Community management plays a vital role in the success of mission-driven organizations. Recognizing the significance of fostering active and engaged communities, the very first edition of the Open Social Summit brought together community managers from renowned organizations such as WAGGGS, Greenpeace and the European Commision. Held at the vibrant WickedGrounds in Amsterdam on May 25th, this one-day in-person event provided a platform for sharing insights, discussing challenges and exploring effective strategies to build active and healthy communities.
In case you missed this year’s Summit we are happy to share the highlights and key insights with you!
15 years of Open Social
Jamila Kheil, Customer Success Manager at Open Social kicked off the Summit by welcoming our attendees and reflecting Open Social’s transformative journey while celebrating our 15-year anniversary as a company (hooray!). Jamila provided an overview of the company’s origin, and the founders’ passion to innovate in a space where there were significant gaps, resulting in the establishment of Open Social as a project and company. Despite encountering various challenges along the way, including a global pandemic, the company persisted, leading to continued growth and innovations. For more about our journey, check out our blog for more detail.
Next up on the agenda was a keynote speech from Taco Potze, CEO and co-Founder of Open Social. Taco discussed the future of Open Social and a soon-to-be-revealed project that we have in the works (it’s a good one, you’ll just have to trust us!)
Towards a Community Experience Platform (CXP)
One of the key topics that dominated discussions at The Summit was the underlying reasons why community members often refrain from engaging or sharing within online community spaces. Our Head of Product, Moritz Arendt, highlighted the importance of civic engagement in building a sustainable society, while discussing Open Social’s goal of empowering mission-driven organizations. He detailed our stakeholder-centric approach, product enhancements, and plans for the future including performance measurement, multilingual components, GraphQL API transformation and more. As a Community Experience Platform (CXP) at its core, Open Social aims to integrate more technological systems and user data to enhance content delivery. Moritz also challenged the notion that “busyness” alone is responsible for low online participation. Instead, he delved into deeper issues such as unclear guidelines or insufficient value propositions.
Lessons from WAGGGS Campfire
The summit featured an array of speakers who provided invaluable insights into effective strategies for building active communities. One of these speakers was Manuela Capraro, Head of Mission at The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). From onboarding to ongoing engagement, attendees gained practical knowledge to enhance their community management practices from hearing about how WAGGGS addresses their community challenges within their Open Social Campfire platform. Manuela shared WAGGGS’ experiences, highlighting successful initiatives they implemented to promote vibrant online spaces.
The Open Social Design Philosophy
Next on the stage was Victoria Vorobiova, Lead Designer at Open Social, presenting an intriguing case study at the Open Social Summit 2023 about going beyond a client’s initial request to uncover the true needs of users. Victoria used a client request for the Resource Library as an example to demonstrate Open Social’s Feature Objectives methodology. This approach helped clarify the purpose of the Resource Library feature, its audience, challenges, user values, and potential solutions. The key learnings from the session were the importance of asking ‘why’ when receiving requests, exploring problems from various perspectives, and the crucial role of empathy in understanding user needs and struggles.
Applying the Communities of Practice Playbook
At the Open Social Summit, Frederic Williquet, one of the brains behind the Communities of Practice Playbook, shared his insights on the playbook’s development and its practical application. The playbook, backed by extensive research and drawing from the experiences of 35 community managers, offers actionable techniques to address common challenges and maximize opportunities in community management. The playbook emphasizes three key components for successful communities: co-ownership, collaboration (dubbed as the “Seven Seas”), and effective community management. The playbook describes the importance of fostering a shared vision, implementing clear governance structures, and creating safe and inclusive spaces.
Lessons learned from the Education of Climate Community
During the summit, Frederic Williquet, who works with the European Commission, presented a compelling case study on the journey of building the Education for Climate community. This case study shed light on the initial hurdles and eventual triumphs of establishing a digital community focused on climate education. Launched 16 months ago, the community now boasts approximately 6.500 members, with 1.000 actively participating in a range of events.
This initiative’s success underscores the significance of continuous feedback, adaptation and co-creation in community management. It further emphasizes the pivotal role that such communities play in addressing pressing global issues like climate change.
Frederic Williquet’s contributions to both the Communities of Practice Playbook and the Education for Climate community exemplify the knowledge and experience shared at the Open Social Summit. Community managers at the event gained invaluable insights into building and managing thriving communities, supported by real-life case studies and a practical playbook framework.
Peer-to-Peer Networking and Collaboration
In addition to the presentations, the summit provided ample opportunities for community managers to connect and learn from each other during various social activities. Peer-to-peer networking sessions allowed participants to share challenges, exchange best practices and find inspiration from diverse perspectives. Experts in community management from organizations such as the United Nations, the European Commission, WAGGGS, FMO, Oxfam, Greenpeace, and Amnesty were present, offering valuable insights into their own experiences and success stories.
The Summit continued with a series of inspiring talks, including one by Shubh Panwala and Sonia Vargas, who presented their platform, “Together in Germany.” The objective of this initiative is to assist migrants and refugees in seamlessly integrating into German society. Notably, the platform offers valuable information in nine different languages and operates on the reliable open-source system of Open Social. Despite facing initial challenges, the project has flourished, and the team is now focused on further enhancing the user experience and introducing personalized counselling services for even greater support.
Harnessing the Power of Community
The summit finished by showcased the transformative power of technology in community efforts, featuring inspiring talks by Taco Potze, CEO of Open Social and Roy Vikovych from Lemberg Solutions. Taco shared the story of “Twente for Ukraine“, a community-driven initiative to provide humanitarian aid during the war in Ukraine. The Dutch community demonstrated remarkable strength, organizing and delivering supplies not only into Ukraine but also to local refugees in the Netherlands. Additionally, Roy Vikovych from Lemberg Solutions, Open Social’s long standing development partner based in Ukraine, presented a moving account of their resilience and perseverance amidst the war, highlighting the profound impact of community and technology in times of crisis.
See you in 2024?
The Annual Summit of Mission-Driven Organizations served as a transformative event for community managers seeking to enhance their community management practices. Attendees gained a deep understanding of the factors influencing community member participation, along with a range of strategies to foster active and healthy communities. The networking opportunities allowed professionals from various organizations to connect, collaborate, and draw inspiration from each other’s experiences. By harnessing the power of Open Social, mission-driven organizations can continue to cultivate vibrant communities that drive positive change in their respective domains. As the summit drew to a close, participants left with newfound knowledge, actionable insights, and a renewed commitment to building thriving communities.
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