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Companies And Communities: Participating without being sleazy

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Online communities are all the rage in today's talk of web 2.0, social media, new media, and other buzzwords, but despite the hype, communities should not be dismissed as a fad. Online community …

Online communities are all the rage in today's talk of web 2.0, social media, new media, and other buzzwords, but despite the hype, communities should not be dismissed as a fad. Online community engagement is a critical part of any company's strategy. This presentation examines best practices and tips for engaging with online communities and will help you understand how to incorporate community efforts into broader marketing programs and other company initiatives.

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  • 1. Companies and Communities Participating without being sleazy Dawn Foster dawn@fastwonder.com Fast Wonder Consulting http://FastWonderBlog.com 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 1
  • 2. Agenda ● Introduction: Community is Key ● Case Studies and Best Practices ● Engaging with Existing Communities ● Building and Managing a New Community ● Incorporation into Existing Online Marketing Efforts 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 2
  • 3. Agenda ● Introduction: Community is Key ● Types of online communities and ways to participate ● Why you need to engage with online communities ● Community “ownership” ● Guiding principals for participation ● Case Studies and Best Practices ● Engaging with Existing Communities ● Building and Managing a New Community ● Incorporation into Existing Online Marketing Efforts 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 3
  • 4. What is this thing we call community? In Person Community Activities 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 4
  • 5. What is this thing we call community? Broad Community Sites 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 5
  • 6. What is this thing we call community? Corporate / Customer Communities 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 6
  • 7. What is this thing we call community? Virtual Communities 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 7
  • 8. Why Have an Online Community ● People: gives people a place to engage with your company ● Product Innovation: get product feedback ● Evangelism: help you grow evangelists for your products from outside of your company ● Brand Loyalty: engagement can drive a tremendous amount of loyalty for your products 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 8
  • 9. Community Ownership ● The community quot;ownsquot; the community ● A company who starts a community: – owns the infrastructure – facilitates the discussions – moderates and keeps people in check ● If the company doesn't play nice with the community, the community will take discussions elsewhere ● Like hosting a party 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 9
  • 10. Guiding Principles: It's All About the People ● Focus on the individuals: Participate as a person, not a corporate entity ● Be Sincere: Sincerity = believability & credibility ● Not all about you: Community is about conversation, which is by definition two-way ● Be a Part of the Community: Don't try to control the community ● Everyone’s a Peer: You are not the expert; knowledge comes from everywhere 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 10
  • 11. Play Nice quot;I'm the Lorax who speaks for the trees which you seem to be chopping as fast as you please. NOW...thanks to your hacking my trees to the ground, there's not enough Truffula Fruit to go 'round. Translation: Play Nice: Be polite and And my poor Bar-bar-loots are all getting the crummies respectful in your because they have gas, and no interactions with other food in their tummies!quot; members 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 11
  • 12. Agenda ● Introduction: Community is Key ● Case Studies and Best Practices ● What works well ● What to avoid ● Dealing with the difficult (topics, members, etc.) ● Engaging with Existing Communities ● Building and Managing a New Community ● Incorporation into Existing Online Marketing Efforts 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 12
  • 13. What Makes a Community Work? ● Open, inclusive and transparent ● A company who listens (to good and bad) ● Actively engaged in the community ● Encouraging new members ● Making it easy for people to participate ● Integration into other relevant areas of the site ● Responding to criticism (never deleting negative comments) 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 13
  • 14. Companies with Communities to Avoid ● Community is lip service, not a serious endeavor ● Pushing marketing messages takes precedence over 2-way collaboration ● Community software / configuration / policies that get in the way of collaboration ● Neglected communities where no one in the company monitors or responds 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 14
  • 15. Flickr: Community Done Well ● Clear and simple guidelines (ex. Don’t be creepy. You know the guy. Don't be that guy.) ● Easy to use and intuitive to participate (comments, favorites, tags, notes) ● Transparency about people (profile, favorites, groups, etc.) ● Private, public ● Little things: Comments you've made 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 15
