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Giving collaborative organisations insights into the community lifecycle

Posted by Talitha Hlaka on 20 July 2016 2:15 PM CAT
Talitha Hlaka photo

As online communities develop, so do their audiences. Thinking of audience as a homogenous and consistent group can be a big mistake. As members are indifferent to the phases of the lifecycle, they will act differently, spend varying amounts of time within the online community, and fulfil different needs.

So let’s dig a little deeper. The newbie could almost be thought of as a guest, servicing some curiosity, spending the least time in the community, possibly searching for a single answer, and will in all likelihood not engage in community conversations. If he/she does, he/she will not be adversary in any way.

Tips to manage: Welcome, solicit interest.

One level up we find the participant who comes in seeking community and socialisation and often needs instant gratification. While still reluctant to be adversary, he/she may want to demonstrate some initial influence.            

Tips to manage: Showcase, acknowledge and initial involvement.

Next is the member who is already developing a stronger sense of community than the previous two levels, seeks self-validation and at times there is some ego at play. There may be increasing familiarity with other group members and some banter but there is a decrease in personal pronouns and an increase in willingness to disagree.                                      

Tips to manage: Think ego and provide increasing levels of acknowledgement and reward. Engage by pointing them to groups or discussion topics that may be of relevance. This would indicate their participation is welcome and important.

The community champion visits regularly and needs to be recognised as a champion. He/she has a strong sense of belonging and identifies with the group values. There is a decreasing use of personal language and an increasing use of the group’s vocabulary. Opinions are unrestrained.

Tips to manage: Elevate to ‘insider’ status and provide a sense of ownership.

Finally we have the VIP in the community who has a strong desire to influence and has a sense of ownership. There is a desire to influence the group and see his/her ideas adopted. There is often an ‘administration’ type of language that appears quite official and there is less willingness for confrontation.

Tips to manage: Showcase influence and contribution.

Community management is fast becoming a more critical business role that requires an in-depth understanding of community structures and lifecycles. Don’t get left behind.

Janice Scheckter is co-founder of Indigo New Media and collaboration activist within multiple communities including,  and more.


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