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Norm's Notes

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Online Community Managers

For all exchange administrators

They promote their websites.

“If you build it, they will come” is a nice idea for creating a baseball stadium in a cornfield in Iowa but it doesn’t work for online communities. Whether it’s through sending out press releases, or by doing interviews with the media, or by asking registrants to pick up & distribute flyers, successful website managers are promoters. Promote.

They use the email newsletter built into iWasteNot’s software to remind account holders that the website is still here.

Websites ‘pull people in’. Emails ‘push messages out’.

Use the built in email function to let account holders know that there’s something interesting at the website. Highlight the latest, or the weirdest, or the funniest listings; mention upcoming events such as back-to-school or thanksgiving or ‘the honey harvest festival. Or what’s new with reuse & recycling in our town. Broadcast.

They make sure the website is current.

Websites with static content are like museums. How many of you make weekly visits to the same museum year after year?

Change the news, update the recycling guide. Get your website busy enough so that listings appear and disappear quickly. Keep it fresh.

They use the Recyclopedia and the Directories and the Calendar to make their websites more attractive to visitors.

If you’re just using the waste exchange as just a waste exchange, you’re missing some of the best features of the website. We provide you with a ‘free of charge’ recycling/reuse guide, and ‘as many directories as you can fit in and manage’. So why not set up your directories so people in your community can locate the nearest bike repair shop, or the place that takes used appliances, or the thrift shops, etc. And so that businesses in your community can register to be part of the directories (and part of the reuse & recycling or food or biomass or agriculture or non-profit) community. Build out and expand your website.

They ask the community to help.

Use the website to ask people in the community to help out. The most successful residential waste exchange we have in terms of activity per capita is Grays Harbor County in Washington State. The service is so successful because ‘many hands make lighter work’. Get Volunteer Help.

They put on a push at the beginning.

Building a community takes more energy than maintaining a community. Once a community gets rolling, it only needs little pushes from time to time. But until your service gets a base of perhaps 200 people, there isn’t enough ‘happening’ for people to continue to use it. Start it rolling.

They have fun.

It’s important to reduce, reuse and recycle BUT….people just want to have fun. Let your guard down, and enjoy the unique experience of managing an online community! Be yourself. Have fun

NEW: We've added more options to the Email Members function

For all exchange administrators

When emailing your members from the Email Members control panel you could either send an email to All Members or All Members with Listings. We have added more options; you can now also send an email to:

On all exchanges:

  • All members with available listings
  • All members with wanted listings

On Food exchanges only:

  • All Producer/Farmers
  • All Nonprofits
  • All Consumers

See release notice here:

NEW: Operator pane

For all exchange administrators

We've added a new 'Operator' pane that can be enabled on your exchange. In this section, text is displayed that reads: “This exchange is managed by” and displays the logo of the organization the exchanged is managed and/or operated by (which links to that website). This new panel is enabled on SharedHarvest Metro Vancouver. If you would like this section included on your exchange, please let us know, and we'd be happy to add it for you.

See release notice 4.86.23:

Picture this

For all exchange administrators

Post a News and Info article about adding a photo to a listing.

Here’s how:

  1. Click on the News control panel
  2. Click on the Add News Item link
  3. Add the following suggested text:

Title: Want to give away or sell your item quicker?

Description: Add a photo to your listing

Body: When browsing for items, most people like to actually see what they are looking for. Adding a photo to your listing is a great way to get more people to look at it, which in turn means you have a better chance of selling or giving away your item.

It's easy to do, just follow the on-screen instructions when posting your listing.

Start Date: default date is date you add the article

End Date: leave this blank to keep the article there permanently or enter the date you want the article to stop displaying on.

  1. Click [Preview]
  2. Check your text and if it OK, click [Submit]

The article will then display in the News and Info section of your exchange.


Having a hard time finding the right words to describe your collection of Bill Clinton miniatures? A picture says it all.

Note: In addition to being delicious, having fresh fruit on hand can be quite helpful in representing the scale of small items. Mandarin not included.

In the Spotlight

Emily Brooks, administrator of Shared Harvest Connecticut

Emily Brooks

You launched your exchange just over two months ago and you already have almost 300 members and over 50 listings. Could you tell us a bit about how you accomplished this?

One of the most important things we did was build out an Inbound Marketing Platform. We created tutorials and landing pages on our website, we promoted Shared Harvest throughout the social media sphere (Facebook and Twitter) and we have continued to blog about Buy Local Connecticut: Shared Harvest Connecticut.

The other important thing that we’ve done—not just for awareness of the site among users, but overall successful functionality of the Shared Harvest platform—was to create solid and lasting partnerships. We have created partnerships with food gleaners such as Food Runners CT, the CT Material Trader, and others. Nothing succeeds when it stands alone – especially websites. Partnerships are key to cross-spectrum awareness! These partnerships allow us to use the Shared Harvest platform to help organizations meet their various needs.

We’re working with the City of Stamford and the Stamford Economic Development Committee reduce the amount of city garbage. Sound like a stretch for an online farm market? No way! Shared Harvest also has a food donation component. Using our partnerships, we’re able to use Shared Harvest in more ways than a simple online food exchange. We also believe in a lot of education. I have quite a few meetings with Chefs, sitting down and walking through the site with them in a one-on-one tutorial. I also know the constituency posting items on the exchange. I can broker direct connections which make the site have DIRECT VALUE for it’s users.

Do you think social network sites like Facebook and Twitter help promote your exchange? If so, how?

Absolutely! We are quickly coming to the age where most of our marketing and information will be electronic and not in paper form. The responses to Facebook and Twitter will only grow exponentially over the next 5 years or so as we continue to make this transition.

You had a contest running a little while ago. Can you tell us about that and how it helped your exchange?

We had a CREATE YOUR OWN FARMER BLING contest. We offer branded materials – shirts, mugs, etc – bearing the Buy Local Connecticut: Shared Harvest Connecticut logo and information. With the contest, we allowed our constituency to determine whatever phrases they’d like to see on paraphernalia. Then, it went to a public online vote. It was fun, and generated a great deal of awareness about Shared Harvest and a great deal of giggles, too. My favorite, which didn’t win: “My Farmer’s Cucumber is bigger than Your Farmer’s.”

What do you find are the biggest challenges about running an exchange?

Time management. The Exchange websites are easy to manage . . . so easy that it is difficult to remember to be PROACTIVE. A week can go by – two weeks – three weeks – without any site problems popping up in your inbox. Likewise, it is out-of-site-out-of-mind. I have to put “grow shared harvest” on my calendar weekly so that I don’t forget!

Are there any notable results you’d like to share about your exchange?

We’ve placed 5 chefs in employment through the site and sold over 200 CSA shares. That’s a bit out-of-the box for a Shared Harvest exchange!

Tell us something about yourself.

I played violin growing up – and in high school was third chair of the Youth Symphony. My last concert was Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the full Symphony Orchestra and a 100-member chorale. The sound was so powerful, we all had to keep adjusting our chairs as they skidded around on the vibrating stage. One of my favorite memories.

New Exchanges

We welcome our newest exchange partners to the growing iWasteNot Systems community!

Shared Harvest Metro Vancouver
Type of Exchange: Food
Site Administrator: Erin Nichols
Client: FarmFolkCityFolk


Chicago Soil and Rubble Exchange
Type of Exchange: Soil and Rubble
Site Administrator: Leigh Peters
Client: City of Chicago

Quick Tip

Update your Contact Information in the Contact Information admin control panel. We've added new features which allow you to show a lot more information.


Bits and Bytes

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