The Value of #Welcome

We’re now mid-way through the first year of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP), funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The first cohort of Fellows is made up of 17 scientific community managers working with a diverse range of scientific communities. As they continue to develop their community engagement skills and apply some of the ideas and strategies from their training, the Fellows will report back on the blog, sharing their challenges, discoveries, and insights. Today, Fellow Stefanie Butland shares her experience welcoming new members to her community.

Posted by Stefanie Butland, Community Manager at rOpenSci, – Open Tools for Open Research

Hanging wooden sign that reads "Welcome"
“Welcome” by Nathan under CC BY-SA 2.0

In my training as a AAAS Community Engagement Fellow, I hear repeatedly about the value of extending a personal welcome to your community members. This seems intuitive, but last week I put this to the test. Let me tell you about my experience creating and maintaining a #welcome channel in a community Slack group.

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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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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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