For about a year, I moderated a monthly online chat focused on community building, community management, on and offline engagement, and the technologies that support those connections. The chat used the #CommBuild hashtag to pull regular and new participants together on Twitter and elsewhere, though we found that having the chats take place on a platform like CoverItLive helped people jump in and follow the conversation and create instant archives people could share and review asynchronously. In the last few months, participation had diminished to only a handful of actual commenters during the chat (though there were always many more “lurking” or following without commenting). I wanted to let the community lead, and if the community didn’t need me moderating a chat, then I wasn’t going to force it! But, during the last two weeks, I’ve had multiple people on Twitter contact me and ask for a chat again. So, this post is taking us meta on the topic: I’m hoping you, the #CommBuild community, will share just want it is you’d like to see with these chats. You ask for it, I’ll help make it happen!
Originally these were monthly chats. I opened up a blog posts similar to this one where much of the feedback said a monthly chat was all that people had capacity for. But, the downside of a monthly chat is that there are so many weeks in between to forget about it! Again, I would always set up the CoverItLive widget ahead of time so participants could sign up for a reminder when the chat was starting. But I’d love to hear your thoughts on moving to a weekly chat!
I also have a scheduler set up where you can share the times during the week that you prefer having a chat! The times are set with 11 am EST as the earliest time (in case the times don’t auto-update for you when you open it). Please treat these dates as generic days of the week and not actually next week’s dates.
Normally, these chats functioned as an online open discussion. I always had questions, topics, and tools at the ready in case participants didn’t have a question to pose but it was rarely necessary for me to ask the question. Some times, people shared questions or topics with me ahead of time so I would queue those up when we started the chat to ensure we addressed them ahead of any other in-the-moment conversations. How do you feel about the free form nature of the conversation? Would you rather have a set topic or set of questions ahead of time? Do you like showing up with a question and posing it to the group for feedback?
As I said above, the chats normally took place on CoverItLive, with the most recent chat using Google+ Hangouts. I like using a tool that provides an easy way to archive and save the conversation – something that a video chat on Google+ doesn’t do. The CommBuild chat was borne out of the #4Change chats, a group-moderated monthly chat series that took place on Twitter of which I was one of the moderators. The topic was so large and many felt like we could talk every month just about community building, so I said I’d take the responsibility of wrangling (I mean, moderating!). We moved away from a chat on Twitter itself because of the regular issues faced with Twitter being down, search options not updating, and many finding too much other fun stuff on Twitter to talk about and dropping out of the chat. So, what do you think? Want to have the chats on Twitter, on a tool like CoverItLive, or something else entirely?
I’m happy to continue moderating and wrangling as a lone wolf, but I would really love to have a pack of volunteers working together. If we move to a weekly chat, perhaps we could split of up the month and have a different person leading the chat each week to distribute the work load. I also recognize that there are MANY people far more knowledgable and experienced than myself who would be great moderators and instigators on this topic. Please let me know if you’d like to be part of the team making #CommBuild a living chat again!
Anything else? What other ideas or suggestions do you have for the chat? Would love to hear from you! And, as always, thanks for all your feedback and participation both over the last year of chats and going forward!