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Patrick O'Keefe
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur


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When +GoDaddy hired Christopher Carfi at the start of 2014, it caught my attention. GoDaddy was a company that, at one time, I thought I would never want to be a customer of. I didn’t like the brand, didn’t like marketing, didn’t like upselling, didn’t like the old CEO.

But after +Blake Irving was hired as CEO, I noticed positive change. That was nice, but they still didn’t have my business. When they hired Christopher, it caught my eye because here was an experienced community mind that I respected joining a company I once didn’t.

I watched their continued cultural shift and their embrace of community. Through 5+ years of solid work, GoDaddy has washed away that old perspective I had and, somehow, they won me over, where my previous registrar, Enom, had neglected me. I am now a GoDaddy customer. Christopher joins Community Signal to talk about this shift, plus:

• What community means in a world where we’re interacting with Alexa and Google Assistant
• How community fits into content marketing
• The things we can learn from Burning Man, which Christopher is a veteran of

Thank you to +Higher Logic for supporting our program.
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There’s a lot of money in the association space, especially when it comes to helping associations connect their members online. The biggest example of this might be the recent Community Brands merger, bringing together three software companies that collectively serve more than 13,000 associations and nonprofits.

Association veteran +Maggie McGary recently sounded the alarm on a big problem: Associations themselves, especially small staff associations, are the ones left holding the bag right now. Association software companies and consultants, including those from the community space who saw the money, might be doing well, but small staff associations are highly vulnerable to unexpected costs.

Many of them don’t even have one full-time person focusing on their online community and membership efforts, let alone have development resources or space in their budget after already investing in these expensive software solutions, and often training, consultants and conferences to go with it. Are associations being taken advantage of, and taken for granted? On the latest Community Signal, we discuss:

• The lack of in-house community and association talent at association software vendors, as compared to their large sales teams
• Software vendors who used to pitch their solutions as an all-in-one that are now backing away from that
• What association management software companies should do from here
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All community professionals want to work at organizations where they have the buy-in to deeply invest in community. But many of us don’t. We’re fighting for that buy-in, so the true value of community can be realized.

That’s what Denise Law, community editor at The Economist, is doing right now. She recognizes that their onsite community efforts are “in dire need of attention,” and is building a case for it, for those who can’t see the point and are resistant to change. She joins Community Signal to discuss these efforts. Plus:

• Why Denise doesn’t want to simply close up shop and shift all engagement to third party platforms
• How social media experiments could help her case
• What her ideal scenario looks like

Thank you to +Higher Logic for their continued support of our program.
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“The branch of anthropology concerned with the study of human societies and cultures and their development.” That’s cultural anthropology, per Oxford.

+Elizabeth Koenig has a degree in cultural anthropology. She’s also an account manager at The Social Element (formerly Emoderation), where she manages teams of moderators and community engagement specialists that scale based upon client needs. On the latest Community Signal, we talk about how cultural anthropology applies to online communities. Plus:

• What happens when companies rely on automated moderation too much
• How to motivate community pros to invest in client communities when they don’t choose the clients
• Why The Social Element, a company powered by a remote workforce, has a strong workplace community
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Much of the news industry is engaged in a battle they can’t win, a fight over eyeballs and ad revenue with companies like Google and Facebook, where the terms will get worse and worse as time goes by. This is according to +Andrew Losowsky, my guest on the latest episode of Community Signal.

The answer? Community. By building a community that values the work that they create, they can wrestle back some of the control over their audience and receive support directly from the people who consume and appreciate the product they are creating.

Andrew is the project lead of The Coral Project, a collaboration between Mozilla, +The New York Times and +Washington Post, that is helping news organizations build better communities and more loyal readers through tools, research and strategy. Among our topics:

• Forcing a layer of community over traditional journalism vs. providing newsrooms with a cogent plan
• Why they are building Talk, an open source comments platform
• Are news organizations better served by hiring another reporter… or a community pro?

Thank you to +Higher Logic, who we're welcoming back as a sponsor this week, for their continued support of our program.
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One of the reasons that companies get acquired is because of the community they have. The loyal customers, the active members, the people that are directly tied to the revenue that the company generates. When a company with a strong community is acquired, what should the new company do with their community team?

Paula Rosenberg joined +VHX, a service that allows you to create your own Netflix-style streaming subscription service, in 2015. A year later, they were acquired by +Vimeo and, a year after that, Paula joins Community Signal to talk about what Vimeo did right, in transitioning the VHX community team. Plus:

• The impact of community tools on subscription retention
• How Paula got her start by launching a community for students, as a student advisor
• Conducting seller research and how VHX spreads those insights throughout the company
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Last month, a man used Facebook’s live video feature to confess to a murder, shortly after videos were uploaded that showed him announcing his intent and committing the act. Facebook broke down the timeline of this series of videos, revealing that they had suspended the person’s account in approximately 2 hours or less, saying “we need to do better.”

But what is a reasonable expectation for the public, when it comes to people who use live video to gain attention for their violent acts, against themselves or others? Heather Merrick, community experience manager at group video chat service Airtime, joins Community Signal to discuss. Plus:

• How allowing users to switch video chats from public to private, and back, complicates community management efforts
• What happened when Tumblr switched replies off on their platform
• Unethical behavior and the implications of getting caught
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+SANE Australia is a charity that helps Australians affected by mental illness. Their popular online community, SANE Forums, serves as one of their primary initiatives. It isn’t just SANE Australia’s community, but the online community of 51 partner organizations, as well.

When they seek funding (from the Australian government and others), they have the prove their value and show their ROI. But what’s the ROI of an anonymous, nonprofit, mental health forum? That is one the challenges facing online community manager Nicole Thomas. We talk about it on the latest Community Signal, plus:

• How the 51 different partner organizations contribute to the community
• Scaling the SANE Forums volunteer program
• The benefits of allowing people with mental illness to see the discussions of those who care for others with mental illness
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I define community in two ways: 1. Community on a specific platform, like a Facebook group or a forum. 2. Community that connects around a topic, interest or pursuit in a decentralized way, across multiple platforms.

Disney, Coca-Cola and +NASA are good examples of organizations that are fortunate to have the second. There are many people who love NASA and the work they have done, and will gleefully talk about it with other NASA fans, while at the same time, they may never play in any NASA-managed sandboxes.

+Marc Siegel, who has worked in community for tech startups and established players like IBM, Intuit and eBay, spent more than a decade at NASA, including a substantial portion in evangelism. Why do people love NASA? We talk about that on the latest Community Signal, plus:

• The challenge of privacy guidelines
• Why viral coefficient/K value is an important metric for startups
• Appreciating your community when it’s small
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When you think “improv,” you might picture a group of comedians at a local club, riffing on audience suggestions. But the skills of improvisation – active listening, adaptability and problem solving, among them – are skills that aide successful community professionals.

+Zach Ward is the longtime owner of DSI Comedy, a Chapel Hill, North Carolina-based comedy theater school where they perform improv and teach the art of comedy. For well over a decade, he’s been teaching these skills to corporate clients like Proctor & Gamble, GSK, Old Navy and Cisco. On this episode of Community Signal, we identify areas where improv can help community pros, including:

• How active listening applies to words on a computer screen
• Turning difficult members into valued contributors
• Creating an environment where people feel comfortable being honest
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