Social Media

The Shape of Online Communities: History and Promise

Online communities used to be analogous to cities and towns. Our first notion of virtual community was based on real-world, geographically-based interests. Technology then supported this notion by creating tools that mimicked cities and villages. This idea was wildly popular, but ultimately failed because we hadn’t yet figured out how unimportant geography was when it comes to online community:

Yahoo bought GeoCities — a collection of homepages organized by neighborhood. AOL and Tribune launched Digital City. Corporations from Citigroup to SAP moved into virtual terrain.

These city metaphors all failed. Why? Because they proved utterly unnecessary. The older generation, who might have used them as a crutch, found them unwieldy. And digital natives moved directly into new neighborhoods that they built from scratch — forums, message boards, blogs, and ultimately social networks. via Mashable

Here’s another evolutionary tale. When Twitter first launched, people used it to tell real friends where they were and what they were doing. It was mostly about their physical orientation to the world. Nowadays, while we do continue to post about these things, we’re spending much more time talking about intellectual matters. And we’ve expanded beyond our real world friends to ones with the same interests or values, whether they be in Utah or Uganda. Physical proximity has been displaced by cultural-value proximity. (more…)

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Facebook Timeline Changes: Blog Mash-Up

My Goodness. There have been LOTS and LOTS of blog posts on Facebook and the impending Timeline for Pages changes. For those that are looking for a quick checklist and summary, here you go. This list is a mashup of my favorite posts on the topic.

1. Cover Photo – You now have an 851 x 315 pixel palette to convey your brand visually. “The cover photo is the first thing people will notice when visiting your Page, which is why it’s recommended to select a unique image that accurately represents your brand — this doesn’t have to be a logo.” – Sprout Social Blog. Here are 20 great cover photos to give you some ideas.

2. Direct Messages – Facebook has added an optional feature that allows users to send a direct message via the brand page. This will likely be used as a customer support feature for most brands. However, it could also be a great way to gain feedback on new or existing products. If you’ve had customer service PR nightmares, this could be a good feature to activate: it sends a message that you’re more readily available, but it also hides the conversation from other users. A win win if your product or service is not as popular as you’d like. ” This allows brands to take care of customer service issues in a more intimate and less public space.” – Location 3 Blog (more…)

Interview with Fast Gush

I love pontificating on my favorite topic, don’t you? Last month I got the chance to wax philosophical on the topics of online communities and social media. The folks at FastGush asked some questions. I got to answer. Here’s an excerpt:

The two most frequently asked questions: How do you measure ROI? and how do you measure engagement?

Love these topics! Conduit is about sharing information, networking, and coordination. Our currency is collaboration. We’re ultimately helping people get their work done more effectively. So this is a fuzzy thing to try and turn into a number. Right now, we’re measuring ROI by surveying users and asking to what degree they perceive Conduit as helping them in their work – i.e. “do you believe it is a valuable tool?”.

Another proxy for ROI is engagement. If people are using the tools the site offers and interacting with one another, we believe this is helping push forward the site’s collaboration goals and ultimately accelerating our energy efficiency work. So we measure engagement a couple different ways. The highest level of engagement is content contribution. We measure that by tracking, on a per-member basis, their content contributions over a certain period of time. If they’ve contributed at least once during that period, we deem them engaged. Our monthly average is around 8%. We hope to raise this to above 10% this next year.

See the full interview on the Fast Gush blog.

The Cupcake Conundrum [VIDEO]

Last month I got the opportunity to speak at Portland’s Digital Marketing Conference. I did an ignite-style presentation titled “The Cupcake Conundrum: Turning Lurkers into Contributors”. 5 minutes, 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds. Here’s the video. (For a copy of the text and the slides, check out this post.)

The Common Rules Of Engagement

Crispation sur XAfter the keynote presentation at the Digital Marketing Conference, someone called out a question to Michael Brito, of Edelman Digital: “Are there any common rules of engagement?”. For a bit of context, Michael was presenting on “The Rise of The Social Customer” (see slides here). Not only was he talking about the role of the empowered, social consumer, but also about the business infrastructure that must be built in order to integrate the social customer into the fabric of the company’s internal functions: operations, product development, customer service.

He responded with some good feedback. His greatest point was that when you engage in social media as a company you have to be authentic. (more…)