Online Communities: the Social Web

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An introduction to social media and social networks, covering the basic definitions, why they are important in today's web environment, and an overview of how to build a community yourself. Given at the Genesee Valley Psychological Association's 2009 Annual Conference.

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Online Communities: the Social Web

  1. 1. Online Communities: The Social Web dave vogler, sparkhouse
  2. 2. 3 Questions: What? Why? ...is social media? ...is this important? ...is a social network? ...bother? How? ...do you build a community? ...do you keep it alive?
  3. 3. What is Social Media? • a platform for interaction and relationships • conversation empowered by technology
  4. 4. What is a social network? • A group of interdependent people • United by a common interest or cause
  5. 5. What is a social network service? • an online space where a group convenes • a conversation enabled by internet technologies
  6. 6. a little history... Four Major Landmarks in Human Communication: Printing Telegraph/ Press Telephone Pictures/ Radio/ Movies Television
  7. 7. The Internet • Delivers all media types • text • images • audio • video • Native support for conversation • it took 35 years to figure this out
  8. 8. Media Model one to Then many
  9. 9. Media Model one to Then many and back
  10. 10. Media Model everyone Now talks
  11. 11. Why does this matter? • 75% of North Americans use the internet • 96% of Gen Y reports joining a social network • Age 35+ is fastest growing demographic on facebook.com
  12. 12. Why does this matter? 50 million users: Radio TV 38 years 13 years Internet Facebook 4 years 3 years
  13. 13. Why does this matter? • Facebook now has 300 million users • the last 50 million since July • that’s almost as big as the United States
  14. 14. Why does this matter? • YouTube: 1,000,000 viewers each month • 15 hours of video uploaded per minute • Wikipedia: 14 million articles • 200 million blogs online
  15. 15. Why does this matter? • Pieces of content shared on Facebook in a single week: 2 Billion
  16. 16. Why does this matter? • By the end of 2008, social networks have surpassed email in popularity • Social media is now mainstream • Technological value becomes social value
  17. 17. Types of social networks • Extension of existing community • Entirely new community • Geographically independent • Local to certain area
  18. 18. Building a Community Research • What do prospective members need? • What are perceived communication gaps? • Survey, poll, interview, gauge enthusiasm • Benchmark similar sites • Look for niche if needed
  19. 19. Building a Community Action Plans • Content strategy • Engagement strategy • Governance • Feature list • User experience • Technology
  20. 20. Content Strategy Where will content come from? • Authors, guest authors • User-generated content (UGC) • Aggregators • Licensed content
  21. 21. Engagement Strategy UGC Drives Growth • perceived value to new user • flywheel: • zero inertia at start • participation attracts more participation • incentivise participation • avoid ‘ghost town’... keep size ‘just right’
  22. 22. Engagement Strategy • Face to face events • Email newsletters • Traditional promotion, word of mouth • Your users become your evangelists
  23. 23. Governance • Convene your community, not control it. • Community guidelines are key • Moderation tools • Community manager • Listen well (both on and off site) • Easily accessible feedback process
  24. 24. Features • Member database • Ranking/voting/polling • Blogs / Articles • Moderation control • Article comments • Photo galleries • Discussion Forums • Video galleries • Event Calendar • File sharing • News ticker • “Mysite” customization • Links to other • Newsletters
  25. 25. User Experience • Good user experience= good impression • Well designed interface delights users • Verify workflows are reasonable • Usability testing is cheap with big payback
  26. 26. Technology • Content Management System (CMS) • Domain registrar • Reliable hosting & database support • Scalable hosting as traffic grows • Service provider or custom- built
  27. 27. Services • groupsite.com • socialgo.com • ning.com • blogger.com • facebook • twitter
  28. 28. Custom Built • Drupal • Joomla • ExpressionEngine • MODx • Elgg • Proprietary
  29. 29. thank you sparkhouse.com
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