The topic of online community strategy is one of the things that occupies a large chunk of my mental cycles. I’ve written about a pretty basic process and framework a few times over the years, and I think the baseline concepts have held up well. You can read a couple of relatively recent posts here (I’d love to hear your thoughts):
How to Develop a Community Strategy
Holistic Community Strategy
I’m very passionate about the opportunities that online communities and social media bring to the table, and I’ve had my fair share of real world experience (10+ years), but the primary reason I want to write this series is pretty simple:
Organizations are still challenged with setting strategy. From our efforts with the Online Community Research Network, we still see that only about 25% of our participant organizations have a comprehensive community strategy in place. Over the next few weeks, I will explore the following topics, offering my own opinions and insight, data from our ongoing community research, as well as other relevant content from experienced community-building professionals. I’ll also try to post as many templates that I use (or can borrow), where appropriate. In short: I’ll be posting, you will be adding to the discussion, and we will all (hopefully) be making our day to day community practices a little better. I hope that sounds like fun The Topics
The topics, which generally follow my strategy development process, will be: 1. Goal Definition:
How to assemble an internal stakeholder team and facilitate definition of business goals for the community. 2. Member Needs Research:
Processes and techniques for engaging community members in a process of discovery and conducting member “needs” research. 3. Social Media Ecosystem Research:
Methodology for conducting a discovery exercise of the relevant parts of the social web to find out where your community (or potential community) is already working and playing. 4. Designing an Online Presence Architecture (with a hat tip to Chris Brogan):
Factoring the goals of the business, the needs of the members, and the opportunities in the social media ecosystem to create a presence architecture that maps out where to focus engagements. 5. Engagement Planning:
How to develop content & activity plans for the community, including
–Where: to engage (home, outposts)
–Who: responsible party
–How: specific activity
–When: frequency of activity
–What: expected outcomes (prototypical metrics!) 6. Community Platform Selection:
Guidance on how to select a community platform, along with recent ratings for major platforms. 7. Management & Moderation
An overview of the important and evolving role of the Online Community Manager, building an online community team, and best practices on moderation. 8. Metrics & Reporting
What metrics to collect, what they tell you, who to report them to, and how often. 9. Policy Creation & Roll-out
How to develop community and social media policies that fit your organization, and how to deploy them. 10. Governance
Creating a governance structure in your organization, keeping exective stakeholders informed and engaged, and achieving the right balance of of inter-departmental communication and guidance. 11. Superusers / Elites
A review of the best superusers programs, with a focus on process, identification and incentives. Again, I would LOVE your feedback on the topics above. My goals is to write an article a week over the next 12-14 weeks. Each article will be labeled “Back to Basics”, and will be tagged #ocb2b
We’re just about 2 weeks away from our 8th annual Online Community Summit in Sonoma, CA, on October 8-9. We have a fantastic speaker and session line-up that I’ve detailed out below.
If you’d like to attend the Summit and you’re a senior online community or social media practitioner, please go here to request an invitation. There are limited tickets still available.
Please note: We restrict attendance of platform and service vendors to those sponsoring the event. If you would like information about sponsoring, please email me.
Check out the event site here for more information.
We have a great group of folks coming, including: Answers.com, Apple, Autodesk, Inc., Cisco, CNN, GlobalGiving, Moshi Monsters, Edutopia, LinkedIn, American Legacy Foundation, SEGA of America, Time Inc. Lifestyle Digital, WestEd, TripAdvisor, Dell, Executive Networks, Inc., Microsoft, REI, Care2.com, Stupski Foundation, The MathWorks, and more.
Thursday, October 8th
8:00 – 9:00: Registration / Breakfast
9:00 – 10:00: Introductions & Welcome
Bill Johnston – Chief Community Officer, Forum One Networks
Joi Podgorny – Head of Community, Mindcandy
10:00 – 11:00: Session 1 /Turning to the Crowd: Ideas and Contest Sites
How can you generate great ideas and enthusiasm for your organization at low cost?
Session Lead: Anil Rathi, Idea Crossing
Session Lead: Ryan Wilson, XPrize
11:00 – 11:30: Break
11:30 – 12:30: Session 2 / What You Need to Know About the Mobile Communities Revolution
As mobile usage explodes, the importance of mobile communities is increasing dramatically. We’ll review experiences from Obama to Armani to the American Cancer Society and demonstrate the coming wave of change that will impact your organization.
Session Lead: Kevin Bertram, Distributive Networks
Session Lead: Miles Orkin, America Cancer Society
12:30 – 1:30: Lunch
1:30 – 2:30: Session 3 / Social Marketing & Advertising
Communities and traditional forms of marketing and advertising have historically acted like oil and water. Progress is being made by innovative organizations that involve the community in feedback, permission-based programs and even advertising creation.
