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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