Building online communities can be hard. Maybe you start a discussion and nothing happens – silence. Or maybe last week saw lots of conversation but this week you’re back to worrying that you’re talking to yourself. Combine that with the lack of training and resources for community managers and you can be left confused about what to do to help your community activate and grow.
One of the resources that we’ve used a lot at Trellis is the four-stage lifecycle model presented in Rich Millington’s book, “Buzzing Communities”. Millington’s model is based on a systematic review by Iriberri and Leroy which synthesized the results of 27 papers about online communities to create a model for how online communities progress. This lifecycle model is key if you’re a community manager because it explains clearly what to expect at each stage – and what you should be doing to move things along to the next.
We’ve now used this model in exercises for our AAAS Community manager journal club, for our AAAS Community Engagement Fellows training and even for a staff lunch and learn event. Read on for some key takeaways about the lifecycle model – and if you’d like to discuss it in more detail, you can request to join the C4Sci group on Trellis where we regularly discuss all things related to scientific community-building.