Tagged: Bill

Back from Seattle

Sharon and Mel joined me on my trip to Seattle this week.

Mel sleeping on the way home

I had really great meetings with folks from Microsoft, Sony Erricsson, and the LeFevers from CommonCraft.

Have I achieved a work / life balance nirvana yet? Not quite, but having Sharon and Mel on the trip was a blast, and I still got a ton of work done.

Online Community Basics: Start with Research – The 3 questions to ask

Cross-posted from the OC Report.

As a follow up to all the recent questions I’ve been getting about basic online community strategy, I’ve decided to write a series on online community basics. First up is one of my favorite topics: research!

Start With Research: The 3 questions to ask.

Q1. What does your current community ecosystem look like?

It’s important to make an inventory of your existing community touch points. Think you don’t have any? Think again.

A potential starter list:
– user groups
– independent bloggers (check blogpulse.com)
– discussion groups / google groups / yahoo groups
– enthusiast sites
– industry / topic publication sites
– meetup.com / upcoming.org

You should be seeing some signs of life. Found something? Good.

Q2: What do your customers, prospects or partners need from you?
As a business, you are in a unique position to provide value to your community of prospects, customers, and partners. This could be simply providing a “clean, well lit place”, exclusive content, or access to your employees. How do you gain insight into what your community needs? Ask. Face to face, conference calls, email questionnaires, or web-based surveys (survey monkey) are all effective and relatively cheap. You can also hire research firms that specialize in this type of needs-based analysis.

Q3: How would your organization benefit from hosting a community site?
This question is in it’s rightful place. Ask not what your online community can do for you… or at least not as your first question. Seriously though, it’s important to align your community strategy and direction with your general business strategy. Who do you start with? The stakeholders who will be writing checks to pay for the ongoing community infrastructure, moderation, and maintenance. Including stakeholders in this phase will also help to ensure buyoff, and help flag any early concerns about unrealistic or inappropriate expectations of the community. Others you may want to involve? Your web team, marketing, product management, and customer support.

More from Community 2.0

Cross-posted from the Online Community Report:

The Shared Insights folks have posted links to all the blog covergage from the Community 2.0 conference here:
http://www.community2-0con.com/?p=238

I’ve had a few days to let all the threads running through my brain since the end of the conference settle. Here are the things that rise to the surface.

Mobile Communities: Thanks to Anders from Nokia, I am now convinced that the mobile web in general, and mobile communities in particular will play a large role in shaping “what’s next”. For mobile communities to take off in any meaningful way in the US, the carriers will have to agree and services and standards. Companies like Loopt are already making inroads with the major carriers. How significant a shift will this be? It seems reasonable to think that any social application (think next gen myspace or linked in) that doesn’t require the form factor of a large lcd display to interact with it will make it’s way on to a mobile.

3D / Avatar-based Communities:
In general, folks at teh conference seemed to think that these destinations are interesting, but not really meaningful. Kaneva just entered the space that Second Life, and to a certain extent There, have been dominating. I think there is lot’s of opportunity for innovation with this type of experience, especially given the wild success of World of Warcraft and other MMOGs that are essentially the older brothers of these more hangout-oriented sims. Unfortunately in their current state, the experiential investment required to participate Second Life is not worth the overhead. I look forward to changing my position on this.

Marketing in Online Communities is bad / evil / wrong: There was lot’s of discussion about the intersection of online community and marketing. The Edelman / Wal Mart fiasco came up in a couple of presentations, and in conversation. There was also an interesting exchange at the breakfast sponsored by WebEx. The main points of the marketing vs. community debate seemed to be:
– A marketeer has as much of a license to market in the community as the community gives, and this license can be revoked at any time.
– A marketer should be transparent about their intentions for participating in or sponsoring a community.
– The pre-Cluetrain models of marketing no longer work nor are appropriate

Obviously this is a topic ripe for further discussion.

Some Companies Too Risk / Transparency Averse: I was a little surprised at the volume of questions about the pros and cons of engaging in community building activities. I’ll just make a few blanket statements here -) Yes, your company needs to be blogging. It won’t be as hard, take as much time or come with as much liability as you think it might. Further, you should think about making the electronic brochure that is your current web site a little more participatory (forums, content sharing?). For those of you who actually have online community offerings, how about not burying them 2 and 3 layers down on your web site?

