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

In social-impact networks community members work together to create change for social good. In this post, CSCCE Director Lou Woodley takes a look at how that works. 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

In this post, CSCCE Director Lou Woodley takes a look at the four-stage lifecycle model as presented in Rich Millington’s book, “Buzzing Communities,” and how it can inform the work of a community engagement 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 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 internal Community manager journal club, for our Community Engagement Fellows training and even for a staff lunch and learn event. Read on for some key takeaways about the lifecycle model.

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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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