Top Five for Content Curators

Content Curation Pathways

Know Thy Tags – make sure that you are familiar with the key tags that your key audience is using to tag their content so that you can ensure that your analytics tools are providing you with the dashboard you need to monitor

Perform Health Checks – ensure you are spending time to monitor new content creation, modifications, tags, shares,  likes, dislikes, subscriptions, followers or changes.  In  other words, pattern monitoring.

Monitor Conversations – carve out time every day to scan questions, answers and knowledge sharing within your key product, service, or content areas so that you can dive into them to respond, augment, thank and/or connect to other areas within the tools or discussions.

Tend the Garden Pathway – it’s important that in your cultivation activities you invest time to review pathways so as to ensure that they are meeting the needs of your members.  This includes pulling inappropriate content, cross referencing relevant or simliar content, facilitate safe pathways or simply invest in time to fertilize or foster social learning as needed.  What I mean by that is that it is important to facilitate an answer to the community content,  watch for new content so t hat you can facilitate the conversation, answer, problem, complaint, etc.  Make sure that content is linked to appropriate other objects such as spaces, pages, videos, blogs, etc.

Practice Gratitude – throughout your daily process, you should spend time to pick up the phone, send a message, mail eCards, and regular cards, send gifts, insert video highlights into online photo booth or simply put names on a marquee.  Just make sure you are demonstrating
gratitude and thankfulness.

Social Artistry – Linking the Unlinkable

In a meeting in San Francisco with Etienne Wenger in 2008, we were discussing the critical role of a weaver in the field of Communities.  It is more commonly known as a community manager.  Etienne described this ‘community weaver’ as someone who is a Social Artist.  This was the first time I had heard this term, yet when he described what he meant, I felt validated in the work that I’ve been doing for years. Being a weaver, or what Richad Koch calls, a SuperConnector.

Recently a former colleague was mentioning that they missed my role in the community.  She was lamenting the fact that I’d rolled off that closed community project as I was invited into a new community project.  What she was described to me in great detail in terms of the void that I
left in the community was that of the Social Artist role.  This is why I’m writing this blog post, to help provide more visibility and credibility to this capability as it’s not yet mainstream and therefore something that CEOs and other Executives don’t value within their organizations.

Wikipedia describes it as a technique, “Social Artistry, [6] represents a new model for leadership. Houston, working through the United Nations Development Group, has been training leaders through this modality since 2003. Under the direction
of Monica Sharma, [7]then Director of Leadership and Capacity Development for the UN, Houston traveled to developing nations throughout the world bringing Social Artistry techniques to leadership groups. As of 2011, Social Artistry  trainings and projects are ongoing in a number of countries and new leaders are being trained on a constant basis. This work is supported through The Jean Houston Foundation.”

Puzzle Pieces Cory Doctorow from London, UK

Social Artistry is a leadership skill where someone provides the glue and holds the entire community or network together.  They have an innate ability to see strange divergent connections between disparate concepts together via culture, human beings, and notions of progress and development.  They link the unlinkable.   They foster a feeling of connectedness despite the divergence and most importantly they communicate openly and authentically.    They make what could feel like a fragmented bunch of networks, instead the sense a community has is one similar to that of a puzzle that was recently completed, when you as a member visualize that last single piece snapping into place, which resonates
with your interpretation of that image. It just fits.

Community Cultivation Planning

Wild Northern Nevada Mustangs

Now that I have a community, a community manager and member –what’s next, they ask.  It all depends as one size doesn’t fit all.

I’ve been invited into many conversations regarding what to do once you have a community in place and what I’m consistently finding the
question that begs an answer is, “Do you have a cultivation plan?”  What are you doing as a community manager to tend and nurture your members?  Well, I’m spending time creating FAQs, facilitating webinars for training and answering support questions.  Those are all excellent activities and what I find in my client engagements is that you

need to customize your cultivation plans to the community charter and have
participation architecture in mind as you evolve this notion of a plan.

Here are some elements to consider:

  • Evaluate the health
  • Provide feedback
  • Give recognition
  • Foster cross community connections
  • Identify and develop community leaders
  • Consider  face to face element programs
  • Incorporate social responsibilities
  • Infuse notions of gamification
  • Send out personal thank you notes – yah I said it, use the old school post
  • Refresh your existing approach with on-boarding based based on analysis of members digital habitats
  • Consider cultivating a welcome wagon

These are all examples of things that could be part of your cultivation plan.  I encourage you to ensure that you are thinking about a myriad of approaches to tend and nurture your community as you do any garden.  Good luck and continue to reach out to me with your feedback and
questions.  There is no ‘right’ answer, rather it’s the journey, so consider it an adventure of how you can entice the wild horses to drink from a

Got a Community tattoo, notch or mark?

