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November 3, 2009

Hi – This is NOT Nancy so please don’t expect the usual quality of insight.

Online communities are hot! So hot that everyone wants one. Your bank, your supermarket down the street, the paper you read at weekends, that charity you give to. But as Rob May puts very well, we only have so many hours in the day. Is “community fatigue” inevitable?

There are a few things that can done about this if you want to nurture a community with an online presence:

  • Understand the lives of your members (potential or actual). How much free time do they have? What do they do for the 99% of the time they are not involved in your community? Personas & ethnography can be powerful tools here. Or even simply asking people.
  • Understand that you are not the only place in the world where people talk about stuff. A little humility is a good thing. Where else do people talk about your stuff? Do you make it easy for conversations to flow across multiple platforms? Or do you jealously guard every interaction?
  • Focus on the bits where you do make a difference. A key metric used for many communities whether public or private is “number of members” (up there with “number of posts” probably). And this metric can be poisonous – because it forces a focus on eyeballs rather than value. What’s the most significant change that your community has fostered?

What do you think about “community fatigue”? Is it real or did I just make it up?

One Comment leave one →
  1. November 3, 2009 2:17 pm

    I think it is more than fatigue – I think it is the fact that technology has profoundly changed what it means to “be together” (i.e. in community) so now we have the possibility of belonging to so many communities. This multimembership then tugs against what we have understood in the past to “belong” to a community – what kind of attention, time, contribution etc.

    Finally – pshaw on your humility. Lots of insight! 🙂

    P.S. We’ll be playing with this idea of personas in our advance online community workshops.

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