Thursday, 5 May 2011

Community managers and their offline users

There is a great energy and excitement when like-minded people get people together in the same places. For example, a full student bar has a great atmosphere where people get along easily and enjoy the buzz of being around each other. Also, they made no effort to create this gathering, they just walked into their universities student bar.

However, if you manage a community then trying to create this environment for users involves the pain or impossibility of having to organise it for large numbers, spread over a wide area, along with the fear that few will turn up.

The benefits of successful gatherings are great, including retaining users, getting better feedback and forming stronger emotional bonds between them, your service and other users.

Users want to get together offline, they just don't want it to be weird

Many users don't want to go to an awkward and formal meet and greet event and are looking for a natural way to enjoy the company of like-minded users. Just like students, they want to be able to enjoy that atmosphere whenever they please and without having to plan in advance.

They simply want to be in the same places together

First, lets get one thing out of the way. It's not about meeting people. Out of 100 people, 10 might overcome the discomfort of going to a formal event but if you made it natural, easy and with an element of spontaneity then you will capture the interest of up to 90 out of a 100. They don't go to the event to meet people, they want to enjoy the experience of being among a like-minded crowd and meeting people is a secondary natural effect.

They want to feel like the students, walking into their student bar with friends and able to lean across the table and meet other students by asking the simple question "What course do you do?". If you manage a community, then your users want the same thing and they also have a simple ice-breaker question of their own.

How do you give this to them without having to organise it?

You let them organise themselves. Imagine if, as a crowd of users spread across the city, you could simply choose to go to the same venues today. You were all going out anyway, you don't mind if it's one of several places, you just want enjoy that great atmosphere together so all you want to know is "where is the rest of the crowd going?" was built for this purpose. One link, created within 60 seconds and sent to users, gives them the power to organise themselves worldwide, every day of the week by making a decision, as a crowd, to go to the same places.

In addition, there are many obvious and not so obvious benefits listed here on the community managers home page:

Once you've had a look at that, see the user demo which explains how users will enjoy it and how we are moving to a great new age of 'spontaneous planning'

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