Last week I attended #JW11 and got to thinking about my personal ‘notch’ metaphorically speaking for a community leather belt.  When you are amongst amazing talent in your colleagues at a conference, it is infectious and one can start to feed off the energy in the room, which I did.  At the
same time, it was an opportunity to reflect on my personal mark in my professional field of Community Building as I had the opportunity to meet
people that I’d not yet had the honor to meet in this field.  Therefore, I challenge each of us as community weavers or managers to think about our legacies, our tattoos, notches or marks that we desire in our community lives.  Is it an adoption rate, a culture shift, a new technology, or new idea?  It’s a very personal manner how one defines their personal mission statement or their approach to the shiny quarter.  Which is why I implore that each of us in our field spends some time quarterly to reflect on our approaches in communication, technology and stewardship?

Lastly, I was relieved when I reviewed the definition of community in Wikipedia, since the sociologists are also confused on the term, Community, as it means something to everyone in a different way.   “In sociology, the concept of community has led to significant debate, and sociologists are yet to reach agreement on a definition of the term. There were ninety-four discrete definitions of the term by the mid-1950s.[1]

Community Valor

MerriamWebster’s defines valor as, “strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness: personal bravery.”  Whether you are working with an organization or an individual on their personal behavior or knowledge blind spots, you should come to the table prepared with your valor, so as to be prepared for backlash or other fears, which is outlined nicely in the Align Consulting presentation.

I was speaking with a KM Leader recently for a billion dollar company about how his Communities budget was cut and how it’s going to be a challenge to embed in this critical collaborative program into the day to day lives of individuals given the current economic environment
as well as the time that individuals have to invest in realizing business goals.  I coached him to be resilient and speak with others in the field about their programs on the cheap and what has worked for them, as we have all been through difficult economic times within  organizations and it often helps to talk with others in the same space.  But more than anything I’ve found that it requires deep focus on the business outcomes and clarity of mind to allow you to not get discouraged yet channel your passion and energy into a more positive manner that allows you to be brave, while taking risks and weathering the storm.    During times like these that I find solace in professional network as they provide much needed fuel for standing firm with valor. These can take different forms for different individuals- but indeed it’s the journey that is the most important and I’ve personally found that VALOR is a word that I wear with pride, like a flag, it a  symbol, a reminder to focus on the future with hope and possibilities.

Redefining the “People” Experience

Transparency, Trust and Authentic Communications are keys to the kingdom.  This was my take away with conversations that I’ve had with, Senior Vice President of Human Resources for the Disney/ABC Television Group (DATG) is that Steve Milovich is focused on refining the employee experience, from improving professional development, to growing strong capable leaders, and strengthening collaboration across DATG and The Walt Disney Company. The path to success, according to the DATG HR leader, “will be inspired in part by Disney/ABC’s achievements in connecting with and engaging consumers.“  Steve further states that, “This notion of collaborative approaches within the ecosystem of organizations is main stream in large organizations, which is exciting for those of us who understand that networks exist today.  There are collaborative people who are brokering informative actively today that we can help organizations really fly.  Sharing and transparency will help to broker and connect employees, partners, customers or prospects and lead to innovation and new product and service development.”

I’m honored to have had the opportunity to meet someone that is such a progressive leader within a world class organization that truly understands the importance of an
open and dynamic organizations – he truly is an example of the #futureofhr.

In fact recently during a conversation with Jay Galbraith, he reminded members at Executive Networks the importance of implementing an organization that builds alignment using his methodology of the star, which emphasizes strategy, structure, process, rewards and people.  He has found in his work over the years that good matrix organizational structures have strong networks and emphasize social capital.  They not only reward but also recruit the best people.

Overall, the trend line continues to emphasize the importance of authentic people who can help communities, organizations and families realize new heights.  We continue to have opportunities abound and I do hope you will join this important effort of “people” whether they are on during offsites at a luxury hotel, canvassaing for an election or within an organization.

Energy Cycles and Leadership

How does energy cycle and leadership go together?  Well during a knowledge share presentation with Executive Networks Global Talent Leadership and Kenneth Thomas the group was inspired by the research and work he has done around Intrinsic Rewards.  Kenneth is sharing his thinking around Intrinsic Rewards to drive Work Engagement, which are “Psychological rewards(positive feelings)  you get from doing your work well.” Also, they operate on an emotional level to keep you energized.  In fact, the group discussed how much of the new work cannot be automated or off shored.  The new work is more complex and non routine based, which requires judgment and creativity.  It’s high value
add and has a great deal of pride involved with it.   In fact, according to the Corporate Leadership Council, Emotional engagement (intrinsic motivation) is four times more powerful than rational engagement (extrinsic motivation) in driving employee effort.

