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Presentation on online communities given at LIFT summit in Atlanta. Talks about B2B online communities, personal branding, and how vendors can get involved.

Presentation on online communities given at LIFT summit in Atlanta. Talks about B2B online communities, personal branding, and how vendors can get involved.



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  • The Evolution of Online Communities:
    From Knowledge Sharing to Personal Brand Building
    George Krautzel, Co-Founder and President,
    OfficeArrow, LLC. 2009.
  • Table of Contents:
    Section 1: Introduction
    Section 2: Evolution of Online Communities
    Section 3: How Professionals Are Using B2B Online Communities
    Section 4: Personal Branding in B2B Online Communities
    Section 5: Why Vendors Should Start Engaging Now in Online Communities
    Section 6: Q&A
  • Section 1:
  • Who is
    • Mission
    • Provide an online platform that enables professionals to easily share knowledge with their peers
    • Existing Communities
    • IT (11 years), HR (<1 yr), and Finance (<1 yr)
    • More than 3.0 million unique monthly visitors and 1.6 million registered members
    • Over 2.6 million pages of user-generated content
    • Advertising Services
    • More than 800 advertising partners, including: IBM, HP, Oracle, Microsoft, Dell Growth – Registered Members
    Q3 2009
  • in the Media Space
    • Content is communication, specific appeal
    • 2-way conversations between friends
    • Personal experiences, socially driven
    • Content is communication, specific appeal
    • 2-way conversations between peers
    • Personal experiences, best practices
    • Content is carefully vetted, broad appeal
    • 1-way conversation from experts to readers
    • News, consumer interests, and trends
    • Content is carefully vetted, broad appeal
    • 1-way conversation from experts to readers
    • News, case studies, best practices
  • Section 2:
    Evolution of Online Communities
  • Community is Not a New Concept
  • Usenet
    • One of the first computer network communications systems (1980)
    • Precursor of discussion boards, peer-to-peer networking
    • Organized and categorized for easy knowledge sharing
    • Significant influence on online culture (coined “spam”, “FAQ”, etc.)
    • Not moderated
    • Short binary retention time (although now archived as Google Groups)
    • No registration, anonymous participation = no brand building
  • AOL
    • Made online service available to the masses (30 million users at peak)
    • Offered a graphical user interface (GUI) instead of command lines
    • Pioneered the chat room concept
    • Emphasis on communication with other members as value proposition
    • Proprietary software/service needed to gain access (“walled garden”)
    • Repositioned as content provider instead of a community (lost focus)
  • Facebook
    • Dominant reach- 250 million active members
    • Well designed to create member engagement
    • Wall/newsfeed functionality highlights activity of connections
    • Various applications for sharing/collaboration
    • Ability to leverage for B2B and B2C with Facebook Fan Pages
  • Twitter
    • Simple communication vehicle – “What are you doing” in 140 characters
    • Easy way to stay current on news and trends in your areas of interest
    • Potential to connect with and influence the influencers
    • Fluid process for “following” and “unfollowing” connections
  • Section 3:
    How Professionals Are Using B2B Online Communities
  • Tracking Social Media Consumption Among Professionals
    • Trend: consistent increase in social media consumption, up to 4.72 hours per week in June 2009
    • Results from the Social Media Index Survey of 3,000+ IT pros in each of the four waves
    Source: IT Social Media Index, Wave 4, June 2009
  • How and Why Professionals Use Online Communities
    • Increase productivity and efficiency through knowledge sharing
    • Manage careers
    • Stay current
    • Solve problems faster
    • Research vendors
    • Make better decisions
    • Tap into tools for peer collaboration
    • Personal networks
    • Blogs
    • Discussion groups
    • Wikis
    Cost-effective, timely, and better solutions
    Member question
    Community feedback
  • Solving Problems – Discussion Group Example
  • Section 4:
    Personal Branding in B2B Online Communities
  • Managing Your Personal Brand
    • Personal branding is “your promise to the marketplace and the world”
    • Tom Peters, best selling author on business management
    • According to a recent survey by ExecuNet, the average tenure of an executive with the same company has slipped to 2.8 years
    • Loyalty to “You” does not have to be in conflict with loyalty to your company
    • In today’s business environment, proactive career management through active shaping of your personal brand is essential
  • The Permanence of Participation in Communities
    • “What happens in Vegas, stays on Google”
    • Scott Monty, head of social media at Ford Motors
    • While this quote has a negative connotation, the same understanding also creates opportunity
    • Professionals can leverage this permanence to support their personal brand management through active networking and participation
  • Reputation Management - Creating Value for Individuals and the Community
    • A clear, logical reputation management system can be a tide that lifts all ships in a professional community
    • For individuals
    • Answers “what’s in it for me” and provides a foundation for personal brand management
    • Increases likelihood of responses to inquiries
    • Produces the opportunity to leverage the community to vet answers
    • For the community
    • Provides incentive for transparency
    • Increases the quality of contribution
  • Reputation Management Key Ingredients – Ratings
    Example: Digg
    Ratings Systems
    • Easy to use voting system
    • Community assesses value
    • Highest rated posts receive the most visibility
    Ratings Systems in a B2B Community
    • Helps determine the “best” solution to an issue
    • Provides a quick input to judge the competency of the poster
  • Reputation Management Key Ingredients – Achievements
    Example: eBay
    Achievements Systems
    • Powerful means of rewarding participation
    • Can be based on quality, quantity, response time, etc.
