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Building Online Communities To Support Successful Media Brands - ALPSP July 2009
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Building Online Communities To Support Successful Media Brands - ALPSP July 2009


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  • Hi Dan. Just picked up on this via your tweet. I'm doing the @citpower stream for - and thanks for the input earlier in the week.

    Most nine-month-old presentations are already looking old; this one's still remarkably on target which, I guess shows the difference between those which are strenuously trying to bludgeon their audience into submission with cool facts and those which are dealing with practical realities.

    On a totally different note I'd be interested to see what you think of this - which is about using social media in a rather different context:
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  • Cheers - the style of it has definitely been influenced by some of your presentations in the past!
    As always, there's loads more I could probably add, even just a week later, so hopefully I'll get to do version 2.0, 3.0 etc...
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  • Nice presentation Dan. Thanks for the props at the end :-)
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  • 1. Building online communities to support successful media brands
    Dan Thornton, July 2009
    (A Work in Progress...)
  • 2. Contents:
    • Who am I?
    • 3. Why is community vital?
    • 4. Planning a community.
    • 5. What can you can and can’t do.
    • 6. How do you know if it’s working?
  • Who am I?
    Past (Bauer/Emap)
    Past (Independent)
    The Present:
  • 7. Who am I really?
    • LinkedIn:
    • 8. Facebook:
    • 9. Gmail:
  • 10. Why is community vital to a brand?
    • Humans are inherently social creatures, who wish to interact. And capable of driving exponential growth.
    • 11. Media owners no longer control the methods of production and distribution.
    • 12. Brands (Advertisers) can interact directly with consumers, who can all interact with each other.
    • 13. All interaction can be visible to hundreds, thousands, or millions of other people.
    • 14. The cost of search engine optimisation is rising, but the effect doesn’t increase in isolation. Meanwhile display advertising is less and less effective at driving response.
  • Communities don’t just support brands
  • 15. Individuals and communities define brands
  • 16. The internet just made it easier to spot and track
  • 17. And brands are finally letting people contribute directly
  • 18. What is happening to media companies?
    Traditional broadcast models are struggling.
    U.S. newspaper print advertising dropped $2.6 billion in Q1 2009 compared to Q1 2008.
    Perhaps it’s just the recession?
  • 19. Maybe something else is holding their attention?
    Since February ‘09, Facebook has continued to grow to over 200 million+ active users per month.
  • 20. What about Twitter?
    This only includes visits to, which is approximately 1/5th of all Twitter usage (4/5ths comes from mobile, or Twitter ’clients’ installed on a computer.
  • 21. Consumers aren’t waiting for proven business models
    • Around 13 hours of content is uploaded to Youtube every minute – the equivalent of Hollywood releasing more than 57,000 full length films each week.
    • 22. Technorati has tracked 133 million blogs since 2002.
    • 23. Audioboo has had over 35,000 pieces of content uploaded since launch in March ’09.
    • 24. Stephen Fry has 630,000 followers on Twitter.
    The small percentage of individuals making significant revenues online are doing it by secondary income streams, rather than display advertising.
  • 25. But you can get a Return on Investment...
    • Dell has made $1 million plus directly via Twitter.
    • 26. Zappos made $1 billion in gross sales in 2008, 10 years after launching by concentrating on customer service, using Twitter, Blogs, Youtube etc.
    • 27. The viral effect of the Will It Blend videos increased sales of Blendtec blenders by 20% from an initial cost of production of $50.
    • 28. Stormhoek wine doubled sales in the UK using blogger outreach.
  • Mythbusting:
    • ‘Community building/crowd-sourcing/social media is cheap’ in initial financial outlay – Yes, but it requires substantial investment in resources.
    • 29. ‘A lot of online content is rubbish’ – Yes, but the same applies to any media. And the weight of numbers means a huge amount of quality content, which needs filtering: the potential editorial role of media companies/experts.
    • 30. ‘Hardly anyone posts/writes a blog’ – Yes, but only 5% of people contribute the majority of Wikipedia work. 1 person creates, 9 comment/rate, and 90 lurk. But those 90 are the scale part of the equation, and wouldn’t turn up without the 1.
    • 31. ‘Social networking is just for kids’ – The biggest growth is in mothers who blog/network due to time constraints. Twitter’s biggest user group in the UK is 30+ males. And age creep means older networks are rising.
    • 32. ‘People don’t want to sit in front of computers’ – Mobile internet access and smart phone adoption is rocketing, led by the iPhone.
    • 33. ‘I don’t have time/we’ll get an intern’ – You need to make time, and devote resource to any community/social media project of a level that can speak for your brand effectively.
  • How do you build a community?
  • 34. You can’t...
    You provide for, encourage and reward community to allow it to grow
  • 35. The 9 steps:
    Moderation + Maintenance
    Integrate it into everything you do
    Measurement and Analysis.
  • 36. Step 1: Listening
    What’s out there?
  • 41. Step 2: What’s the point?
    1. What tangible results do you want?
    2. How can you help an existing community, or provide value for people by creating a new one? (And ‘because it’s ours/official doesn’t work by itself!)
  • 42. Step 3: Don’t be different for the sake of it.
    Most software has evolved to basic conformity for a reason. Don’t try to reinvent the blog or forum for the sake of it. ‘Bad artists copy, good artists steal’ – Picasso.
  • 43. Step 4: Seeding
    • Encourage popular people to contribute. They’re the 5% who attract the other 95%.
    • 44. Be present and involved yourself where appropriate
  • 45. Step 5: Provide recognition
    • Reward good contributors with public recognition.
    • 46. Reward new members and posters with encouragement and involvement.
  • 47. Step 6: Moderation/Maintenance
    • Moderate lightly/politely but firmly. Make rules clear.
    • 48. Provide adequate resources.
    • 49. Continuously evaluate and evolve software/technology
  • 50. Step 7: Transparency and having fun
    • Share your enjoyment of what you do – don’t be embarrassed.
    • 51. Be transparent where possible – explain the reasons behind actions and people will understand them – and then defend the reasoning to others.
  • 52. Step 8: Integration
    • Arrange offline events
    • 53. Build community/CRM into your core business strategy
    • 54. Ensure every employee has clear guidelines, guidance and trust to interact.
    • 55. Don’t abuse it by broadcasting ‘because you can’
    • 56. Carry the same values from a receptionist answering the phone to direct marketing to advertising.
  • 57. Step 9: Measurement
    • Defined by business objectives.
    • 58. Scale (on-site/external)
    • 59. Number of conversations (on-site/external)
    • 60. Brand perception/NPS
    • 61. Contributions (UGC )
    • 62. Subscriptions (RSS/Email)
    • 63. Revenue .
  • 64. Appendix 1: Recommended Reading:
    Social Media Marketing:
    Blog: Chris Brogan:
    Blog: David Cushman:
    Blog: Seth Godin:
    Blog: Mark Earls:
    Blog: Neil Perkin:
    Blog: Martin Belam:
    Blog: Jeff Jarvis:
    Blog: Adam Bowie:
    Blog: James Cridland:
    Blog: Adam Westbrook:
    Blog: Avinash Kaushik:
    Blog: KD Paine:
  • 65. Appendix 2: Free tools:
    Google Analytics (Free website analytics)
    Yahoo Site Explorer (Inbound link measurement)
    Google Blog Search (Good coverage, crap numbers)
    Technorati (Good for finding blogs by subject)
    Nielsen Blog Pulse (Reasonable buzz monitoring)
    Trendrr (Reasonable buzz monitoring)
    Facebook Lexicon (Track keywords on Facebook)
    Twitter Search (Track keywords on Twitter)
    Boardtracker (Forum discussion search)
    Roll your own community website:
    Ning: Create your own social network. Open source alternative to Twitter. Free Blogging/Content Management System.
    InvisionFree: Free, standard forum software.