May 10, 2010

How to build a sustainable community



Facilitate, share — and enlist your members for help

Amy Sample WardThis is a guest post I wrote for the Online Community Report.

Ilove my community. Whether I’m talking about my role at NetSquared, my blog, or my network of friends, I am inspired every day and find value in, and rewards for, my participation. Regardless of whether I feel like, or am trying to be, a community builder, the community always provides opportunities for others to join me. These spaces are built on distributed power and that makes the community a moving, growing, living thing that I am a part of, rather than a weight, trouble, or burden that I’m responsible for.

But, it ain’t easy. Being a Community Builder (I refuse, on principle, to use the word Manager) is a lot of work. So, how do you do it without losing sleep or sanity?

Here’s my 3×3 to Sustainable Community Building.

1. There are no shortcuts

Lead by example
Interact, use tools, and create and share content the way you want your community members to do so. Seeing you leave a comment, or share a resource, will model the desired behavior so others can see what to do (especially if they are new to social media or new to your community) and how to do it (especially if they are new to your tool or platform).

Operate in public
When it comes to “administrator” or “moderator” activity, always conduct it in public unless it requires or involves personal information. Don’t send a private welcome message – do it in public so others can benefit (they too can see, join in, and find someone new)! Don’t remove or edit contributions, but leave a comment to suggest how they can be improved. If there’s offensive or inappropriate behavior, note it in public so others can learn what’s OK and what isn’t, and feel empowered to help moderate as a community. Continue reading

January 17, 2010

How to grow your blog with guest posts

This is part of the series 31 Day Challenge To Optimize Your Blog With Social Media.

John HaydonIn the above 2-minute video, I talk about why guest blogging could be a critical addition to your blog.

One benefit of guest posts is to further a relationship. You both build a relationship with other bloggers and expose your blog to a completely new audience — a great way to attract new readers and get new RSS subscribers.

Here are some guest post strategies I’ve used:

  1. Read the blog of the person who you want partner with. Get to know his or her readers and content.
  2. Be sincere and genuine with your interest. A long-term partnership will not blossom if you lead with a hidden, personal agenda.
  3. Add valuable comments to their blog – and not “Great post, here’s a cool link.”
  4. Continue reading

December 11, 2009

The most powerful social media tool out there. Period!


John HaydonAt Community Organizer 2.0, Debra Askanase just wrote a piece called Front and Backyard Conversations. In it, she talks about social media as a public platform –- a front porch, but also a private platform where “conversations continue, out of the public eye.”

Front yard conversations are replies on Twitter, videos posted to YouTube, photos posted to Flickr, and blog posts and comments. The backyard conversations are personal emails, chats on the phone and ideas shared over pizza.

To go from the front yard to the backyard with your customer, you need develop increasing levels of trust, as in Debra’s diagram:


Questions I’d be asking

  • At what point does your organization call a donor on the phone, or have coffee with them?
  • What criteria, beyond donation amount, would you use to open up backyard communication?
  • And once you have lunch with them, what changes in your relationship on Twitter?
  • Continue reading

December 4, 2009

Using hashtags to enhance community

John HaydonOn Tuesday I’ll be leading an online session for about building communities on Twitter (follow @Philanthropy for details).

Communities do not just happen. And they certainly don’t happen overnight. You have to have something important to talk about. And you have to be prepared to consistently connect people together over a period of months.

But Twitter seems like a big mess, doesn’t it? With thousands of tweets going off every hour, about hundreds of different topics, how do you build a cohesive group of fans?

The answer is hashtags.

Hashtags are a way to funnel specific discussions about a topic into a coherent thread, sort of like using Twitter to tune into specific radio frequencies. But not everyone knows how to create successful chat sessions.

In the screencast at top, I outline the basics of managing a hashtag chat on Twitter:

October 23, 2009

Using nonprofit tech to benefit society

Amy Sample Ward on nonprofit technology from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

JD LasicaJust before we launched, I met Amy Sample Ward in person for the first time. Amy’s a whirlwind of energy and passion about all things np tech (nonprofit technology), and I was so impressed that I immediately asked her to join the Socialbrite team.

But not before I got her to sit still for a few minutes to talk about nonprofit tech, Net Tuesdays — Amy is the global community builder for NetSquared — and being a catalyst for social change.

NP tech is social change work, whether you’re a nonprofit or an individual who wants to change her community or you’re a corporation that’s working on social benefit through a corporate social responsibility campaign, she says.

More than 36 cities around the world now hold monthly events as part of Net Tuesday, the offline component of NetSquared, and if you’re within driving distance, you should stop by and meet other change agents in your community. (Sarah Kennon does an outstanding job of organizing the Net Tuesdays in San Francisco.) Continue reading

September 9, 2009

Socialbrite’s night at NetTuesday


JD LasicaLast night was the coming-out party for Socialbrite at the monthly NetTuesday gathering in San Francisco. About 40 people turned out for the event at PariSoMa, the coworking space at Howard and Tenth. Here are a half-dozen shots snapped by organizer Sarah Kennon and me.

And here is what the NetTuesday Meetup members had to say about the event.

A few notes from the evening:

• I kicked things off with a rundown of the Socialbrite team and the resources offered by Socialbrite, including the Sharing Center, Social Media Glossary, Web 2.0 productivity tools, directory of social media reports, guides to free photos, free music and free video footage, and directory of cause organizations.

• Jacob Colker, co-founder of the Extraordinaries, discussed the “micro-volunteer” opportunities using mobile devices in their spare time that people could sign up for. The Extraordinaries is now available as a free iPhone app. Socialbrite will publish a video interview with co-founder Ben Rigby soon.

• Schlomo Rabinowitz sketched out VideoCampSF, coming to BAVC Oct. 16-17. Two days of sessions can be had for just $65. (Register here.) The stellar lineup of instructors includes Melissa Rowley, Jen Myronuk, Katrina Heppler, Sukhjit, Markus Sandy, Adam Quirk and Bill Streeter (hey, I know all these folks!).

• Katrina Heppler outlined her promising new venture, (She’s also begun contributing video dispatches to Socialbrite, like the one immediately below this post.)

• Michael Stoll and two of his staffers came by to fill us in on The Public Press (which will be getting a new domain name next month). The nonprofit publication provides noncommercial news for the Bay Area and has been raising funds for story pitches on

• I outlined the mission of the Public Media Collaborative, a group of Bay Area technologists, activists and bloggers who put on training workshops, chiefly for community organizations. Our next daylong workshop will be Oct. 23 in Oakland.

• Program manager Liberty Smith told us about the National Service Learning Clearinghouse. Service learning is a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities. Continue reading