Questions Community Managers Have…And Potential Actions They Would Take If They Had Answers

Online Community Managers typically wrestle with the problem of how to encourage more participation in online community platforms.   The secret is to figure out what the community members value and deliver more of that good stuff to them.

As a long time Community Manager, I have always been a proponent of more dashboard tools designed to help the Community Manager solve this problem.   Sophisticated analytical tools can help managers understand their membership demographics and behavior as well as help managers do a better job of delivering content and activities that the community members will respond to. 

Community Managers who focus on delivering content and activities that members value will see increased participation on the community platform.

Below I provide a list of questions a typical Community Manager might have about the community they lead along with a description of the types of actions the Community Manager might take if they had the answers to those questions.

Question 1) What are the other communities that my members belong to?

Potential Actions: 

  • Partner up with other community leaders on community activities (e.g. conference calls, brainstorming exercises, etc.)
  • If there’s a great number of members in one community, it might make sense to merge communities.

Question 2)  Who from my community is also a member of the xyz community?

Potential Actions:

  • Partner up with other community leaders on community activities (e.g. conference calls, brainstorming exercises, etc.)

Question 3) Who has not signed into the community in the last 6 months? Last 12 months?

Potential Actions:

  • Send them a personal email inviting them back into the community space and asking them what could be done to make the community more valuable to them.
  • Post a message on their Profile board.
  • For very inactive users, let them know how to leave the community.

Question 4)  Who has never posted anything to the community?

Potential Actions:

  • See actions for question 3. 

Question 5) Who has posted something to the community more than 5 times?

Potential Actions:

  • These are active community members. I’d like to contact these people and get their feedback, suggestions, etc. on what they want out of the community in the future.
  • I may want to invite a few of these people to help me manage the community.

Question 6)  Who were the top ten most active community members in 2011? so far in 2012?

Potential Actions:

  • I’d like to send these people a Thank you card. 
  • Invite them to a special conference call where I can get feedback and suggestion from them on community activities planned for the future.

Question 7)  As a community manager, it would be helpful to know the percentage of people who have posted more than 10 times, between 5-9 times, between 1-4 times, once, and never. And it would be interesting to compare my community’s stats against all communities

Potential Actions:

  • Benchmarking my community against others can help me understand how I am doing as a community manager in the area of getting my community members to engage and participate. I might want to contact other community managers who have higher rates of engagement / posting than I do to get some ideas on how to improve participation rates.

Question 8)  Who from Asia/Pacific (or any specific region or country) is the most active in my community over the last 6 months?

Potential Actions:

  • I might want to reach out to a specific geographic region and tailor specific community activities to that region. If I know who in the community is most active, I can contact them and ask them for advice or help in planning out the activities.

Question 9)  Who from _______  (insert organization or department name) has participated in a discussion forum the past year?

Potential Actions:

  • I might want to tailor community conference calls or other community activities to a specific organization or department.  
  • I know who from that organization is most active, I can reach out to them and ask them for advice on how to tailor activities and content.

Question 10)  What types of job roles do my community members have?   Consultants? Sales Reps? Technical Sales? Managers? Lawyers? Marketing Professionals? etc.

Potential Actions:

  • I might want to tailor community conference calls or other community activities to a specific job role. If I know what members is in a specific job role, I can contact them and ask them for advice

Question 11)  How does my community compare to other active communities?

  • Number of Bookmarks?
  • Number of Blog Posts
  • Number of Comments on Blog Posts?
  • Number of Recommended Blog Posts
  • Number of Discussion Forums
  • Number of Replies to Discussion Forums
  • Number of Hits

Potential Actions:

As a community manager, I’d like to benchmark my community against other active communities.  Where does  my community rank?  I’d like to see the above stats computed as a percentage of total members and I’d like to see a graph of the above stats viewed as a 30,60,90, 120 day trend line.

  • Knowing this information helps me understand how well I am doing to engage my community members.  And it will help me understand where I can improve.
  • This exercise would also identify the top performing communities…and allow us all to learn from those community managers that are doing a great job.