Many of our Executives are finding this type of conversation extremely relevant to fire up the talent engine for all demographics.  This notion of creating a talent engine burning is critical to successful business today.  Recently I spoke with Robert Richman, Zappos Insight Product Manager who shared with me innovative programs and thinking around how they are engaging employees.  It’s something that we think seriously about as we look at remuneration programs, succession and talent programs across organizations.

Michael Tirrell contributed to this post.

NOTES / SOURCES

The Work Engagement Profile in the CPP has four dimensions:  Choice, Competence, Meaningfulness & Progress.

Source: Corporate Leadership Council (2004), “Driving Performance and Retention through Employee Engagement.”

Source: Adapted from Kenneth W. Thomas and Walter G. Tymon, Jr., Work Engagement Profile, copyright 2009 by CPP, Inc.

Top TEN – for the Community Weaver “To Do List”

  1. Be Authentic – don’t try to be someone that you are not – just be yourself – be authentic with who you are and
  2. Make Offers – give something –whether it is advice, a hand written note, a mention on twitter or a shout on during a meeting.  Always find a way to ‘give’ authentically and often with every interaction.
  3. Recognize – praise, recognize and attribute work to the sources that you received support, inspiration or provocation
  4. Read. Refract. Read. Refract. – spend at least 10% of your day reading twitter, catching up on RSS for your favorite blogs and/or influencers, but do spend time staying fresh for your personal and professional development.
  5. Know Thy Customer. – invest time to learn about what your customers are doing and saying on the internet so that you can relate to their opportunities and challenges.
  6. Focus on Context – do invest to think about another person’s context, their persona and/or situation before you jump to a solution and/or recommendation.
  7. Be a Profound Listener – it’s very important to spend a large portion of your day actively listening to your customers, reviewing notes, reflecting, journaling, blogging or meditating about what you have heard so that you can incorporate this into your next conversation.
  8. Say No – many wise people remind us often to say no – not every customer interaction has to be a yes answer – sometimes it’s the approach in which we engage that can soften the ‘no’ and/or allow us to setup the no conversation into something that is positive or impactful.
  9. Ask for Help – invest time to ask your mentors, colleagues, peers and customers for help.  Sometimes it’s as simple as asking them to clarify a question, present a proposal or recommend a counter proposal.
  10. Do Disconnect – make sure to carve out frequent time to disconnect from your electronics and day job (s) so you can replenish your creativity well.  Make time for much needed staycations, oblications or vacations.

Fan Communities & Communications Channel Management

To accommodate the widest group of memberships in the variety of channels, I’ve seen many organizations harness the power of new media to build out divisions, companies or revenue streams.  It’s truly an exciting time and I’m honored to be a small piece of this storm season.

During this social community conversation, this organization was taking a look at existing divisions with an eye for soon to be launched divisions to harness the power of social into their business planning.  The conversation was endless because this creative organization and leadership are just ‘those people’ we enjoy working with as they are open to new possibilities,willing to take risks and get the importance of the movemement.  They were thinking about their licensing division that is responsible for merchandising.  We discussed to blend new media channels with Face Book, Twitter in conjunctions with traditional communications (direct mail, email or phone calls) to in person focus group, red carpet or product launches.

Authenticity is key for all communications and if we are open, transparent and fresh – you will find this new approach to networks and community design influential in the networked world. Many fan communities are finding that if you are fresh, unique and original in your approach, according to online fandom, you can keep your fans engaged.   I’ve found that by inviting in a skilled community weaver into the channel, they can become a broker for connections and conversations, as well as an individual that can field questions and mediate conflict.  Many fan communities are now connecting like minded individuals across the globe to extend the social relationship beyond a film, a brand or a concept – but building relationships out of the fan based relationship into new relationships with other individuals’ causes, issues and/or products.  Examples include an artist that has launched a new record, has a tour planned, but also has a cause and/or other mentees that they want to bring up through their fan base.  The collaborative possibilities are endless when you are able to relate to the community in an authentic and human manner.

Authenticity in Communities

With all the brand driven community focus of late, I was grateful for the blog post on HBR by Joe Pine titled, “Authenticity: Are You Delivering What Consumers Want?”  If you spend your days thinking about your social media channels, networking competencies or cultivation plans – it’s well worth the read. It allows you to get clarity of mind around the importance and power of your words and how that can impact the human experience.  I have found repeatedly over the years that my ability to profoundly listen, find relatedness and be authentic –it’s like a great pumpkin pie recipe, it works every time to create authentic memories, conversation and relationships. 

If you are starting to explore the importance of communications and the lasting impact they can have in B2B, B2C or E2E communities – I would also like to encourage a very different type of book, one by Dr. Brown called, “The Gifts of Imperfection” as she takes you on a journey to live wholeheartedly using a framework for being vulnerable and authentic.