What does an online community facilitator actually do?


This is a question that gets asked a lot.  For all those that are facilitating a Community of Practice you know that it is hard work.  And that you have to be slightly mad to do it.

And for those bosses out there please realise the amount of effort that goes into to facilitating a community, and that they need support and help.  Because is very rare that you can chuck a junior member of staff into facilitating a community and for it to work. 

A colleague of mine Erica Hurley suggested that for a Healthy Community the facilitator will spend their time in this break down

  • Logistics 10 %
  • Facilitation 20%
  • Networking members 40%
  • Network Stakeholders 30%

Anyway back to what we actually do.  There’s load of examples out there.  But I though I would start withDion Hinchcliffe’s Community Manager image the Jack of all trades.

Then there’s one of my previous post about Tom Humbarger and the importance of Community Facilitation.  Tom describes what action he would take

During the time of my involvement, active community management and consisted of:

  • delivery of bi-weekly email update newsletters
  • production of monthly webcasts
  • active blog posting and blogger outreach
  • uploading of fresh content each week
  • continual promotion of the community in various forums through guerrilla marketing
  • ongoing brainstorming and strategizing with respect to improving the community experience
  • priming of discussion forums, and
  • ongoing communications with individual community members

And Dawn Foster in her Blog Online Community Managers: What Do They Do?

Mentioned that the day-to-day responsibilities of a community manager contain an interesting mix of tactical tasks and strategic planning for most community managers, and the work usually falls into four areas:

Facilitation. Community managers spend a large amount of time sifting through discussions in the community to make sure that people are getting answers to questions and helping to make sure that the right people are being pulled into conversations.

Content. As a community manager, I have created various types of content in the form of blog posts, new discussion topics, tweets, videos and more to help make sure that the community members have the information that they need to be productive members of the community.

Evangelism. Unless you want to have a community of one (or a very small number of people), getting out and talking about the community to get people interested is part of the role of community manager.

Evolution. Topics of conversation change, software changes, and people change, which all requires changes to your online community. This is the strategic piece where you get to think about what the community should look like in one year or five years and make changes to the community to make sure that you achieve your goals for the community.

And of course few of the great members of the Online Facilitators Community

Started a list which included

  • granting access.
  • inviting contacts to join
  • promotion of the community
  • promotion events 
  • running hot seats 
  • managing hot topics
  • running competitions 
  • writing round ups 
  • extracting and analyse cop statistics 
  • Looking after notice boards
  • Welcoming and introduction

So I would say all of these are right and we do much more, which is not seen on the surface. 

And to finish of I’ll let Sue on the Web’s quote on twitter explain the life of a Community Facilitator

A Community / Facilitator Manager is part detective, part sociologist, part bouncer, part concierge, part tough guy/woman, part big softie

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