Top 25 Most Popular Consumer (B2C) Branded Facebook Pages

I’ve been busy doing lots of research into how social media is being used by corporations.  I thought I’d share with you one piece of analysis I’ve done on B2C Branded Facebook pages.

As I’ve discussed here before, social business is an important emerging trend for corporations.   Many companies are past the experimentation stage on Facebook and are utilizing that platform as a way to build communities of customers into fans and advocates.

This table below documents the most popular B2C Branded fan pages on Facebook.  The table provides the number of fans and the URL for the top 25 pages.   The information was collected in mid October 2011.

Top 25 Most Popular Consumer (B2C) Branded Facebook Pages

#. Product/Brand Fans URL
1 Cocacola 34,643,972
2 Oreo 23,142,657
3 Redbull 22,472,071
4 Skittles 19,382,918
5 Pringles 15,720,653
6 Monster Energy 12,429,566
7 Ferrero Rocher 12,252,965
8 Nutella 11,397,566
9 Dr Pepper 10,631,556
10 Starburst 10,020,345
11 Nike Football 8,969,053
12 Starbucks Frappuccino 7,744,417
13 Mountain Dew 6,116,553
14 Pepsi 5,966,034
15 5 Gum 5,412,955
16 Sprite 4,584,408
17 Kit Kat 4,508,596
18 Gatorade 4,218,322
19 Slurpee 4,175,892
20 Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts 3,432,172
21 Kinder Surprise 3,299,680
22 Nike Basketball 3,180,994
23 Lay's 3,072,879
24 Vitaminwater 2,913,825
25 Wonka 2,870,596



  • These brands invest time in developing an inviting Facebook experience.
  • Many of them have built extra features into their Facebook pages, including contests, games, recipes, discussion forums, videos, pictures, etc.
  • Most of these companies interact well with the fans, asking questions of them or providing posts that encourage the conversation.   This interaction keeps the fans coming back to the site and participating.

Learning about the Social Business trend: Three IBM White Papers

I’ve written before about the social business trend and it’s impact on businesses (see The Social Business Train Is Leaving The Station Are You On It? and A Social Business Strategy Can Make A Company More Responsive and Agile). 

I believe that the social business trend will have a profound impact on the architecture and design of future businesses.  Business processes will change and that will lead to required changes in application software.  Those businesses that make the successful transition will be more agile, more responsive, and more successful than others.

This post provides links to three white papers found on IBM’s Social Business website.  IBM has been on the forefront of the social collaboration and social media marketplace, learning how to leverage these technologies internally.  These white papers provide a great overview of social business, the potential value of the trend, and the challenges all businesses must overcome to become a true social business.

The Social Business: advent of a new age

ibm soc biz - The Social Business (February 2011) This 10 page white paper written by the Lotus team at IBM Software Group defines what a social business is and what it takes to become one.  It puts forth the view that businesses are entering an inflection point where social computing and social media are about to be fully integrated into enterprise application design.  The table of contents are: 

  • Introduction
  • What does it mean to be a Social Business?
  • What is the value of Social Business?
    • Deepen customer Relationships
    • Drive operational efficiencies
    • Optimize the workforce
  • Preparing for the future
  • The right partner for a changing world
  • For more information

Becoming a Social Business: the IBM story

ibm soc biz - Becoming a social business January 2011)  This IBM-sponsored 14 page white paper was written by IDC’s Erin Traudt and Richard Vancil.  In this paper, IDC provides three case studies that describe IBM's internal evolution to a social business.  The paper then uses the learnings from these case studies in order to provide guidance to other large organizations considering making the transformation to a social business.  

  • IDC Opinion
  • Methodology
  • In This White Paper
  • Situation Overview
  • Case Studies
    • IBM DeveloperWorks
    • From Individual Contributor to Community Manager
    • BlueIQ
  • Future Outlook
  • Challenges / Opportunities
  • Conclusion


Jamming on social business

ibm soc biz - Jamming on social business (April 2011) Exploring new approaches for the next era of business.  This IBM white paper provides a review of the key findings from a 72-hour online brainstorming session held in February 2011 between over 2,700 participants from over 80 countries.  This report summarizes the key insights gathered from the all the conversations, comments, and tweets. 

