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“Community” in  different  contexts  has  many  meanings.  Traditionally  we  have  thought   about  communities  being  where  our  home  is  and  the  neighbours  we  interact  with,  quite   independent  of  our  ‘work’  life.  Community  activities  could  span  working  with  the  local   municipal   council   authorities   around   community   facilities,   development   of   special   interest  clubs,  be  they  for  sport,  craft  or  vocational  activities  and  the  like.   Over  time  however,  we  have  come  to  value  the  informal  support  and  cohesion  regularly   experienced   in   our   ‘home’   communities   to   the   extent   that   many   businesses   are   looking   to   replicate   that   experience   in   a   business   context.   Many   large-­‐scale   organisations   have   successfully   adopted   communities   of   practice   to   leverage   technical   expertise   across   their   respective   organisations.   Some   of   these   organisations   have   extended   these   communities   into   their   supply   chain,   developing   communities   of   ‘preferred’   suppliers.   More   recently   mainstream   businesses   have   discovered   the   value   of   facilitating   customer   communities.   Labelled   ‘Social   Customer   Relationship   Management’,   in   essence  the  idea  is  that  by  building  communities  of  customers  around  your  company’s   brand,   they   are   less   likely   to   move   on   to   your   competitors.   The   story   of   Ebay   is   a   great   example   of   this,   where   the   development   of   ‘Collectors’   communities   staved   off   technically  superior  auction  sites  when  Ebay  was  just  starting  out  and  highly  vulnerable.   Not  for  profit  and  social  enterprises  rely  heavily  on  their  community  of  volunteers  and   donors  to  sustain  their  operations.  Government  agencies  often  play  a  large  part  in  the   funding  and  support  of  these  organisations,  who  take  on  the  lions  share  of  the  work  in   the  field  on  behalf  of  these  agencies.  For  these  agencies  the  ‘Not  for  profits’  are  a  part   of  their  stakeholder  community.   One   common   theme   for   all   incarnations   of   ‘community’   is   the   existence   of   a   strong   central  theme  or  purpose  and  the  voluntary  nature  by  which  these  communities  form.   Experience   has   shown   that   strong   communities   need   effective   facilitation   and   therefore   ‘community   management’   has   become   a   key   success   factor   in   generating   effective  community  action.  The  need  for  effective  community  management  has  only   been   amplified   by   the   advent   of   online   communities   and   social   networking   software   like  Facebook,  Twitter  and  Linkedin.  


What do  Effective  Community  Managers  Need?     Whether   you   have   the   formal   title   of   ‘Community   Manager’   or   are   part   of   the   marketing,  procurement,  sales  or  operations  teams,  building  effective  communities  is   about   building   cohesion   amongst   the   membership   around   an   agreed   purpose.     That   purpose   may   be   described   in   a   simple   mission   statement   like   ‘reduce   world   poverty’;   ‘find   new   cures   for   cancer’;   ‘be   the   mobile   phone   of   choice’;   ‘provide   the   lowest   cost,   highest   quality   ….’;   etc..   Your   mission   statement   may   attract   interested   parties,   but   your   next   step   is   to   engage   these   interested   parties   in   ‘win-­‐win’   activities   i.e.   you   benefit   but   so   do   they.   The   following   schematic   identifies   the   typical   evolution   of   an   effective  community:  







In the   initial   stage   of   community   building,   we   want   to   know   who   is   out   there   that   is   interested   in   our   mission   or   purpose.   This   is   an   exploration   where   we   are   trying   to   determine  the  level  of  support  there  may  be  for  our  intended  community.  Based  on  our   findings   we   may   need   to   adjust   or   adapt   our   mission   to   arrive   at   a   happy   medium   of   value  exchange  required  to  sustain  a  community.


Once we   have   identified   prospective   community   members   it   is   important   to   then   engage   them   in   some   activity   to   bring   them   together.   This   could   be   in   the   form   of   a   physical  meeting  or  event.  Alternatively  a  simple  survey  and  reporting  of  results  may  be   sufficient  to  gain  that  initial  engagement.   Once   we   have   an   engaged   community   we   now   have   a   resource   that   we   can   mobilise   to   leverage   and   exploit   in   terms   of   our   mission   or   purpose.     Leverage   can   mean   many   things  for  different  communities,  ranging  from  volunteered  activities,  a  better  product   or  service,  fund  raising,  or  simply  a  place  for  self-­‐development.  Either  way  the  level  of   cohesion   amongst   the   membership   is   a   strong   indicator   of   the   health   or   status   of   a   community.  For  community  managers  the  ability  to  ‘see’  the  cohesiveness  within  their   communities  will  meet  a  key  need  for  their  effective  facilitation  and  management.  

