Community Management, Social Media Case Studies, Social Media Strategy, Book Reviews, Brand Communities, Social Media Marketing

Brand Community Managers Take Heed of “Managing Online Forums”

Patrick O’Keefe knows more about online forums than you do.

In fact, he may know more about forums and message boards than anyone out there, as evidenced by his extremely useful book “Managing Online Forumsmanaging online forums Brand Community Managers Take Heed of Managing Online Forums

The level of detail in this book is startling, with a glossary, and an entire section of templates that you can use to craft content posting policies, and communicate with members and staff in a variety of situations (some uncomfortable). If you or your company run an online forum this is an invaluable reference, and you’ll come back to it with great regularity as situations arise that require its counsel.

If you don’t have an online forum, this book still contains content that is applicable and right on the money. If you have a blog, a Facebook fan page, a Linkedin group, or any other sort of digital community, it will improve if you digest Managing Online Forums. If you are a Community Manager, or oversee the community management role, this is required reading.

star hands 300x200 Brand Community Managers Take Heed of Managing Online ForumsPatrick quite clearly states the case that being a good facilitator is far more important than being a subject matter expert. Patrick owns and operates karateforums.com but has never broken a board, or even so much as kicked someone. But the content in the community is by all measures excellent, and its membership continues to grow. Why?

Partially because he hustles. The need for the community manager to be the Mayor, to be accessible, to be fast, to be genuinely empathetic, is a consistent theme throughout the book. It’s not easy to be a good community manager, because when members have a problem, your weekend or vacation day or sick day or hockey game isn’t really their concern.

Mr. Nice Guy

The other section I very much appreciated covers the importance of welcoming all new members, and creating ways to involve them in the fabric of the community right away. Tremendous applicability of this section to Facebook fan pages and other collectives where members aren’t typically greeted and embraced with regularity. (For more on this concept, see my post on WFACT method for building blog community, inspired by Valeria Maltoni).

Once the members have been welcomed, you can’t switch to auto pilot. Patrick offers several ideas for intriguing contests and giveaways and awards programs that will help you keep your membership active and engaged.

The Dark Side of Brand Community

Anyone that runs a blog should examine the pages devoted to sketchy link strategies employed by forum posters. These hidden affiliate links, redirects, and other schemes are likely to occur on your blog at some point, and Patrick demonstrates how to set up a governance policy, and diagnose these denizens of the digital underbelly.

One area where my preferences diverge from Patrick’s is in the area of public vs. private assistance. He describes why he suggests feedback and support questions be sent to him directly via forum private message. And perhaps that’s the best approach for online forums. But, in a blog setting (and certainly on Twitter and Facebook), I advocate handling customer service in public, typically. This provides the benefit of being a living FAQ that may reduce duplicate queries, and gives the organization “credit” for providing support, possibly improving the perception of the organization among viewers of the exchange.

If you run an online community, I highly recommend this book. And if you aren’t involved in the day-to-day operations of a blog, forum or other community, it’s still a useful read.

  • http://www.managingonlineforums.com/ Patrick

    Wow, Jay! Thanks so much. I am thrilled that you liked the book as much as you did and I really, sincerely appreciate you taking the time to review it in such detail. I’m so happy right now! :)

    Regarding feedback, etc., those are great points. In the book, I discussed that method as an alternative that would work better for some, but I don’t think it’s best for all forums. I think what you described is better for some. I really think it’s just a matter of preference and there isn’t really a right or wrong answer as much as what works better for you.

    Another option is always to segment the feedback, if you will. So, for example, if you want people to provide feedback on your products in your forums, but you don’t want them to bash your moderators in your feedback area, you could create a policy of sorts telling members what sort of feedback is better sent in private, or something along those lines. That’s probably the middle ground.

    Thanks again. The review means a lot to me.

    Patrick

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jay Baer

      Patrick, thanks for taking the time to comment, and for writing such an excellent book. I like that idea of splitting feedback by topic or circumstance. Good plan.

      • http://www.managingonlineforums.com/ Patrick

        My pleasure. Thanks again.

  • http://www.managingonlineforums.com Patrick

    Wow, Jay! Thanks so much. I am thrilled that you liked the book as much as you did and I really, sincerely appreciate you taking the time to review it in such detail. I’m so happy right now! :)

    Regarding feedback, etc., those are great points. In the book, I discussed that method as an alternative that would work better for some, but I don’t think it’s best for all forums. I think what you described is better for some. I really think it’s just a matter of preference and there isn’t really a right or wrong answer as much as what works better for you.

    Another option is always to segment the feedback, if you will. So, for example, if you want people to provide feedback on your products in your forums, but you don’t want them to bash your moderators in your feedback area, you could create a policy of sorts telling members what sort of feedback is better sent in private, or something along those lines. That’s probably the middle ground.

    Thanks again. The review means a lot to me.

    Patrick

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jay Baer

      Patrick, thanks for taking the time to comment, and for writing such an excellent book. I like that idea of splitting feedback by topic or circumstance. Good plan.

      • http://www.managingonlineforums.com Patrick

        My pleasure. Thanks again.

