Tagged: Misc

Marketing & Online Communities Conference: Updates

The Marketing & Online Communities conference is a little over two months away. The pre-conference activities are heating up, and I wanted to provide a short update.

First, we launched a Marketing & Online Communities microsite, with more information on speakers, location and sponsors.

Our confirmed speaker and adviser list includes:

• Dave Bottoms – Yahoo!
• Betsy Burroughs – Future Catalyst
• Andy Chambers – Digit
• Marcien Jenckes – AOL
• Michael Leifer – Guerrilla PR
• Tim Manners – THE HUB Magazine / Cool News of the Day
• Steve Rubel – Edelman / Micro Persuasion

We are also speaking with several more folks from agencies, consumer products and the entertainment industry. Expect this list to grow over the next 2 weeks.

The intention of the conference is to have an in depth discussion about the challenges and opportunities that communities and social media present to both marketers and to community hosts and members. We are in the middle of great change, and we are seeing real world examples play out, sometimes to the detriment of the brand and the community, such as the recent Wal Mart / Facebook campaign.

If you would like to request an invitation to the event, please fill out this short form.

Some speaking and sponsorship opportunities are still available. Please let me know if you would like to discuss. bjohnston@forumone.com.

The evolving role of the Community Manager

Cross posted from the OC Report:

The topic of online community team organizational structures seems to be getting increasingly hot.

The two main questions seem to be:

• Where does the community team “belong” in a corporate structure?
• What are the roles on that team?

I’ve explored the former a couple of times, so I thought I would spend some time on the roles of the team, and in particular, the community manager. I would really love to hear what you think about this. I know leaving comments on this blog can be a bit of a pain (working on it), so if you have any issues, please email me.

The role of Community Manager seems to be evolving in the following ways:

The role is less about moderation and more about product management.
Most thriving communities need little action by the moderators. Management tools are (in general) sufficient enough to combat spam, and most communities have empowered the members with tools to flag abusive or inappropriate posts. Simply put: with adequate and findable community guidelines, active moderation can (and should) be in the hands of the members. strategy, features, UX, platform, budgets, marketing (and a hundred other things). In short, very much like the role of a product manager.

An expectation of communicating value (ROI) rather than stats
Community managers are now expected to not just report stats (page views, membership growth), but also to report on other points of value, and to contextualize that value, at least in part, in terms of progress on business goals.

Community managers are expected to grow relationships with the influencers in the community
Community managers are increasingly expected to know who their lead members are, and what effect their influence has on other community members.

Community managers should be thinking about “portability” of their team
In some companies, sources of community funding, and even the reporting structure of the community team is changing every few quarters. We live in evolutionary times, so it is good for community managers to reach out to senior staff on teams outside their immediate reporting structures.

In some cases, seasoned community managers are evolving into the Community Director, with several functions reporting in to him / her. My Community dream team would look something like this (YMMV):
• Moderators
• UX
• Analytics
• Content Manager / Community Editor
• Marketing
• Developer / Ops

I’d like to hear from the community managers out there. What are you experiencing in your day to day work? What am I missing here?

Online Community Roundtable @ SAP: Wrap up

A big thanks to Mario Herger and Mark Finnern from SAP for hosting the group, and for their continued support and participation.

We had a really great turn out, and lively discussion.

First, we are relaxing the “soft NDA” policy quite a bit. We are now asking participants to let other attendees know what shouldn’t be blogged about. This will allow (I hope) a lot more content to come out of the sessions.

