Meet Jason Hill, award-winning journalist and local community management legend.
Jason was a pioneer in Australian tech journalism and founded the popular Screen Play blog for Fairfax, which sparked his passion for online communities.
Jason later moved onto community management roles in government, the technology sector and retail. This smart cookie has been part of the Swarm community since the beginning, and also happens to be one of our very favourite people.
At Swarm 2019 Jason is digging into belonging – what it really means, how we cultivate it, and how fragile is in our communities.
What do you think people misunderstand about Belonging (especially in the context of creating community)?
Everyone understands that relationships are one of our most fundamental needs. It is through others that we derive purpose, love, acceptance, belonging.
Human connection is essential sustenance. Some people are dismissive that real connection and a genuine sense of belonging can be found in online communities.
It is easy to be cynical when there are so many high-profile examples of toxic behaviour online. But as community managers we can help create and foster spaces that can enable people to build relationships that are genuine, strong and long-lasting.
We can help create communities that people are proud to belong to, and that provide immeasurable value to people’s lives.
What’s the worst reason you’ve heard in your career for starting a community?
That’s probably a better question for Richard Millington! His research into how so many branded communities have failed should be essential reading for anyone crazy enough to try to build their own.
What’s common from my point of view is that there was rarely a community-first mindset. The venture was really all about how a brand could extract something from the members rather than asking them what they needed.
It particularly grates when I see brands pretending that market research is community-minded.
What do you consider the most exciting thing about the community management space today?
It’s still the same thing that excited me when I first got started: that bringing people together matters.
I am always astonished at how much knowledge there is out there about even the most obscure topic. When you harness that, when you tap into that generous spirit that so many people have to share their experience, knowledge and passion, it is amazing.
And the biggest challenge?
That community is still under-valued in most organisations.
That proving return on investment is not always easy.
That we are still relatively immature as a profession and keep having to reinvent the wheel.
What are you reading/watching/listening to right now that all community professionals should read/watch/listen to?
They both focus on the experiences of Aboriginal people in Australia, and the stories are resonating long after I turned the last pages.
Both books are deeply unsettling while also offering so much to celebrate and learn from – particularly the importance of family, community and culture.
Why should community peeps come to Swarm?
You will be inspired, informed and educated. There’s always great value making connections and learning from other community managers across different sectors.
Get to know more awesome Swarm 2019 speakers: