Considering Community: The Connect-Align-Produce network model for social-impact networks

Posted by Lou Woodley, Community Engagement Director – Trellis and Program Director – AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program

This post originally appeared on Social in silico.

Cartoon with arrows pointing from human face to human face
How many people in your network are connected to others in the network? Image credit: Jurgen Appelo on Flickr

For regular online communities, such as those hosted by an organisation, we looked at the four stage model of the community lifecycle described in Rich Millington’s “Buzzing Communities”. Last week, we considered a different type of community – a social-impact network where the emphasis is on group members working together for a social good. In “Connecting to Change the World”, the authors discuss three different stages of a social-impact network – and how it’s possible to transition between them. Let’s consider this connect-align-produce model.

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Considering Community: What’s a social-impact network?

Posted by Lou Woodley, Community Engagement Director – Trellis and Program Director – AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program

This post originally appeared on Social in silico.

What’s a social-impact network?

This week I’ve been reading “Connecting to change the world” by Peter Plastrik, Madeleine Taylor and John Cleveland. It’s a focused, practical guide to building a very specific type of community – a social-impact network.

Whereas the word community has now been adopted for somewhat ambiguous use in a wide variety of scenarios involving groups of people, a social-impact network has a clear definition. It’s a collection of collaborators who are working together in some way to address a complex social issue.

Social-impact networks are self-organising – with decision-making distributed across the networks and with a structure that may change rapidly (such as the formation or closure of working groups).

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The Community Lifecycle – Converting theory to practice as a community manager

Caterpillars and butterfly on a leaf
Monarch butterfly stages of development” by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region under CC BY 2.0

Building online communities can be hard. Maybe you start a discussion and nothing happens – silence. Or maybe last week saw lots of conversation but this week you’re back to worrying that you’re talking to yourself. Combine that with the lack of training and resources for community managers and you can be left confused about what to do to help your community activate and grow.

One of the resources that we’ve used a lot at Trellis is the four-stage lifecycle model presented in Rich Millington’s book, “Buzzing Communities”. Millington’s model is based on a systematic review by Iriberri and Leroy which synthesized the results of 27 papers about online communities to create a model for how online communities progress. This lifecycle model is key if you’re a community manager because it explains clearly what to expect at each stage – and what you should be doing to move things along to the next.

We’ve now used this model in exercises for our AAAS Community manager journal club, for our AAAS Community Engagement Fellows training and even for a staff lunch and learn event. Read on for some key takeaways about the lifecycle model – and if you’d like to discuss it in more detail, you can request to join the C4Sci group on Trellis where we regularly discuss all things related to scientific community-building.

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Why do academics use social networking sites?

Posted by Lou Woodley, Trellis’ Community Engagement Director

Person using a laptop
Browsing” by Nick Olejniczak under CC BY-NC 2.0

Last week some of the Trellis team took a quick look at a recent paper, which asks “Why do academics use academic social networking sites?” The paper presents the results of a survey of 81 researchers at three Israeli institutes who were asked about their motivations for using ResearchGate and Academia.edu.

The survey draws upon the Uses and Gratifications theory from the field of media studies for its research questions – exploring whether the five broad motivations for media consumers may also apply to academics that use online professional networks. Here we outline that theory and then highlight some of the findings from the paper.

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How to measure community value: Findings from a new CMX report

Measuring tape
proper measure(ment)” by Barbara Krawcowicz, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Community managers often face the challenge of communicating their communities’ impact and value back to their organization. As we reported on the blog last year, “defining and measuring shared value” is a top goal for successful communities. Now, a new report from CMX explores the ways in which brand communities are doing just that. In the 2017 Community Value and Metrics Report, CMX shares data from over 500 participants about the ways they measure the impact of the communities they work with.

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Community manager journal club recap: Fostering a sense of belonging

Posted by Gabrielle Rabinowitz, Community Manager at Trellis

"Passt 2" by Willi Heidelbach, licensed under CC BY 2.0
Passt 2” by Willi Heidelbach, licensed under CC BY 2.0

We’ve recently started a monthly community management journal club at AAAS. In our first two meetings, we’ve focused on two questions at the heart of community building: “What makes a group of people a community?” and “How do these communities vary?” The readings for these meetings included an excerpt from Jono Bacon’s The Art of Community and a blog post by Lou Woodley, Considering Community: What types of community are there?

One theme that emerged from our discussions was the importance of belonging. Read on for different interpretations of this value and how to foster it in your community.

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Why we’re running monthly community manager journal clubs at AAAS – and how you can join in on the blog!

Posted by Lou Woodley, Trellis’ Community Engagement Director.

Prepping for book club
Adapted from “Prepping for book club” by Britt Reints, licensed under CC BY 2.0

It’ll come as no surprise that I spend a lot of my time thinking about community management. But in recent years that’s expanded from focusing on the strategy and mechanics of community-building, to thinking in more detail about the people that actually support group work: the community managers.

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3 Tips for a Successful Community: Key Findings from The Community Roundtable’s SOCM 2016 report

The Community Roundtable (TheCR) runs a membership-based network for community managers. For the last seven years they have surveyed their network and beyond to produce an annual report on the state of community management. The report typically looks at the activities and corresponding maturity levels of various corporate-led online communities, as well as giving useful insights into the difference between best in class communities and those that are still learning the ropes.

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