Monday Buzz: What Community Managers Can Learn From George R.R. Martin

The author is far more old-school techie than your average social media user, but his online community of choice has fully embraced that fact. Also: deep lessons from a leaked New York Times memo.

Last week, Game of Thrones scribe George R.R. Martin created a minor media frenzy when he revealed to Conan O’Brien that he still uses DOS and writes his stories on WordStar 4.0, a word processor initially released to the world in 1987.

That’s not the only way Martin goes old-school: As it turns out, he’s in select American celebrity company in that he still maintains a LiveJournal account; he defiantly named his LiveJournal “Not A Blog.” It represents a rarity in an era in which most celebrities would prefer to tweet.

But Martin’s platform of choice, while it may be slightly out of date, is anything but dead. The company behind the platform just launched a redesign, and rather than trying to compete with the Twitters and Tumblrs of the world, LiveJournal is fully embracing that its community doesn’t mind writing a long-winded scribble.

“Our users generate an amazing amount of deep content—half a million long-form posts a day,” CEO Katya Akudovich told TechCrunch. “These are not tweets; these are real long-form posts where people write some very interesting things. We have amazing communities too.”

For community managers, this might be something to not only appreciate but also embrace. Your community might not be evolving too much or pulling in the younger members, but if you show you’re not willing to scare off your core members, they’ll stick with you till the end of time—even if their idea of a good time is whipping out the ol’ 286 and pounding away on an IBM mechanical keyboard like the guy behind Game of Thrones.

Auditing the Times

The New York Times‘ leadership saga—the departure of top editor Jill Abramson under questionable circumstances—got a ton of coverage last week, but one of the most interesting aspects of the coverage floated around a major internal report created by the paper and leaked last week.

There are many interesting aspects of the report, which outlines an array of organizational issues—such as structure, planning, promotion, data analysis, and culture—that threaten the newspaper’s long-term future.

Harvard University’s Nieman Journalism Lab did a deep dive into the report, highlighting these problems, but the most telling individual detail might be this one: “Our Twitter account is run by the newsroom. Our Facebook is run by the business side.”

It doesn’t end there, nor does it start there, but it does ultimately show how internal challenges can create external problems—no matter the organization. (ht @NiemanLab)

Other Links of Note

Employees happy? There’s still plenty of reason to worry, explains contributor Jessica Stillman.

MemberClicks writer Sarah Hill, considering a point by the Metal Treating Institute’s Tom Morrison made a while back, offers a reminder of the value of analysis in member engagement.

Hate annual reviews? Fast Company suggests ways to make the process less annoying.

George R.R. Martin, speaking on "Conan" last week. (YouTube screenshot)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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