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!.

Enterprise Social Networks: How to Get them Off The Ground #CMAD 8.00pm GMT

Enterprise Social Networks are ubiquitous

enterprise social networksAccording to European analyst Lecko, 70% of firms have set up their enterprise social network this side of the Atlantic. Yet, is it working? Opinions are, in that respect, a lot more nuanced. So, what elements are key to building strong enterprise communities? What initial considerations need to be made before embarking on creating a single enterprise community? How does cross-organization collaboration (Sales, Marketing, Customer service, etc.) play a role in building enterprise communities? How does enterprise community building differ from traditional community building practices? What impact does enterprise community building efforts have on the bottom line of a business? Are some of the issues which will be raised in this live hangout which is due to take place at 9.00pm CET or 8.00pm GMT. Stay tuned!

Overview

This engaging session will dive into the importance of building an enterprise community, best practices to keep in mind, and considerations to evaluate. The panelists will also share insights around the importance of community engagement and enablement and it’s impact on business as we move forward in 2014 and beyond.

From this session, participants will discover ways to build a robust enterprise community for their audiences, bring back tangible examples to their team members, and leverage learnings from industry experts.

Organizer

Connor MeakinConnor Meakin
Community Manager at HootSuite

By day, Connor manages HootSuite’s community building efforts in North America through the brand ambassador program, events, and regularly sharing stories on the HootSuite Blog. By night and in the wee hours of the morning, you’ll find him playing and following just about every sport, high fiving strangers while running, and drinking too much coffee.

Connect with Connor on Twitter at @connormeaks or on Google+.

Panelists

Jeanette Gibson
VP of Community at HootSuite

Jeanette Gibson, VP of Community at HootSuite is a social and digital marketer and general tech enthusiast. She’s the former head of social at Cisco Systems, Inc, and currently spends her time between San Jose and Vancouver.

Connect with Jeanette on Twitter at @JeanetteG or on Google+.

Yann GourvennecYann Gourvennec
Founder of Visionary Marketing

Yann has a long-standing experience in marketing, information systems and Web marketing. He createdvisionarymarketing.com in 1996 also co-founded Media Aces, the French Association for enterprises and social media. He is a lecturer, a keynote speaker, an author and blogger, and his book Mastering Digital Marketing Like A Boss will be published soon.

Connect with Yann on Twitter at @ygourven or on Google+.

Elizabeth HoustonElizabeth Houston
Director of Enterprise Community at HootSuite

Elizabeth Houston has spent over 17 years creating awarding-winning high-tech industry communication strategies, working for companies such as Cisco, PeopleSoft, and EDS. Recently, Elizabeth became the Director of Enterprise Community at HootSuite, focusing on the customer journey and engagement.

Connect with Elizabeth on Twitter at @elhoust or on Google+.

Jaime Stein
Senior Manager, Social Media at ING DIRECT Canada

Jaime is the Head of Social Media at ING DIRECT. He developed the bank’s social media strategy and ensures that its communities are engaged. A journalist by training, he’s the former Head of Digital Media at the Canadian Football League where he launched the League’s social media presence in 2009.

Connect with Jaime on Twitter at @jaimestein or on Google+.

Discussion Questions

  1. What elements are key to building strong enterprise communities?
  2. What initial considerations need to be made before embarking on creating a single enterprise community?
  3. How does cross-organization collaboration (Sales, Marketing, Customer service, etc) play a role in building enterprise communities?
  4. How does enterprise community building differ from traditional community building practices?
  5. What impact does enterprise community building efforts have on the bottom line of a business?

RSVP & Watch the Hangout

Want to RSVP for the Hangout? Visit #CMAD presents: Building Community in the Enterprise Business and let us know you’re going to watch. This will add the event to your calendar and remind you to attend!

The video will play on the event page when the broadcast starts.

Not sure what time this is for your location? Use worldtimebuddy.com.

Discovery Channel on Shark Week at Blogwell: “enthusiasts are doing our marketing”

2e38becbe35159151b804730c513a87bDiscovery Channel were the 3rd presenters in track1 of Blogwell on November 9 in Philadelphia with Amber Harris and Gayle Weiswasser delivering the presentation. Shark week is one of the longest running television events (23 years!). How do you  bring innovation and bring it to another level for Discovery? was the question that our presenters had asked themselves.

