Top Highlights from Swarm Conference 2018

by Erin Tierney September 16, 2018

Couldn’t make it to Swarm Conference 2018? We have the top highlights from our fabulous speakers right here:


  • Cesar Castro from Salesforce kicked off the first workshop with a journey into mapping for community – it’s important to look at what experience that you want to create for your community. You wouldn’t start building a house without knowing how many people are going to be in it, so why would you build a community without knowing how many people (and they experience they will receive) will be in it? Central to this, you need to have a shared purpose with your community, what can you do for your community, what can your community do for you and what can you do together?


  • Tarleton Gillespie, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research New England, shared insights from his latest book – Custodians of the Internet, and how there are challenges regarding platform self-reporting such as reviewer bias, flag gaming, psychological harm and problems of translation.


  • Taking us through the importance of champions, Christopher Banks from mental health powerhouse Beyond Blue, shared that these community super-users are key to establishing, building and maintaining connections that we as community managers, are unable to do. These people are your authority to influence the rest of the membership and allow all members to feel that they own the community.


  • Representation matters! Indigenous X founder, Luke Pearson found himself thrust into the spotlight as ‘the guy who tweets’. He inspired the room with tips on indigenous representation and the importance of not limiting your community to one voice speaking on behalf of many.


  • Bind Founder, Kirsten Wagenaar, helped define community, shared the importance of a mission and why you should really look at owning your own community rather than utilising existing social media platforms. By utilising a content and activities calendar, you have one document detailing content, people and roles, needs of the community, online and offline integration and other calendars within your organisation.


  • Social Capital is important for every community, as per Christine Mollernberdt from community giant Reddit, with 96M comments per month and a team of only 12, they have built up an incredible amount of social capital through trust, transparency and having fun with the community. Social capital isn’t a static number, however, and community drama, unpopular forum features and insincerity will eat into your capital.


  • One topic that was highly anticipated was community health with Ben Leong from Envato, who shared that regular pitfalls in measuring community health are vanity metrics and NPS scores. To measure whether your community is healthy you need to set targets around your community outputs.


  • One aspect of community management that we’re all familiar with is building community on a shoestring with Shreyas Narayanan Kitty, sharing with us all how he fell into community management from engineering, but also that organic user acquisition trumped any paid campaigns – which included simple door knocking! If you give people a sense of belonging, recognition and reward, they will participate.


Swarm Conference is always an incredible and inspiring two days which bring community managers from around Australia (and the world) together. Swarm will be returning to Sydney in 2019, keep your eye out for more details!