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Curating Communities on Lunch

Setting up and maintaining Communities on Lunch.

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Setting Up & Maintaining Your Lunch Community 101

  • Apr 14, 2010
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Wanna know one of my favorite parts of being a Lunch Community Founder?  Being able to curate my own community.  Maybe it's because I have thing for decorating and making things look nice, but I love being the Editor-in-Chief of my own review site!  And as Lunch's Community Manager, I figured I'd have a thing or two to share about best practices on curating your community.  Consider this a crash course on how to effectively set up and maintain your community with a strong emphasis on curating!

First Things First... The Bare Basics

This section is for Lunchers who have just started their community.  It's best to edit all these right off the bat because no one wants to visit a community that still has all the default values; you gotta spruce things up a bit ;)  All the tools mentioned below can be found in General Settings under the Manage Community link.
  • Community Photo -- Choose an image that you feel best represents your community.  You can even create a logo if you'd like!
  • Community Tagline -- Describe your community in 50 characters or less.  Make it catchy and succinct!  More on that in @EcoMama's post, A Catchy Phrase to Use As Bait.
  • Community Welcome Message -- This will be displayed on your community homepage and can be up to 250 characters long.  Use it to describe what your community is about and why it exists.
  • Topic Term -- This will be displayed on the navigation bar on every page at the top of your community.  Try to keep this term as short, but to the point, as possible.  For example, the topic term in the That's Beat community is "All Things Beat", my topic term for my iApps community is "Apps", and for this Community Founders on Lunch community, it's "Lunch Community Topics".

Laying Down the Foundation

Once you've got the basics down, you can start laying down the groundwork for your community.  With the exception of Featuring Topics and the Founder Message, these tools can also be found in General Settings under the Manage Community link.
  • Topic Manager -- This is the quickest way for Founders to add multiple topics to their communities.  For example, if I wanted to add foursquare to my iApps community, I would search for it and if it came up as a result, I would select it.  Then I would search for Gowalla and select that result as well.  If you search for something and no results come up, it means that that topic is not yet in Lunch's database, so you can simply add it by click on the "Create a new topic link" on that page.
  • Featuring Topics --  After you've added some topics in, choose three of the ones that you feel best represents what you would like your members to review, create lists and write quick tips about.  These three topics can be chosen on your topic page and will be displayed at the top of your community homepage.  They can be easily changed at anytime.
  • Tag Manager -- Once you have the bulk of your topics set up, pay a visit to the tag manager.  All topics are tagged, and think of those tags as categories.  You can remove the tags that you feel are superfluous categories, and you can easily add them back later.
  • Founder Message -- You can find this towards the top of your community homepage.  Whether it's including a link to rate and leave quick tips on topics (you can just use basic HTML!), making an announcement, or asking your community a thought-provoking question pertaining to your community, you can use this as a quick and easy way to convey a message to your members.
  • Review Prompts -- This tool can be found under "Review Settings" under General Settings.  Review prompts are a great way to guide members, especially ones who are new to the world of review-writing, on how to structure their reviews as well as spark ideas.  Your review prompts will look something like this.  For a more in depth look at review prompts, check out @ariajuliet's post, Making Your Community As Helpful As Possible.

Putting on the Bells and Whistles
Now that you've got the bare basics down and have laid down the groundwork, it's time to put the bells and whistles into place!  Time to set up your About section as an extension of your welcome message.  It is at the bottom of your community homepage right in between the quick tips and the community comments.

Another great way to really convey to your members what your community is about would be to feature the type of content that you feel best epitomizes what your community is really about.  In addition to the content being great, here are some other rules of thumb and things to consider when choosing what reviews and lists to feature:

  • In each set featured content, try to feature diverse topics to show the breadth of your community.
  • Put a priority on timely content, like a new release or a news story.
  • Only feature the content of members who have real profile photos.  Real profile photos not only make a user seem more relatable, but more accountable for their content as well.
  • Only feature a member's content one at a time.  There's room for up to three featured reviews and three featured lists at a time, so try to feature the content of three different users in each set at a time.  It gives more of your users a chance to be in the spotlight and it's always nice to see different faces on the community homepage!
  • If you've got a ton of great content to choose from, gravitate to the ones with the catchiest titles and review/list description blurbs.
  • Focus on featuring more of your members' content than your own.  You wanna give more of your members shout outs!
  • Refrain from featuring content that is poorly formatted.  You can give tips to the reviewer on how to format because no one wants to read a 1,000 word paragraph!
  • Refrain from featuring reviews that are in all caps or have all caps titles. IT LOOKS LIKE THEY'RE SCREAMING and is a bit obnoxious.
  • Remember to switch things up by alternating the lists and reviews that you feature ;)

Note: These are just guidelines, though, as there are always exceptions!  I might have made featuring content sound a bit complicated, but I swear it's really not.  You'll get the hang of it!  A couple other quick tips are to rotate the Featured Topics and to switch up the Founder Message on a regular basis.