The table of the contents of this report reads as follows:

  • The Social Business Jam
  • What is a Jam?
  • Jam insights
    • Building the social business of the future
    • Building participatory organizations through social adoption
    • Using social media to understand and engage with customers
    • What social means for IT
    • Identifying risks and establishing governance
  • Our jamming experience
  • Next Steps

If you are tasked with learning about the social business trend, these three white papers are an excellent resource for you.  More information and case studies can be found at the IBM Social Business website.  For those of you who want to follow the discussion on Twitter, search on the hashtag #socbiz.

Slides: How IBM Enables A Social Workforce

This week I have been attending WOMMA’s School of WOM in Chicago.  The conference started on Monday and wraps up today.  There have some great keynotes, workshops, and breakout sessions.  I’d estimate roughly that there are about 300 attendees.

On Monday, Susan Emerick of IBM (@sfemerick), Chris Boudreaux of Converseon (@cboudreaux) and I presented during a breakout.  Our presentation, “Enabling the Social Workforce” discussed how IBM has been able to enable thousands of employees to participate in social media.  At IBM, employees are such an extension of our brand and it is important that IBMers represent our brand in the social media.

Most businesses are finding it challenging to mobilize employees in social media on behalf of the brand.  For years prior to the social media explosion, IBM had focused on enabling IBMers to collaborate internally via collaboration tools.  As social media took off on the public Internet, IBM has, in turn, successfully enabled thousands of employees to participate in the social media conversation. 

The presentation (loaded on slideshare and then embedded below) discusses how IBM advances the goals of the business while growing the professional influence of the employee. The key to enablement for IBM is focusing on empowering the workforce to communicate their strategic expertise socially.  Our presentation and the Q&A session afterwards covered important program elements like

  • Developing the Digital Strategy Model
  • Publishing and Communicating Social Media Guidelines
  • Developing a Social Computing Curriculum that includes certification-based training
  • An Expertise Locator system that helps aid in the search and discovery of IBM experts
  • IBM’s Centennial Program that enables social conversations.

Leveraging Social Media and Communities for Foresight

Last Wednesday evening I delivered a keynote presentation at an end of the year student event at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendozza College of Business MBA program ( 

Mendozza Keynote

The students are all required to take a class in Futures Studies and this was their end of year event.  During the late afternoon Poster Session that was held in the atrium of the Mendozza building, they all assembled and displayed posters that communicated the results of their semester long projects.  The topics covered a wide variety of subjects, from the future of Electric Cars to Solar Technology, to how to solve water irrigation in Africa.   In all there were over 50 projects from teams of 4-5 students.   I was impressed with the students projects and the level of research, analysis and insight generation that went into the poster presentations.   I learned a lot just by walking from poster to poster.

After the poster session was done, we all assembled into the auditorium where I delivered my keynote to the students “Leveraging Social Media and Communities for Foresight”.  The deck has been uploaded to my HorizonWatching account on Slideshare and is also embedded below. 

During the keynote, I discussed how the emergence of online social media and communities is transforming communication around the world.  The shift from traditional institutional-led communications that is relatively controlled by a small number of companies to an era where any individual can create and publish content is a shift that is transforming the way individuals learn, collaborate, and create content.   This has a ripple effect across all business professionals and certainly is impacting the way we research, analyze and develop insights about emerging trends, technologies and issues impacting businesses and individual citizens.

I provide the students with my personal story of how I’ve led an internal IBM community called HorizonWatch since early 2001 and how I started blogging internally in 2006.  I also discussed my public social community effort called HorizonWatching.   Both efforts have helped me do a better job of scanning for emerging trends and then developing insights from those scanning activities.

I ended the talk with some advice to the students on how they could get started leveraging social media in their own careers.  My main advice was that they should all think about taking control of their personal online brand.  As they are soon to turn their attention to job searching, now is the time for them to think hard about what their digital brand looks like to recruiters and potential employers.  But after the job search is over, I believe those who will be successful in their careers are the ones that will figure out ways to leverage social media and communities to build their expertise.