This year was to celebrate the “’national holiday” nature of Shark Week and it was rebranded “happy shark Week”. The company started a campaign against shark finning and partnered with the Georgia Aquarium with a live-stream from the aquarium.

Social Media Strategy

Social Media is all about communities added Gayle. So Discovery Communications didn’t have to invent anything but work with the influencers, the very enthusiastic people “who were doing [their] marketing for [them]”. Discovery Communications then went on a ton of monitoring in order to identify and engage with the right influencers.  The week took place on August 6th, but they tried to make the event live throughout the year thanks to Social Media.

Tactics

Digital PR managed to impact major online portals, and used street marketing with a building in DC with a Shark in it: People would stop and take pictures of the building and report on it. The presenters discovered some very active enthusiasts who would wear their tee-shirt and post tweets about that on Twitter. The focus was on Twitter. People were encouraged to create some videos on Youtube and post them by themselves, showing themselves in their “Shark Week” tee-shirts. They were offered to upload them to the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week Video Challenge YouTube channel.

There was no official Facebook page, but Discovery Channel was able to claim that page and set and official Shark Week page on Facebook. Video drove a lot of traffic online. The ‘adopt a shark’ campaign also enabled people to make donations.

The results were impressive

No wonder with such an impactful theme, but one has to admit that the numbers are really great: 14,000 online media and blog posts and #sharkweek was a worldwde Twitter trending topic the 1st day of Shark Week and there was over 91,000 Shark Week mentions between Aug 1-6 which resulted in 100 million potential impressions (Tweetreach.com). Somewhat facetiously, Amber mentioned “that the Radian 6 curve showing the traffic had the shape of  a shark-fin!”

What worked according to the presenters was the complementarity of digital and real-life PR, the partnerships and the Twitter engagement. However, they had mixed results with the photo contest with only 28 photo entries, showing how hard it is to get people to cooperate. Facebook was a bit disappointing but the real issue is in what Amber added: “You don’t know what goes wrong, you could do everything right and still it wouldn’t work”.

One of the things that made it for that project is that the company culture at Discovery is very much geared towards innovation according to both presenters and that there is never any push-back on anything. “Everyone has been very supportive” they said, and Amber adds that, more broadly speaking, “everybody in the company should have a vested interest in Social Media” and all of them should help make things work.

What matters is that people collaborate

Gayle concluded with what I consider pearls of wisdom: “Social Media is nothing” she said, “what matters is that people collaborate and keeping things as open as possible”.

Wizeoz’s Stephanie Stewart reflects on social community launch

wiseOZ community / Social media  site

Setting up one’s company is a difficult task. Stephanie Stewart wrote this very honest and straightforward report of her new social media venture entitled WiseOz. I thought that this report would be very beneficial to all our readers who are thinking of creating a new business in that department and wish to know the do’s and don’ts of such an activity.

by Stephanie Stewart, Co-Founder of iThinkWorks LLC and WISEOZ.com

This story starts like any other. Girl reads book. Girl is deeply inspired by book. Girl and boy jump head first into to the super competitive social community space. Well, I’m that girl. Now, fast forward to 10 months from when I first picked up that book and my partner and I are 90 days into the launch of our first social community.

I have for you what I learned in the first 90 days of the social community space that I must be stupid enough to share. These lessons are not intended to represent the lessons of everyone in this space. They are certainly personal to my experience and, in some cases, may be entirely unique. Regardless, these are the lessons I have gained and the observations I have made 90 days into this journey. Where some may consider it stupid to divulge such lessons (and so early on), I am sharing this with anyone and everyone that has the desire to follow their dreams into the social community space or who is already deep in it.

1. Your theme song and mantra will dramatically change
Just like every other team of entrepreneurs, my partner and I had a theme song which represented our mantra. Leading up to the launch (which was exactly 13 days late due to a million other lessons that I could write a book about) and a few weeks post-launch, we rocked to Rage Against The Machine’s “Renegades of Funk” … No matter how hard you try, you can’t stop us now! Well, days go by and the struggle to find one’s audience takes its toll on the psyche. A homemade mantra, “Breakthrough before breakdown”, keeps us going these days.

