More and more organizations are realizing how important community is as a part of the reach and impact they can have with their learning goals, Whether as an informal approach or connected into conferences and courses, online communities have evolved into an very important part of the new learning landscape.
In this episode, we talk with someone who knows online community inside and out: Andy Steggles. Andy currently serves as President & Chief Customer Officer of Higher Logic, a popular provider of online community software (our own Leading Learning community runs on it), but he came to that role after first being someone who implemented and managed the community strategy for a large association.
Among other topics, Jeff and Andy discuss what “counts” as a community, how to get one up and running successfully, and what role learning plays in both short and long-term success. To tune in, just click below. To make sure you catch all of the future episodes, be sure to subscribe by RSS or on iTunes. And, if you like the podcast, be sure to give it a tweet!
Listen to the Show
Read the Show Notes
[01:27]- Introduction to Andy Steggles and some background information about who he is and how he got from the association world to where he is now.
[04:58] – How do you define community? When does a group of people actually tip into truly being a community? Andy shares the different litmus tests that he and his business partner use to define this. He explains that the common denominator between them is that a community is group of people with a common interest that are compelled to collaborate.
[06:51] –What are the most essential steps for getting an online community up and started successfully? Andy talks about the importance of choosing a primary goal, defining success, and only moving to the next phase once you have achieved your goal.
[09:36] – Is there a magic number that you see consistently across organizations that they need to have engaging at some level to get the community off the ground? Andy discusses how they have analyzed engagement data to see what the best success metrics are and how they found size to be a huge factor in terms of success. He explains that small organizations tend to score much better than larger organizations and shares an example of this.
[12:15] – Can you talk a little bit about over-segmenting and in general, what it takes over the long term to ensure a community will sustain and be successful? Andy shares that you need to think of the evolution of a community the same way as the evolution of an association. He explains that you need to start simple– launch a broader community, build critical mass, make it self-sustaining and then, once you have more information, form subgroups.
[15:08] – Are there some star organizations out there that have done a great job of launching and sustaining a community over time? Andy says there are too many to count but highlights a few that have launched in the last few months:
- SAE International: http://connection.sae.org
- ASRT (American Society of Radiological Technologists): http://www.asrt.org/communities
- AAPA (American Academy of Physician Assistants): http://huddle.aapa.org/home
[18:10] – What is your perspective on the role of learning and knowledge sharing as part of how a community develops successfully? What can organizations do to help promote the kind of knowledge sharing and learning that’s going to help make the community valuable? Andy explains that there are many different strategies you can take around social learning and how there are best practice solutions for each scenario. He talks about blended learning solutions and shares an example.
[21:18] – A further discussion about developing a community and the importance of getting people to bond and connect before the course, during the course, and after the course and how this creates accountability. He also talks about how you can create alumni groups for those who have already completed and passed a course.
[24:07] – Do you ever see trade and professional organizations offering community as a product (not just a member benefit)? Do you see any traction for that kind of model in the association world? Andy shares that most organizations have failed at this and that is very difficult to make a model like that work. He explains that it can be successful when built around valuable content– so the community is offered as value-add.
[26:19] – What do you see as the most important trends/innovations that are on the horizon for online communities? Andy talks about how he looks to the Community Roundtable and to their published Community Maturity Model as a way to evaluate how mature you are as an organization (with respect to leveraging community). He says that most organizations have massive room for improvement in terms of fully leveraging community.
[28:25] – What are your own practices/habits when it comes to lifelong learning? Are there particular communities you look to for support in your own lifelong learning? Andy discusses how learning is happening continuously in communities and that although he gets formal training from conferences/meetings, etc., he gets even more value from social learning and interaction with sites such as Community Roundtable and ASAE. He reveals that he learns something almost everyday in this way and why it works best for him.
[32:12] – How to connect with Andy and Higher Logic:
Visit Higher Logic website at: http://www.higherlogic.com
Information about Andy: http://www.higherlogic.com/AndySteggles
Email: andy @ higherlogic.com
[33:02] – Wrap-Up
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[34:27] – Sign off