Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Overeager Super Users: Tips from a Community Manager

Keep Your Community Diverse and Inclusive

Last week at Enterprise 2.0 Santa Clara, Saba and the Management Innovation eXchange (MIX) announced the Management 2.0 Hackathon that will connect people from around the world interested in “harnessing management innovation and principles of the Web to build organizations that are fit for the future.”

Some pictures from the Boston E2.0 Conference, where I showed off our community with my colleagues, Aly Kline, Milind Pansare, and Ingrid Stabb.

This summer I had the opportunity to participate in the MIX’s Hackathon Pilot. Along with 60 other contributors, from organizations across six continents, I participated in the Community of Passion Hackathon. The topic, “how to enable and support communities of passion,” was close to my heart, as my day-to-day projects as the Community Manager for the Saba Online Community revolve around empowering community members. The hackathon was structured into different sprints, with all members brainstorming around communities of passion and the “barriers” that impede these communities. After determining barriers, the group collaborated together to create hacks (innovative ideas or solutions). The barrier I submitted was about the possible detriments of overeager “super users,” which was a challenge that we at Saba had identified and addressed within our own online community in the past.

It takes a village.

In any sizable organization, there is no single individual who alone can act as an information clearinghouse and support resource for every question or issue a customer, partner or employee might raise.

It is important for a community manager to encourage all types of users to participate; which was a challenge when we built our community. In early

days of the Saba Online Community, when a customer posted a question, a group of internal employees jumped all over it, giving full, detailed (and correct) responses. I noticed that when a question was immediately addressed with a “perfect” response, the more casual, anecdotal answers from other customers did not often follow. I realized that once someone reached 'expert' status - in this instance, an expert because they are part of the team that made the product - their fast and comprehensive response stifled all others.

This is not the way it works

The dominance of “super users” can leave others too intimidated to post their own experiences and suggestions. When people are collaborating on a specific issue, “super users” can sometimes scare away other contributors, making the pool of knowledge less diverse and the final product less well rounded.

Now that we had identified the issue, we were able to structure the community around a culture of inclusion.


  • Encouraging new members to introduce themselves.
  • Incorporating surveys that allow our members to contribute anonymously and see instant results of their participation.
  • osting discussion prompts that asked about very specific use cases and scenarios.
  • Web 2.0 functionalities built into Saba Social allow for easy feedback, and members can bookmark, share, rate, or comment on content in 30 seconds.
  • Video Channels are a very dynamic way for lurkers (community members who read content, but have never participated in online conversations) to participate, adding youtube videos, TED Talks, and other videos to enrich the space.

The Saba Online Community endeavors to open up conversation, collaboration, and networking between customers, partners, and Saba employees across all regions and roles. We built the community to replicate the vitality and excitement of our in-person user group meetings by applying Saba Social’s capabilities to create a virtual community. Members are encouraged to share business experiences, ideas and best practices; and the exchange of relevant documents, presentations, videos, and more.

  • How do you engage the lurkers and more timid community members?
  • How do you tailor your community guidelines to different audience types?
  • How do you keep your community participation and content diverse?

No comments:

Post a Comment