    • Feeds the human need of “Everyone wants a gold star”
    Achievements Systems in a B2B Community
    • Creates a carrot for greater engagement and higher quality
    • Provides a system to identify high value contributors
  • Reputation Management Key Ingredients - Profiles
    Provides a systematic way to recognize high valued contributors, whether it is based on volume, quality, or response time.
    Shows contribution from a user that has taken place within the community.
    Online résumé to detail relevant experience, accomplishments, interests, and values.
    Lists the community members who are part of a user’s network.
  • Benefits of Active Participation –
    Example: Nic Harvard
    “By participating in an active community, I can benchmark my skills and understand my knowledge gaps. By doing so, I can plan my career path, better position myself for new appointments, and/or understand the greatest value-add ability to a current employer.  At the very least, it allows anyone, no matter where they are in their career, to know what they don’t know.”
  • Progressing Reputation to Commerce –
    Example: Ron Fisher
    • Founder of Profiling Solutions, an Atlanta-based company
    • Transitioned from a consumer of to a contributor to enhance brand
    • Benefits of participation:
    • Builds brand awareness
    • Positions company as having a deep pool of knowledge
    • Contributes to top line growth – 20-25% of annual new customer acquisitions come from the community
  • Section 5:
    Why Vendors Should Start Engaging Now in Online Communities
  • Universal Truth in Marketing
    • “Advertising dollars always follow the audience”
    • Scott Karp, CEO of Publish2, Inc., and various sage marketers
  • Attitudes About Vendor Participation in Online Communities
    • More than 76% of community members believe it is important that vendors listen to their audience and participate in conversations
    • Results from the Social Media Index Survey of 3,000+ IT pros in each of the four waves
    Which of the following statements best reflects your attitude about vendor participation in online communities?
    Source: IT Social Media Index, Wave 4, June 2009
  • The Evolution of Online Marketing
    Direct Results
    • Value: Web as a relationship management platform
    • Primary Goals: Engaging prospects and customers outside of their Web site
    • Secondary Goals: Lead generation, drive traffic, thought leadership and branding
    • Measurements: Cost of sales, customer retention, brand penetration and measurements from direct results stage
    • Marketing Tactics:
    • Vendor communities
    • Two-way ads
    • Messaging connections using trigger marketing
    • Successful tactics from direct results stage
    • Value: Web as a direct results platform
    • Primary Goals: Drive traffic and lead generation
    • Secondary Goals: Thought leadership and branding
    • Measurements: CPL, CPC, brand measurements confirmed through surveys
    • Marketing Tactics:
    • Search ads
    • Lead generation – white papers, webcasts
    • Branding - IMUs, larger units, microsites
    • E-mail – list rentals
    • Value: Web as a promotional vehicle
    • Primary Goals: Trial a new media concept, gain eyeballs, build brand and drive awareness
    • Measurements: Cost per impression
    • Marketing Tactics:
    • Branding – buttons, banners
    • E-mail – newsletters, list rentals
  • Impact = Site visits/leads
    Effort = Funding
    Marketing ROI – Traditional Campaigns
    Traditional Campaigns
    With traditional campaigns there is a direct relationship between funding and results – once a campaign is over, that activity usually ceases (landing page visits, etc.).
    Source: Pauline Ores, IBM
  • Impact = Relevance and engagement
    Effort = Funding
    Marketing ROI – Online Community Campaigns
    Social Media Impact
    Social media marketing requires continuous, steady investment to build and manage the network, with eventual value created as the network grows and becomes self-sustaining.
    Marketing through an online community allows advertisers to quickly engage and make an impact with their target audiences.
    Source: Pauline Ores, IBM
  • Creating a Beachhead Within Active Communities
    About Section:
    Provides an overview of the vendor, as well as links to allow community members to quickly connect with or contact the vendor.
    Lists the community members who have expressed their interest in engaging and staying current by creating a connection with the vendor.
    Vendor Assets:
    Prominently displays the vendor’s information assets, including white papers, webcasts, product demos, news, PR, and more.
    Shows related postings by the vendor within the community.
  • To Start, Devise a SMART Strategy
    • Do not start without a basic strategy, execution should come second
    • Test, listen, engage, and learn
    • Like personal brands, in communities your company’s brand is being formed with or without your participation — actively shape it
  • Section 6:
  • Contact Information
    George Krautzel Co-Founder and President
    • My profile on
    • My profile on Twitter: