Community Management Webinar Series (5/5) - How should online communities be managed?

How to Manage Online Communities?

On Thursday, July 21, we held the fifth and final program of the Community Management Webinar Series with Community Management and Strategy Consultant İlker Akansel. We concluded our webinar series with a useful conversation about how to manage online communities.

What is an online community? How have online communities developed?

With the introduction of the Internet into our lives, the word online emerged and became popular in the mid-90s. In addition, along with the computer concepts, some online concepts have also emerged.

A significant part of them was in the field of community communication. The communication of people who meet on a common ground on certain issues has become much easier. We can remember this from forums and emails. With the development of online platforms in the beginning of the 2000s and the spread of mobile applications in the 2010s, the online presence and communication of communities has accelerated. Currently, there are even communities that are only growing online. People began to come together on common grounds such as areas of interest, social areas, city and region. In the 1980s, companies began to take steps to do some of their departments and businesses online. For example, we can show the support forums of technology companies such as Apple.

Considering the traditional definition of community, what are the new features and advantages of online communities?

It is a great advantage that members can interact whenever they want, regardless of city, location or country. It is also a great convenience for the members to meet with other people with common interests or to reach the area of interest directly. Especially with the development of mobile applications, these conveniences and advantages have increased. When we look at traditional communities, you had to be physically present to be a part of the community. There is no such thing at the moment.

What are the types of online communities? How should organizations position online communities and for what purposes should they be built?

Online communities have come to a very important place for us community administrators. A number of community types stand out seriously. The first is brand communities. Communities exist for most of the products we currently use. Members of these communities discuss and give feedback on products. The brand, on the other hand, develops its products according to these feedbacks about its products and services. Another type of community is support communities. When we have a question about any electronic device (computer, phone, etc.), we first search for that problem on Google and reach the support platforms of the brands. Everything about how other users who have problems like us solved those problems or how to intervene is available there. Companies can both fix problems within the community and solve this issue without spending a lot of resources on support service.

What steps would you recommend an organization follow when building an online community?

- Setting community purpose

- Identifying the community's target audience

- Determining how you will provide value to members

- Choosing which platform the community will use and its features to

- Setting community rules and processes

- Identifying community roles

- Starting the community

- Sharing and growing the community

Online communities have a life cycle of their own, and there are various studies about this cycle. Could you briefly describe this cycle and its steps?

To join a community, you must first identify with that community. Afterwards, a participation is provided and an expectation is formed. The last step is approval. With this approval, a reward system is also formed. If the member can contribute to a community, generate benefits from it, find solutions to the problems in the community and use these solutions by the members, the cycle is completed. This cycle is a community's social identity cycle and is constantly occurring.

Can you give examples of online communities that you have found successful? Why do you find these communities successful?

There is a software called Salesforce. This company has a community called Trailblazers, which has no similarity with the brand it founded. The sense of belonging of this community and its contribution to their development for Salesforce is quite high. Members can take pride in saying I'm a Trailblazers. Revealing that pride is a pretty big job. We can give another brand, Nike Run Club, as an example. People in this community come together online or physically and contribute to both the brand and the members.