2. The guy who wrote the book will just try to sell you something
The book I read (which shall remain nameless) preached all about the emerging social community space. It taught, it inspired, it encouraged, and it even invited the reader to contact the author (who happened to be an angel investor himself) with ideas. Well, we did just that and were quickly given an offer (one could easily refuse) which was more like a consulting agreement with ridiculous fees for this and that to bring our idea to investors. This lesson was indeed the most disheartening of all.

3. Operations is the most important thing you will never have time to always be doing
My partner and I happened to pick a high maintenance concept that requires a tedious amount of day to day operational activities to continuously build and manage custom games and contests. If we’re not around, the WISEOZ.com world will fail to revolve and members will get antsy. We found very early on that operations will always come well before strategy and growth. It’s an unfortunate but true reality for a self-funded venture, as we are.

4. MySpace is a viral wasteland of marketing opportunity
Albeit tedious and primitive, MySpace marketing is a strategy or ours and many others. We set up a MySpace (and Facebook and Twitter) page for WISEOZ.com at the suggestion of some of our well-informed members. Little did we know how that trolling through the millions of MySpace pages and groups to find new members is actually a marketing strategy and not such a bad one at that. You can spend hour upon hour weeding through MySpace users based on their interests, demographics, and whatever other personal information they reveal and it will cost you nothing but time. This is a tedious but addicting activity that happens to produce the occasional new member which eventually leads to more and more new members through word of mouth. Not a bad marketing strategy if you’ve got a zero dollar budget and a good stomach for bad web pages.

5. The devil is in the minutia, and by that we mean customer service
Aside from day to day operations, we have managed to distinguish ourselves for our customer service. It was likely born from new entrepreneur syndrome (similar to new mother syndrome in that you just can’t put your new baby down) but has evolved into a sort of customer-driven customer service. Over the past 90 days, we’ve gotten to know several of our members on a personal level, their dogs, their kids, their accomplishments, their struggles, and more. We listen well and respond even better. In fact, it’s not unheard of to see us in the chat room for most of the day responding real-time to member requests for this and that special feature. Keeping our existing members satisfied and engaged comes first and foremost. No matter how cool your gadgets or fancy your widgets, your social community is only as good as your least satisfied member. All in all, it’s one thing to know your demographic, it’s quite another to know your members.

6. When the going gets tough, friends and family are nowhere to be found
My partner and I don’t have a huge network of friends nor do we have large families, but we do have enough to potentially offer a vast amount of support. Unfortunately, that has not been the case in our case. We have members from Seattle to Australia that will talk the WISEOZ talk and walk the WISEOZ walk completely unsolicited but we don’t have a single family or friend that will take the time to join our community and show their support. This might be a more personal experience, and I might be struck by lightning when I walk out the front door this morning, but it is true nonetheless and may be true for others in a similar position. It’s an odd phenomenon that the people closest to you can sometimes be your worst supporters.

7. Signs do occur but you’ll never quite understand what they really mean
My partner and I were ecstatic when FairyGodMom, our first paying member arrived just 2 weeks into launch. She didn’t bring with her dancing mice or a pumpkin coach, but she arrived nonetheless. Then, just over 2 months into launch, lightning struck my home (where else do you put your data center when you’re self-funded) and took out our connection to the world. The site was down for about 20 hours, members were in a panic, and we were trying to read the signs. We are still trying to read the signs.

8. Not every click is created equal
Within the first few weeks of launch, we gave Google AdWords a freshman try. In some cases, we paid upwards of $10 for a single click. On a $10 daily budget, it’s disappointing when one click produces nothing more than a bruise to your bounce rate. Shortly after, we stopped Google AdWords and found that our bounce rate dropped from a whopping 60% down to a respectable 15%. With paid advertising out of the question, we’ve resorted to a heavy dependence on word of mouth and homegrown viral marketing techniques. It’s a slow climb but forward progress is being made every day.

9. This business of social communities is not so social at all
Call us naïve but right out the gate we went looking for a mentor. It seemed the right thing to do at the time. We learned about other sites our members frequented and pursued relationships with them. We saw synergies all around us (maybe those were stars in our eyes) and know the market is big enough and broad enough to allow for such synergies. Unfortunately, we quickly found that those with investors run the furthest and farthest, the fastest. We have yet to find a competitor that is self-confident enough to consider a mutually beneficial or mentoring relationship. This is the part of the social community space that isn’t quite so social at all. In the end, site statistics will tell you you’re small but it’s your competitors that will make you feel that much more tiny and insignificant.

