Tristan Nitot, (his blog on open source in French) CEO of Mozilla Europe talks about how Firefox spread mainly through word of mouth and people just sharing it and advocating it to others. He suggests that the open source initiative first resonated with people, thus spurring word of mouth. They encouraged users to have the software loaded on a portable thumbnail flash drive, and install it wherever they went. Blogs were a big component of how it spread, as well as local communities that would be passionate about their region, self-supporting each other, and spreading the word.
Un traditional web strategies
As you may know, Mozilla hasn’t done a lot of traditional marketing or advertising (except for at least one full page add in NYTs with the launch of Firefox 1.0) and is really relying on social media to spread the tools. Exactly how fanatic is it’s customer base? So fanatic that some users created an actual crop circle and it’s featured all over google images searches, as well as in Google Earth! Or they’ve leaned on the community to create and submit videos (30 second commercials) with Firefoxflicks, some of which actually went on major TV networks, sans production costs.
If you’re looking for stats, you’ll find that Firefox is the second most used browser in the world, and it’s primarily spread through grass roots adoption, against a Microsoft product that comes embedded on many platforms. Users have to go out of their way to download the software, let alone spread it to others.
This is fascinating, if I substitute the word ‘Firefox’ and insert the name of ‘any religion’, it still makes sense. For many, it’s almost as if Firefox is gospel.
Connie Benson is a community advocate, and is the community manager at ACDsee photo management software that I’ve used when I was a UI designer. Aside from that, she helps me co-moderate the Community Manager group in Facebook, and has been a big contributor in my research, defining the four tenets of community managers, and is becoming a great friend.
I asked Connie what to do when detractors criticize your company, brand, or products, we also talk about dealing with an overwhelming negative community or forum.
I also recommend setting up a process in advanced that helps to identify what type of detractor you’re dealing with, as some should be responded to quickly, and some should never be responded to (ongoing trolls). Develop a plan on what to do, as you’re going to have to deal with different personalities throughout your community program.
Update: Nicholas Butler says in twitter that Connie’s direct actions helped him give the ACDsee products another try, talk about understanding the value of having a community advocate like Connie.
As I travel around, I do quick interviews with interesting folks, some of them are speakers, thought leaders, or people I interview for my reports. Marcia immediately impressed me as she was asking very key questions during my keynote, and we furthered the conversation over lunch.
Marcia Kadanoff, who I met at the Web Community Forum up in Seattle, gives her insight on the future of the web. Search will be the common interface, yet the future is distributed, and people will be communicating in many different locations. She suggests that we stop focus on interruption marketing, focus on engagement marketing, and look at widgets.
So what do you think? Is her predictions for 2008 right? I’m in complete agreement, the distributed web is a concept I’ve been discussing for some time.
One of Silicon Valley’s most elite Marketer, Evangelist, Blogger, and VC is Guy Kawasaki.
Many know him for his evangelism at Apple, speaking, companies he’s funded, the 8 books he’s been involved with, or the sharing he does from his blog (although he told me over lunch that he’s shared almost everything he can). I met Guy at the local ice rink, where he spends lunches playing hockey. He asked me where I wanted to shoot the video, and I said down by the ice, I had on a jacket, and turtleneck, but he braved the interview for me in just a t-shirt.
Guy shares with me some of his predictions for Marketers in 2008, companies he’s interested in investing with, answers “is entrepreneurship born or bred” (a question from David Wescott in Twitter), about Twitter and it’s impacts to Truemors (from Yama-sami). Oh and here’s the site Guy was raving about, PopURLs. Most recently he’s launched his passion Truemors, which as many of you are seeing in Twitter.
Thanks Guy for taking the time out.
Sean O’Driscoll, the General Manager of Microsoft’s MVP program shares with me the three different layers and levels of community. Sean has served the program for 15 years, and had just announced he’s planning to leave Microsoft to try some exciting things (we’ll be hearing from him soon). Thanks Sean for sharing with us and with your community.
Find out: 1) What the three stages of communities are: Satisfaction, Loyalty, Affinity 2) How to find key advocates 3) How to thank/reward them 4) How to engage with them.
Folks have been asking what my life is like and how we do research, I interviewed Sean for over half an hour, and was taking furious notes. It was a great warmup for this video, so in many ways you’re coming with me to the research interviews.
Sean, good luck on your new ventures!
In my research I get to interview experts in my industry such as the seasoned Bill Johnston, who’s a community expert and is very involved with community based conferences. In the video above, find out from Bill why he thinks that Marketing should, and should not own the community strategy. Bill also shares how to ‘kick-start’ a community, fortunately, it aligns with objectives first.
The timing of this video is great, as it ties in with what I read from one of the authors of the Cluetrain Manifesto:
Secondly, respected internet ‘uncle’ Doc Searls wrote a great post The only real social networks are personal ones in response to my questions of “Should a brand join or build their own social network”. This is a very relevant question to the time, one that I’m getting asked by our clients frequently. Of course I have an answer, but it depends on what they are trying to achieve. Quite frankly, while I understand Doc’s point, (people over brand) getting marketing organizations to relax is difficult and scary, baby steps are needed.
Doc makes the following points:
First, I’m not sure a “brand” can get social at all.
Second, the notion of “brands” either “building” or “joining” social networks strikes me as inherently promotional in either case, and therefore compromised as a “social” effort.
Third, I’m not sure social networks are “built” in any case. Seems to me they’re more organic than structural.
Fourth, the thing companies need to do most is stop being all “strategic” about how their people communicate.
Chime in: The important questions
It’s important that we explore this issue on both sides, so if you’re a marketeer (or a vendor) please read Doc’s post and weigh in on the issue:
So who really ‘owns’ the community?
Who should be leading the charge within a company to do this?
Is Doc right? Brands can never be part of communities, only people can?
Update: Shel chimes in and thinks I’m getting too close to clients am I sell out? Be sure to read my comment on his post.