One of the great things about being the Head of Community for a maker of online community software is an exposure to hundreds of communities. Another aspect of the role is also synthesizing ways to ensure success for new customers who launch a new community.
During times of unprecedented crisis many are at a loss in terms of how to respond. I was looking at some research from a PWC study, which noted before COVID-19, that 69% of leaders had faced a crisis situation in the last 5 years. Also pre-COVID-19, only 54% of companies had developed a crisis plan. What does this data tell us then?
I am certain by now you have heard the term social distancing or seen the hashtag #socialdistancing. If you are not aware, the concept of social distancing is to keep 2 meters or 6 feet away from anyone else so as not to spread COVID-19. Some of you reading this are doing it, and there are some who are not at all. It seems this is a crucial act in stop spreading the virus.
There is something about that old curse "may you live in interesting times".
We live on precipice of science figuring out how to reverse aging, tourists going to Mars and self-driving trucks. We are also in the scary time of a major pandemic, with unprecedented consequences. The longer COVID-19 is a real threat and our normal routines are changed, the more there will be elements that will become part of our habits. For example, I thought I was a frequent hand washer before, but now knowing how unclean so many places are, I think more hand washing will be in my future. Hopefully companies come up with a better way to keep the hand moisturized after so many washes.
There are also other lessons, though, and important ones for you and your online community. Ones that can be helpful now and after. Let's jump in.
Great communities exist because of the amazing people involved. I don’t think anyone would dispute that. Nonetheless, as departments and companies plan communities or they make decisions related to their online spaces, they tend to forget it's about people. I think part of the problem is we replace the word people when we talk about community, and use terms like members, users, or even super users. By using this terminology, it can be easy to forget the people factor. It’s very similar how in some corners project managers talk about “a resource”, when they really mean a person.