Monthly Archives: September 2012

Emma Williamson talks “Online Community Management”

Many companies are getting on the social media train, thinking about how different online platforms can help to create better internal and external collaboration, branding, knowledge sharing etc… In the social hype, mistakes are made and lessons learnt. Sometimes it helps to have a little help…


For this post, I interviewed Social Media Strategist and Community Manager Emma Williamson for her thoughts on how to manage an online community. Emma has spent the last few years helping to build one of the UKs most successful online “parenting-community” platforms. She is now working with the one of the UK’s fastest growing IT companies to help create a meaningful social-media presence. You can find Emma’s full bio at the end of the post…


What got you SO interested in social media, Emma?
I became interested in social media when on maternity leave with my first child. I joined a well known UK baby forum and got involved with moderating comments on the site. As a result of my experience in this area I was approached by to join the team and be responsible for managing the online community. As luck would have it, they also wanted some help with their social media so I threw myself in to learning on the job and built a successful brand across Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (achieving YouTube partner status).


When you talk about online communities, what do you mean by “community”?
A community in the online sense is any group of people brought together on a social platform by a common interest or goal, be it related to parenting, politics, music, sports or so on. A community will usually have it’s own set of rules and a hierarchy of membership. Whereas neighbours or friends may converse on the school run or in coffee shops, members of an online community interact through social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


What would you say are the keys to successful community management, online or not?
A successful online community is one that is inclusive and evolving. It is welcoming to new members, and supportive of old and new alike. It has a set of guidelines or rules which are adhered to by the community. It’s a place where people come together for something they can’t or don’t get in ‘real life’.


What advice would you give to new community managers to first get the ball rolling and then create real engagement of members?
New and old community managers alike shouldn’t be afraid to get stuck in and engage with their community members. Whilst of course it is important for managers to make sure the community is running smoothly, it is also important that they are seen as a PART of a community and not just the enforcers.

Most communities have a number of hot topics – new community managers should familiarise themselves with the popular and controversial topics of a forum or platform as internet law has it these topics will come up time and time again.

But most importantly, community managers should develop their own voice and personality. Yes they have to toe the party line, but members will respect that they have ideas and opinions of their own.


Last question: What problems have you encountered in your work as a community manager and how did you overcome them?

As a Community Manager I’ve been lucky to oversee largely harmonious online communities however from time to time I’ve had to quell the odd uprising or deal with a particularly nasty troll or faker. I’m always taken aback when something or someone seriously disrupts an online community but as time passes people forget the upset and normal service resumes. My advice in these situations is support your community members, deal with trouble makers discreetly and move on.


Emma Williamson is a Social Media Strategist and Community Manager.

Her social media experience includes three years and counting as the Community and Social Media Director for, the world’s first video based parenting website. She is also working with IT Supplier Kelway UK Ltd to develop and deliver a fully integrated social media strategy across five major platforms, including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Emma is currently building a website to support her social media consultancy, SoMeForYou.

Married with two kids (three if you count the husband) and based in Hove, Emma is a BA Hons English Literature graduate with a passion for cheese, sci-fi and Mulberry handbags – not necessarily in that order…

Going “All-In”

In poker the concept of going “all-in” means you put everything you have into one bet. Its high risk because you might lose it all.. …but maybe you win!

Thinking about “life” and personal effectiveness, I’ve recently got it into my head that I should start going all in… What does this mean?


We’ve only got one life, right? Everyday we do what we do, hoping it will make us happy. But many of us don’t do what we REALLY WANT TO DO. We don’t do what brings us flow or what is truly in-line with our most awesome vision of who we are and what we want out of life. At the end of the day, week, month, holiday, year (life, whatever) we find ourselves saying “Oh, I wish I’d done that” or “I should have spent more time doing that”.


To counter this problem, you can do 3 very specific things that I do to help me go “all-in” :


Write your own personal vision/mission statement

My own mission statement is called “my most awesome vision of who I am, what I believe and what I want”. I tend to revise it most when I’m not happy, but always take a moment each summer (during holidays) to think it through again. I’m not going to share it here, its personal. What I can say is that when I read it I get a sensation of “Yes I can”, filled with the joy of wanting more out of life and motivated, ready to get to action.

To be successful with your own vision/mission statement, include the following elements:

  • What you think is a good life
  • What you believe is most important in order to be happy
  • How you want to be spending your time, in terms of the different roles you have
  • One or 2 wildly important life goals


Create a dream-list *

“Begin with the end in mind”, “You get more of what you concentrate on”, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there”, “SMART objectives” etc… We’ve all heard it before time and time again .. and its true: You have to set objectives in personal life, just as you do at work.

Today, my dreamlist has 47 items on it, ranging from spending 3 months in India with my wife (not kids) to skydiving and creating a Beatles rock band. It doesn’t matter what’s on your list as long as it inspires you and doesn’t go again your personal vision/mission statement.

