During a 2008 meeting with some of our Community users, I heard a quote that made me feel as if we had successfully created a place where individuals (small businesses) can help get answers to their questions.
The quote was:“Your Community is a cross between Alcoholics Anonymous and Match.com”
When I heard that, I knew the bar had been set very high. That it was important to create a place where the newbies could share their challenges with running a small business, and a place where anyone could find someone to help them out.
People often forget that participating in an online community — whether it is on your own platform or in a social network, such as Facebook, is a scary and intimidating thing for some. There are many people who are afraid to post something that makes them look stupid. Therefore, it is the moderator’s job to make people feel comfortable and to ensure that everyone respects each other. That there are some guidelines and guardrails..
BUT, these rules of the road should be developed with the community members themselves. One way to do this is to identify or find volunteers from the different groups in your ecosystem that will participate in your community. In Intuit’s world — this would be accountants, marketing coaches, business advisors, lawyers, etc. It also is necessary to make sure that these individuals have different levels of experience (or comfortableness) with online social networks.
The common mistake we make in California is to pluck people who have a lot of online experience for our usability sessions. (That’s for old traditional offline testing).
Therefore, it is highly recommended to meet with people (mini-town halls) from those groups who will participate from all over the country.
Soooo, I always aim to find a place where people feel comfortable to share whatever is on their mind — whether it is business or personal related, and where they can find someone to help guide them.
Someone just told me that I need to explain the user’s comment better:
Why AA? As we all know only 1-5% of users contribute content in communities. One of the reasons this happens is because they don’t feel comfortable enough to participate. So the key is to create a safe haven — a place where everyone (from novice to expert) feel comfortable enough to share their expertise. Secondly, building a successful small business is challenging and scary — so it’s important to find others who have gone through the same experience. And finally, to establish a place where you can always go — and where everyone knows you name, even it if its just a first name or a screen name.
Seems as if I don’t have to explain the Match.com part….