The Great Community Experiment, While Successful, Draws to a Close

If you follow me on Twitter, or have received email from my personal account, you’ve seen my tagline: “Social Media Mad Scientist”. I do think of myself that way. I really enjoy experimenting with it, trying new things to find out what works.

Now, social media is new enough that — technically — we’re all really experimenting just by participating in it, but I like to play with the edges of things, figure out the controls, find the minimum amount of force one can use to make things fall over, etc. My usual answer to the question “What would happen if…?” is “Let’s try it and see!”

So I’m always open to opportunities to be involved in new programs, to be the first to get my hands on something, or just generally see what trouble can be stirred up. Sometimes it’s ended up in helping found new communities, sometimes it’s ended with TBaaS

That said, for the past 16 months I’ve been fortunate to have been involved in another experiment of sorts, one that’s now drawn to a close.

A Little Bit of Backstory

Back in early 2010, I took on a Technical Marketing role on EMC’s VMware Affinity Team (this was a cross-functional team operating across all business units). I’d been a “virtual” member of the team for two years leading up to that point, but it was fun and exciting to have being a member of that team be my full-time job.

As part of my new role, I became the Community Manager for EMC’s Everything VMware at EMC online community. While I wasn’t the first person to take on that community (technically, I was the second), I was the first technical person in that role. (The person managing the community prior to my joining the team was very happy to hand it off it me…) I’m proud to say that the community really took off under my involvement with it. It was always one of the most-read communities in the entire EMC Community Network (ECN). It was so successful that a number of similar “Everything X at EMC” were created to better serve the overall EMC community.

The Experiment

Skip ahead to 2012, when I left EMC and joined Accunet Solutions. What was going to happen with the community?

After a few discussions with key folks, we kicked off the Great Community Experiment. In a great gesture of trust, the EMC Community Network opened their arms, and in a huge move of openness with partners, I became the only EMC Community Manager who wasn’t an EMC employee.

And the experiment was very, very successful. The community continued to grow, seamlessly, and without interruption, but it sometimes caused small bits of confusion. As recently as two weeks ago I received another “Wait, you’re not at EMC any more??!!” message…

Soldering on despite confusion, the EMC ECN team treated me as one of their own, and I got to continue to enjoy collaborating with them. But, as I mentioned above, the experiment has drawn to a close.

A Sure Sign of Success

What’s a sure sign that you’ve created something successful? Other people want it, or something exactly like it, for themselves.

A shift in priorities at EMC has caused their Solutions Group to become more focused on solutions development and delivery in general, and on the “Everything X” communities in particular. Yesterday, when these communities all re-launched with their brand-new looks (Have you seen the new design yet? Take a moment and check it out.), EMC pulled management of the community back in-house.

Where I’m at About All This

First and foremost, it’s always been EMC’s community. I have absolutely zero problem with them doing whatever that want with it.

Second, I actually think that the way it came about will be very positive for the community long-term. EMC’s been putting much more focus on social media and community recently. The fact the upper management is putting focused time and energy into the communities is great.

Third, I know the community is in good hands. My colleague and friend James Walkenhorst (@walkjaw) is taking on all of the Community Management responsibilities for “Everything VMware at EMC”, and I’ve worked with him long enough to know that he’ll do a great job with it. I wish him all the best with it, and he has my full support.

As for me, I’m not going anywhere. I might not be writing a blog on the old “EV@E” site any more, but I still plan on remaining an active part of the community there. Expect to see my blogging efforts more focused here and a soon-to-be-coming elsewhere…

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