Sharing Best Practices for Community-Building

CollabTalk TweetJam on Creating and Supporting a Successful CommunityThe definition of “community” in its most basic form is “a group of people with shared interests.” Community-building may take many different forms, and organizers may prescribe to different approaches and philosophies — but it always comes back to that simple, core definition. Without shared interests (i.e. shared purpose) there is no community. And if you want to keep a community healthy and thriving, you’ll want to regularly review and, as needed, adjust your shared purpose, your community structure, and the activities around it to ensure that what you’re doing remains relevant. Without this constant review and renewal, most (if not all) communities will wither and die.

As I travel the world to participate in various events, speaking at user groups and conferences, and connecting with partners and customers, one of my favorite topics is that of building and sustaining community efforts. Looking at my own community-building experiences, I’ve co-founded two community-focused non-profits ( and SamaritanWeb), run user groups and sat on the boards of others, organized partner and advisory boards, and spearheaded events across multiple states. From this, I’ve learned a few things, and am always willing to share my experiences — as are many of you. For those who have run user groups, helped organize a SharePoint or SQL Saturday event, taken on the role of “Community Manager” for your intranet or Yammer environment, or coordinated “lunch and learn” sessions with your fellow employees to share productivity tips internally — these are all examples of community at work, from which you’ve likely developed your own “best practices.”

In this month’s CollabTalk tweetjam, we will be discussing “Creating and Supporting a Successful Community” to give us all an opportunity to share our best practices, our war stories, and hopefully take away some ideas for how we can better support our various community efforts.  Join us on Wednesday, April 25th at 9am Pacific / 6pm CEST via Twitter and the #CollabTalk hashtag using your favorite Twitter dashboard (Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Buffer, etc) to take part in the dialog. Come join in on yet another great online discussion!

While much of the topic will focus on the Microsoft ecosystem, most of this will be applicable to any community. These online discussions are open to anyone — you do not have to be on the panel to participate. This month’s tweetjam is once again being sponsored by our good friends at tyGraph.

If you have never participated in one of these tweetjams, it’s pretty simple: anyone can jump in and share their thoughts, or just lurk in the wings and absorb the wisdom of the crowd. Either way, it’ll be a TON of content to consume in a single hour. You can follow the live session using the Twitter UI of your choice. How it works is that I’ll post a series of questions every few minutes, and people will respond to Q1, Q2, Q3 and so forth with A1, A2, A3, always including the #CollabTalk and #SPC18 hashtags with their answers. Feel free to reply as often (or as little) as you’d like, ask your own follow up questions, share relevant links, re-tweet others, and engage with the audience.

The questions we will discuss during this month’s tweetjam include:

  1. What are the essential ingredients for “community,” and do they change between internal and external communities?
  2. How important is the role of Community Manager, and/or what other roles are required for a successful community?
  3. How do you personally keep up with the rapid rate of innovation, and share what you think is important with your community?
  4. What are the tools/solutions/methods that help communities provide timely information and keep members engaged?
  5. How do you measure community success for yourself, for your management team, and/or for your members?
  6. Where have Microsoft and other vendors been successful in building/supporting community, and where could they better support the community?
  7. What are 3 things community owners can do to increase participation and engagement?

Our panel this month will rapidly expand as this is always a BIG topic, but the folks who have confirmed so far include:

  • Steve Nguyen (@espnguyen), product manager for Yammer at Microsoft
  • Becky Benishek (@beckybenishek), Microsoft MVP, social media & community manager at CPI
  • Mark Jones (@markqjones), founder of Collaboris and
  • Cathrine Wilhelmsen (@cathrinew), Data Platform MVP, DWH/BI/SQL geek, independent consultant
  • Noah Sparks (@noahsparks), Office Servers and Services MVP, community igniter and strategy manager at Brainstorm
  • Molly Anglin (@mollyanglin), global community manager at Valtech
  • Max Fritz (@TheCloudSherpa), identity management, Office 365, AzureAD, and SharePoint expert at Now Micro
  • Tobiasz Koprowski (@KoprowskiT), Data Platform MVP, independent consultant
  • Harjit Ghaliwal (@Hoorge), Microsoft MVP, IT Pro, technology & social media evangelist
  • Ragnar Heil (@ragnarh), Office Servers & Services MVP and Microsoft alliance manager EMEA for Metalogix
  • Erica Toelle (@ericatoelle), evangelist at Record Point
  • John White (@diverdown1964), SharePoint MVP and cto at UnlimitedViz Inc.
  • Heather Newman (@heddanewman), Office Servers & Services MVP and co-founder and cmo of ContentPanda
  • Matt Wade (@thatmattwade), cloud services lead at H3 Solutions, founder of icansharepoint
  • Liz Sundet (@percusn), Microsoft MVP, platonic friend to ferns everywhere
  • Ed Senez (@edsenez), president at UnlimitedViz and TyGraph
  • Tobias Zimmergren (@zimmergren), SharePoint MVP and technical product owner for cloud offerings at Rencore
  • Agnes Molnar (@molnaragnes), enterprise search & findability consultant/ceo at Search Explained
  • Theresa Eller (@SharePointMadam), SharePoint consultant at Constellation Solutions
  • Ryan Schouten (@ShrPntKnight) Office Servers & Services MVP, senior SharePoint architect and evangelist at ZAACT
  • Dean Swann (@sdeanswann), social collaborator, growth hacker and product manager for UnlimitedViz
  • Amy Dolzine (@amydolz), Microsoft MVP, global knowledge awareness advisor and enterprise social awareness lead at Ernst & Young Global Limited
  • Owen Allen (@owenallen), Redmond SPUG board member, vp of product marketing at Akumina
  • David Patrick (@DavidEPatrick),  Office Servers & Services MVP, user group organizer, subject matter expert with DSA, Inc.
  • Eli Robillard (@erobillard), SharePoint MVP, musician, fly-fisher, collaboration technology guy
  • Paul Swider (@pswider), cto at RealActivity and enterprise SharePoint strategist
  • Melissa Hubbard (@Melihubb), Microsoft MVP, Regional Director, PMP, and project manager at Withum
  • Drew Madelung (@dmadelung), SharePoint and Office 365 MVP and architect at Concurrency Inc.
  • Mark Rackley (@mrackley), Office 365 MVP, sharePoint Hillbilly, Partner at PAIT Group
  • Shadeed Eleazer (@mrshadeed), founder and principal consultant at Managed Path Solutions
  • Beau Cameron (@beau_cameron), Microsoft MVP and senior engineer at Aerie Consulting
  • David Wilhelm (@SharePointFest), president at SharePointFest Tech Conferences LLC
  • and your host, Christian Buckley (@buckleyplanet), Microsoft Regional Director & MVP, cmo at, and the founder & ceo of CollabTalk LLC

AS always, anyone and everyone is invited to the online discussion. And thank you again to tyGraph for your support of this CollabTalk tweetjam! If you are interested in being a sponsor of a future tweetjam, please contact me at

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and M365 Apps & Services MVP, and an award-winning product marketer and technology evangelist, based in Silicon Slopes (Lehi), Utah. He is the Director of North American Partner Management for leading ISV Rencore (, leads content strategy for TekkiGurus, and is an advisor for both revealit.TV and WellnessWits. He hosts the monthly #CollabTalk TweetJam, the weekly #CollabTalk Podcast, and the Microsoft 365 Ask-Me-Anything (#M365AMA) series.