N2Y3Con: Building Communities with Free Chocolate: Alexandra Samuel, Social Signal

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LIVE BLOG: Alexandra Samuel of Social Signal is presenting on "Bringing Your Community to Life" at the NetSquared Conference. I'm Ivan Boothe, liveblogging for Rootwork and Philly NetSquared.

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To begin, Alex offers free chocolate to those who offer suggestions on what to discuss. Instant community-building!

Topics:

  • how to bring people in
  • how to keep it going
  • how to get "something" out of it
  • pursue new members or existing members (e.g. list members, donors) elsewhere?
  • what's the value to an NGO?
  • how much time does it take?

As Alex says, it's all about incentives!

(More to come as I live blog!)

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Rules are often the first thing your supporters will see in your community. Tone matters; give dos, not don'ts.

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Tag tagging! Each attendee is tagging their name tags with the concepts they are interested in or can speak about. "Animators" are finding those with similar interests and grouping them together.

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Make connections yourself. Don't just wait for connections to happen — go through your site, look through what's being said, connect like-minded folks. Animators rather than moderators. You want to encourage people to talk, not discourage them — most nonprofits anticipate problems with inappropriate conversation, when in fact many communities die from insufficient conversation.

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Unlike for-profit online communities, nonprofit/social change communities need to be visibly accountable to their members — let people see how their feedback is affecting the direction of the community.

Members who participate in conversations with each other and with the nonprofit get "emotional buy-in" to feel like they're a part of the community.

For some, it goes even beyond this — if you want to build a vibrant constituency around a particular issue, people need to be able to speak for themselves (to their real-world community, members of Congress, etc.) and an online community is a perfect place to model this.

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(Somehow I ended up on an "expert panel" — hard to liveblog standing up!)

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Give people micro-participation options — low barriers to some kind of "gateway" opportunities. Go to your community for help and expansion. Invite volume, promote quality.

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"You can't just open a room and put out your content, and expect people to start contributing." Use new opportunities for partipation.

PLAN your community participation!

All over!

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Join me on Rootwork for more explorations on building successful online communities!