Don’t forget to design a community management model for your social innovation


As I’m sitting here at the Community Managers’ Roundtable, I’m also thinking about Social Innovation Camp coming up this weekend (and kicking off tonight).

Often when we think about this idea of social innovation enabled with Web 2.0 technology, the ideas we come up with relate to some simply Website to meet some global or broad need to collaborate, connect or simply share information. The benefit of course is that simple Web 2.0 technologies can have massive scalability (although the Twitter experience shows that if you are the top of the long tail, good architecture still counts). From small things, big things can indeed grow.

But I’m reminded again today that it is far too easy to get caught up with the lure and magic of the social technologies themselves to create a positive social outcome. But community management is something that needs to be considered in the design of that social innovation. There are a number of areas that come to mind:

  • Marketing – how will community management help you to build and maintain your user base?
  • Supporting Users – not everyone is Web savvy, so how will your help them to get the benefits of your social innovation?
  • Continuous Improvement – when you want to improve how your site works, who are you going to ask for input?
  • Risk Management – are you proactively nurturing a community, to create a positive and trust-based environment? And when issues come up, who and how will you manage them?
  • Infrastructure – what about the community of geeks who maintain your site?
  • Meta-Community Management – that is, managing other community managers (who might be volunteers) that support your site.

There are probably more issues we could list, but hopefully you get the idea that community management has an important role to play in a successful social innovation.

So if you’ve got a great Social Innovation Camp idea, have you thought about your community management model and how it will support the (not for profit) business model for your site or tool?