My partner and I carry these lessons forward into our next 90 days in the social community space with heavy hearts, thicker skin, and blood shot eyes. For those that find themselves dealing with similar circumstances, we hope we’ve offered you some insights that may assist you on your venture or maybe in comparison you’re doing much better and my article made you finally realize that.

Stephanie Stewart is the co-founder of iThinkWorks LLC, a start-up that identifies and develops products and services focused in and around online social communities. WISEOZ.com is iThinkWorks’ first social community project. WISEOZ.com is a free contest-based and interest-oriented community where members win prizes, participate, socialize, and connect through play-as-you-please games (“WiseWits”), interest-based social networks (“Circles of Interest”), and establishment of an online identity (“My Ego”). You can e-mail her at stephs@ithinkworks.com.

community marketing (part one): UGC is part of the Internet DNA

visionary marketing illustration by Yann GourvennecRejoice ye visionary readers, rejoice!  The tide of marketing is turning at last.  After more than 13 years of battling against autistic — and largely inefficient — old world marketing techniques and visions, we are now witnessing a few cracks in the ice of top-down marketing strategy.  Firstly, Regis Mc Kenna and Geoffrey Moore introduced new ways of dealing with clients mainly in the IT world at the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s.  The approach was no longer demographic but behavioural.  Secondly, European researchers Badot & Cova wrote their ground-breaking opus entitled “neo-marketing[Fr]” in 1992 (many were to follow) introducing so-called “societal” approaches to marketing and even suggesting we use the term “societing [En]” instead of marketing.  (Wasn’t that visionary?  Bernard Cova now teaches mostly at the prestigious Bocconi school in Milan, and I’ve also had the pleasure of becoming friends with him in the meantime).

The end of the 1990s were the founding years of — not only of the Internet but — the revision of marketing as we know it.  Seth Godin taught us that ideas are viruses — and so are products and services — hence the newer and more pervasive notions of Buzz marketing.  He also re-educated us (yes, I insist, really re-educated) in order to ask permission from our clients to do business with them.  Not only was that the early sign that e-mail marketing had to be done differently, but it also sent a clear warning sign to mass marketers that business habits had to change in view of evolving consumer behaviours.  1999 was the kick-off year for the much revered Clue-train manifesto, a source which is still quoted today as the reference for online marketing.  And more recently, Tara Hunt has developed and notion of Pinko marketing, a rather weird and politically orientated way of putting that communication power is handed over to the people. Yet, this is very effective when it comes to getting the message across.  Even more recently, François Laurent published a new book entitled marketing 2.0[Fr].  Marketing 2.0 is in fact the sequel to his influential blog: marketing is dead[Fr], but what is really striking is that François — a former marketer at European ex-consumer electronics manufacturer Thomson — is more widely known as the president of one of the two French associations of marketing, Adetem.  Lastly Alain Thys is adding to the bargain by expostulating in his excellent marketing accountability presentation that marketing is not only dead but that it committed suicide in front of its shareholders, clients and even the earth!  Nothing less.

No doubt this time, things are moving ahead, even though the proportion of UGC is still low, there is an underlying trend of change, and this is not coming back to what it was before. So as it is becoming more and more obvious to all that markets really are conversations there is this requirement for a growng number of enterprises to quickly be in sync with this evolution and gear up to community marketing

And then there is Forrester research VP and Principal Analyst Laura Ramos, with whom I had the benefit of being acquainted a few days ago, as we were exchanging on the subject.  In May 2007, Laura (see links to some of the most recent and most relevant articles) had a story entitled: “B2B marketers fail the community marketing test“.  Her conclusions are clear-cut and uncompromising.  To sum them up in a few words:

  1. marketing needs to change in the light of evolving behaviour and rising power of clients (is not only consumers guys, we are talking b2b here!)
  2. top-down and patronising, self-centred, at marketing messages and must be adapted to reflect these changes.  A new tone of voice must be adopted.
  3. current marketers are doing a pretty bad job at tying the knot with their clients and — to put it in the words of the blue train manifesto — engaging in conversations with them.

Continue reading “community marketing (part one): UGC is part of the Internet DNA”