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Community Participation Calendar

How can you plan for community participation? In some ways you cannot as your audience's participation is dependent upon their good will. However, you can plan for what you intend to do and how you connect with community members.

There's a joke about community managers that illustrates this point:

How Many Community Managers Does It Take To Screw In A Light Bulb?

@SingularityDsgn  An infinite number. They don't screw in light bulbs. They try to create an environment that allows other people to screw in bulbs.

I've often used online editorial calendars for websites and social media, and I've even used this term when managing communities. But the term "participation calendar" comes from an entry about planning community content on Linkedin.com. Mariam Cook answered a question there, and in her answer she used the term (log into linkedin required).

Essentially the concept is to make plans to create content and engagement with your community over a period of time.

The process of creating content may also engage community members. You might interview members of your community, or reach out to community members to write a post.

I recently went through the process of encouraging the creation of unique content on the AMA Boston Linkedin Group. I posted a request for a marketing case study related to tourism in the forum, and also reached out to community members who worked in the tourism industry. The outreach produced a great case study about ArtsBoston.org (access to AMA Boston LinkedIn Group required), which in turn generated several comments.

The participation calendar is about creating content, and may involve your community manager conducting outreach to audience members for them to create the content or to respond to published writing.

When creating content, you also have to realize that your community is at different stages in participation within a community, they may be a newbie or an old timer, so you have to create content, and conduct outreach to different types of community members to provide the sort of value that helps with retention and active participation.