community management, engagement, Facebook, social networks

The Real Value of Active Community Management

19 Comments 08 February 2010

Image by Piripiquia

I read a fascinating blog post at The Community Roundtable entitled The Value of Community Management. The blog post considers the value, specifically the financial benefit, that community managers provide to managed social communities. Several readers who manage online communities wrote in to offer their data about the difference community managers make. Reading the discussion, I realize there are a number of points that are fully applicable to social networks such as Facebook Pages and Groups, Linkedin Groups, Google Groups, and others. They apply equally to for-profit and nonprofit-sponsored communities.

1. Active management of an online community creates real value for the organization

Tom Humbarger was the paid, active community manager until his position was eliminated. From that time forward, his company chose to manage the online community passively. Tom wrote a blog post about what the effects of active vs. passive community management. His data shows that growth, number of visits, number of page views, and time on site decreased dramatically during the absence of a community manager. The full article is well worth reading here.

As an example, this graph illustrates the dramatic drop-off in the number of site visits once active community management ceased.

Image courtesy of Tom Humbarger

2. Similarly, active management of a Facebook Page creates real value for the organization

I was the active manager of a corporate Facebook Page for a period of three months in 2009, until the company decided to eliminate all managed social media. From that time forward, the company decided to auto-fed blog posts to the Facebook Page, with no added interactions. During the time of active Facebook Page management, the Page grew at a rate of about 8 fans a week, had a post quality of 21, drove about 8 visits a day to the site,  but had a conversion rate from Facebook Page to website registration of almost 25%. Since the Page became inactive, the number of new fans/week has dropped to less than one, there are almost no website visits, zero conversions, and the post quality is zero.

Community Roundtable blog reader Maggie McGary also saw similar stats in her nonprofit’s Facebook Page: she writes in the comments that the number of visits from Facebook to her nonprofit organization’s website plunged during a one-month absence from active Facebook community management.

Community management, whether you define it as managing a private community, or a community on a social media platform, is critical to community growth and moving people from the managed community  towards organizational goals.

3. Active management also encourages relationship-building, which leads to loyalty and community growth

When I was a community organizer, we used to call this “relationship organizing.” Simply put, friends bring friends to organizations, and remain involved because of them. I used to try and map friendships, recruit influencers, and ask them to bring friends into the cause. In online communities, we develop cyber friends that influence us to participate and keep us active. I have started participating more actively in certain online groups because I have developed friendships with other members over time. I also recommend these groups to my friends, and feel increased loyalty to the sponsoring organization. I would never have created these online ties if the group wasn’t active and well-managed.

I asked Hildy Gottlieb, who managed the monthly twitter chat for consultants to community benefits organizations, if there are online ties between the participants of the monthly #npcons chat, and if these ties arose from the chats. She responded emphatically: “Oh goodness yes. There are many people who have met through these chats, who are now having some pretty engaged and higher level conversations throughout the month because they feel they know each other from that involvement.  It’s just like any other involvement or community- the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.”

Simply put, a well-manged online community leads to real value for both the members and the community sponsors. That’s a win-win situation.

Have you managed a social network? Can you add your data to this conversation?

Have you seen the effects of passive management on a social  community?

»
  • So now you’ve got me thinking about ways to adapt some of this “activeness” to the Facebook pages for my Rutgers dept. and center. I don’t manage those pages (I do the website), but I can influence those that do.

    It certainly makes sense that people want to feel they are interacting with other people and not with a feed.

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Leora,
    I have to say that Facebook Pages really need active community managers (administrators) because it seems to be quite challenging to create a real back-and-forth in the comments on news updates. I think without the “activeness” on Facebook, however, this data proves that the Pages basically die into inactivity.

    One other challenge about interacting with a news feed is that these feeds are often represented by a logo – making it doubly hard to feel like you are having a real interaction with a person. I agree with you whole-heartedly: interacting with other people are groups is really rewarding. Thanks for your comment!

    [Reply]

  • So now you’ve got me thinking about ways to adapt some of this “activeness” to the Facebook pages for my Rutgers dept. and center. I don’t manage those pages (I do the website), but I can influence those that do.

    It certainly makes sense that people want to feel they are interacting with other people and not with a feed.

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Leora,
    I have to say that Facebook Pages really need active community managers (administrators) because it seems to be quite challenging to create a real back-and-forth in the comments on news updates. I think without the “activeness” on Facebook, however, this data proves that the Pages basically die into inactivity.

    One other challenge about interacting with a news feed is that these feeds are often represented by a logo – making it doubly hard to feel like you are having a real interaction with a person. I agree with you whole-heartedly: interacting with other people are groups is really rewarding. Thanks for your comment!

    [Reply]

  • This was a great article because it shared real data and suggests tactics to enhance a socnet presence. Thank you

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Carol,
    Thanks for your comment! I was really excited to write this post because of the possibility of sharing real data. Hope others who read it will chip in with their data results as well.

    [Reply]

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  • Debra – thanks for referencing my Active Community Management blog post. And thanks for providing the visuals of what happens when a company stops managing its Facebook presence too. Information like this is powerful for others who are trying to justify maintaining a managed social media presence.

    Tom

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Wow, Tom – I’m so glad you stopped by! I do hope others continue to add to this topic, as they did at The Community Roundtable. Your data is an absolute goldmine, and I’m actually really grateful to you for sharing it with everyone on your blog.

    [Reply]

  • Debra – thanks for referencing my Active Community Management blog post. And thanks for providing the visuals of what happens when a company stops managing its Facebook presence too. Information like this is powerful for others who are trying to justify maintaining a managed social media presence.

    Tom

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Wow, Tom – I’m so glad you stopped by! I do hope others continue to add to this topic, as they did at The Community Roundtable. Your data is an absolute goldmine, and I’m actually really grateful to you for sharing it with everyone on your blog.

    [Reply]

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  • This was a great article because it shared real data and suggests tactics to enhance a socnet presence. Thank you

    [Reply]

    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Hi Carol,
    Thanks for your comment! I was really excited to write this post because of the possibility of sharing real data. Hope others who read it will chip in with their data results as well.

    [Reply]

  • Good relation has a good output. I think it is a good idea, I like it.

    [Reply]

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About

Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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