  • http://leahkaiz.blogspot.com/ Leah Kaiz

    I’m going to need to go get this book! Great review Jay! Thanks for the useful information as always.
    .-= Leah Kaiz´s last blog ..Facebook Vacation Tip: Diving in the Turks and Caicos =-.

  • http://leahkaiz.blogspot.com/ Leah Kaiz

    I’m going to need to go get this book! Great review Jay! Thanks for the useful information as always.
    .-= Leah Kaiz´s last blog ..Facebook Vacation Tip: Diving in the Turks and Caicos =-.

  • http://insightsandingenuity.com/ Heather Rast

    Not to mention, Patrick is a pretty engaging speaker as well (evidenced when we sat in on his talk at SXSW’09). He seems to really enjoy the facilitator/oversight role of communities and learns new methods that then funnel into other projects. Those qualities – fundamental enjoyment for the role and learning/applying – are critical to the success of a community caretaker, I believe.
    .-= Heather Rast´s last blog ..What Difference Does Your Marketing Make? =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jay Baer

      Absolutely. In fact, I first came across Patrick while sitting with Heather at SXSW. He’s very, very good. Don’t miss a chance to see Patrick in person. (Heather too, for that matter). See you in Chicago for MPDM, right?

      • http://www.managingonlineforums.com/ Patrick

        *blush*

        Way too kind. Thanks Jay.

  • http://insightsandingenuity.com Heather Rast

    Not to mention, Patrick is a pretty engaging speaker as well (evidenced when we sat in on his talk at SXSW’09). He seems to really enjoy the facilitator/oversight role of communities and learns new methods that then funnel into other projects. Those qualities – fundamental enjoyment for the role and learning/applying – are critical to the success of a community caretaker, I believe.
    .-= Heather Rast´s last blog ..What Difference Does Your Marketing Make? =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jay Baer

      Absolutely. In fact, I first came across Patrick while sitting with Heather at SXSW. He’s very, very good. Don’t miss a chance to see Patrick in person. (Heather too, for that matter). See you in Chicago for MPDM, right?

      • http://www.managingonlineforums.com Patrick

        *blush*

        Way too kind. Thanks Jay.

  • http://www.managingonlineforums.com/ Patrick

    Thanks so much, Heather. I really appreciate you saying so. Hopefully will see you at BWE this year!

    • http://www.managingonlineforums.com/ Patrick

      And, of course, I missed the “Reply” link. Doh, sorry! :)

  • http://www.managingonlineforums.com Patrick

    Thanks so much, Heather. I really appreciate you saying so. Hopefully will see you at BWE this year!

    • http://www.managingonlineforums.com Patrick

      And, of course, I missed the “Reply” link. Doh, sorry! :)

  • Jessica F Cox

    @jaybaer Nice find! Thanks for sharing. Managing communities requires a special skill set; great tools make it easier. http://ow.ly/tcLC

  • http://twitter.com/sonnygill/status/4696284971 Sonny Gill

    Brand Community Managers Take Heed of ‘Managing Online Forums’ (via @jaybaer): http://bit.ly/1vkoPR

  • http://twitter.com/cmtychat/status/4696284977 Community Chat

    Brand Community Managers Take Heed of ‘Managing Online Forums’ (via @jaybaer): http://bit.ly/1vkoPR

  • http://twitter.com/chuckhemann/status/4696341760 chuckhemann

    RT @sonnygill: Brand Community Managers Take Heed of ‘Managing Online Forums’ (via @jaybaer): http://bit.ly/1vkoPR

  • http://twitter.com/sueontheweb/status/4696454409 Sue

    RT @CmtyChat: Brand Community Managers Take Heed of ‘Managing Online Forums’ (via @jaybaer): http://bit.ly/1vkoPR

  • http://twitter.com/ritubpant/status/4697800034 Ritu

    RT @DannyBrown: What brand community managers need to know about managing online forums http://bit.ly/4e7pE2 from @jaybaer

  • http://twitter.com/susanmontgomery/status/4697909337 Susan Montgomery

    RT @DannyBrown: What brand community managers need to know about managing online forums http://bit.ly/4e7pE2 from @jaybaer

  • http://twitter.com/doreenatdms/status/4697986881 Doreen Iannuzzi

    RT @DannyBrown: What brand community managers need to know about managing online forums http://bit.ly/4e7pE2 from @jaybaer

  • http://twitter.com/twocandothat/status/4702029463 Two Can Do That

    RT @jaybaer: Online community managers check out Managing Online Forums from @ifroggy. Lots of useful info. http://bit.ly/W3Akn

  • http://twitter.com/braundoug/status/4710916431 Doug Braun

    “Managing Online Forums” – Brand Community Managers Take Heed: http://bit.ly/1bp1aB (good advice)

  • thenuts

    Hey been looking at this site for a while now and thought i would sign up and spread the word!

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  • http://YourWebsite thenuts

    Hey been looking at this site for a while now and thought i would sign up and spread the word!

    I’m ed :)

    (please move this if its in the wrong place and bare with me, I’m new!)

  • http://twitter.com/debweinstein/status/5095588639 Deborah Weinstein

    HOW TO: Manage your Online Community http://bit.ly/W3Akn Great tips. Tks @jaybaer via @CFM_Online

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