To create a good dream-list:

  • Start by noting anything you want to do, have or be
  • Add to it any time you get an idea of something you want to do, have or be
  • Don’t “filter” your dreams or say “this is silly” – just add it

…then take action. Any action! For example, I want to do a motorcycle road-trip in the mountains with my father. I’ve no idea when, how, how long etc but I don’t worry about that. I just focus on taking the next concrete action (something I learnt from David Allen and blogged about here ) and move forward. So we set a date. When I’m ready for the next concrete action, I’ll do that… eventually I will have done it. Don’t forget: Even a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step 🙂

* Thank you again @tferriss for this inspiration, via the book “Four Hour Work Week



..or as Justin Bieber might say “Never say never” 🙂

If you are going to be happy, live your dreams and go “all-in” you have to believe that things are possible. Sometimes this is difficult. We think of something we want to be, have or do and then all the doubt comes flooding in: What if it all goes wrong? Do I really want this? Will it work?

I like to remember a simple phrase from Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” (which is all about going “all-in”):

“When there was doubt I ate it up and spat it out”.



Good luck!

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Experimenting with Gamification at the Dinner Table

If you believe the experts, Gamification is a good way to motivate participants towards new knowledge, skills and attitude, increasing engagement and effectiveness. I wrote about this during ASTD2012. Read here…

In preparation for my Kluwer talk on the topic of Gamification (Meet + Greet, October 4th) I decided to test some simple game mechanics at home. This post provides guidelines for Gamification, explained via this short lunchtime experience…


First, don’t gamify things for no reason. At my dinner table I have trouble getting my girls to eat “everything”. Today, upon presenting the stoemp with broccoli and salmon, the reaction was unanimous: “I don’t like that!” I wanted to motivate them into a different attitude and behaviour.

Secondly: Clarify concrete objectives or expected outcomes. Easy! I wanted them all to eat at least 3/4s of the entire plate, evenly spread between stoemp and salmon.

Third: Consider who is going to play and choose the right motivators. My eldest girl likes to win. She needs “conflict” gaming elements that allow her to do better than other people. My other two daughters respond better to game elements that allow for self-expression. Personally, I wanted to see some collaboration between them all..


Create your game

The objective of the game was clear: Clear your plate before the time runs out (my eldest interpreted this as “beat your sisters as well”).

Design the game structure and how to play. I created a game whereby “rolling a dice” would tell you which part of your “food-man” you could eat. First, each player was allowed to turn their plate of food into a “food-man” consisting of 4 legs, a body and a head. This element of self-expression created much amusement!

Here’s what my 3yr old made…

I also asked them to make 4 pictures that could be screwed up and used as a “dice-mechanism”.

The rules…
On each turn, players lucky-dipped which part of their “food-man” they had to eat next…

If you got a leg picture, but had no legs left on your plate, you couldn’t eat. Otherwise, you had to eat what the lucky-dip said!

Throughout the game there were 2 feedback elements that kept motivation up: Social comparisons and time feedback.

If you finished your plate in the allotted time you won. This meant that everyone could win, making it a “self-competition” game rather than “conflict-based”.

Personally I didn’t design much for the collaboration aspect, but I was surprised: At one point, my 7yr old lucky-dipped a leg, but with no legs left on her own plate, she ate some of her little sister’s salmon for her!


If you have designed your game well, then you will be easily able to measure results. This experiment resulted in all plates 100% clean in a record time with no moaning from any children. Awesome!!


I am experimenting with games for training and learning that implement these simple ideas.

Imagine what you could do to:

  • Motivate employees to
    reduce paper usage
  • Encourage posting on internal social-media based knowledge sharing platforms
  • Cut company costs
  • Create Intercultural connections in a multinational corporate environment

…all your need is some simple game mechanics and a little creativity!


Have fun!
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Message to my godson

I was asked to write something in the “birth book” of my godson, born 6 weeks ago. Serious stuff, so I took it seriously. I like the message and I think it is at least worth remembering for myself. If you like it too, then I’m happy to have shared…


Here you are.
Breathing. Being. Doing.


“Who are you?” “What do you want?” “What do you care about?”
Some days, you will ask these questions and be lost.
Other days, you will storm forward with disregard.


But you will always be yourself:
A glorious expression of the infinite unified divine beauty of everything that is.


You are magnificent.
You are loved.
You have in yourself everything you need.
You are free.
And you are writing your own story every second.


Be happy.
Have fun.



For Gods Sake, Listen to Me!!

I’m sitting in a small outside dining area at my client’s office taking lunch, discretely eavesdropping on a meeting between a manager and her employee. It’s been 10 minutes now and the guy (employee) hasn’t managed to get a word in. Literally, every time he opens his mouth, she interrupts…


Managers and Leaders: Please listen to your people!!

I think this is one of the absolutely most important keys to successful leadership.


Real listening is all about Active Empathy. All you have to do is drop your ego, ask open questions and drill down to get some real understanding…

…not seeing any of that right now!!!


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