ROI: Matthew Lees from the Patricia Seybold Group led a really interesting panel on the ROI (return on information) of online communities. He has a really great model, and I know he intends to post some of his slides so I won’t try to paraphrase them. I will say that one of the points of value I forgot to mention in the discussion was that of comparative value. For instance, how much does it cost to blog vs. conducting a print advertising campaign? How much does it cost to host a discussion forum on a topic related to your business vs buying a tv spot?

Attention Saturation: Every day, more and more online experiences are vying for attention. From a supply and demand perspective, Joe or Jane Websurfer’s attention seems to be getting to the point of being fully saturated, while new online social experiences are popping up every day. Something has to give, and it will likely result in destination site closures and/or consolidations.

The new office

I traded a daily commute into SF for a once a week commute to Sonoma.

I gave up a partial view of  the bay for an office overlooking the Sonoma Square.

Am I ok with the change?

You bet 🙂

Web 2.0 Panel Podcast from September

This is a little dated, but I thought I would post.

I was on a panel discussing the implications of Web 2.0 back in September, hosted by SofTECH in Marin.

Dana Welch helped put the panel together, and Paul Calento of InfoWorld moderated.

Bryann Quinn from SpyMedia, and Bob Rebholz from Microsoft were on the panel with me, and provided a lot of great insight and content.

Check a podcast of the session out at IT Conversations.

The last 24 hours = awesome

I’ve have had the best last 24 hours…

Yesterday at 11am I participated with Matthew Lee and Patricia Seybold in a web conference about measuring value in online communities. You can see the event details and view an archive here.

This morning I sent out the NEW Online Community Report newsletter. I’m really proud of the format and the content, especially of the interview with my former collegue at TechRepublic, Shawn Morton.

CommunityNext: A report back

Cross-posted from the Online Community Report blog:

CommunityNext Conference I attended the CommunityNext conference at Stanford yesterday, hosted by the kinetic Noah Kagan. My only disappointment was that I never found out if Noah actually does still live with his Mother. And the fact that there was no wifi.

You can see a copy of the day’s agenda here, http://www.communitynext.com/schedule/

With 1 day conferences I usually expect to take away 2-3 interesting ideas, and if I walk away with anything beyond that I am pleasantly surprised. I got (at least) 7, and I will be mulling over the content and interactions for the next few days.

My Observations:

1. Online Community = Lot’s of buzz. We are quickly reaching the fever-pitch interest and attention level with “online community”. The term “community” is hitting buzzword status (again). The usual debates on definition, value, ethics and legitimacy have begun among the “community” of practitioners and proponents. That is a good thing (i think) as we all try to make sense of what it really means this time around.
2. Brand Utopia – Josh Spear and Aaron Dignan presented the “brand utopia”, a mystical state where companies engage and delight customers, have purpose beyond commerce, and generally make the world a better place.
3. Advertising & Community– Heather Luttrell of 3jane and indieclick showed how Advertisers and Communities are (sorta) living in harmony. The key is tailoring messages and ad products to the community, and community hosts working with advertisers and agencies to educate on the idiosyncracies of their communities.
4. skinnyCorp – Do what you love / love what you do. Awesomely. I was really prepared to tune these guys out before their presentation even started. I have to say, Jeffrey and Jake won me over quickly with their un-powerpoint approach. It’s obvious that these guys are serious about creating a killer product (never good enough), nurturing their community, and most importantly, having fun. And saying awesome.
5. Mobile is coming. I saw several m-community solutions demoed, the most impressive being Loopt.
6. Kiva is just incredible. This microlending service is an awesome example of the possible social good that can come from online community.
7. James Hong and Drew Curtis , of Hot or Not and Fark fame, are as funny as you would expect them to be.

Overall, the event was very fun. I ran in to several friends and acquaintances from the Online Community Roundtable, as well as a few folks that I haven’t seen for years. The sessions were fairly short (usually 45 minutes), so there wasn’t a lot of time for deep dives on topics, or for Q&A in most sessions. All in all, well worth the drive down to Palo Alto.

A lot of the attendees blogged or are blogging about their experiences. I found Rohit’s summary to be particularly good”
http://rohitbhargava.typepad.com/weblog/2007/02/10_secrets_of_s.html

You can find other entries by searching Technorati with the tag communitynext.

Pics:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/communitynext/