Forum One Community Roundtable–Strategies for Community

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I’m at Forum One’s Community Roundtable at SAP, Bill’s our gracious coordinator. There’s quite a few folks here that run communities for Fortune 1000s, most are B2B. This is a ‘soft NDA’ so I won’t be blogging too much about who said what, but will be certainly talking about the topics that were brought up. What type of companies are here? The kinds I love to serve: Webex, VMware, Apple, Satisfaction, PublicSquare, Cisco, SAP, and many others.

Here’s what’s on the board for discussion:

1) Building bridges to Academia
2) How to Kick start a community, I hear it’s hard (my suggested topic)
3) The road to vibrancy
4) Injecting “controversy” within the community –Why it’s not always bad
5) Scaling Community
6) Group Blogging

Key Learnings

-Is size important to your community? or vibrancy? It depends on the purpose of your community
-How to kick start a community? Add value and reward users
-Participation? It varies, but we’re hearing that 1% of folks may contribute in a community.
-Signs of life: “as humans we want to belong, why many folks go to coffee shops to work alone” we want to be part of a community.
-About 25% of folks in one community filled out their social network profile.
-Tactic: Progressive profile filling. Let guests fill out profile slowly, not forcing them all at once.
-Online privacy and security: Identity theft is so easy with online profiles, social networks, and LinkedIn.
-Bad press to drive community? Only if you can handle it.
-Marketers and stakeholders want to know about how to get value ‘out of’ the community for business purposes.
-For one company here, 95% of content is created by community –not company.

You probably know how I rant about how corporate websites are irrelevant, but here’s an example of one that’s striving to be relevant. Mukund the VP of Innovis showed me his website, they put contact info on EVERY page of the website, list and ‘reccomend’ competitors and make the executive contact information very public, they’re making an effort to be human.

If you know my background, I was irreverent, but creating an industry wiki for customers (not my company) as the community manager at Hitachi. I listed out anything that would promote data storage engineers –including linking to competitors.

If you want to learn more about communities join the Web Strategy Group, yes it’s a community for web decision makers.

Update: Bill, the coordinator has a great wrap up.

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  • http://andrewcafourek.com Andrew C.

    Looking forward to the coverage…and I caught the Innovis website earlier from your twitter update: it is very nice to see a company put contact info for upper management on their website where anyone could go and email the CEO!

    Also, I’m new to the web community world… the difference between an NDA and a ‘soft’ NDA is just that you can release content without attribution?

    Thanks!
    -Andrew

  • http://ericrice.com Eric Rice

    I wish there would be a very street-level discussion of community, like, 1/3 adores you, 1/3 is fickle, 1/3 is effing insane anonymous dolts.

    You’ll never please everyone, those you don’t will antagonize you because they actually hate you or they have nothing better to do.

    The other parts really do like you, some will be fantastic leaders.

    All community is fleeting. And if community becomes too big, it becomes a society. 150+ usually.

    Drama queens and divas emerge, echo chambers form.

    Monetization is a moving target.

    Some people want to be left alone and anonymous and maybe, participation is bad in a community (the suck-up theory)

    And good grief are we the old kids on the block or what?

    Okay, back in my hole. Strategize and monetize. heh.

  • http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/ jeremiah_owyang

    Andrew SOFT NDA means I cant expose specific names or company info without them agreeing to it.

    This conference used to have a hard NDA, where no blogging wasn’t allowed.

    Why all this? An open forum where contributors don’t have to worry about being embrassed in public.

  • http://passion2publish.com Bud Caddell

    How do push our community beyond 1% active participation — but also, how do we measure the effectiveness of such a campaign? In economics, there’s the Gini coefficient, it measures the distribution of income across a country. We need something that measures the participation distribution. I’ve tried to come up with this metric, but I’d love the crowd’s wisdom:
    http://www.passion2publish.com/2007/08/measuring-parti.html

  • http://redplasticmonkey.wordpress.com Bill Johnston

    Jeremiah – Thanks for coming, and for blogging about the event.

    The “soft NDA” concept is admittedly pretty half-baked. The rules are (evolving) to essentially be: if someone asked you not to blog about their content or comments, please respect their wishes. The intention is to provide a safe environment for folks to have open and honest discussions, mostly without fear of having their management flip out. It’s not unusual for direct competitors to compare community stats and management practices at the roundtables.

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  • http://passion2publish.com/ Bud Caddell

    How do push our community beyond 1% active participation — but also, how do we measure the effectiveness of such a campaign? In economics, there's the Gini coefficient, it measures the distribution of income across a country. We need something that measures the participation distribution. I've tried to come up with this metric, but I'd love the crowd's wisdom:
    http://www.passion2publish.com/2007/08/measurin

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