So how  does  Community  Mapper  Help?      

A key  feature  of  the  Community  Mapper  is  that  it  helps  you  built  your  community  by   visualise   your   potential   community   member   network.   Using   social   network   analysis   techniques,   Community   Mapper   can   show   how   your   community   members   (or   prospective   members)   are   connected   to   one   another.   This   initial   version   of   Community   Mapper   is   focussed   on   the   exploration   phase   of   community   building.   Connections   between   prospective   members   are   identified   via   their   overlapping   interest   profiles.   Interest  profiles  are  collected  via  a  simple  on-­‐line  survey  panel.  As  interest  profiles  are   collected   the   visual   network   map   will   emerge   identifying   the   character   of   the   community   around   the   different   dimensions   or   elements   of   your   community.   Your   community   map   will   evolve   as   more   prospects   add   their   profiles   to   the   map.     Individual   respondents   will   be   keenly   interested   in   those   that   are   clustered   around   them   and   therefore   who   share   common   interests.   Facilities   exist   which   enable   these   people   to   reach   out   or   connect   to   them,   providing   an   initial   attraction   for   participating   in   your   community.   The   ability   for   members   shown   on   the   map   to   contact   each   other   provides   a   vehicle   for   turning   ‘potential’   connections   into   actual   ones.   Links   to   Facebook,   Linkedin,  Twitter  and  Google+  are  optionally  available  on  the  maps,  so  if  a  participant   finds   the   map   useful   they   can   invite   their   friends   or   contacts   to   also   join   in.   By   connecting  the  community  to  the  external  social  networking  world  the  opportunity  for   your  community  to  ‘go  viral’  is  enhanced.     For  the  community  manager  it  is  helpful  to  understand  which  elements  of  your  brand  or   mission  prospective  members  are  most  interested  in,  enabling  you  to  better  facilitate   community   engagement.   The   Community   Mapper   analytics   provides   this   information


along with   metrics   around   community   growth   and   a   similarity   index   identifying   the   degree  spread  across  your  nominated  interest  topics  over  time.  

Step 1    

The first  step  is  to  identify  say  15  to  20  key  terms  that  describe  your  purpose  or  mission.   We   do   not   limit   the   number   of   terms   you   can   choose;   this   is   just   a   typically   good   number.   Now   in   developing   the   key   terms   describing   your   brand   or   purpose   it’s   important  to  select  terms  that  are  of  similar  levels  of  abstraction.  For  example,  in  the   example  community  we  are  building  around  Community  Mapper,  we  could  describe  our   brand  in  terms  of  the  following  taxonomic  hierarchy:     Level  1:    


Level 2:    

Business Related  Communities    

Social Responsibility  Related  Communities  

Public Service  Related  Communities    

Level 3:  

Business networks   Clubs  and  communities   Customer  networks   Event  management   External  communities  of  practice   Fund  raising  networks   Internal  communities  of  practice   Not  for  profit  communities   Personal  networks   Political  networks   Professional  societies   Special  interest  groups


Stakeholder relationships   Student  communities   Supplier  networks   Technical  user  group  communities     For   Community   Mapper   we   are   looking   for   terms   at   about   this   level.   Working   at   this   level  it  forces  the  Community  Manager  to  think  carefully  about  the  different  elements   or   dimensions   that   comprise   your   mission   or   purpose.   While   there   will   inevitably   be   some  degree  of  overlapping  between  the  terms,  the  more  distinct  the  better.  You  have   the  option  of  providing  more  detailed  explanations  of  the  choices  on  the  web  page  that   you  embed  the  survey  panel  into.  You  also  get  to  choose  the  number  of  ranking  choices   a  respondent  has.  For  15  to  20  choice  elements  we  find  5  is  a  good  number.  However,  if   you   are   anticipating   a   larger   number   of   respondents,   say   more   than   300,   it   might   me   a   good   idea   to   make   the   number   of   ranking   choices   larger,   to   provide   larger   scope   for   differentiation  amongst  respondents.      

Addi$onal)op$onal) a+ributes)can)be)collected) from)your)respondents)

Here)are)the)HTML)snippets)for) three)panels)ready)for) embedding)into)your)web)site)

As)a)minimum)you)can) allow)respondents)to) email)each)other) You)decide)the)number)and) content)of)the)interest)areas)as) well)as)the)number)of)choices) allowed)


The above   graphic   shows   the   data   entry   panels   on   the   left   and   the   resultant   HTML   snippets  for  the  survey,  map  and  analytics  panels  on  the  right.  These  snippets  can  be   directly  copied  and  pasted  into  your  web  site1.  A  facility  exists  for  you  to  preview  what   your  panels  would  look  like  before  deployment.    


