Lessons learned in managing online communities

November 26, 2008 § Leave a comment

Paul Bradshaw asked if I’d like to share some thoughts on what I’ve learned managing online communities as part of his ongoing series Lessons in community from community editors. 

Here’s an expcerpt:

3. Do not think of the social network as an extension of the company.

It’s not. If it is, then it isn’t a social network. Be willing and ready to give up the reigns.

If you are lucky this will happen quickly and you will have a core group of users that will steer it responsibly. This is a sign of success.

Any thoughts on this? What are some things you’ve learned either managing a network or being part of one?

Social networks lead to social networks

August 31, 2008 § Leave a comment

I’ve been administering a community social network hosted on Ning for the past 3 months. It has only been promoted to people who follow our newspaper’s Twitter feed and to members of our Flickr photo pool. It hasn’t grown the way I had hoped. There has been very little content, other than photos, posted by the members.

However, I don’t consider it a failure. Through it I have made connections with some of the members that have led to other projects. In particular, I will be collaborating with a couple of members on niche video podcasts. And recently a new member directed me toward another local social network aimed at dog owners. Guess what, the newsroom is currently working on a series of articles on local pets and their owners. Walla Walla Dogs will be great resource.

The networks exist. Even in our small town. They are a great resource to the communities they serve and they could/should be a resource for journalists.

Community manager needed in newsroom

August 21, 2008 § Leave a comment

Up until now, I have been the lone “web person” in the news room. I shoot and edit video and audio. I create web packages, I manage our digital content including Twitter, daily news webcast, a couple of community social network and I act as new media advocate in the newsroom.

Community outreach is the aspect of my job that has suffered the most because of all these duties.  Making those connections with community leaders. Getting the community to join and participate in the social networks. Promoting our web content where it matters most: at the school board meetings, at the little league games, in the coffee shops, wherever the community is. You know, community organizing as David Cohn wrote in a recent post:

“It’s often said that the job description for journalists are changing and that part of the new job is ‘community manager’ – sometimes called the ‘network weaver.’

What they do is organize communities – and while it might not FEEL like media, it is. We may not call them “journalists” but they are helping to inform citizens so they can make decisions in a healthy democracy. They collect, filter and distribute information. Sounds like journalism to me.”

I recently found out that we’re going to hire a part-time “web person” who will take on those roles in the community that I haven’t been able to fill. Sure he/she will shoot some video, post some breaking news items, fix online headlines, etc. but more importantly this person will be out away from the office, away from the computer screen.

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