Category: Online Community Roundtable

Online Community Unconference: Help make it the largest!

We have had an unbelievable response to the upcoming Online Community Unconference to be held June 18th. Registration numbers are just shy of 200 people, and we expect to hit 250. We think this will be the biggest event, this year, focused on online communities.

We have a wide range of organizations, industries and personalities coming, including: Adobe, Autodesk, BabyCenter, CafePress, Cisco, Civic Ventures, Comcast, Digg, eBay Research Labs, EdgiLabs, Flickr, Forrester Research, Google, Intuit, Jive Software, Link TV, LinkedIn, NetApp, Omidyar Network, O’Reilly Media, Six Apart, Social Edge, Sony Online Entertainment, SRI International, Starlight Starbright Children’s Foundation, Sun, VMWare and YouTube.

To see the full list of folks coming, check out the registration page:
http://ocu2008.eventbrite.com

If you are charged with managing online communities or community strategy for your organization, this will be a fantastic event for you. The agenda is participant driven, the networking is fantastic, and the content will be fantastic.

Next Online Community Roundtable: 4/24 @ Six Apart in SF

For those of you in the Bay Area:
I wanted to let you know that the next Online Community Roundtable will be held Thursday, 4/24 in SF. The fine folks at Six Apart will host.

MORE INFO
The Roundtables have been a regular, but intentionally “under the radar” gathering since July of 2005. The intention of the events is to provide an open and safe environment for community practitioners to share experiences and best practices. It’s also an excellent excuse to have a cocktail and meet other interesting people in the space.

Ground Rules:
* No sponsorships. Host organization provides space, food and beverages
* No pitches. Presentations should be about sharing experiences, having a discussion about a problem or issue you are facing, or reviewing a project or site you are working on.
* The final guest list is up to Bill
* Bill sets final agenda based on topic appropriateness and time available
* “Soft” NDA: Blogging event is ok, unless presenter asks you not to.

Format:
5:30 – 6:30 Networking hour.
Drinks and food will be available.

6:30 – 8:30 Presentations.
After the networking hour, we’ll share thoughts on community. We request that you bring a 1-2 slide deck to talk to. Topics can range from:

* A report back from a conference
* A new community that you have recently launched
* A feature that you are developing, or are interested in discussing
* Challenges that you are facing in developing, growing or managing your community
* Or any other topic that you feel would be appropriate and enlightening to this audience.

Interested in attending? Drop me a line: bjohnston@forumone.com

Want to keep up to date on Online Community Roundtable activities? Join the Facebook group.

Notes from the Online Community Roundtable, 3/12/08 @ Microsoft

Cross-posted from the Online Community Report.

We had a fantastic group of people at the Online Community Roundtable Wednesday (3/12) evening on Microsoft campus in Redmond.

Bob Rebholz of the Windows Live team was our host, and we scored space in the MS conference center (which rivals SAP Labs as the nicest space we have Rountabled in).

We had folks from Microsoft, Forum One, Intel, Full Circle Associates, OCLC, The Gates Foundation, Telligent, Trusera, VML and the University of Washington.

A few highlights from the evening:

User Experience: Categories vs. Folksonomies
The folks from the OCLC were struggling with the issue of wanting to introduce folksonomical content structures in to their site, and how to either compliment or replace hierarchical category structures.

Invitation and Community Growth
Trusera asked questions around growing community membership via “invitation”. Specifically, they are struggling with balancing growth velocity and member quality. The invitation process ensures quality by inviting “known” potential members and assuming members of their network are trustworthy. The problem is that this i generally a slow way to grow a network (gmail is an obvious exception to this statement).

Internal Usage Adoption

How do you incentivize internal staff and organization members to use new social tools? This question was posed by a non-profit foundation that is trying to roll out a new collaboration toolset, and is trying to asses the best path forward. Feedback from the roundtable group was: start small, test & get feedback (but pay attention to what they do as well as what they say), and ensure that the tools actually facilitate and enhance existing workflow, not disrupt or add overhead to it.

Qualifying and Representing “Activity”

The last session started as a conversation on incenting users, but to me, one of the most interesting dimensions was around tracking, qualifying and representing activity in a social system. The example given was tracking what help and training content someone read on a community, and then representing this as a level of “knowledge” via a widget on that persons profile on various social systems.

After every roundtable (including this one) I’m always struck by the caliber of folks working in this space, the level of real-world knowledge they posses, and they generous nature and willingness to share.

My notes are short, but we had two superstar notetakers (one was also a super-tweeter) in the room. For a play by play (and thanks to both Nancy and Teresa), please check out:

Notes from the Seattle Online Community Meetup – Nancy White

A Vertitable Online Community Smörgåsbord – Teresa Valdez Klein

Would you like to be invited to the next roundtable, or are you interested in hosting? Please drop me a note.

Want to keep up with Roundtable activities? Join the Facebook group.

Notes from the Online Community Roundtable, 3/12 @ Microsoft

Cross-posted from the Online Community Report.

We had a fantastic group of people at the Online Community Roundtable Wednesday (3/12) evening on Microsoft campus in Redmond.

Bob Rebholz of the Windows Live team was our host, and we scored space in the MS conference center (which rivals SAP Labs as the nicest space we have Rountabled in).

We had folks from Microsoft, Forum One, Intel, Full Circle Associates, OCLC, The Gates Foundation, Telligent, Trusera, VML and the University of Washington.

A few highlights from the evening:

User Experience: Categories vs. Folksonomies
The folks from the OCLC were struggling with the issue of wanting to introduce folksonomical content structures in to their site, and how to either compliment or replace hierarchical category structures.

Invitation and Community Growth
Trusera asked questions around growing community membership via “invitation”. Specifically, they are struggling with balancing growth velocity and member quality. The invitation process ensures quality by inviting “known” potential members and assuming members of their network are trustworthy. The problem is that this i generally a slow way to grow a network (gmail is an obvious exception to this statement).

Internal Usage Adoption

How do you incentivize internal staff and organization members to use new social tools? This question was posed by a non-profit foundation that is trying to roll out a new collaboration toolset, and is trying to asses the best path forward. Feedback from the roundtable group was: start small, test & get feedback (but pay attention to what they do as well as what they say), and ensure that the tools actually facilitate and enhance existing workflow, not disrupt or add overhead to it.

Qualifying and Representing “Activity”

The last session started as a conversation on incenting users, but to me, one of the most interesting dimensions was around tracking, qualifying and representing activity in a social system. The example given was tracking what help and training content someone read on a community, and then representing this as a level of “knowledge” via a widget on that persons profile on various social systems.

After every roundtable (including this one) I’m always struck by the caliber of folks working in this space, the level of real-world knowledge they posses, and they generous nature and willingness to share.

My notes are short, but we had two superstar notetakers (one was also a super-tweeter) in the room. For a play by play (and thanks to both Nancy and Teresa), please check out:

Notes from the Seattle Online Community Meetup – Nancy White

A Vertitable Online Community Smörgåsbord – Teresa Valdez Klein

Would you like to be invited to the next roundtable, or are you interested in hosting? Please drop me a note.

Want to keep up with Roundtable activities? Join the Facebook group.

Online Community Roundtable: 2/28 @ Forrester – a report back

We had a great group of social media and community strategists at the Online Community Roundtable at Forrester last night. A BIG thanks to Jeremiah Owyang and his colleagues at Forrester for hosting.

We had a range of organizations and perspectives represented, from non-profit, to startup to large commercial organizations. In attendance (cribbed from Jeremiah’s notes) were Intel, Webex, CyWorld, Charles and Helen Schwab Organization, Cadence, YouTube, Lithium, Leverage, LiveWorld, MotiveLab, Ringcube, Intuit, Symantec, VM Ware, Wyse, Babycenter, Tesla Motors, Joyent, SixApart, On24. Chris

We start the evening with an hour of networking, which gives folks time to unwind and chat… and in this case de-stress from the horrible traffic. I generally start pestering folks to sign up for discussion lead slots about 30 minutes before the main session starts. We had six open slots last night, which led to 90 minutes of great discussion.

The sessions were:
1. Rich Reader: Netsquared Mashup Challenge
Rich gave an overview of the the N2Y3 Mashup Challenge. Form the Challenge FAQ it “is all about helping projects gain new insight into the data that applies to their mission-based activities. We believe that sharper insight leads to smarter decision-making about how best to spend limited resources and time.”
http://www.netsquared.org/mashup

2. Jenna Woodul and Mark Williams – LiveWorld- “Online Community Redevelopment”
Jenna and Mark walked us through a case study on reclaiming a community gone wild. The keys? Expressing and modeling the desired culture, refining the role of moderator, and, in some cases, giving the members who want to run wild a place to play that is away from the general community population.

3. Charlene Li – Forrester – “Future of Social Networks”
Charlene gave us a sneak peak at her Graphing Social Patterns presentation. I don’t think it would be fair to her to give a full brain dump of this before the conference, but one of the most interesting ideas she put forward was the coming shift from “activities happening on social networks” to “social networks happening on top of activities”

4. Ken Kaplan – Intel – “Storytelling”
Ken led a discussion on the importance of storytelling in marketing activities in general, but also the importance of allowing the community to participate in the narrative.

5. Angie Ryan – Cyworld – “Casual Gaming, Social Networks, 3D Space / VR”
Angie led a very interesting discussion on virtual worlds, and gave a comparison of Cyworld Korea with Cyworld US.

6. Chris Kenton – MotiveLab “Marketing Integration”
Chris gave an accelerated history of marketing session. The money quote? Today’s marketers are 2 generations removed from

Again, a big thanks to Jeremiah and the folks at Forrester for hosting. Want to get on the Roundtable invite list? Email me or join the Rountable Facebook group.

Roundtable at Forrester 2/28: FULL (was -Still have a couple of seats)

Update: 5:00pm
we are full! Awesome group of folks coming, including:
Autodesk, Intel, Joyen, WebEx, Cyworld, babycenter, Tesla Motors, Cisco, TechSoup and Symantec.

I’ll post a follow up tomorrow with details!

The next Online Community Roundtable is tomorrow (Thursday, 2/28) in Foster City, from 5:30 – 8:30. Jeremiah Owyang and the folks at Forrester will host.If you are interested in attending, please drop me a note. I have a couple of seats open.

Organzations attending include: Cyworld, Cisco, VMWare, WebEx, Joyent, Intel, and Symantec.The Roundtables have been a regular, but intentionally “under the radar” gathering since July of 2005.

The intention of the events is to provide an open and safe environment for community practitioners to share experiences and best practices. It’s also an excellent excuse to have a cocktail and meet other interesting people in the space.

To get an idea of what happens at one of the Roundtables, check out this report back from a previous Roundtable at SAP.

Microsoft is hosting a Roundtable on 3/12 on campus in Redmond. Please drop me a note if you are interested in attending that one as well.

OC Unconference East: What to expect during topic selection

We are just 2 days away from the Online Community Unconference East in NYC. We still have about 5 open seats for those or you in the NYC area. You can register at: http://www.ocue.eventbrite.com

There is a really diverse mix of organizations coming, including: BlogHer Inc., Mediabistro, CMP, HP, Gartner, Autodesk, AOL, Texas Instruments, Microsoft, Consumers Union, Zagat, TV Guide, allfacebook.com, Business Week, and Cyworld.

So, how does this work?
The premise of our Unconference series is that the best source of information on the topic of online communities is the community of folks building and managing online communities. The Unconference format provides a venue for folks to lead discussions about topics they are most passionate and knowledgeable about. At the end of the day, attendees walk away with new ideas, perspectives, and a long list of new professional connections.

One of the most amazing parts of the day at our Unconferences is the topic selection process. We are fortunate to have Kaliya Hamlin guiding us through the process again in New York.

