Featured Community Manager: Mike Collins of Development Processes Group Plc

Every week, we will be featuring the best community managers from around the world. For this week’s Featured Community Manager, we caught up with Mike Collins of Development Processes Group Plc. Get to know him better and the community he’s managing through the interview below.

Tell us about you and the company you’re working with / projects?

I now work for Development Processes Group Plc , previously I worked for RBS Insurance part of RBS bank and was then involved in the HR Transformation Programme to become Direct Line Group. My specialisms are in online learning and I’d like to think community development. I’ve been involved in building numerous online communities using a variety of platforms (SharePoint, Bloomfire, Ning etc). My background is in Learning & Development so my main angle is on connecting people, removing silos and building capability and confidence in online collaboration / communication.   My new role is extending an existing community online and using a community to support learning - building community based learning around my organisation as well as using Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn …community first organisation second. I’m also talking at LearningLive in the UK in September on live online learning & using communities to support learning

How did you build your experience as Community Manager / Social Media Strategist?

Practice what I preach, I am a learner and a community member. I’ve been a member and contributed to online communities for a number of years. Role modelling is key for me and I’ve been through the journey of being a newbie and being a lurker not knowing what to do or say  to being someone that I hope adds value to others by sharing and leading by example. You are what you share not what you know is my motto and I’m lucky enough to be in a role now that I am genuinely passionate about and love . I’ve blogged about my experiences with social networks in organisations Warning Social network ahead and have my own blog where there is a theme around doing things differently & connecting people online.

What are your top resources for community management?

I read a lot of blogs and find the work of Jane Hart & the Internet Time Alliance very interesting and useful. The work Jay Cross and Harold Jarche do on networks and informal learning is very useful. For hints and tips the NING creators site is useful and I also would recommend Feverbee . I’m still new to this and always learning especially around social media use and strategy but the LinkedIN groups I’ve just joined are also great resources.

Who are your favourite community managers/strategists or community management case studies?

It might not necessarily be a case study yet but at RBS Insurance – they created a social network /community (of which I was in the top 5 contributors) and used the network to create the new company values for the new organisation. I created a HR community that grew from a small team site to a multi-team site over 18 months. I have seen the Learning Skills Group grow and have been a group owner for some time. I am always looking for people who can share their experiences and to learn from them as no community is the same and all have different needs and purpose. I was part of a team that was looking at a social enterprise platform for 15K people and reviewed Jam (Successfactors), National Field, SharePoint 2010 & Newsgator & Jive. It’s not about the technology or system but the WHY…. What value is it adding, what difference will it make…..behaviours first and they take time to change as there is a lot of resistance to using these tools in a work environment or to support work activities.

What do you have to provide the community to make it work?

Support, guidance, a helping hand, friendly face (photo), support with face to face events, community chats, capturing what makes a community in the first place, recognising that sometimes online communities are an extension to existing communities, building conversation, sharing information that is of interest (curating content), responding and making people feel welcome, being human and yourself, providing people with reassurance, time – Rome wasn’t built in a day – neither will your community, demonstrate the value and share successes, blood sweat and tears, persistence and not being afraid to be the ‘lone’ voice, courage and conviction J

How do you attract new community members?

The community I’m working on now with DPG will be invited through their dealing with the company e.g. students, customers, clients, suppliers – I also ensure that it’s a consistent experience and where possible all tools I use have the same ‘feel’ and experience in terms of customer journey and interaction

What are the most common mistakes in community management? What should companies do to avoid them?

Making it about you, one way traffic, push push push, assuming people understand and ‘get it’, not having an objective or being able to describe WHY the community is in place, not finding champions and advocates, going alone, – they are not a selling or marketing tool and if companies use them as such then this will most likely turn people off, no guidelines or moderation, not responding to feedback, doing it because it’s ‘cool’, not effectively managing conversation or encouraging it,

Do you have any social media crisis management experience? If yes, what is the best way to approach the problem?

One of my principles and how I’m building my current community is on openness and transparency, deal with your issues out in the open as much as possible, people respect that. Education and awareness are key and social media is no different – if you are using the tools to sell or communicate with your customers then ensure the people doing it understand the positives and negatives. Don’t bury your head in the sand and hope it goes way…..deal with it and deal with it well, complaints or dissatisfaction are a way to build customer confidence.

How do you measure the ROI of your community?

Wow, big question…. I guess it depends on the community and I’m not going to cop out here by saying it depends. In my experience the ROI of my time in a community is being able to help people develop themselves and become more self-sufficient. It’s difficult to measure value in terms of learning new things and processing & applying information but for me community is about a sense of belonging and developing relationships. Hard metrics don’t provide the value in terms of community benefits e.g. 100 visitors a day doesn’t mean you have a thriving community. The communities I am involved in are about learning new things and making connections, they are about sharing information across a diverse group and longer term the DPG community will add value by supporting L&D / HR professionals as they progress through their qualifications. Here is a quote from one of the first community members when asked if the DPG community adds value ….“Yes it really does, when i first started the course I was really concerned about it being distant learning and being alone but with the community it’s so much easier to talk to others and it’s like a weight has been lifted. At the touch of a button advice and support is available. I like the updates we receive, discussions being held and also articles that get posted on here – provides some further reading which is a great help.”

That’s my ROI J

When not building and managing an online community, where else could people usually find you?

I’m married with two children, my weekends are usually spent taking the kids to football or to swimming and I’m in to computer games and general gadget geekery. I love all things learning and love Twitter, you can find me using @mikecollin007 and @DPGplc . I’m partial to a nice bottle of red wine ,I enjoy eating out (Italian or Indian food) and family days out.

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