  • 16. Dealing with the Difficult ● Negative Comments: Do not delete negative feedback. Respond constructively ● Spammers: Put aggressive measures in place to deal with spam ● Pain in the ***s: Put them to work if possible 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 16
  • 17. Don't Feed the Trolls “oh-oh!” Sally said. Don't you talk to that cat. That cat is a bad one, That Cat in the Hat. He plays lots of bad tricks. Translation: Don't you let him come near. You know what he did Don't encourage the The last time he was here.” trolls. They want attention. Resist the urge to give it to them! 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 17
  • 18. Agenda ● Introduction: Community is Key ● Case Studies and Best Practices ● Engaging with Existing Communities ● Where to participate (and where not to participate) ● How to avoid being spammy ● Building and Managing a New Community ● Incorporation into Existing Online Marketing Efforts 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 18
  • 19. Where (and how) to Participate ● Industry Communities (PCWorld, etc.) – Participation by subject experts (not marketing) – Find people passionate about the topic and have them participate as part of their job ● Blogging (corporate & personal) – Talk about ideas, thoughts, & industry trends – Comment on other blogs with insightful information ● Social Media sites – Engage as people on Facebook, Twitter, etc. with discussions about your job as one part 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 19
  • 20. Where and How NOT to Participate ● Do not participate on competitor's sites (considered slimy & bad manners) • Do quietly monitor competitor’s communities and learn from them ● Do not participate in communities solely to pimp your products. If you can't participate as a person with diverse interests, then have someone else do it ● Do not mention your products in every post or comment. Talk about the industry first & your products second 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 20
  • 21. People are Watching You “My eyes see. His eyes see. I see him. And he sees me. And so we say, Translation: “Hooray for eyes! People see everything Hooray, hooray, hooray... you do in the community. ... for eyes!” Be a good example of the “right” behavior. 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 21
  • 22. Agenda ● Introduction: Community is Key ● Case Studies and Best Practices ● Engaging with Existing Communities ● Building & Managing a New Community ● Articulating the strategy and purpose ● Managing communities over time ● Incorporation into Existing Online Marketing Efforts 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 22
  • 23. Clear Purpose is Key (start here) ● Do you need to build new or can you leverage an existing community ● What do you hope to accomplish and what are your goals for the community? ● What is your overall strategy and how does the community fit with it? ● What are your plans for achieving your goals and how will you measure it? ● Do you have the resources (people & $) to maintain it long-term? 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 23
  • 24. Refresher: Why Have a Community Build these into your strategy / purpose ● People: gives people a place to engage with your company ● Product Innovation: get product feedback ● Evangelism: help you grow evangelists for your products from outside of your company ● Brand Loyalty: engagement can drive a tremendous amount of loyalty for your products 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 24
  • 25. Community Managers “Jobs of the future, #1: Online What Skills do we need? Community Organizer – Patience ... If you were great at this, I'd imagine you'd never ever have trouble finding good – Networking work.” --Seth Godin – Communication – Facilitation What do we do? – Technical Skills – Ongoing Facilitation – Marketing – Content Creation – Self-Motivation – Evangelism – Workaholic Tendencies – Community Evolution – Organization 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 25
  • 26. Make it Fun Why do you sit there like that? I know it is wet. And the sun is not sunny. But we can have lots of good fun that is funny! I know some good games we could play. I know some new tricks. I will show them to you. Translation: Your mother will not mind at all if I do. Have fun! Lighten it up occasionally! 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 26
  • 27. Agenda ● Introduction: Community is Key ● Case Studies and Best Practices ● Engaging with Existing Communities ● Building and Managing a New Community ● Incorporation into Existing Marketing Efforts ● Participation and motivation ● Promotion ● Incorporation into other efforts 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 27
  • 28. Why Do People Participate? Social Status & Fun Recognition Passion Gift Culture Financial Work Career Develop Learning Advancement Skills ● Motivation is complex (multiple influences) ● If people aren't motivated, they won't participate ● Promotion must take motivation into account 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 28