We always start the roundtables with a cocktail hour. During this time, we encourage folks who are going to lead a discussion to sign up “on the big board”. Last night’s topics included:

  • Community Net Promoter Scores
    A discussion of the artice The One Number You Need to Grow,” by Frederick Reichheld. Should community managers use net promoter scores to asses teh health of their communities? The discussion concluded that this was a helpful indicator, but that it should be used with other quanatative and qualatative data. Interesting article that responds to Reichhel’s article here:
  • Building bridges to Academia
    Community managers might be interested in connecting with academics studying social media, social netowrks and specific measures of activity and value. This will only work if your org feel comfortable opening up your metrics to outsiders.
  • How to Kick start a community, I hear it’s hard
    A discussion about how to grow a community, and how to determine logical target size. The interesting bit for me was the various measures of customer base vs. community membership. These ranged from 1% to 25%.
  • The road to vibrancy
    This session was combined with the session above. On the fly. Mashup-style. Becuase that’s how we roll at the roundtable.
  • Injecting “controversy” within the community –Why it’s not always bad
    I had a hard time following this discussion, but I think the net of it was that sometimes it’s an interesting marketing tactic to intentionally stir up contreversy in order to feature your service or product. The discussion also went in to the idea of tolerance around controversial content and personalities in a community (encouraged).
  • Scaling Community
    This discussion revisited the previous topic around logical community size, and techniques to scale up membership, participation and content.

Other Interesting tidbits:

Time / value as a metric: This applies to “hanging out” on news pages, twitter, or in virtual worlds. A proposed metrics around time invested, vs value returned per minute. I have no idea how you would quantify value (maybe member self-reporting?), but I found this though-provoking.

Logical community size: How do you determine a logical community size for a community? Having an existing customer base is helpful, but what about startups that are soley focused on growing communities? What is the equation to determine this? I generally advise clients with existing customer bases that 1-10% of base converting registered membership is great. This is mostly based on my experience.

Aesthetics for Social Applications: I’m a recovering UX guy at heart, so when the discussion turns to design, I’m all ears. Christina Wodtke made a really great point that succesful social applications tend to have a “signs of life” feature, which is essentially a news feed of activity. Think facebook or twitter.

Corporate Rebels DO get it: I would hazard to guess that there are “pockets of resistance” in even the most stodgy corporate environments that are doing everything they can to connect the org and the customer through social experiences. I keep hearing that most companies “don’t get it”. Ok, sure. This keeps those of us consulting in the community / social media space in business. But I constantly meet people at these supposed clueless corporations who are fighting tooth and nail to get the execs to listen. These are my peeps, as I count myself as one of their lot while I was at Autodesk. The fact that we had 15 people who were mostly from these “clueless companies” spending time after hours discussing how to better serve their respective communities gives me hope that we are on the right track.

Thanks again to everyone who participated in the amazing discussions last night.

Jeremiah O blogged about this as well on the Web Strategist blog. (highly recommend / read it daily)

We created an Online Community Roundtable group on Facebook.

An Update on the Marketing & Online Communities Conference

Please note: This is cross-posted from the Online Community Report.


The Marketing & Online Communities conference is coming up November 8 in NYC. We are holding it at the superfly Tribeca Grand hotel. Did I say superfly? Indeed.

Speaking of superfly, I started pinning down advisors and speakers this week. The ideal mix we are going for is approximately 40% innovative agency content, 40% community host content, and 20% corporate marketing / brand management content.

I’m pleased that I’ve been able to secure two of the people that I am paying attention to with regard to “marketing / pr 2.0” practices:

Tim Manners – Cool News of the Day / Reveries
Steve Rubel – Micro Persuasion / Edelman

I have approximately 10 slots to fill, and lots of calls this week and next, so expect that list to grow fast. If you have speakers or session ideas you would like to pitch, please let me know ASAP.

I’ve posted a tentative session list for the conference on the M&OC details page here:

I’ll also list it here, but be sure to check back on the events page, as that’s the one that will be kept up to date.

Tentative Schedule:

8:30 – 9:00 Registration

9:00 – 9:30 Introductions

9:30 – 10:30 Session 1: Marketing to Communities – The Brand “Us”

10:30 – 11:00 Break

11:00 – 12:15 Session 2: Anatomy of an Integrated Campaign

12:15 – 1:30 Lunch

1:30 – 2:30 Break out Sessions
– Creating successful campaigns targeted at established communities
– Hosting the premier community for your Brand
– Common Ground: Communities and Agencies working together

2:30 – 3:00 Break

3:00 – 3:30 Sponsor Demos

3:30 – 4:30 Session 4: The Future of Community-based Marketing

4:30 – 6:00 Reception

Again, feel free to contact me with any speaker or topic suggestions.

