What is a community and how to nurture it – CMAD Jan 26, 2015 – 09:00 GMT

I have been involved in community management from day one and I can pride myself on training a great number of Community Managers from the very early days of social media, that is to say when it wasn’t even called that –  way. CMAD (Aka Community Management Appreciation Day) is probably an ideal opportunity for us to dwell on the very denomination of “Community Management”, the significance of the word “community” and how one nurtures such a community in a commercial environment. On CMAD, which is due to take place on January 26 at 09:00 am GMT (10:00 am CET), I will facilitate a roundtable dedicated to that topic and I will invite various European experts to join me in a one-hour session on Google hangouts. Make sure you are part of this.

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Most brands have no communities

Most of the clients we work with at Visionary Marketing start from a blank sheet. It’s not that they are any weaker than other brands, on the contrary; it is the nature of their business that dictates the way that they have to tackle this issue of “communities”. Like it or not, most brands have no communities.

4 types brandLegend: beloved brands are few and far between. They are the only ones which can generate a spontaneous community spirit; often their communities – e.g. Nutella, Audi, Air France – are initiated by their own clients

Sure, most brands have clients, maybe even faithful and happy ones at that, yet that still doesn’t suffice to turn these clients into “communities”. So, what is, and isn’t, a community exactly?

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What is a community

Communities can’t be “created”, they are spontaneous bodies of enthusiasts gathering or seeking to gather around common values or ideas. I once belonged to a small community dedicated to the Belgian contemporary composer Wim Mertens. Maybe not a huge community that, but one, which felt common values and passion… This is our second ingredient.

> Passion: communities are built around passion. Passion is not always well understood by outsiders of that community. In fact, communities often look weird or even incomprehensible, unless you are part of it. When Alpha Romeo launched its new range of cars at the end of 1990s and gathered focus groups of faithful customers, the latter had to explain to an fire EU engineers that the brands numberplates had to be located on the side of the car, not in the middle. Community feeling and common brand values were better shared within those groups of brand fanatics, then within the company itself. A true sign that something was wrong there. Passion, like the devil, is in the details.

> Mutual help: community members often seek to help each other for no other reason than fuelling their passion and their obvious motivation to be recognised as a group member. Often, communities require no compensation. In fact they never do. I have even seen cases when trying to offer gifts to the members of a tightly knit community of expert bloggers, I had managed to, almost, damage the community spirit within this group. Fortunately, I managed to keep it at that and I retained my gifts and budgets for other occasions. All community members want is to be acknowledged, not compensated.

> Mutual benefit: communities exist when the members derive advantages from being part of that group. It doesn’t need to be much. It may be about recognition, the fact that one belongs or is useful to a group, or just the fact that you like something very much, even a brand, and are part of something.

Nurturing communities

in essence, you can’t create a community, but you can ensure that your brand, your content, your actions all make it possible for groups to be formed and that members enjoy being part of the community, if they so decide. You can’t create a community, but you may facilitate and encourage community creation and nurture the community once it exists. In essence, this is our role as “Community Managers”. Community Management should be renamed “Community Facilitation” for all I know.

Many ways of managing/nurturing communities exist

As a matter-of-fact, there are as many ways to facilitate a community as there are brands and verticals. No two companies are the same, all sorts of techniques and ways of handling communities exist.

On CMAD, which is due to take place on January 26 at 09:00 am GMT (10:00 am CET), I will facilitate a roundtable dedicated to that topic and I will invite various European experts to join me in a one-hour session on Google hangouts. Make sure you are part of this.

Global Social Media Event (Live at 4:00 pm CET) #SMDay

On June 24, visionary marketing will take part in a social media day hangout with Mashable and my community manager (US). The subject will be that of the global Web. There is a great deal to say about the social Web being global. Think about it: in Twitter, you are not allowed, 8 years after it’s inception, to have a multilingual account in which you can publish content in different languages and share that content based on location or language preferences! Whereas Facebook has made strides in that direction, many sociali media platforms (even blogs to an extent) are lagging behind. 

Global Social Media or Globalised Social Media

That is the question …

Global Social Media

The fact of the matter is that Europe is a very strange animal. With at least 15 official languages in the European Union, managing Social over here is a bit of a nightmare unless you are safe behind your borders and never address a foreign market or assume cultural discrepancies in Europe are a prewar memory. I’m not saying that this is good or bad, mind you, this is just a fact. Mind you, looking at platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn, you’d really think these guys believe the whole speaks English. In the case of LinkedIn, the CTO who built the platform was a Frenchman from Marseilles living in San Francisco. I still wonder, to this day, why it took him 3 to 4 years to localise the tool, and even so … it’s still impossible for bilingual profiles to be created… And Twitter won’t have it either: it’s either French, German or English, but bi or trilingual users can well go see somewhere else.

