*Rough* Notes from the Online Community Roundtable: 1/11 at Salon.com / The WELL

<img src=”http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4062/4275223112_c8cdaf25d1.jpg&#8221; align=”left” alt=”” /> We started the 2010 series of Online Community Roundtables last Monday, January 11th in San Francisco at the offices of Salon.com / The WELL. Salon hosted ~ 30 of us (THANK YOU!), and we had 3 hours of fantastic conversation about our collective experiences in 2009, and most importantly, where we are going as an industry in 2010, and how community professionals can help support each other.

Organizations present included: Autodesk, Apple, Salon.com / The WELL, Overtone, Answers.com, Cisco, Peachpit Press, Zendesk, the SF Symphony, blurb.com and TechSoup. We had several independents in the room as well, including Randy Farmer and Cliff Figallo.

What follows are rough notes from the Roundtable, compiled by Gam Dias of Overtone (@gammydodger) and Randy Farmer (@frandallfarmer), one of the godfathers of online community, and co-author of @BuildingRep. Caveat: thesse are rough, mostly unedited notes. I’ve attempted to highlight some of the gems (and there are many) in bold. 

We started by brainstorming a list of key areas for potential advancement in 2010. 

What problems do we need to solve collectively?
How do we fully engage executives?

Community Team Hiring Practices

  • What does the community team look like? What are the roles?
  • Job Description templates?
  • Screening Practices?


  • Identity
  • Reputation
  • How should platforms evolve?


  • How do we get them in place?
  • How do we get leverage to make the strategy happen?
  • How do we monitize?
  • What are the metrics?
  • These are hard to measure, how do we deal with that?
  • Context is king


Lot of lists of what to measure – lots of web analytics available, but as a group can we talk about how these metrics are tied to strategy – what is the measurement process, communities have their own needs, revenue is only one aspect

For example, engagement has different meanings for different communities – so this is what I measure, and this is how I derive what I measure –

What are the strategic contexts for measurement – how do you pick the appropriate contexts

Contexts – Two extremes that have emerged, marketing centric (trying to reach your customers) and community centric (user generated content), if you only have those contexts, the systems are very different and therefore the metrics – the definition of community is per context

How to set that definition for your context (Randy – in the last two years, have advised clients not to have their own social networks, rather to piggyback e.g. using facebook connect)

Suggesting creating patterns for community definition and strategy – 3 types of community (from Cliff Figalo) – singular / audience / bazaar – can start describing our community as a pattern – this may be a good place to start.

Always been fascinated by value – passion and commitment – of individuals who will make a community happen – how can we identify and quantify these – one thing that is different about The Well is that people get to know each other on whole different contexts

Having had to screen candidates, lots of qualified and experienced people from both marketing and community perspectives – sometimes they want a brand blogger, othertimes they want a true community manager – if we start to differentiate roles, then these may help polarize things

How many people have participated in writing job descriptions and been satisfied / unsatisfied with the final job desc used by HR


What is “Online Community”, “Social Media” and “Conversation”

Still lots of reguritation of cluetrain regarding ‘conversation’.

How can we pitch Community to the sponsoring organization as something that creates value – so a definition that we are happy to share with our boss.

A conversation is that people are prepared to listen, that evolves, that is considered

We may have some issues with scale here – could a good conversation be had with small numbers of people?

Why are these conversations good to be had within a community versus 1:1

Audience is the difference here – even though 2 people are driving the conversation, the audience is what differentiates a community from a 1:1 discussion

Lurkers are an undervalued aspect of communities

There is a tension that we can leverage – things that can attract attention create more value that pulls back in the lurkers (who are also part of the community) – this is different to the broadcast messages from a company

Lurkers contribute attention and this may be just as valuable to the community – they may consume the advertising thereby generating revenue or they may contribute later on

Spectrum of one way to bi-direction to multiple dimensional conversations (extropy – emergent order)

So what is community?