As this was their last day of class, they were all eager to go out and celebrate, so the Q&A session was short and sweet.  However the 5-6 questions raised were smart and right on topic.  I wish all the students good luck and best wishes over the summer and challenge them to begin using social media and communities as a strategy to better understand the future(s).

My presentation is embedded below.

Enterprise 2.0: The Value of Online Communities

The trend of building online Communities of Practices and Customer Communities is an important trend I’ve been watching (and leading/participating in) for a number of years.  I often get asked:  What is the business value of online communities? 

Unfortunately community platforms are lacking tools for community leaders that would allow us to track and measure the impact that these communities have on business results.  So it is a very subjective measurement today.  Note to community platform vendors:  Community Leaders need better dashboard tools.

I have established a graphic that I use to explain the power of communities and the value it can generate to an enterprise.  The story line to the graphic goes something like this:  Community Participation leads to increased Enterprise Knowledge, which leads to improved Organizational Capabilities, which results in positive Business Value for enterprises.  

Here’s my stab at a graphic (Note:  Click on the picture to enlarge and reformat)

Value of Communities

(Click on picture to enlarge) 

Do you have any better graphics, reports, or slide decks that illustrate the business value of communities?  If so, please let me know!   For some resources I’ve uncovered on the value and ROI of social media and online communities, check out my previous post:  Learning About The ROI of Social Media and Online Communities

Leveraging Social Media: 12 Steps To Develop Your Personal Online Brand

12 steps to manage your personal online brand Do you have a plan on how to leverage the social media trend in order to achieve your career objectives?

Are you taking part in the online conversations that are happening on the topics that are important to you and the development of your career?  Or are you on the sidelines when it comes to participating in online communities, social networks, etc?   

If you are not part of the conversations that are important to your career, you can’t learn from those conversations.  Nor can you influence those conversations.  And in the future when potential employers look online to see if you have participated, they will not see you.

You are responsible for how you are perceived online. If you are not managing your online brand, then it is being shaped for you (perhaps by those pictures your friends are posting on Facebook).  

The following 12 steps can help you take control of your online personal brand.

  1. Document Your Career Goals.  Have a balance of short term and long term goals.  For each goal, think about how participating in online communities and social networks could help you achieve those goals. 
  2. Document Your Top 4-5 Career Related Topics.   These are the most important topic domains that you need to master in order to become an authoritative source of information a subject matter expert for the duration of your career.   Think about the topics that you can remain passionate about for a long time.
  3. Analyze Your Existing Social Network And Online Presence. How does your current social network and online presence align with your documented goals?  How can you build stronger ties and increase your ability to learn? 
  4. Master The Online Productivity Tools.  You need to have a good foundation in order to maximize your ability to collaborate online.  These new social tools can help your collaboration efforts be more productive.  Spend time educating yourself on how to use Twitter, Facebook, blogging, etc. 
  5. Research / Collect Information.  Learn where the online sources are for information related to your 4-5 main career topics.  Visit these sites often.  Collect and maintain a master folder of documents, resources, Web links, etc., which have been helpful to you.  You will want this for step 11 below.
  6. Document Where The Buzz Is Online.  Check out my social-search bookmarks on delicious and learn how to search the social media.  Search on each of your 4-5 career topics you listed in step 2 above.  Document where the online conversations are happening for those topics.   Document who are the most influential online people.  Find out where those influential people are hanging out online.  Maintain a list of URLs (suggest you book them on delicious).
  7. Join Online Communities.  For the topics that are important to your career goals, join the most active online communities, groups, and networks.  Connect with and then ask members where else they connect with like-minded people.
  8. Move Your Conversations Online.  For the topics that are important to your career goals, cut down on email conversations and increase your online conversations in those places you’ve identified above.
  9. Manage Your Personal Online Brand.  Take control of your virtual online presence.   Establish and keep all your profile(s) updated.  Make sure that when people look for you online…which they will…information about you is current and accurate.  Your effort here is all about helping you achieve the goals documented in step 1 above.
  10. Connect With The Community Champions.  ‘Friend’ the most active people in the online communities that are important to your career objectives.  Connect with them on LinkedIn and Twitter.   Follow their blogs, tweets, and community posts.  Post replies to their blogs and retweet their Tweets.  Share insights with them and point them to your online content.
  11. Share Your Knowledge Wealth.  For the communities you have joined, increase your online conversations.  Post comments in discussion forums and on blog posts.  Share your bookmarks.  Share the insights and opinions you’ve formed as a result of your efforts in documenting where the online buzz is.  Save time by organizing your centralizing all of your thoughts on each topic area into document templates with URL links to those sites, blog posts, etc., that you feel are the most important.
  12. Establish Yourself As An On-line Authority.  Establish and maintain a presence on all sites where your 4-5 career topics are being discussed.  Be a visible and active participant in the most important communities.  For the topics that matter most to your career, establish your own online site/blogs/communities.  Link to other authoritative blogs and communities often and continue sharing your insights and opinions on those sites as well as developing your own site.

