We’re on our way to wrapping up our “Kudos for Community Managers” blog series. Next up: Debbie Kwan from the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer shares her secrets on community engagement and evolution.
Have we told you lately that we love community managers? We continue to be inspired by their creative and strategic approaches to engagement, and their ability to sweat the details while staying focused on the big picture. Now that’s some talent!
In Part 4 of our series, we’re introducing you to Debbie Kwan from the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (the Partnership), an independent organization that works with cancer experts, charitable organizations, governments, cancer agencies, national health organizations, patients, survivors and others to implement Canada’s cancer control strategy.
The Partnership came to Igloo looking for a solution to help streamline communications, enable collaboration, and create a sense of culture and community across the organization and with experts and colleagues from around the country. It was no small task, but Debbie was up for the challenge, and she took on the very important role of community manager to ensure those goals were met. Read on to learn about Debbie’s experience building a thriving online community for cancer control partners across Canada.
I: What is your role?
DK: I’m the online community manager for the Cancerview Hub, an extranet for the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. We use our community to facilitate collaboration and resource sharing among cancer control partners across the country.
I: What is a typical day for you?
DK: My day consists of a mix of tasks that support and enhance the use and adoption of online communities and collaboration spaces inside and outside our organization. These tasks include working with administrators to improve their community and space design to enhance the user experience, implementing a comprehensive training strategy to help administrators build engagement, and advocating on behalf of community members for enhancements to the platform.
I: What is the most satisfying part of your job?
DK: The best part of my job is when I hear from users that the community has helped them in their work, whether it’s helping them access information more easily, strengthening relationships with colleagues, or learning something new.
I: How do you keep your members engaged?
DK: I keep members engaged by building relationships with and providing support to the administrators of the different spaces on the Cancerview Hub. Many of our administrators have expertise in different areas of cancer control, such as cancer screening, prevention, and research, so they are well positioned to ensure the content, discussions, and activities on their space are relevant, useful, and engaging for their members. I support them by providing resources and training on online community building to help keep their members engaged.
I: What do you do when you see engagement starting to drop?
DK: When I see engagement starting to drop, I work with the space administrators to figure out what might be the cause. Perhaps the project is complete, or the purpose of the space is unclear, or the administrator doesn’t know how to use some of the features that support engagement. Once the issues are identified, I work with the administrator to figure out the best solution to move forward.
I: How do you find great stories or content to share with your community?
DK: I encourage administrators to share content that’s related to the work and activities they’re involved with outside the online community. For example, if a group already has regular in-person meetings, I would suggest they use their space to plan those meetings and share meeting materials. If the space is integrated with the work the group is already doing together, the members are less likely to see the space as an additional item of work, and more likely to see it as a tool and support network that makes their work easier.
I: Who are your partners in crime?
DK: I can’t say enough how integral the space administrators are to building engagement on the Cancerview Hub community. They help keep content current and relevant, build relationships with their members, keep me informed of usability issues, and readily provide feedback to help improve the overall experience. I’m also grateful to the Knowledge Mobilization team at the Partnership for supporting me and helping me stay aligned with our organizational digital strategy, as well as the Information Technology team at the Partnership for taking care of the community’s technical infrastructure. Finally, the team at Igloo is always eager to help find solutions to meet our needs and make our online community platform as dynamic and engaging as possible.
I: What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in your organization since your community launched?
DK: This isn’t necessarily a change, but I’ve noticed how much my colleagues want a digital tool that helps them share knowledge easily, communicate effectively, and collaborate more efficiently with colleagues inside and outside our organization. I hope that I can help the Cancerview Hub continue to evolve to become a tool that always achieves this.
I: If you could give one piece of advice to a new community manager, what would it be?
DK: Start small. It’s easy to have the urge to include every available feature in the community and have big ideas about all the activity that’s going to occur, but trying to do too much in the beginning can overwhelm your users. Starting small allows you to stay focused on the initial objectives of the community, and helps you decide what features you need to continually evolve it.
I: What’s your favorite philosophy at work?
DK: Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
We celebrate Community Managers
We’re proud to partner with community managers like Debbie to build thriving communities for a more productive and engaged workforce. For more community management resources and free activities, including a Community Manager Manifesto and our Calling All Champions engagement guide, visit the CMAD microsite here: try.igloosoftware.com/cmad.
And if you missed the first three articles in our “Kudos for Community Managers” series, you can get up to speed here: