N2Y3Con: Bringing Your Community to Life

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Hi, Laura Whitehead liveblogging here at the Netsquared conference. Alexandra Samuel from Social Signal is presenting the session. The session will aim to turn hope into reality by looking at how you can invite, encourage and incentivize high-volume and high quality participation.

Alexandra from Social Signal

Alexandra opened the session with some questions to the audience about who participates in online communities, and who has frustrations with online communities.

To encourage participation from the audience to bring forward some ideas of what we want to learn from today, Alexandra breaks open some chocolate! Nice!
Hand start shooting up with suggestions of the issues and help they need.

Issues raised included: Bringing people in, Keeping it going, new or use existing, of value to NGO's, how to keep it on-topic, resource all communities, how much time does it take to manage?

Alexandra suggests that a great incentive to get people participating is to offer a great invitation.

It's time to make our own live model of participation...

The audience were all handed sticky labels, and asked to write a few words and then to wear it. Alexandra offered the prize of an ITunes card in return for some participating volunteers from the room to be animators! (I like her style to encourage participation!).

The volunteers (animators) circulated round the room looking for pairs or groups of people to connect and group together that have similar interests or words on their labels. The newly grouped people begin to talk and connect together about their related interests.

The volunteer animators (note, not facilitator or moderator), have got people together, and begun to get the conversation going. I'm sitting in between two groups listening to the conversations and interactions between them.

How to create Effective Animation:

  • Focus on promoting conversation
  • Make it happen, don't wait for it
  • Connect like-minded participants
  • Connect complimentary threads
  • Plan pro-actively, implement reactively

After lots of bubbly conversations had taken place, Alexandra asked the audience for feedback of what was discussed within the group breakouts. She also asked how many people here had engagement plans in their organizations to help manage, develop and enable effective participation.

Lots of experience and knowledge here in the room, and sharing and building with ideas of how to make those communities work. (and those chocolate incentives are working well and are flowing around the room at a great pace!).

The model of participation which has been created, which everyone has been participating in is now moving into it's next phase. All those standing who offered their ideas have now been asked to help be an 'expert', and to be able to answer to the needs of others in the room who are seeking help with their community issues.

Alexandra brings in the 'Twitter' rule for those who can respond with help and ideas to the other people's questions in the room.

Twitter workshops

  • Offer your tip in 160 characters
  • Sit down if you...repeat an idea, go over 160 characters, draw a blank.

'Experts' in the room, were able to help share their knowledge, experience and tips with others.

Alexandra explained that what we've been doing in this room today, is that we've created Gateway lower threshold participation.

Gateway Participation

  • voting
  • rating
  • reviewing

So, how to make all this work better together...

Balance quantity and quality

  • invite volume, promote quality
  • renew participation with fresh invitations
  • gently inhibit over-participation

The best suggestions for help were voted for with applause from the audience. Alexandra's final note of wisdom was that you can't just set up a community and wait for it to come alive. Put together a plan, work on your incentives and rules; invitations and encourage participation!

A great session with lots of chocolate, participation, conversation and fun!