Online Communities

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Information about Online Communities

Published on October 7, 2008

Author: byrnereese



A presentation I gave on community management to Haas Business School in 2007.

Online Communities Haas Business School, September 20, 2007 1

Byrne Reese 2


• “Computer Scientist” (I hack) • “Anthropologist” (I studied it once) • Product Manager 4




Why do Online Communities Matter? 8

Why do Online Communities Matter? 9

Collectively, we are smarter. (most of the time) 10

They give us a sense of belonging 11

They give us a heightened sense of responsibility to one another 12

They allow us to accomplish things we couldn’t accomplish on our own 13

They bring meaning to our lives 14

Ok, so why do Online Communities Matter? 15

Community 16

Communication 17

• Community is how we get stuff done • Community allows us to accomplish things greater then ourselves 18

And from a product manager’s view: 19

Communities... • Allow us to connect with the audiences we care about • Help build affinity for our products • Foster greater product advocacy • Provide us with valuable product feedback 20

Building Communities 21

Communities are not things Communities are organisms 22

Community Biology 23

Rule #1: Give them a place to take root 24

Or they might show up where you don’t want them 25

Or they might show up where you don’t want them Like in your backyard. 26

Or they might show up where you don’t want them Like in your backyard. When you are out of town. 27

Keep in mind... 28

Some environments are more suitable than others 29

Where they take root may surprise you 30

Helping Communities to Thrive 31



Inputs & Outputs 34

INPUT Information 35

OUTPUT (magic) 36


Community Culture 38

“The values, traditions, norms, customs, arts, history, folklore, and institutions that a group of people share.” 39

norms 40

rules 41

• Norms define what is acceptable and unacceptable • Norms provide the means for the community to keep its members in check 42

They allow you to step in and take action if necessary 43

Stories from the Trenches 44

Go with the flow 45

Don’t force your community to adapt to your product. 46


Adapt your product to your community. 48


Use communities strategically 50

+ Ads = See Also: Giving Communities a Place to Grow 51

Don’t wait for communities to find their own home. 52

Give them a place of your choosing to call home. 53

Community is a feature 54

Know how community can attract or repel future customers and users 55


vs. 57

Things to be mindful of 58

“If you build it, they will come.” 59

Believe it or not, you are not God. Even in the communities you start. 60

Remember: you are dealing with people who are emotionally invested 61

• Be sensitive • Be fair • Be honest • Be transparent • Be humble 62

And what ever you do... 63

Don’t feed the Trolls 64

Thank you. 65 66


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