The result is clear: All German-speaking users use Xing, most French professional, until recently, used Viadeo, and Russia is using Vkontakte. I think a lot could be done to alter this self-centred view of social media and improve on the process.

Tune in to this live broadcast of the event on Youtube at 4:00 pm CET

June 30 marks the fifth annual Social Media Day, and in preparation for that, Mashable and Hootsuite are leading a global discussion about the digital revolution and growth of social media. Joining the Hangout on Air are users of global social networks including WeChat, Sina Weibo, VK, XING, ask.fm and Viadeo. Share your questions in the comments or tweet using #SMDay.

The speakers were Crystal from Singapore, Vitaly from Russia, Markus from Germany, Israel from Brasil and Yann Gourvennec from France

Reinventing Marketing at Adobe Summit 2014

My first presentation at Adobe summit 2014 in London today was the morning keynote and it’s so packed with information that I still wonder, while I’m writing these lines, how I can summarise so much information. Here is my account of this morning’s keynote in which Adobe delivered gazillion innovations impacting both the field of marketing and digital. 

Adobe: reinventing marketing

Marketing, let’s be clear, needs a hard reset. We work in silos, pedalling heads down trying to get to grips with new tools as they emerge, and each tool that comes in is being added one after the other in an increasingly hard to digest multichannel sandwich. It’s time to reinvent marketing. And believe it or not, Adobe, the Brand famous for bringing software like Photoshop and Dreamweaver, might well be a major player in this entire marketing rethink. I know it sounds zanyish but it’s happening; if the Adobe Marketing Cloud BU has already reached the $ 1Bn mark, something big must be happening.

Brad Rencher in this morning’s keynote, announced just that; but unlike most corporate marketing presentations, Rencher and his teams showed us, in real time, on the screen, how they deliver on their promises. “We hear about changing consumer behaviour all the time but what we are seeing now is that these changes are having an impact on organisations” Brad Rencher said by way of introduction. “We’ve seen this coming for decades as marketeers and now, we have the opportunity for marketers is to reinvent ourselves and create new things. This is something much broader than just marketing”, Brad said, “it’s about reinventing the enterprise”.

 
reinventing marketing
 
Adobe’s Rencher, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Digital Marketing Business Unit at Adobe Systems ready for a hard reset of marketing
 
Adobe’s CEO Shantanu Narayen stepped in and delivered his vision. “Technology isn’t enough. Enterprises will have to break the silos and listen to customer expectations”. This is in fact what Adobe did for themselves. By moving all their business into the cloud : the creative cloud.  Their whole business model has changed. They were able to embrace this humongous change even though their existing business model made up 70% of their revenue. Tell us about people entitled to talk about digital transformation to others. “This means  reinventing everything and break through the clutter of the buzzwords and deliver outstanding customer experience” Narayen said.
 
How will we unlearn marketing
 
Reinventing oneself is the challenge but “unlearning is a huge hurdle” Brad Rencher said. Like driving in London when you learnt in the States for instance. So how we in the industry unlearn marketing?
 
“Imagine there are no bosses, no hierarchy, no processes … What would marketing look like if we started with blank sheet. Then we’d focus on doing just one things, that is serve our customers” he said. Like jumping on new channels as they emerge and adding channels on top of channels means that we are working the wrong way. We need to be backwards compatible but this is a huge problem because we’d have to ditch everything we do at the moment.
 
Adobe marketing cloud is aimed at doing that
 
Marketing cloud handles the whole process from cradle to grave: analytics, campaign, experience management, media optimiser, social and target. By feeding existing analytics data into the media optimiser adobe is able to make clients save 50% on their SEM for instance. The platform is huge and supports zillions of transactions every year and Adobe comets on pursuing their effort of innovation to support marketeers with their challenges due to fragmentation. In the new version of the marketing cloud platform there a re new tools aimed at solving such issues.
 
Brad took two examples: profiles and content. The profile management service will enable users to use profiles through all existing channels to run their marketing campaigns without having to manage different profiles. As to content, adobe has worked on a system to help users move faster by creating an assets library to speed up the sharing of content assets across platforms and users. Marketing mix planning gives hints as to where marketeers should spend their dollars. And once the recommendation has been issued, marketeers can also use the platform to execute that campaign.
 
And of course the platform is linked to the company’s CRM, and ERP and all necessary back end systems.
 