Don’t sit idle on the sidelines. Take responsibility for your future and get involved in the online conversations happening about the topics you are passionate about.  You have important ideas to share with the rest of us.  We will all learn from your experience, thoughts, and content.

Six Social Media Trends for 2010

untitled David Armano recently provided a post on his personal blog, Logic "+ Emotion, that he titled:  Six Social Media Trends for 2010.  Armano is part of the founding team at Dachis Group, an Austin based consultancy delivering social business design services. 

Armano lists the six most important social media trends for 2010 as:

  1. Social media begins to look less social. 
  2. Corporations look to scale.
  3. Social business becomes serious play. 
  4. Your company will have a social media policy (and it might actually be enforced).
  5. Mobile becomes a social media lifeline. 
  6. Sharing no longer means e-mail. 

You can check out Armano’s full “Six Social Media Trends for 2010” blog post at

Google’s Top 20 Twitter Accounts

Here’s a list of the top twenty Google Twitter accounts, based on the number of followers that ID has. 


  • The following information was pulled on October 20, 2009. 
  • #DLSP represents the number of days since last the last post on Twitter.
  • The columns might not match up with the column headings all that well.  Seems to depend on the browser.
Category Account Description




General Google Google's main account 1,780,160 774 0
General YouTube for YouTube fans 163,883 1,101 0
General GoogleReader from Google's feed reader team 29,952 209 15
Ads AdSense for online publishers 29,931 103 5
General GoogleNews latest headlines via Google News 24,699 2,333 0
Earth GoogleMaps uses, tips, mashups 22,509 534 0
General Blogger for Blogger fans 22,248 461 0
General GoogleVoice updates & info on Google Voice 21,174 134 7
General GoogleAtWork solutions for workplace productivity 18,724 891 0
Developer GoogleResearch from Google's research scientists 14,637 66 61
General GoogleCalendar user tips & updates 12,972 93 0
Developer app_engine web apps run on Google infrastructure 12,880 176 5
Developer GoogleCode For Google developer products 10,638 88 6
Developer GoogleIO Google's largest annual developer event 8,830 258 0
General GoogleStudents news of interest to students 8,819 273 0
Earth GoogleEarth updates from the Google Earth team 7,724 130 0
Ads GoogleAnalytics insights for website effectiveness 7,552 33 4
Culture googlejobs the voice of Google recruiters 7,324 173 1
General iGoogle Google's personalized homepage 6,674 89 5
General GoogleImages Google visual image search 6,483 28 72

A Unique CrowdSourcing Event: The Smarter Cities Scan

Smarter CitiesDo you live in a large urban city or in one of the sprawling suburban environments on the fringes of a large city?

I wanted to make you aware of a really interesting collaboration / social media project launched recently in support of the Smarter Cities effort.  And I wanted to ask for you to participate if you have some time…and/or…ask you to invite people in your network that might want to participate.  Anyone interested in improving the quality of life in large / sprawling urban environments is invited to participate. 

