Thinking of starting up some forums and a bit of a community for a niche area you are passionate about? This is somewhat more than a “community manager” course – lot’s of strategy and business stuff, as well as ‘hands on’ managing forums etc.

I’m teaching Managing a social network for business in March (9:00 AM – 5:00 PM | Fri | 7 Mar 08 | 1 meetings) for the Professional Development Centre of the Centre for Continuing Education at the University of Sydney (Australia). Here’s the overview:

Your consumer is spending a lot of time on Facebook and other online communities – find out how to build a social network around your products and services that will engage your customers and meet their needs. Successful corporate sites are now enabling visitors to talk to each other and contribute content using Web 2.0 tools. Benefits include people creating personal connections and maintaining relationships through your site, increasing the number of visitors and length of stay, brand recall and loyalty, and a decrease in technical and customer support.

In this workshop we’ll explain how to build and maintain an online community around your business. We’ll examine the various types of social networks and discuss creating spaces for different types of connecting, then look at developing in-depth rules of engagement such as codes of conduct, FAQ, moderating member forums and chat rooms, and encouraging members to implement word of mouth to grow the network. This is not a technical course but a reasonable familiarity with blogs and forums will be assumed.

This is from the .pdf:

Session 1 (am)
Why am I here? Are our reasons aligned?
– Different reasons for joining social networks, and what the entry pages tell the potential member about the site.
– The importance of mottos, logos, sociability, the interface, stories and clear list of things to do on the site, content
and links.
Where do I go? Where should I visit?
– Areas to meet and communication tools in social networks, such as instant (synchronous) and delayed
(asynchronous) messaging, one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-many and few-to-few discussions.
– The importance of the introductory tour and welcome area for potential members. We also look briefly at some
software that can offer different types of communication and the relevance of open source.
– How does a blog compare to a wiki compare to a forum in the eyes of a social network native?
Session 2 (am)
Who am I? What is my identity?
– New member concerns hinge on private versus public versus system profiles and how to help them establish
identity, reputation and trust.
What are the community roles and how are they filled?
– How do they leverage and maximise membership?
– How do we reward our members?
Session 3 (pm)

What are you doing?

– Who are the community leaders and how do they grow the community for you?
– The importance of finding and encouraging evangelists.
Behaviour – etiquette statements and managing moderation
– What are the rules of engagement in a social network and what tools do you need to use to enforce the rules?
Event based activities
– Viral spikes in social networks are called “events”.
– Let’s examine some of the events that you (or your Leaders) may want to implement.
– Consider contests, meetings and performances.
Session 4 (pm)
Rituals
– Recognising the birth, engagement, marriage, illness and passing on of members is a critical part of the new
customer service in online communities. These rituals can create excess traffic to your site (and may break it).
– Community is about the power of belonging – how will you show that?
Swarms
– Every community, when it reaches critical mass either breaks down into smaller swarms – “friends”, groups – or else
it forks off and creates a “competitor” community.
– Learn to recognise the signs and manage the subgroups.

Know anyone that might be interested? These sorts of courses fill fast… (hint: book here). Let me know if I am going to see you there – I like big bright shining friendly faces in the audience. šŸ™‚