Dude, where have you been?

Howdy all. I thought it was worth a quick update to explain my blog absence. I understand that this is sort of a rite of passage in some cultures 🙂

I’ve been offline for most of the last week because my Grandmother  Johnston passed away last Monday. I caught the redeye last Tuesday night from SFO to SDF (Louisville to those of you not familiar with KY airports), and then drove an hour south to my home town of Leitchfield, KY. It was a very sad experience, but it was also great to reconnect with friends and family. And, what a family. My Grandma Johnston had a full life, and I mean full… as in she had 14 kids. I’m not kidding. I have 14 aunts and uncles, and a bazillion 1st and 2nd cousins.

While I was home, I was reminded that:

  • I loved my Grandma
  • I appreciate growing up in a very small community
  • Family is the original social network
  • CA real estate is CRAZY
  • I don’t miss people smoking in public places
  • You can’t get good BBQ anywhere but the south
  • It’s easy to take wifi for granted in the Bay Area

More or less in that order. 🙂

Facebook: Kottke calls it

As I’ve said before, I REALLY don’t get all the hype about facebook.

Jason Kottke nails it in two with his original and clarification post comparing Facebook to AOL.

It’s just that I, unlike many other people, don’t think that Facebook and Facebook Platform are the future of the web. The platform is great for Facebook, but it’s a step sideways or even backwards (towards an AOL-style service) for the web. …

Think of it this way. Facebook is an intranet for you and your friends that just happens to be accessible without a VPN. If you’re not a Facebook user, you can’t do anything with the site…nearly everything published by their users is private.

One of the main points of value that is lost to me is my network of former colleagues at Autodesk, TechRepublic, and my former classmates at WKU. Because I no longer have access to those email addresses, I can’t join the networks. I don’t feel comfortable enough with the application to dump all my contacts in en masse.

I will likely continue to spend a few minutes in facebook every wee, but I’m pretty sure its not going to become the hub of my online social world.

Next Online Community Roundtable is tomorrow, June 12

Leverage is hosting the next Online Community Roundtable tomorrow at their offices in SF.

I’m expecting 15 people. Should be a nice change from last week’s Unconference, in that I will actually have time to talk to people.

Looking forward to it!

If you would like to stop by, email me or call my cell: 415.299.9638

Online Community Unconference: Creation of Schedule Grid

The Online Community Unconference was based on the principals of Open Space Technology, which essentially puts the days agenda and content in the hands of the attendees.

One of the most amazing things about the Unconference was seeing the blank session grid being created the night before, and them filling up with interesting content in less than 45 minutes Wednesday morning.

Kaliya starting on the session grid.
Blank session grid and demo signup sheet
Grid being filled up with sessions.
Final session grid.

Here is a link to a larger (and more legible) version of the grid.

Online Influencers: The new SEO (a.k.a snake oil)?

I just stumbled across this Information Week article on Online Influencers. (link is to the less-sucky print view. My God guys, could you have more obnoxious ads?)

The article provides a decent overview of the pros and cons of influencer programs… it stirkes me that some marketers quoted in the story arelooking for short cuts (thus the snake oil comment). Is an influencer co=opted by “the man” still influential? Probably not.

Scott Wilder of Intuit (one of my favorite communiteers) provides some good commons sense towards the end of the article:

Intuit made a choice not to simply target influentials, and certainly not to use the communities as an explicit marketing tool. Instead, the community is managed from within the product development part of the business, and users interact with the actual developers and product managers who are working on the software.

“That was a very conscious decision on our part,” said Scott K. Wilder, group manager of the small business online community at Intuit. “It was our belief that we’d have more credibility and that more users would use the site that way.” Not incidentally, the power of any word of mouth that results from these efforts is much greater, he said.

Too bad InfoWeek didn’t contact Sean O’Driscoll who runs the MS MVP program… he has one of the most interesting influencer programs I’ve seen.