Contrary to what one might think, how much empathy an online community seems to have may not be driven by its community’s social bonding. For healthcare organizations, it is communities that could effectively inform, and not socially bond, which were perceived to be empathetic. 1
Not as surprisingly, communities where one felt the other members were similar to themselves, homophily, were perceived to be more empathetic. 1
What might this mean for a community manager?
Think you know what your audience likes? Be sure, by tracking the activity around your content.
By using meta-data about your web content, and traffic analysis, you may begin to see what sorts of things are popular with your audience. You can also run experiments to test your ideas. But what meta-data do you track? Here are a few categories. I’d really like to hear of others-
In The Great Good Place 1 Ray Oldenburg looks at several types of real life places (such as cafe’s, coffeehouses, the local pub) and distills what makes them great and why we need them. The notion of a third place, between work and home life, fills a social void. It is an easy read and community managers will recognize a lot of similarities, indeed many have done so already.2
Here’s a quick take on the 8 characteristics and how one could use them to make an online community better:
In order to understand the value and power of networks, such as a community, a number of individuals have come up with equations and analysis. It’s worth a bit of time to understand what they are talking about and how it may be useful to a CM.
Metcalf’s Law: Holds that the number of connections in a group grows very quickly as the number of members in the group increases. A group of two can have one connection, 3 members has 3, but 4 members has 6, 5 has 10, and so on.
- For a CM, this shows how quickly opportunities for relationships increase as the group size gets bigger.
Marcial Losada has looked at how people communicate, finding those groups that flourish have 3 positive statements to every negative statement. How does your group measure up? Here are some details to check out:
Positive statements are those where “speaking showed support, encouragement or appreciation”.1
Negative statements where when “the person speaking showed disapproval,… sarcasm, or cynicism”.1
A normally performing group will have a 2.5 ratio, but you need more than that to flourish. There needs to be a lot more positives to overcome the negatives. But there’s more-