The social media brainstorming project is called the Smarter Cities Scan (

For this exercise in collaborative innovation and hive intelligence to succeed, significant numbers of people need to contribute their diverse thinking over the next few months.  That will generate the very large, complex data set that can then be analyzed and processed into a useful model that can then be used to improve urban environments. 

You can find more information on how to participate is attached below.  For more detail behind this project, you can point people to this post   The Smart Cities Scan:  Let's build an open model with shared imagination and deep analytics

How to participate in the Smart Cities Scan

  • From the homepage – – simply click on Post Your Ideas to start contributing images, video, links, quotes, text or any combination of all of these.  You can even  submit a post by email, or via a mobile phone, by sending your thoughts and ideas to
  • You don’t need to have a Tumblr account to submit a post, but please include your city and country and any descriptive tags at the bottom of your post so that your ideas can be tagged for others to find. You can also easily create a free Tumblr account if you like this easy-to-use, multimedia microblogging tool.
  • You‘re always free to scan all posts, search on topics and tags, soak up some of Smarter Cities background and inspiration material in the about section, or find answers in our Help & FAQ section. 

If you want more information, send any suggestions, questions or problems to

Smarter Cities Prediction Market

My colleagues at IBM have asked me to invite you to participate in a unique prediction market experiment called the “Smarter Cities Predictive Idea Markets”.  

Prediction Markets harness the collective intelligence of a community to gain predictive insight, and often even outperform the experts – as was the case in the 2008 US Presidential election.  They utilize stock market principles where participants get play money to “trade” ideas.

IBM’s Smarter Cities Predictive Idea Markets will allow you, along with other thought leaders, to further explore questions, ideas and opportunities that emerged and help determine which ideas may have the greatest chance for success. 

Participation is easy. Just visit the Smarter Cities Predictive Idea Markets Web site and register.  Once you’re registered, you can choose a market and begin making trades. The markets are open till September 13th, 2009 11:59 EDT.   Please feel free to share this invitation with other individuals that might be interested in participating – all submissions will remain confidential and only aggregated trading results will be shared across the community.

Complete details are on the Smarter Cities Predictive Idea Markets Web site.  Participation requires less than 5 minutes and every participant will receive a full set of results and insights at the beginning of October. 

Take advantage of this unique opportunity to take part in this experiment, share your insights, and see the collective opinions of your peers on the future of Smarter Cities. 

Study On Social Media Use By Fortune 100 Companies

PATT2060An interesting study released from an analysis by Burson-Marsteller and Proof Digital of the Fortune 100's use of Key Social Media Channels, including Twitter, Facebook Fan Pages and Blogs. 

The results of the study shows that Twitter surpassed blogging here in 2009 as the social media platform of choice – at least among the Fortune 100.   The study looked at the top 100 companies in terms of revenue as compiled by Fortune Magazine's annual Fortune 500 to understand how active those compa nies were on three key social media: Twitter, Facebook and Blogs.  .

Some highlights from the study include

  • 54% of the Fortune 100 were using Twitter to reach out directly to stakeholders, 32% were using a blogs, and 29% were actively using a Facebook Fan Page to engage.  
  • 21% of companies are using only one of the three surveyed social media channels, and of those companies, 76% are using Twitter over Facebook and Blogs.
  • 40% of companies are not using any social media channels, while 21% are using two channels, and 17% are using all three.
  • 94% of Fortune 100 Twitter accounts distribute company news updates and announcements while fully 67% are at least partially serving a customer service function.
  • Reasons companies use the three social media sites differs.
    • Twitter is most often used for news and announcements (94%), customer service (67%), promotions and deals (57%), and job postings (11%).
    • Facebook fan pages are more consumer focused, with promotions, product information, and philanthropy and community service announcements.
    • Blog content falls into categories of current projects, external initiatives, and community involvement.

For more information, see this post on Burson-Marteller’s site.  And there’s a pdf file available on Slideshare of the report findings:  “Social Media Use by Fortune 100 Companies”.