Marketing reimagined

This is “marketing reimagined” Brad said and he and his teams went on demonstrating how they deliver this directly from the screen. The demo which impressed me most was that of the mobile app development system which gives you hints as to the amount of savings which can be derived from that. Here is how it works :

  • Understand our client as a whole person : never lose sight of customer. Not the media plan view or the CRM viiew of the customer but all bungee.ed together, the real view of the customer. This is what analysts call emergence. This is not just a data store, it’s about taking that data and turning it into useful information. Master marketing profile takes information for of all sources about your customer and sharing it with other employees, it’s some sort of superior webs analytics inclusive of information from social media. Profiles can be grouped into what Adobe calls Audiences. All profiles are shared in an anonymous manner and Adobe insisted on maintaining the highest standard of data privacy but the profile core service is also able to merge. Social media and buying media from an indentified existing client for instance; this enables Adobe to bridge the gap between behaviour (through analytics), assets managements (like items of a marketing campaign which can be generated directly from within the marketing cloud platform) and even the campaign management therefore delivering on the promise of a non fragmented marketing environment sketched out by Brad Rencher earlier.

 
reinventing marketing
A holistic view of Marketing … at last, all unified through Software. Some found it funny that we had to have Software to do that, but in fact, ERPs did this to HR & Finance and many other areas 15 years ago… I’m not surprised
  • Burst of creativity : we’ve had our moments with “cute display ads” Brad said but one has to move beyond this Brad said. We have the data now we must deliver the right experience with the help of the data that we have. Adobe experience manager is about that. Assets can all be inter connected and deliver for desktop and the mobile web. Brad has focused on mobiles in his presentation. Consumers want apps but creating deploying and evolving these apps has never been more challenging. But are we thinking broadly enough? We need to make apps easier to develop. Adobe has development is making it possible to create and maintain mobile apps with drag and drop applications and that included e-commerce applications too. A lot of what we see in the mobile application space is similar to how websites were built 20 years ago. One of the biggest challenge is, despite what people think, bringing the app to a phone. “We want to to make this an accelerated experience” the Adobe rep said on stage. It’s done on IOS only and IOS 7 only though, but the landscape is very fragmented and poses a real issue to marketers. It also enables marketeers to test the look and feel of the new app without talking to IT nor contacting the many agencies involved in the development.
Time will tell us how marketing has been reinvented. Software can certainly trigger behavioural changes, but it will also require a fair bit of change from the people point of view, a challenge which Adobe is ready to tackle as well, knowing that they are very active in various in-job training programmes to help marketeers evolve. They sure have a long way to go.
 
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 Shantanu Narayen … reinventing marketing

Brands on Social Media: “Start With Strategy, Not Listening”

exclamation-smallToday’s selection is my friend Dominique Lahaix’s piece on Ecairn’s blog. Ecairn is a leading social media influence measurement and management tool, primarily aimed at gauging influence and building networks of bloggers in a co-creation spirit. In that piece, it seems that Dominique is leaning towards my vision of Digital Media (and Social in particular) , and advises brands to start with Strategy (vs. listening, engagement and all the trappings which are only technical and therefore should only come second). As a reminder I have reposted the video of my presentation at Atlanta in 2009 in which I was explaining just that. Sometimes, being too much of  a visionary means that you have to wait for years for the mass to come to your conclusions; but this is a flaw which I am prepared to take like a man.

Why should Social Marketing restart with strategy | Influencers & Community Marketing (by Dominique Lahaix)

Wherever we look, we find evidence that Brands get limited value from Social Media:Here is an article mentioning that out of 5000 top Youtube Chanels, only 2% are brands.and here is Chris Heuer post:  Social Business is Deadand another excellent one from Augie Ray: What if everything you knew about social was wrong.

My 2009 SMBC presentation at SocialMedia.org on Vimeo.

The main thing is that most marketers approach Social as just an extra channel to promote products and services defined … when social media did not even exist and with the same techniques and metrics as before.But there is more into it, provided that marketers can challenge what used to know and really digest the paradigm shift that Social Media has brought to business, marketing and sales:

via Why should Social Marketing restart with strategy | Influencers & Community Marketing.

Community Management needs to come of age … now!

Here is a new piece I published on the Community Management Appreciation Day blog yesterday. 

I have been on Twitter 7 years today. It seems like it was ages ago. In fact it was ages ago. When I started working in Internet banking in 1996, one used to say that Internet years were like dog years, that they were supposed to pass 7 times faster than real time, as it is believed to be true of animals. I don’t know the truth about canine mammals but Internet years are in fact more like light years than dog years. Yet, the faster it goes, the more things change and the more they stay the same.This Nietzchean proposition will probably sound overwrought to many, but, in fact, my current interactions with clients show that going back to basics is more than just an option. It’s a must have in this period of maturation of social media usage in the workplace, some 10 years or more after its inception.Let’s see why too many people are asking themselves the wrong questions and why rubbing salt on their wounds is of paramount importance.Focusing on the why, not the how!

via Community Management needs to come of age … now!.