Session Lead: Paul Levine, Current.com
Session Lead: Bruce Smith, Answers.com
2:30 – 3:30: Session 4 / Break Out Sessions
3:30 – 4:00: Break
4:00 – 5:00: Session 5 / News Communities
While the importance of PR and marketing hasnʼt changed, the ways to influence major news sites has transformed radically. Weʼll discuss the news landscape and what it means for your organization.
Session Lead: Lila King – CNN.com
Session Lead: Chris Tolles – Topix.net
Friday, October 9th
8:00 – 9:00: Registration / Breakfast
8:00 – 9:00: Community and Good Ideas Demos (open podium)
9:00 – 10:00: Session 6 / Social “ME”dia: Employees as Advocates
How does an organization combine employee passion with social media tools to meet organization goals?
Session Lead: Erika Kuhl, Salesforce.com
Session Lead: Lucia Willow – Pandora.com
10:00 – 11:00: Session 7: / Break Out Sessions
11:00 – 11:30: Break
11:30 – 12:30: Session 8: Operationalizing Social Media – Reshaping the Organization
As social media and community programs move form short term, tactical engagements to longer-term business strategies, organizations must transform to take full advantage of the possibilities. Hear about the topography of the “social organization” from our panel of experts leading the charge to transform their organizations via social media.
Moderator: Rachel Makool, Makool Consulting
Panelist: Larry Blumenthal, Robert Wood Johnson
Panelist: Dawn Lacallade, Solar Winds
Panelist: Jordan Williams, REI
12:30 – 1:00 Conference Close and Wrap up
Some of the current attendees include community and social media practitioners from leading companies including: Apple, GlobalGiving, Autodesk, Inc., Leadership Corps, Moshi Monsters, Edutopia, LinkedIn, American Legacy Foundation, SEGA of America, Time Inc. Lifestyle Digital, WestEd, TripAdvisor, Dell, Inc., Answers Corporation, Executive Networks, Inc., Microsoft, REI, Care2.com, Stupski Foundation, and The MathWorks, Inc.
Note: This is cross-posted from the Online Community Report.
I’m pleased to be kicking off the 2nd topic in the #octribe discussion, following the kickoff topic of “Influencers” by Gail Williams two weeks ago.
How OCTribe works
Write something tomorrow (Tuesday, July 28), tag it #octribe or tweet it as #octribe, and your post will be linked from the recap page. Moving forward, each 2nd Tuesday and 4th Tuesday of the month, the call and the recap will be hosted on the site of another one of the bloggers in the loosely defined OCTribe group. This conversational project is just starting, so please join in!
The Topic: Valuing Member Participation and Contribution in Online Communities
Admittedly, this topic is a bit of a double edged sword: Assigning financial value to online community member participation and contribution.
On one hand, a community manager could can paint a compelling portrait of value for internal stakeholders by determining a financial value to member participation (assistant moderate, guiding discussions, welcoming new members, etc.) and assigning value to member contributions (support forum posts, tutorials, reviews, feedback and ideas).
On the other hand, if an organization were to make the valuations of member participation and contribution public, it would likely set off a firestorm of debate about member compensation, legal boundaries around “volunteer opportunities”, and ultimately, force the host organization to account for true cost and true value of the activities and content created in their online community.
It seems clear that it would be useful for organizations to have at least notional values for member contributions and participation. What is less clear is how (if at all) to talk about this value with the community, and how (if at all) social capital is exchanged for financial capital in online communities.
The questions I would like to explore in this #octribe series are (feel free to pick one, all or explore your own!):
• Do you currently assign an internal financial value to member contributions and participation?
• Do you use an assumed value as part of your communities ROI reporting?
• Do you account for social capital in your system of accounting for online communities?
Reading the following article from forbes (2001) spawned the “participation value” question for me. In the article, staff writers sketched the value of the cost savings AOL benefited from via their volunteer program.
“How much has AOL saved by using volunteer labor during the past nine years? That’s not an easy question, and with AOL involved in litigation, the company is not eager to furnish the answer. But even with the most conservative numbers available, we estimate that by using volunteers AOL escaped nearly $973 million in expenses since going public in 1992. That poses the question: Would AOL have thrived-or even survived-on Wall Street without free help from volunteers during its first seven years as a public company? Not likely.
The many jobs that volunteers have performed for AOL would be compensated at a wide range of hourly rates in the labor market (see story). To be safe, we used a conservative figure of $15 per hour-about equal to that of a security guard-as the median salary for today’s AOL volunteers. We adjusted the hourly rate backward using an annual rate of inflation of 4% (historical note: Inflation hasn’t been as high as 4% since mid-1991). For the purpose of the model, each volunteer is assumed to have worked 10 hours per week, 50 weeks a year.”
Please note that I am including the article because it is one example of valuing member participation.
So, to wrap up:
• Please post your thoughts on valuing member participation on Tuesday, July 28th
• Tag the posts and any related tweets as #octribe
• I’ll compile a wrap up post that includes all tagged posts by the end of the week
If you have any questions, please email me.