Community of Practice CMs – what works for you?


(Sarah Hawk) #1

We often share ideas and tips here, but they tend to be ‘across the board’ rather than specific to community type.

Because I manage Communities of Practice, I’m really keen to hear specific things that you’ve tried that have worked either to increase user visits, engagement rates, behaviour change etc.

COP managers, what new ideas or strategies are you currently trialling?

Note: I think it would be helpful if we started tagging new topics with community type so that it’s easy for new members to filter.

Introduce yourself (or at least just say hi)
(Robert Hopman) #2

Best practices from my side:

  • develop empathy & enthusiasm for the topic & members
  • reward members for their input
  • skate where the puck is going with regards to technology changes
  • be prepared to disrupt yourself in order to thrive long term
  • survey members one on one, even when you’re “big” or “mature”

(Sarah Hawk) #3

I’m curious about this. Can you elaborate?

(Robert Hopman) #4

Yes I can.

Technology is changing fast. What worked 5 years ago in terms of software to host your community doesn’t work anymore today. I think the best one on the market to attract the younger audience is the discourse software Feverbee is using:

I still see so many clients that ask me how they should improve their current platform. While it’s obviously outdated. So moving from platform A to B is not comfortable, but necessary.

Don’t be surprised if you get disrupted by a small and tech savvy group of people who have more engagement & retention within a week. There is a community setup within 30 minutes, created via a facebook group + email list invitation that a lot of people use nowadays. Because almost everybody is on facebook today.

So in order to stay ahead of this, always research for better software or platforms to migrate to. Especially with the costs of development dropping every year & free options that are available.

Then, be critical of the value you actually deliver to your audience. So treat yourself as a startup that could be out of business within a year. Even when things are going great, you should be wondering what the leaders within the community can do & want to get out of the community. Normally when things are going great, the focus moves from the community to more acquisition of new members. Doing email marketing / social media / whatever the client thinks is necessary to acquire more paying community members. But this usually doesn’t work. Because from what I can see, organic is the only way to sustainably grow a community.

So disrupt yourself from how you curate, connect & produce information and especially how the members connect with each other. Doing a refreshing with these standard checklists or processes for the last years or months is an activity that I always apply.

(Sarah Hawk) #5

This is absolute gold. How would you go about conducting this analysis?

(Robert Hopman) #6

Give me a bit of time so I can write a constructive answer.

(Robert Hopman) #7

The analysis.

or how to understand what is mission critical.


I hope you have a great day. You’re probably doing the same things as I do, working on your community engagement and doing a lot of 1 - 1 interactions. This post is written for the people that take responsibility for their community, as a whole.

Let’s say you have a business and you want to increase revenue.


You’re the owner and you’ve been the owner for 3,4,5 or even 6+ years.

The forum is active.

You get revenues.

Maybe even profit. Or a lot of it. You send out the occasional newsletter or spam your userbase daily.

Whatever works for you.

So what is the one thing you need to be doing today in order to increase your revenue tomorrow? Is it really that linear. Input 1 x , get 1 y. No…

No, it isn’t. So how to analyse your business (remember it’s not you, it’s a separate entity) so you can disrupt it and grow it in a better, more sustainable way?

I’m going for the story that everybody understands.

You start to add a constraint, limit or bottleneck to the operations.

Let’s imagine you run a community with >1000 Monthly active members.

Now you add the first constraint, time. e.g. you can only spend 20% of the time you used to invest in the business.

Out goes the bullshit and non-critical activities you were doing. e.g. reading all posts, looking at analytics for more than 5 minutes a day and “thinking”.

okay now we start to become effective. Trust me users will love the new you.

Next contstraint will feel like a sacrifice, but in fact it will increase your effectiveness even more.

Your time constrant drop again, lets say 50%. (So it’s now 10% of what you used to have)

That means panic. You aren’t used to this. You’re sure quality will drop. Users will leave. All the regular worries you had will come true.

But you have a team, remember? Somebody that works with you. Your other community manager, developer, freelancer or fan of the topic.

They will be your rock. You communicate that you move from 100% towards 10% of the time you can spend on the business. Ask them if they can prioritize whatever you were doing. Then pick the things that are really critical to the business.

These tasks are your bridge of trust. They are in good in hands now.


Now you have saved up all unnecassary waste and you’ve gained so much spare time.

Which is the thing that you’re going to invest.

  1. Take this time to relax, come back refreshed and build the business as if you were new to it.
  2. Start to make a funnel
  3. Research what the core group of users / customers wants
  4. Research secundary things that they want
  5. Start to add the time back in your schedule, start with moving from 10% towards 20%.
    FYI: the time should be used to increase your service to this core group of users
  6. Get used to a much higher NPS and demand your team to be more critical on everything
  7. Start adding back more time untill 100%
  8. Repeat for every couple of months.

Let me know if it’s easy to understand?

(Sarah Hawk) #8

It’s easy to understand, but scary as hell. Have you actually done this?

(Robert Hopman) #9

Yes, July was the first time. So the idea is fresh. Besides handing over responsibilities. What is the scary part?

(Sarah Hawk) #10

I have no problem handing over responsibility (actually, that’s completely untrue – I’m terrible at that) but handing over 90% of it feels pretty huge.

(Robert Hopman) #11

I know, but the first step is the easy step, go towards 80%. That will feel difficult, but doable.

(Steve Bridger) #12

Hey, @HAWK… have people started tagging topics in this way? Do we use the “COP” tag? I’m definitely keen to share and learn from other COP cmgrs :simple_smile:

(Sarah Hawk) #13

Annoyingly it didn’t catch on – no. We could start modelling the behaviour in the hope that it does…

(Robert Hopman) #14

Applied it 3x. It’s effective.