Quick. What’s your most valuable resource as a community manager?
I’ll give you 3 hints:
It’s not your content.
It's not your platform.
It’s not your marketing toolkit.
Got it yet?
Ok, I’ll help you out: It’s your people.
The greatest resource you have for building a vibrant community is your membership. Your members are the ones who read and share your content, populate your platform, and bring others into your sphere.
In any community, there will inevitably be a small circle of power users who seem to embody everything you believe in. As a community manager, your job is to find these members, stir up their enthusiasm, and unleash them onto the world.
Not sure how to do that?
No problem. Here are three words to focus on: identify, cultivate, and activate.
Identify Your Most Valuable Members
The first step is to identify your most valuable members (MVM). You could turn to objective measures like post frequency and time spent on site, but I want to offer a more holistic way.
Think about it from the standpoint of a neighborhood.
What makes for a “good neighbor?” It involves a little more than waving hello, doesn’t it? The best neighbors are those who are obviously happy to live there. They look out for the people and property around them. They care for neighbors in need. They stay up to speed on what’s going on in the ‘hood so that they can share the latest news with others.
The characteristics of a good neighbor are exactly what you’re looking for in an MVM. They’re obviously passionate about your community and its subject matter. They engage their fellow community members respectfully. They answer questions and provide helpful resources. They keep up to date on industry news and share what they learn with others.
Cultivate the Enthusiasm of Your MVM’s
Having identified your MVM’s, now you can stir up the passion that already exists within them. The trick is to take the leadership they exercise implicitly in your community and make it explicit.
The first way to do that is to recognize their value publically. A simple way to do that is through gamification. The most active and valuable community members, as determined by the level and value of their engagement, will be rewarded publically amongst their peers.
Having established themselves as valuable members, you can then give your MVM’s a role in formal leadership. Make them community leaders, moderators, or administrators. In doing so, you not only take a few things off your plate, but you empower these members to take a new level of ownership in the community.
What you’ll quickly find is that the character of your community can grow in directions you would never have imagined. According to Christel Quek, Regional Content Lead at Twitter, this spirit of collaboration is one of the key values you need to grow a vibrant community.
Activate Your MVM’s for Community Growth
Thinking back to our example of neighbors, the best neighbors don’t merely do neighborly things. They also talk up the neighborhood to their friends. They invite awesome people like themselves to buy the house that just hit the market down the road.
The same goes for your community. Passionate and engaged community members (your MVM's) won't limit their passion to within the four corners of your blog or forum platform. They’ll want to spread the word to others who don’t yet belong to the community.
This is Human Psychology 101. We can’t help but invite people in to experience the things we love and enjoy.
By identifying your most valuable members, cultivating their passion, and letting them loose on the world, you can use the most powerful, yet natural, marketing tool at your disposal—people—to grow your community.
What are you doing to identify, cultivate, and activate your most valuable members?