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Guest blog: Why communities need Managers by Bill Boorman

Fontana di Trevi - NettunoFirstly Felix, thanks for letting me respond to your last post and being your first guest blogger. I enjoy your work and I’m sure this will shape up in to a well read blog with a good following.

Unusually, I don’t wholly agree with your last blog post, “hindering the potential of social media.”

In it you wrote:

“At the Social Recruiting Conference in San Francisco Joshua Kahn said: “You can’t build a community; you can only find a community.” These are wise words. If community building would be just putting a Linkedin group up and sending tweets, don’t you think that the UN and nation builders all over the world would use it? We can only enable communities by giving infrastructure, platforms, frameworks, connections but never make the mistake that you own a community or can just fabricate one.”

Communities don’t naturally happen and they don’t sustain or grow without plenty of direction. You build a community by active promotion, posting, invitations, activities and constant maintenance. Communities evolve around events, blogs or shared interests and you have to spread the word.

The best communities I’m involved in have a clear owner who guides content, occasionally removes members and vets content. At #trulondon I spent time discussing this with Jacco Valkenburg and Jason Davis. Both own and run huge communities which while being vastly different, also had some common themes.

Both control content and have clear guidelines over what they want and don’t want to post. Both insist that their success is down to maintaining the integrity of the content, whether that’s sourcing new contributors or monitoring older ones. Both read and approve every post and try to prevent over self-promotion or socially unacceptable content. This control encourages others to join and contribute.

All communities have identity. Look at RecruitingBlogs.Com, ERE and UK Recruiter. Each have a very distinct style over content, look and feel. Each is what I would consider a high quality community that serves a distinct purpose. Community members may well belong to each of them but will go to each for different reasons or different points of reference. These have evolved, and have the flexibility to continue  do so but many of the initiatives and changes are engineered. Usually in response to the community, but engineered none the less. I call that community building.

This also means you need a community manager to be the face of the community, nurture and encourage it. They also need to be the referee and enforcer some times and to respond to the communities needs with change.

Looking at the take-up of social recruiting, social learning and other social initiatives, I know one of the key barriers is time and distraction from the normal job. In some cases there is some fear in this. Employing  someone to deal with the filtering and the spade work helps reduce the time taken.

Personally, the area that I think needs to be original is content. This should be self-generated and reflect the personality and views behind the personal brand in the chosen channels. Too much “marketing” content stands out and becomes sterile.

Be glad to hear what anyone else thinks. Be ambassadors of your communities and be among the 10% that actually contribute.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Giulio Menna

You can find Bill’s blog at

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