Thanks for participating in the Community discussion yesterday! We received so many questions that I will try to answer them here in my blog!Just as a bit of background

A community is a group of people that join together around a common interest or goal.

It provides an excellent way to connect members of a team and help them to stay in touch and share information.   Communities can be public or restricted, allowing community owners to control who can join the community and access community content.  They provide a central place where individuals new to the organization or discipline can quickly find others or conduct events and training course designed to bring people together and make them aware of individual and collective experience

A success factor for communities is having a great community manager! A question I get all the time is Who do you hire?  My advice?

  • Someone who knows Web 2.0 tools and uses them naturally
  • Believes strongly in your company and mission
  • Passionate about the brand/interest area/focus
  • Strong listening skills
  • Motivates others in a cause

Question and Answers:

1. Does a private community conflict with the open transparent nature of the social community?

I don’t think so! A private community protects privacy and information. So if you are a company wanting to innovate, I do believe that a private community should be used but you don’t want all those great ideas to be shared with your competitors. This is about being a business, not just fun!

2. What are your thoughts on special interest communities (non business related) on your Social Business Platform?

I think they are fine in moderation. I was just at IMPACT and Wendy Arnott, Vice President, Social Media and Digital Communications, from TD Bank said that 94% of their communities were business focused and the rest were special interest based. I think people bring their full person to the workplace and I think special interest communities bring that out!

3. Was the example of 19% increase in revenue due to a community in a consumer market? Or B2B?

I came across a very interesting article inStrategy+Business magazine recently which talks about how Online Communities for customers are really starting to pay off. The piece details a new study from University of Michigan

in January 2012 which has conclusively shown that companies who launch online communities for their customers to discuss, share and recommend products to each other can see an additional 19% of revenue generated per social customer. They call this Social Dollars – how much a customer will spend above what they did prior to joining the online community. Retail was the study’s focus area.

4. What metrics do you use for community metrics of success?

Level of engagement is a great metric to measure the success of a community. Are your employees and colleagues utilizing the group to gain knowledge, share ideas, and best practices?

5. Does IBM view project management skills important in a great community manager?

Yes, there are many things that make a great community manager. I went through some of them on the call. For example,

  • Loves “social”
  • Great collaborator
  • Part of community;  respected by community, .Motivates others, 5.
  • Can evoke energy/controversy.

There are MANY more but those are some that most people often don’t think about!

6. Do you need 1 or more community managers in a community?

It depends! I know not the best answer but it is true. It depends on size, goal, and activity!

7. How much in depth does a community manager have to understand the technology?

Enough to be a power user! They should know how to use it, not dissect it! 

What they do need to understand is how to balance the needs of knowledge contributors and seekers, how to promote membership and reward active participation, how to support active and appropriate content contributions, and how to monitor, measure, and share engagement & business value.

8. Is there an optimal community size?

There is really no optimal size. It depends!

9. How important is the tool in the success of a community?

I think it is important too! Ideally you would choose a tool that is easy to use and has a friendly interface to enhance the user experience and encourage engagement.  

10.  How high up in the corporate hierarchy should a community manager be? To whom should the CM report?

The community itself may dictate that answer.   If there is a community for requirements, I would think it should report into the Product Management team.   If it is a CEO community, something that would report into the CEO office.  For instance, for my external client community it reports into my c Suite team, dotted line to me.  For internal, it is reporting into the subject matter expertise area!