Community Management Doesn't Work. What Does?

Thomas Knoll (Advisor)
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While “Community Manager” is a popular job title these days, the collective nature of community makes it impossible for any individual or external force to create or truly manage one. But while you can’t make communities come together or control their cultures, you can influence their formation through the space you provide. In this session, Thomas Knoll, community architect for Zappos, will lead a large-scale discussion exploring these ideas for online communities.

Communities arise through the connections—purposes, stories, relationships—formed among groups of people. While “Community Manager” is a popular job title these days, the collective nature of community makes it impossible for any individual or external force to create or truly manage one. But while you can’t make communities come together or control their cultures, you can influence their formation through the space you provide. Picture the differences between a sports stadium and a theater—and how the design decisons affect the way people interact. In this session, Thomas Knoll, community architect for Zappos, will lead a large-scale discussion exploring these ideas for online communities. Come with your questions and ideas.

Photo of Thomas Knoll

Thomas Knoll

Advisor

Community Architect, Community Cultivator, and Customer development at brands including Zappos, UserVoice, and Seesmic.

While he has a technical background, he prefers to speak in gardening and architecture metaphors. He is inspired by storytelling, psychology, evangelism, architectural theory, social economics, game mechanics, cultural anthropology, compassion, and ants.

He was studying to become a missionary, but left that path because he grew tired of the business of religion. Now, he helps businesses convert customers into communities of evangelists.

Oh, and he loves his internet friends, and falls in love with almost everyone he meets.

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Picture of Thomas Knoll
Thomas Knoll
03/29/2011 4:24pm PDT

Hey Mark, Thank you for asking. I can only share a portion of the presentation, which includes my part of the conversation:

  • We cannot manage communities. We CAN be intentional about the way we design space for our communities. #octribe bit.ly/fpQjQi
  • We cannot manage a communities attention, attitude, involvement, tone, or culture. We CAN architect spaces and design experiences. #octribe bit.ly/dF8uGJ
  • The word ‘community’ traces back to the Latin communitas. (cum, “with/together” + munus, “gift”) Thus says Wikipedia. #octribe bit.ly/gmmrfo
  • A community is created and managed by the community. (We have the privilege of sharing in those gifts.) #octribe bit.ly/eCj28x
  • What kind of space do you provide for your community? A Stadium? Theater? Lounge? Classroom? Library? Factory? Stage? ? #octribe bit.ly/dQ6Mhs
  • How do you think about lighting and visibility? What do you highlight? What do you conceal? What is transparent? Opaque? #octribe bit.ly/hvEPd3
  • How to do you think about resonance? What do you amplify? What do you dampen? Do you want a noisy hum? Or focused attention? #octribe bit.ly/eqbeQk
  • How do you think about the paths through your space? Where do you want people to slow down? Or to move through more quickly? #octribe bit.ly/fzdNQo
  • How do you think about your janitorial needs? i.e. How do you get rid of the shit? How do you make the place look welcoming? #octribe bit.ly/fLhhGg
  • Thank you. Thank you. Thank you to everyone who made the #octribe conversation at #w2e so interesting. I can’t wait to read your insights. bit.ly/gWmbt2

The rest of the presentation came from all the people in the ‘audience’ who participated in the conversations. Some of their insights can be found if you search the #octribe tag on twitter: bit.ly/ocTRIBE

Mark Dijksman
03/29/2011 3:17pm PDT

Can you please share your presentation?!

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