Once You've Got All This Down...
Remember to keep your community members engaged!  I'd get into it, but @PattyP's got it covered in her post, Keep Your Members Engaged to Keep Them Involved in Your Community on Lunch, so check it!  Also check out @angelodignacio's review on 5 Ways to Start Marketing Your Lunch Community for some great tips on how to gain readership, membership and contributors.

Good luck with your community, and if you've got anymore tips and tricks to share in regards to this topic, please do leave a comment! :)
Setting Up & Maintaining Your Lunch Community 101

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September 25, 2010
These are some nice guidelines for me to follow if I need a hand in re-designing my community. Thank you.
October 11, 2010
My pleasure! :)
May 06, 2010
Well, I've tried most of the things that people have suggested to get my communities rolling, but they're kind of struggling. Any ideas as to what else I could do to get people interested?
May 07, 2010
I see that you've checked out @Bethany_K's post Grow Your Community With New Members.  Have you gone to twitter and Facebook to find new members?  If you haven't yet, I suggest creating a twitter handle for each community and enabling it, then use the tips in @aunnyd's post The Power of 140 Characters to @-reply tweeps.  On Facebook, you can join various fan pages and groups and ask people to check out Lunch.  On Lunch itself, there are lots of people who write reviews on the topics of your community, so you can reach out to them as well :)
May 07, 2010
I haven't done anything on Twitter because I only have three or four followers and they're already on Lunch. But I have placed links to the communities on Facebook and mentioned them to numerous friends both there and on MySpace.
April 28, 2010
Excellent excellent excellent review and very very helpful, one of the best I have read thus far. Thanks for the tips and help.
April 29, 2010
Thanks, Alex! Have you got a community up and running yet? :)
April 14, 2010
Very nice review! I do like the features a lot but as with Adrianna, I wish the welcome message can be longer. Can we maybe add a Q and A section? also, let me know which topic you'd like me to take another stab on in this community since you're the founder, your majesty. ;-)
April 14, 2010
Thanks, Woo!  I hear ya on the welcome message and have communicated that to the team.  I don't know if you know about the "About" page, but after I read your comment, I edited my review to write a bit about it.  You can use that as an extension of your welcome message and that would be the best place to put your Q and A.  You can check out Sean's one for Vampire Historians.  We're working on making that page more visible.  As for which topic to take a stab at, there are plenty on this page that haven't been tackled yet, and I'm about to add pages for Founders and the About page if those tickle your fancy.  ...And I'm still waiting on my crown! ;P
April 16, 2010
ok cool Thanks! I never noticed that.
April 19, 2010
Yeah, most people were overlooking them because they weren't as visible, but they are now.
More Curating Communities on Lunch reviews
review by . April 14, 2010
Making sense of our world
What I truly like about setting up communities is the ability to be an Editor in Chief. I can pick and choose what interest me to begin with and also to categorize the wide array of topics we've built up on Lunch into some meaningful form.       When I first joined the site, I wrote a review on Lunch.com about the need to categorize and make easy the path to "enlightenment". As what I did almost a decade ago about the ability to search for information back …
Quick Tip by . September 22, 2010
Shape your community any way you want and how you want and feature what you need to. Awesome.
About the reviewer
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When I'm not Lunching, I'm a jeweler, and an all around, self-proclaimed web geek. My passions include social media, the interweb, technology, writing, yoga, fitness, photography, jewelry, fashion, … more
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Community Founders on Lunch have the ability to act as "Editor in Chief," curating their communities by choosing topics, reviews, and lists to feature.  Founders can also set the tone of their community by including review prompts and taking advantage of other features in general settings.

This is one of the most important roles of a successful Community Founder.  Shaping the tone and nature of the conversation in your Community attracts the best members, and results in the highest quality content.  It also allows Founders to contribute a consistent editorial voice throughout the content shared in their Community. 
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