Swarmconf 2012 wrap

I’d happily find any old reason to visit Melbourne, but this year’s Swarm conference promised to be a good one. I’ve been helping founders, Venessa Paech and Alison Michalk, put the concept of an Online Community Managers conference in front of more eyeballs, and I’d already known Alison through her professional forum moderation roles in the past. The opportunity to meet in person was something I’d already been looking forward to, but Swarmconf gave us all the opportunity to hear from established Community identities including Laurel Papworth, Yammer’s Global Head of Community, Maria Ogneva, and HuffPo’s Community Manager, Justin Isaf, amongst others.

It was certainly the most comfortable conference I’ve ever been to, complete with hammock, beanbags and in-room coffee cart with baristas; and being at Hub Melbourne’s co-working office, there’s plenty of power for laptop and phone charging. But despite the hipster environs and the hipster-gourmet catering of Kinfolk Café, the functions community managers perform aren’t just the purview of, well, hipsters and their start-ups. There were delegates from “stodgy” financial institutions, “conservative” motoring organisations, other large corporates, plus a healthy representation of not-for-profits and consultants.

Kicking off the event, Maria Ogneva took us through the cast of characters that make up a community and busted some myths common to enterprise social tools.

Maria Ogneva busts community myths

Photo credit @hughstephens

She also highlighted the potential $1.3 trillion in value from untapped internal communications.  We were then onto Huffington Post’s Justin Isaf, who explained how, aided by technology, a team of 28 moderators working 6 hour shifts from home (or anywhere), 6 days a week, pre-moderates 9 million comments a month. Think about the maths on that. Phenomenal. Justin believes in moderation for the safe environment it provides for community participants

The future of the internet

The future of the internet, according to Justin Isaf. Photo Credit @SocialMediainOz

After morning tea academic, Matthew Allen, presented his paper Is There Room For Community in All These Social Networks? As the “person becomes the portal”, we no longer go to Facebook; it goes wherever we go. And so it was good timing that the next speaker, David Hood, concentrated on the always-on nature of our modern lives. Those with community management roles are nourishing their communities often at the expense of their own time to reenergise.

As we moved through the afternoon, Laurel Papworth warned us of the coming “shitstorm”, where community management as an emerging profession will need to navigate legal decisions and changing paradigms. One of the problems is our inability to define the role of community management. As Craig Thomler revealed from a recent industry survey, people identifying themselves as community managers are doing a mix of marketing, PR, moderating and social media management.

These are the comments that have resonated the most since Swarmconf—the emerging nature of community management and its ill-defined parameters. There’s no doubt an industry body will need to form as legal rulings around social networks begin to impact companies and communities in new ways.

In knowledge management, communities of practice are part of the toolkit, but as a greater percentage of employees work remotely, our CoPs will be formed online via company forums or other enterprise social tools. And, as ITSM advances to promote more self-service, the vehicle on offer may well be a self-help forum. Therefore, understanding the functions and concerns of community management comes under the umbrella of KM and, for that reason, I highly recommend future Swarmconf events.

More details

Storify threads by Matthew Cox and Hugh Stephens.

Official Swarmconf blog.

Laurel Papworth’s 9 Step Social media Strategy


Community Management in Government—Craig Thomler’s Best Tips

Craig Thomler, Managing Director of Delib, Australia & New Zealand, is a leading social media and Government 2.0 advocate and practitioner. He’ll be speaking at Swarmconf on Community Management: is it a profession or a task? Like most community management specialists, he’s had a varied background as both a marketer and entrepreneur and has spent five years in the Australian public service improving public governance through the strategic use of digital technologies. Craig is well recognised for his contributions to Government 2.0. In 2009 he was awarded the inaugural Government 2.0 Individual Innovator Award by the Australian Government’s Government 2.0 Taskforce. In 2010 he was named one of ‘The Top 10 Who are Changing the World of Internet and Politics’ by PoliticsOnline and the World eDemocracy Forum.

Craig will be joining speakers covering a range of session topics at Swarmconf including: the key differences between social networks and communities, how to build a movement, scaling online community, what role gender and age plays in social media management, managing an ‘always on’ job, the future of community management as a profession, and more.

Swarm Conference

These are Craig’s 5 best tips for community management in government.

  1. Consider carefully whether you should develop a new community or participate in existing ones. Why would people join your community? What are you giving them that they value that they don’t get elsewhere?
  2. Make the terms of engagement and moderation principles publicly available, simple and clear – and apply them diligently and fairly.
  3. Don’t assume your community will grow itself. Actively seed it with content and market it through other communities in a sensitive and respectful way.
  4. Trust the people in your community to do the right thing. If you don’t trust them, don’t expect them to want to participate.
  5. Be prepared to moderate, manage and participate in your community during evenings and weekends. Few people have time to participate through the working day.

Thanks Craig! Find out more about Swarm Conference.


Structure vs Search: Curating Knowledge

As Facebook approaches IPO and Twitter becomes part of the general media landscape, corporate-sanctioned social media tools are slowly seeping into the workplace. Once you’ve made the cultural shift of getting people using tools like Yammer, it’s not much of a leap from being one of the cool kids to becoming another confused one.

People are starting to wonder how to blend the structured environment of a knowledge base with the more chaotic and time-sensitive social channel, or whether they must choose one over the other. Well, you can run both and frankly, you should.


Knowledge 2.0 – Social Media Policy and Process Tips

If you aren’t already on the social media bus, you’re probably thinking about it. If you are using social media as a tool for your business, are you using it effectively?

Web 2.0 is the term given to web-based apps that encourage information sharing, such as Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and so on. Let’s take Twitter, for example. If you’re proactive in monitoring user experience and managing complaints, Twitter can become a valid mechanism of your service management model, just like the telephone, email and other customer contact methods. Social media gives you a way to access the conversations your user community is having, simply by searching for your product or business name. If they’re complaining or sharing ideas and you’re listening, you have a chance to fix those things or build on those ideas. I like to call it Knowledge 2.0.


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