Don’t know Burr Settles? He’s the force behind February Album Writing Month, otherwise know as FAWM. Like many community managers, he stumbled into the role because of his passion for independent music and an inspiration from National Novel Writing Month. What started as a fun thing to do in 2004 among a few friends has grown into a community of over 3,000 people who create, collaborate, and publish together. We had Burr join us for a member call this week to discuss the FAWM project and what he had learned about community management over the years. Burr has four best practices that guide him:
- Don’t Promote
- Embrace Constraints
- Keep it Ripe
- Communication Over Aggregation
There is a great write up about those concepts here. What I found to be one of the more interesting parts of our conversation with Burr was around the topic of constraints and how to use them creatively to drive engagement. Rather than lock people down, constraints offer a spark and a jumping off point for people to innovate and create. Burr talked about different ways constraints were created – centrally, self-imposed, and community generated – which all took the form of creative challenges. My 5 favorite ideas were:
- Feasting – have people create as much as you can in one sitting (1-5 hours)
- Skirmishes – provide a topic/title/concept at a given time every week and give everyone one hour to complete the task
- Concept challenges – use an existing sets of things to inspire responses (U.S. presidents, periodic table of elements, deck of cards, etc)
- Daily/weekly inspiration – select a word, phrase, or piece of content for members to riff off of
- Brainstorming tools – Burr created these and I’ve used these in the past
When you think about your community programming, consider incorporating some of these ideas – it will change things up, add an element of fun and competition, and get people talking. At The Community Roundtable we’re running TheCR Summer Camp for our members – a fun way to learn more about social tools and methods while getting to know each other. It offers a different type of programming than we do the rest of the year, which breaks things up and offers some variety… plus it’s fun for us and that rubs off.
Interested in joining us for conversations like this one? Find out more about membership in TheCR here.