Community formed by interaction over time – Over time being the key statement that turns interaction into context

Since the explosion of social media – community can be anything – people can feel a sense of community or feel part of one – particularly if their views are being represented by the conversation

Part of the design of a community includes giving back to the community as a whole – people who want to give their knowledge and expertise back to the community for whatever reason

What makes a yahoo group different to a message board – the difference (in this context) was membership.

Twitter is a membership structure – but the content in there is public

All communities will have a unique key structure –

Is the confusion about the word community because we see meatspace communities and purely online

The word Community is in vogue a buzz word that is completely confusing

What is the difference between community and social media – social media is the technology of twitter and is not automatically a community

For the opensalon community – it is social media because you can subscribe and follow blogs, but there is also participation. I can swing by a blog read and leave comments which makes me a participant, but if there is recurrence and reciprocation makes this community

Who owns the conversation inside a community  – who owns the blog?

Lit blogger and Book bloggers – book bloggers all acted as a community versus lit bloggers are broadcast editorial blogging

So what’s a blog? Sequential posts versus a conversation

Who is having an impact on a community – Francois G and @jowang commented that the colonists within a community are also important, @gravity7 commented that nomads are also important

Multiple hubs can stretch a community over time and

Vendors who interact with the community are valuable (cisco) – adding the shameless self-promotion district

#OCTRIBE tag – homework to explore this what is community, socialmedia, conversation – anyone want to lead this initiative? Randy volunteered 🙂

Conversations, Attention, Community, Social Media

“Community is formed by interaction over time.” – Gail quoting Cliff. 🙂

“People can feel a sense of community even if they don’t actively contribute…” – Cliff

Does RL Community definition mess stuff up?

Scott More separates Social Media (technology) from Community (behavior) – trust among the members.

Membership, not necessarily reciprocity.


What is the job description of a community manager?

Loyalty Marking, The Face, Community Relationship Facilitator, Den Mother, Editor, Advocate to the Organization

Metrics and Sentiment

Scott – Don’t be the ONLY representation of the community.

Janitor not Rockstar – Nina Simon

“I am here to deal with your problems, you’re here to make the party”

Communities require engineering/product design

Conversation facilitator

Fostering loyalty – increase awareness

Editorial role on content

Advocacy to show return on community investment

Being the public face of the organization

To listen and reflect the organization back to the community

Represent the community to the organization (via color coded sentiment and topic)

Don’t be the only representative and the sole person or lone voice – (the community should not die when the manager leaves)

Analyst – metrics but teaching people how to derive their own metrics

Product design advocacy – communities require engineering support

Are you human – how much of your own personality do you / are you allowed to inject into the community

In large communities, the members know when they are being shilled

Apologizer – knowing how to apologize well is a very valuable skill

Rodeo Clown – to divert the anger that other members have against each other

This is not a single role – these aspects could be shared into another

A theme this year for many organization is the maturity of the community team inside the organization, and the natural evolution of the community manager role into specializations within the community team. 

Here are a couple:

Curator – what is the answer to this question, how good is this answer, Welcoming (greeter), Policing – vandal control (from wikianswers)

Host – Community Manager – Manager (from apple) – thinking about the difference between on-domain and off-domain communities. This org lives in Support, so difficult to determine Apple’s role in social media esp from Customer Care – particularly because of the strength and

Social properties – tracking conversations, then connecting the community with the organization – community managed by Marketing (VM)


Real Time Feedback Loops
Rich Reader led a discussion about real time feedback loops (more here: http://richreader.blogspot.com/2009/12/real-time-feedback-loops-raise-value-of.html)

How real time feedback loops contribute to panel discussions – like eating a meal you don’t remember

(Happened at online community meetup as well as Danah Boyd at #w2e)

How do you use real time feedback to increase innovation?

Lots of followers listening into online conversations

What’s the conclusion of a feedback loop – panel has consolidated and synthesized the feedback, written it up and re-circulated it, then re-solicited the team to get further comments

Can increase the audience to widen the inputs – discussion for first week of Feb for Social Media week

New book called the Backchannel – about integrating Social Media into presentations

Posted via web from Social Architect

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