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

Patrick's posts

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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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Gaming is a vertical that has a massive footprint in the online community space. Gamers took to online communities really early, and have been using online tools to connect for as long as pretty much anyone else.

But gaming communities aren’t always known for being the most thoughtful. That’s what +Gabe Graziani, senior community developer at gaming giant +Ubisoft, hopes to see in the communities he works with. After spending six years building out the +Assassin's Creed community, Gabe is now working on Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6, a title that features a much more competitive community.

How does that affect the age-old community problem of making new members – or, as a stereotyped gamer might say, newbs – feel welcome? That's what we discuss on the latest episode of Community Signal. Plus:

• Ubisoft’s community structure
• The community leader approach to measuring the value of community
• Inclusivity through removal

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Jessamyn West is a member of mlkshk, an online community that’s closing. She’s part of a community-led effort to build the next place where this group of people will get together.

Best known for her work in the library space, she’s also an experienced online community practitioner, having spent 10 years on staff at MetaFilter, leaving as director of operations. Building on our recent discussions on Community Signal about the thoughtful way to close a community, we look at mlkshk as an example of a group that has done it right. Plus:

• The differences and similarities between dying and being banned from an online community
• Why it’s easy for community members to love new ideas, but hard to get them to commit to helping make them real
• The disconnect between wanting to be a moderator and actually being good at it

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The reason that people come to your online community impacts how you manage that community. It is one of the factors that guides the choices you make and the strategies and processes that you deploy.

If people come to your community because they have cancer, your approach is going to be different than if they were coming because a product broke or because they enjoy a particular hobby. That’s exactly the type of community that +Cosette Paneque of +Breast Cancer Network Australia is responsible for. On the latest episode of Community Signal, we discuss the unique circumstances around managing a community that connects around breast cancer, including:

• The first thing Cosette wants new members, who may have just received the worst news of their life, to see
• Creating processes around death in our communities
• How cancer survivors continue to contribute to the community
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