate, e.g., no third-party documents have been uploaded, conversations are civil, confidentiality and privacy guidelines are being followed, etc.

25 Tips for ESN Group Administrators

1. Be sure that the group has a compelling subject that will attract members who are passionate about it.

2. Look for groups with overlapping subjects, and contact their admins to see if the groups can be combined.

3. Set email notifications for your group.

4. View all posts by reading all email notifications for your group.

5. Set an Outlook reminder to review your group each week.

6. Make sure questions receive answers. Respond to unanswered queries in one of these ways:

  • Answer the question yourself
  • Reply and mention one or more other people who are likely to be able to provide an answer
  • Click “More” and then “Email Me” to send the question to you by email, and then forward that message to one or more other people and ask them to reply, either by clicking on the link to the thread, or by replying to your email with an answer which you can then post as a reply in the group
  • Use the Share function to share the question in one or more other relevant groups and ask the members to reply in the original thread

7. If there have been no posts in a week, share a link, start a discussion, or reply to a previous post.

8. Communicate widely to let people know your group exists, its purpose, and its target audience. Promote the group by mentioning appropriate people who can help by replying to the post to raise visibility through their followers. Send out an email to a distribution list or to individuals, or mention specific people in a post, with a message such as:

TO: All Gamification Enthusiasts

We have created a new group called Gamification for those who are interested in the subject. We encourage you to join the group by visiting <URL>, clicking the Join button, and setting email notifications by scrolling down on the right until you see: Access Options

x Subscribe to this group by email

9. Link to or embed the group in relevant intranet and other web sites.

10. Ask key leaders and subject matter specialists to post, reply, like, and praise in the group.

11. When you receive email messages sharing information, asking questions, or seeking resources, reply to the senders asking them to post in the group, or if they are okay with you posting on their behalf. Then reply to them in the group.

12. Use the Praise function to recognize people who post and reply in the group.

13. Let members know what specific actions they can take to get value from the group. For example, customize SAFARIS for your group.

14. Make sure there are good examples of these actions in the group so that when people check out the group, they will join it.

15. Take steps to increase membership to achieve critical mass.

16. Get leaders to lead by example by routinely posting, replying, and praising in the group — and doing this directly themselves.

17. Provide training to all group members on setting their feed and notifications, following people and topics, and joining groups.

18. Edit your group name to make it clear, specific, and helpful.

19. In the Description field, provide sufficient details and keywords so potential members will quickly grasp the intent of the group, and so others searching for groups will find it and know what is about. Edit your group description to remove redundant, non-essential text and misleading keywords and ensure that all meaningful keywords are included.

20. Remove non-essential text and add key links in the Info box.

21. Use the Related Groups function to link to other groups of interest to members and to link back to your group from those groups.

22. If your group has no image, add one, and make sure it looks good.

23. Have at least two admins, and welcome others who wish to become co-admins.

24. Measure your group’s performance:

  • At least one post to the group per week
  • Posts by more than two different people
  • No questions left unanswered after 24 hours
  • At least <your preferred minimum> members after the first three months, with growth in membership every quarter thereafter

25. Respond to queries and requests, reply to discussions started by others, and mention other people to ask them to also reply.

Other Views

In an actKM discussion on the role of community managers summarized by Arthur Shelley, the following attributes were supplied by the participants:

1. Arthur Shelley: “Community manager key responsibilities:

  • Lead the community, engage membership and other stakeholders
  • Organize community interactions and activities on regular basis
  • Ensure the purpose of the community remains aligned with personal aspirations of the members as well as business goals
  • Create an identity for the community to which people want to belong
  • Generate an atmosphere of fun to keep the interactions vibrant
  • Network with potential new community members to promote community benefits
  • Collate feedback from members and facilitate responses to source of feedback
  • Ensure collaboration activities are beneficial to the community members
  • Engage members and generate a sense of commitment to community activities
  • Network with HR and Communications personnel, advise them of interest stories
  • Communicate community benefits and successes to wider stakeholder groups
  • Establish (with members) agreed processes for community activities and events
  • Establish accountabilities and timeframes for agreed projects, tasks and activities
  • Identify objectives, roles and responsibilities for community members
  • Designate resources requirements and determine any funding arrangements
  • Anticipate risks and explore impacts non-delivery of desired outcomes
  • Establish a monitoring and review process
  • Liaise with the Content Manager to discuss layout and formats of content on the portal
  • Screen submitted content for appropriateness and relevance
  • Encourage members to load useful content to the relevant portal pages”

2. Shawn Callahan: “Here are the character traits I think a community coordinator should have:

  • well respected
  • knowledgeable about the community’s domain (but not an expert)
  • well connected to a range of community members
  • keen to develop the community’s practice
  • good communicators
  • personally interested in community leadership
  • good workshop and meeting facilitator
  • likable

The other critical feature is that the coordinator should be approved/accepted/chosen by the community leadership.”

3. David Smith: “Our community facilitators:

  • Act as the intermediary between people seeking knowledge and people who can provide the knowledge. They actually seek out experts to support community requests for assistance.
  • Identify, maintain and make accessible the collection of knowledge sources in their area of responsibility.
  • Facilitate validation of knowledge before updating repository.
  • Monitor other Knowledge Communities and other reporting systems to extract new knowledge or identify issues that require solutions.
  • Identify needs for new knowledge and stimulates its creation.
  • Assist management in prioritizing new technology developments based on community needs.
  • Manage the community portal.

Facilitator competencies:

  • Recognized by peers as competent (not expert) in broad range of community subjects
  • Good people skills
  • Passionately interested in the community subject area
  • Proficient in KM process and tools”

4. Matt Moore: “Some community coordinator attributes:

  • PASSIONATE about the domain & the development of a community
  • A PRACTITIONER of the domain themselves
  • Respected & liked by their PEERS
  • Aware & prepared for the organizational POLITICS they will encounter
  • Skilled in facilitation PROCESS (be it virtual or real)
  • Willing to PERSEVERE on this for months rather than days”

Other Posts

1. Gerard Richardson:

2. Community Roundtable

3. Feverbee

4. CMX Hub

5. Real Story Group

Books and Courses

What do you think makes for a great community manager?

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/

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