Step 2     When  you  are  confident  that  your  Community  Mapper  facility  is  ready  for  deployment   you  simply  need  to  embed  the  HTML  snippets  into  the  appropriate  pages  of  your  web   site.  If  you  are  not  web  savvy  you  may  need  to  get  your  web  master  to  help  with  this.   We  find  it’s  usually  good  to  have  the  survey  and  map  panels  on  the  same  page.  In  this   way   when   a   respondent   completes   an   interest   profile   they   can   see   their   node   added   to   the   current   map   directly   on   the   same   page.   The   analytics   panel   is   of   most   use   to   the                                                                                                                                                       1  Care  needs  to  be  taken  to  ensure  that  there  is  sufficient  screen  real  estate  available  

to render  the  panels.  


community manager,   but   often   the   respondents   will   also   be   interested   in   these   results,   so   you   may   chose   to   put   all   three   panels   on   the   same   page.   An   example   of   an   embedded  set  of  panels  can  be  seen  here:   Other   than   your   own   web   site,   it   is   also   possible   to   embed   the   Community   Mapper   panels   on   an   organisational   or   even   personal   Facebook   Page   or   Blog,   if   these   are   the   sites  that  you  are  looking  to  build  your  community  around,  more  so  than  a  traditional   web  site.  By  having  the  Community  Mapper  panels  on  say  a  Facebook  page,  members   would   be   encouraged   to   keep   visiting   the   page   to   see   how   the   community   map   was   evolving   and/or   if   there   were   new   people   that   they   want   to   connect   with   in   your   community.   For  those  who  would  prefer  not  to  embed  the  panels  in  their  own  web  site,  Optimice   provides  a  hosting  service  where  a  simple  page  can  be  developed  and  hosted  on  your   behalf.  

Step 3     Once   you   have   your   community   of   interested   prospects   up   there   it   is   time   to   consider   how   you   can   better   engage   them   in   your   community   activities.   The   analytics  panel  can  help  you  here  in  designing  activities  to  influence  the  community   in   the   most   appropriate   way.   For   example,   the   areas   around   which   the   strong   clusters   are   forming   are   an   opportunity   to   strengthen   the   engagement   by   developing   activities   targeted   specifically   at   these   interest   areas.   If   you   are   running   an   event,   the   opportunity   exists   for   you   to   facilitate   ‘birds   of   a   feather’   sessions   where   members   of   network   clusters   around   particular   topics   can   physically   meet.   Some   of   the   less   popular   areas   may   be   because   the   area   is   new   to   most   of   the   community   members.   You   may   look   to   design   some   ‘bridging   activities’   to   help   bring   some   of   the   members   of   the   stronger   clusters   across   to   explore   these   new   areas.  For  example,  we  may  have  a  strong  cluster  of  interest  around  not  for  profit   communities,   but   much   less   interest   in   say,   political   networks.   We   may   choose   a   topic  for  a  webinar  that  talks  about  political  issues  in  not  for  profit  networks.


The similarity   measure   identifies   the   level   of   overall   affinity/conformance   that   your   community  is  exhibiting  over  time.  This  may  or  may  not  be  a  bad  thing,  depending  on   your   mission   or   purpose.   For   example,   if   your   main   aim   is   to   build   a   focused   community,  then  having  the  membership  polarised  around  a  few  key  terms  will  show   the  strong  cohesion  result  that  you  are  looking  for.  On  the  other  hand  if  you  aim  is  to   expose  your  community  to  the  full  breadth  of  your  offerings  or  brand  then  one  might   expect  a  lower  cohesion  score,  with  many  pockets  of  interests  across  the  full  range  of   your  interest  topics.  The  analytics  panel  provides  the  data  from  which  you  can  design   appropriate  community  engagement  activities.


Step 4     Once   you   have   an   engaged   and   active   community,   mapping   the   actual   working   connections  between  members  becomes  more  indicative  of  community  health.    Links   to  social  networking  tools  like  facebook  and  twitter  on  the  maps  aid  in  this  process.   Currently   Optimice   provides   a   survey   tool:   that   can   be   used  to  collect  this  type  of  data  for  visualising  in  public  domain  tools  like  Netdraw2  or   NodeXL3.  A  future  version  of  Community  Mapper  will  provide  a  stripped  down  version   of   these   tools,   which   will   be   wholly   web   based   and   operate   similarly   to   this   initial   version  of  Community  Mapper.  




Community Management with Community Mapper  
Community Management with Community Mapper  

This paper introduces the Optimice product 'Community Mapper', identifying the concepts behind it and the benefits it provides to community...