Web 2.0 Expo: Community Building: Good, Bad, and Ugly

And the fun continues. Another morning at the conference, and another day of hard-core typing. I’m also up on Twitter now (le sigh), so you can get some notes as I go along.

Presenters: Dawn Foster (Jive Software), Jeremiah Owyang (Moderator, Forrester Research), Bob Duffy (Intel), Kellie Parker (PC World and Macworld)

  • Firefox crapped out while I was writing up some great real-time notes and lost everything. So I’m going to resort to a text editor and fix it all later. Some notes lost in this session, but hopefully I’ve remembered the broad strokes.
  • Twitter traffic appears to be killing bandwidth
  • This isn’t a presentation, it’s a panel. No pix for this one, folks.
  • Basic points:
    • Building communities is about people, not tools
    • Home roll, or use an existing service: Do both. You can’t expect people to just find you, you need to engage them to join and let them know that you’re there.
    • You have to put a face behind your company in the community. Setting up a Facebook page isn’t enough — someone needs to be there to be the face of the company. Especially important for blogs and/or Wikis. [Matt Cutts @ Google is a great example of this.]
    • You have to engage trolls directly to not let them run roughshod over your community. Things like: “We’re sorry you hate the colour red. We love the feedback, and will use it in our future development.” Also engage trolls with additional responsibility (e.g. follow up on a bug they’re complaining about, give them access to log and track the issue).
    • You are investing in people, not tools. You need to engage people.
    • Starting fresh is hard, and you need to bring people into the community. Can be done through hitting up evangelists, going through existing customers, setting up shop in other communities, and through blogs (etc.) to market the community
  • Question: How did Intel set up their community
    • Intel protects their brand very closely, but they’re also willing to take risks. That’s the basis for selling in the idea. But you have to lay down the methdology to ensure that communication backs up the brand.
    • Intel signed onto Slashdot to engage their customers directly in a forum that had been largely negative to Intel. Using their experts, they were able to start turning around opinion.
  • Question: What’s the ROI?
    • Bob: You need to know what you were trying to do in the first place. What’s your objective? In our case, it’s affecting the conversation. If we can see a change in the conversation. If we see referal links, or organic search content, and increased logging and registration base, then we’re having affect. That’s the ROI.
    • Dawn: Looking at the participation in the community, the messages posts. Not about pageviews, but about action. Too many people use their community to generate leads. Not sure that’s the right way to be viewing it. Communities are more about awareness than purchase.
    • Kellie: We look at both pageviews and posts. Not everyone participates, so we need to see if the conversations are being read. If content is growing, but pageviews don’t grow, suggests that people might also be more efficient with the posts (e.g. not having to read more than one post to find what they want).
  • Question: Do you need a dedicated person to this?
    • Dawn: In small companies, you probably can’t handle this sort of thing. But in large companies, or in cases where you have a large community, you would likely need a dedicated community manager.
    • Kellie: You can still have others contribute.
    • Bob: Company policy requires the business groups to have responsible bloggers (usually 4-5 per group) who can put out a few posts a week to ensure the community still runs.
  • Question: How to you moderate the abusive language (without being accused of violating First Amendment)?
    • Kellie: Create a profanity list as part of your community standards, and make it in plain English. Refer to it often. Everyone (blogger or commenter) is held to it. You can say an argument is bullshit, but you can’t say a person is full of shit. Can also do moderation after the fact and clean up the mess if it’s out of hand.

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