The topic selection process starts the Unconference, when any attendee who wishes can come forward, announce a topic, and claim one of the 45-50 open slots on the grid.

Within 35-40 minutes the grid fills up with topics and the first session kicks off. It’s really inspiring to hear all of the topics that are suggested, and to see so many great ideas come together on the grid.

If you would like to see an example of the great content that comes out of an Unconference, please check out the Online Community Unconference 07 wiki. I would encourage you to spend some time looking through the session notes as there is a lot of great content.

Again – we have about 5 seats still available for the Unconference in NYC this Thursday, 2/21. If you would like a seat, register here.

Next Online Community Roundtable: 2/28 @ Forrester Research

The next Online Community Roundtable will be held Thursday, 2/28 in Foster City. Jeremiah Owyang and the folks at Forrester will host.

If you are interested in attending, please drop me a note.

Also, please note that capacity for this event is 25, so first come, first served. I expect this to fill up.

The Roundtables have been a regular, but intentionally “under the radar” gathering since July of 2005. The intention of the events is to provide an open and safe environment for community practitioners to share experiences and best practices. It’s also an excellent excuse to have a cocktail and meet other interesting people in the space.

To get an idea of what happens at one of the Roundtables, check out this report back from a previous Roundtable at SAP.

Online Community Expert Interviews: The Best of 2007

I just put together a short list of our best interviews from the Online Community Report for 2007. We had a great group of Community experts sharing their experiences, and I think you will agree that the content is worth a second look.
Shawn Morton, CNET
“The big lesson … was to follow the needs of the community first, not the latest new thing that analysts, journalists or bloggers are raving about… unless your community is geared toward analysts, journalists or bloggers.”

Steve Nelson, Clear Ink
“They (communities) form themselves, so what corporations can do is to foster their organic growth, not force it. Understand that they will be equal players at the table, respect them and let them thrive.”

Lee LeFever, Common Craft

“In my experience, there is a much needed focus on the role of the community manager. Companies are starting to understand that community isn’t a technology that you plug in and leave alone – it’s a way of doing business that takes time and hard work. In the best success stories, there is almost always a person or small group that understands community processes, sets expectations, and balances the needs of the community and the organization.”

Scott Moore, Schwab Foundation

Regardless which definition of ROI you want to use (return on investment, information or interaction), I am hearing more and more community managers who are focusing on helping community members increase their return as a main goal. This doesn’t mean that the organization hosting the community gives up on return, but that it’s not the only bottom line (and it’s not just a monetary bottom line).

Bill Binenstock, CBS Interactive
“The good news about our industry and our space is that there are so many incredibly cool things to do and so much innovation taking place. The bad news about our industry and our space is that there are so many incredibly cool ….”

Guy Kawasaki, Garage / Truemors

Not everything has to be a Google or YouTube to be a “success.” Small sites
can be great “lifestyle” businesses: no outside investors, work in your
underwear at home, and use any Macintosh that you want. Life is good in the
garage.
(editors note: my home office is in my garage, but I generally put pants on)

Jake McKee, Ant’s Eye View
“But even as this awareness grows and the tools get better and better (anyone seen Facebook lately??), we still advise our clients of the same thing we have for years: build relationships, don’t implement tools. Relationships are the crucial part of any “social” activity, whether online or offline, whether business focused or personal.”

Joi Podgorny, Ludorum, Inc.
“It has been said before a ton of times, but I will keep saying it until it becomes common knowledge – Communities are hard work. They take resources to design and plan, but more importantly, they take resources to maintain.”

Susan Tenby, TechSoup

“Enlist your most opinionated and helpful volunteers and create a “management group” of sorts. Connect with them every month, outside of the larger group, if possible, through a conference call, take their agenda items and and help them help make the community a success by forming the structure of your community with their ideas and your vision.”

Know an online community expert with an interesting story to tell? Or are you one yourself? Email me, and you may be the next expert interviewee!