  • 29. Promotion ● Use existing promotional vehicles to reach your customers ● With any new community, run a limited beta for customers. Get their feedback and let them help promote it to others ● Augment traditional community efforts with social media: corporate & personal blogs, audio, video, Twitter, Facebook, etc. ● Incentivize people to join & participate 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 29
  • 30. Promotional No-No’s ● Do not use your community to sell anything – Use your community to get people excited about your products – If you get people excited, they will figure out how to buy it. ● Do not promote your community on competitor's sites (slimy) ● Do not use social media (twitter, facebook, blogs, etc.) with the sole purpose of pimping – Talk about your ideas, thoughts, and products with a personal spin (what YOU are doing) 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 30
  • 31. Incorporation into Existing Efforts ● Look at your overall strategy ● Find the places where community fits in: – People can engage with your company – Product Innovation & get product feedback – Evangelism to help you grow evangelists (outside) – Brand Loyalty for your products. ● Articulate a clear purpose for the community ● Promote it using traditional channels ● Use social media to further grow your community 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 31
  • 32. Be Flexible Never budge! That's my rule. Never budge in the least! Not an inch to the west! Not an inch to the east! Translation: I'll stay here, not budging! I can and I will Be flexible. Improvements and ideas If it makes you and me and the come from unexpected whole world stand still. places. 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 32
  • 33. Conclusion ● Community is Key ● Clear purpose, plan, and strategic alignment with existing efforts ● Engage in a variety of communities ● Incorporate communities into existing online marketing efforts ● Play nice, be flexible and have fun 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 33
  • 34. Q&A Additional Resources: ● http://fastwonderblog.com/starting-point/ ● http://www.web-strategist.com/blog ● http://www.onlinecommunityreport.com/ ● http://www.communityguy.com ● http://bestengagingcommunities.com/ About Dawn: ● Online Community and Social Media Consultant ● More Info: http://fastwonderblog.com/consulting ● Dawn@FastWonder.com ● @geekygirldawn on Twitter 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 34
  • 35. Backup Materials 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 35
  • 36. No Community is Perfect ● Things will go wrong – Your community software will have bugs – Someone will get defensive or irate – Companies have PR nightmares (remember Pentium floating pt issue?) ● In great communities, the company responds effectively – Addresses the issue and works to resolve it quickly – Keeps the focus on summarizing and fixing, instead of blaming and justifying – Maintains open communication channels 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 36
  • 37. Reputation Systems ● The Good ● The Practical – People like points & – Transparency recognition – Members award points – Encourages – Adjust over time participation – Highlight and reward key members ● The Bad – They will game it! – Does this make it worthless? 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 37
  • 38. Participate Where it Makes Sense ● Your own community ● Related communities where your audience is already participating ● Blogging (personal and corporate) ● Audio & video (YouTube/Vimeo/BlipTv) ● Twitter ● Facebook ● Many others 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 38
  • 39. Community Structures and Adoption ● Emergent – Pros: Easy to implement, User buy-in, Unanticipated structure – Cons: Writer's block, Off-topic ● Highly Structured – Pros: Control, Clear expectations – Cons: Restrictive, Inflexible, Community resistance, Structure that doesn't work for community ● Adaptive – Pros: User buy-in, Some control, Evolve in unanticipated positive directions – Cons: Less Control, User traction required 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 39
  • 40. Traditional Promotion (Customers) ● Use your existing promotional vehicles to reach your customers ● Tell them about your community efforts ● Share your strategy & purpose with them ● Incentivize them to join & participate ● With any new community, run a limited beta for customers. Get their feedback and let them help promote it to others 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 40
  • 41. Social Media Engagement ● Augment traditional community efforts with social media ● Blog about your community efforts on company & personal blogs (make sure your blogs are listed) ● Use Audio / Video to share information relevant to your community. Host it on popular sites (YouTube, etc.) and embed it in your community ● Talk about what you are doing on Twitter, Facebook, and other social sites 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 41
  • 42. On Domain or Off Domain: Strategic Decision ● YourCompany.com – More focus on your products – Clarity about who facilitates the community – Authority source for product info (features, etc.) ● Off-Domain (YourIndustry.com, etc.) – Focus on a segment or industry – Accept discussions about competitors – Possibly better perception of neutrality – Slightly less authority about your products 10/10/08 FastWonderBlog.com 42