Our Online Community Research Network (http://www.onlinecommunityresearch.com) initiated the The Marketing & Online Community research study in June of 2007. The study explored the current state of marketing to online communities, from the perspective of both the online community host, as well as from the perspective of the marketer.
The research participants included large software companies, large community destination sites, niche community sites, platform providers and interactive marketing and advertising firms.
We discovered early on in the research process that while community hosts and practitioners were willing to share their experiences, most marketers were not. At the beginning of the research I conducted several in-person interviews, it became clear that most marketing and advertising agencies have not met with great success in their community marketing efforts, and are unwilling to talk about their experiences. What limited success marketers have had is generally viewed as proprietary knowledge within the agency, and is closely guarded.
I’ve included excerpts from the report below. To download the full report, please go here (short registration required).
What are the biggest challenges you face working with third-party marketers?
It is clear from the survey responses that most online community hosts are still negotiating the relationship with third-party marketers, their messages, and their methodologies.
The main challenges in working with third-party marketers included:
• Third-party marketers want to control content/context in which their ad will be shown.
• Difficulty matching ads with content
• Overhead associated with helping marketer understand community culture
• The lack of a pre-screened third-party ad network
• Marketers seem to have no affinity with community / company brand
• Advertiser push invasive or unusual advertising to get results
• Difficult to determine fair rate and cost basis
What general advice would you give a colleague that was considering incorporating marketing and advertising into their community?
Respondents shared valuable advice about incorporating marketing and advertising activities into communities, from their direct experiences.
• When introducing marketing messages into your community, be very cautious and attentive to your member reactions, and open to their feedback
• Understand your audiences needs and sensitivities to advertising messages
• Establishing a good relationship with the agency account manager is key
• Establish creative and messaging guidelines for marketing to ensure appropriateness
• Make sure ads are appropriate and add value to community
• Be clear about policies and ensure that policies are available to and understood by community
• Involve the audience. Surveying members to determine which brands / types of messages they would
• Ensuring the right mix of content to ads
• Test and refine based on marketing effectiveness and feedback
Again, to download the full report, please go here (short registration required).
I posted the following content in the Online Community Report newsletter this morning, but I wanted to blog this as well.
The Big Ideas of 2007
The following are, to my eyes, the “big ideas” that emerged in 2007. I feel these ideas set the stage for the meaningful activity that will play out in 2008.
The “New New” Online Community
One of the most cogent and comprehensive points of view on the emerging opportunities and challenges with online communities is John Hagel’s. The following post expands on the keynote he gave at Community 2.0, and is one of the best thought pieces written about online communities this year.
Community 2.0 – Edge Perspectives with John Hagel
The Explosion of Social Networks
If Time’s person of the year in 2006 was “You”, perhaps 2007 will be “Us”? Ok, they would have to call it “persons of the year”… 2007 is the year social networking went mainstream. Facebook dominated the headlines, but there were tons of smaller, innovative players attracting attention as well. Controversy spun up around privacy, network portability, and the sheer number of similar experiences available.
Are Social Networks Just a Feature? – GigOm
The Chess game of social networking – Marc Canter
All your widgets are belong to Facebook – Jeremiah Owyang
Video: Social Networking in Plain English – Common Craft
Facebook vs. AOL, redux – kottke.org
Thoughts on the Social Graph – Brad Fitzpatrick & David Recordon
Open standards for social networking – CNET
PeopleAggregator and Open Social Network Systems – Read/WriteWeb
Marketing to Online Communities
The reality is, large portions of marketing budgets are shifting from traditional marketing and into online communities and social media. Marketing activities are driving a lot of the experimentation, innovation and controversy. There have been several very visible “social marketing” disasters, and very few “big wins”, at least that marketers will discuss. Look for the experimentation with different techniques to continue at a frantic pace in 2008, as more marketing dollars shift to online activities.
Would You Let These People Friend You?– Advertising Age
Real World Marketing Through Social Networks – Digital Influence Mapping Project
2011: Net Replaces Papers As Top Ad Medium – WebProNews
Will closed networks hurt themselves or lead to Web 3.0? – Marketing Conversations
The New Advertising Outlet: Your Life ? New York Times
How to Identify & Target The Right Niche Social Media Sites– Search Engine Land
Why Wal-Mart?s Facebook Strategy is Like the I-Rack – Get Elastic
Beyond the Hype: The 10 Most Asinine Trends Online and Why You Should Ignore Them – Advertising Age
A Marketer’s Guide To The Social Graph – Twist Image
Talent & Organizational Design
Many organizations are struggling with organizational design and online community talent acquisition. The bad news? Talent is going to get harder to find in 2008, and most organizations will need to experiment with where community and social media staff belong.
The evolving role of the Community Manager – Online Community Report
Where does the Community team belong? A follow up – Online Community Report
Who Owns Community? – Matthew Lees
Metrics & ROI
Two of the hottest topics our Online Community Research Network studied this year were Online Community Metrics and ROI. Most organizations’ community activities will become less experimental and more disciplined in 2008. Quantifying value (including morphing the concept of ROI) and collecting the best mix of quanatative and qualitative metrics will be key issues. Both the ROI and Metrics report are available free of charge via the links below (requires registration) Highlights from the ROI report include:
- Only 22% of respondents could clearly articulate ROI on community efforts
- The majority of respondents gave a high priority to establishing an ROI model in the near term
- 49% were reporting some dimensions of value back to management on a monthly basis
- “Value” of online community efforts are contextual to an organizations goals and objectives
What’s coming up in 2008?
The OC Report staff has their own ideas, but we would like to hear yours. What’s in it for you? A $25 itunes gift certificate. Simply fill out the short survey here and tell us the ONE Online Community wish you have for 2008. You may win the $25 itunes gift certificate… and who knows, your wish may come true! Best response will be judged by the OC Report staff, and the winner will be announced on January 2nd.
Take the survey here (less than 5 minutes, I promise).
The folks at Common Craft have put together another great “in plain English” video. This time, it is on Social Bookmarking.
I have had my iphone since around lunch today, when FedEx dropped it off.
I have to say, I LOVE IT. I really haven’t even used it as a phone yet… I think I’ve made 2 calls all day. I seriously can’t stop picking it up. Ok, ok, I know I’m totally geeking out.
What do I love about it, out of the box?
- email setup: I have my work and personal account humming along, and it took less than 5 minutes. It took me an hour to set up just my work account on my bberry
- UX: this has been beaten to death, but the UX is just superb. It’s really a pleasure to use. The gesture control, like flicking and squeezing are totally natural
- ID: it’s a beautiful object. It just looks so hot.
- Media: photos, music and video… to me, these will likely be “nice to have’s”. Although, as I think about it, I watched about 30 minutes of you tube today. Haven’t done that in a while.
- Online: Apple really nailed this. IT’s not as great as sitting at my desk with my 27″ monitor and 8 gbps downstream, but it is light years away from any WAP-based web experience.
That’s all for now. I’m going to continue to play.