Community Management: How to Nurture an Unsure User

So you’ve got your community up and running, and some people are taking to it like they were born with it, posting things, sharing things, in and out all day…

…while others are a bit more leisurely about adopting this function into their daily lives.

In fact, for some, you might even say they’re extremely tentative.

So tentative that you’re starting to think they may never be truly comfortable with the platform.

Helping someone get their comfort level up is part of my job. I have a whole collection of those “Aha!” moments.

What you may not expect

Sometimes, nurturing means knowing when to leave things—and people—alone.


Yoda has an answer for everything.

I feel a story coming on

I had a user in my Yammer community who was one of the aforementioned tentative souls, but she had also taken it upon herself to be a group admin.

Yammer is basically made up of groups, some big, some small. You can join a whole bunch or just keep a few on your radar.

You can also create your own group and by doing so, you become the group admin, until you abdicate, of course.

Yammer also lets you choose your group’s security level: Public or private.

Community managers like public groups. It’s in keeping with the whole Yammer philosophy of collaboration and transparency, breaking down those silos, and getting to know other people better.

As my friend and fellow Microsoft MVP Melanie Hohertz says, “You never know who knows something.”


I don’t know who these people are, but they sure look happy to see you. Found on

The kicker

This user’s group was private.

It was great that she wanted to admin a group! And sometimes group do need to be private despite any personal wishes of community managers.

But this particular group didn’t need to be private, never needed to be private, I had all these logical reasons why it shouldn’t be private—yet that one fact seemed to be the one secure constant she had.


This hermit’s cave doesn’t look half bad as a vacation home. From

There was only one thing to do

So I, spider-like, retreated.

I waited.

I lurked.

I offered help when asked. I offered ideas when not asked.

And finally we got to a point where she forgot to be tentative.

Instead, she was having fun!

She was actively inviting people to join. She’d chosen two other persons as co-admins. She told me periodically how much she loved seeing her group all alive and active with conversations. They even had offline meetups and took Yammer Notes.

And that’s when I swept back in and said, “You know, there are other groups JUST LIKE YOURS that would benefit from seeing this group do so well. Why don’t we make it a public group?”

And now for the grand reveal

The conversation as it actually happened (mostly):

Her: *qualms and quibbles*
Me: But nothing in your group is actually proprietary, right?
Her: Well no
Me: Let’s try it. It’s such a great example and you should be proud of what you’ve accomplished. You can always switch it back!

It’s been several months now. As I’d suspected, it’s still public.


Even more happy people we don’t know, from

But see, this wouldn’t have worked if…

Had I been bull-dozey and pushed her to do something she absolutely was not ready for, I never would have gotten to this point or this success.

Sometimes, even if you can clearly see the fantastic result at the end of the road, you have to remember that to the other person, there could be just a mean bunch of hills to climb.

One other thing to remember

I certainly don’t advise changing group statuses or any other details without checking over that group thoroughly. Because I knew this group didn’t have proprietary or exclusive information, I felt it would benefit from switching it to public, and that turned out to be true.

So be sure to consider both the purpose and the nature of the group you’re eyeballing before you change it up.

In what ways do you nurture YOUR community?


I really wanted to include a picture of a spider, and this little guy represents the only spider I’m not worried about: Robert Kraus’s Spider.

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