Tagged: Online Community Unconference

Announcing the Online Community Unconference 2013 – We’re Back!

ocu2013_2

File under: blog posts I never thought I would be writing – but excited that I am.

It’s been an interesting journey to get here (and I’m certain it will continue to be), but I’m very pleased to announce that we will hosting the Online Community Unconference in Mountain View, CA on May 21ist.

You can register here. <

The Unconference planning team is rooted in the #OCTribe meetup and is made up of me, Kaliya Hamlin, Randy Farmer, Scott Moore, Susan Tenby, Gail Williams, Rachel Luxemburg and Maria Ogneva. Our plan is to closely follow the successful format of the Online Community Unconferences that ran from 2007 – 2010 in the Bay Area and New York that I produced when I was at Forum One – specifically:

  • Personally inviting key professionals in the industry to ensure a knowledgeable and experienced group
  • Adhering to the principles of Open Space Technology to ensure a quality event experience & maximum content – no filler / no talking head keynotes and no recycled presentations that you’ve seen from “noted experts” at other conferences. This is about real professionals having real conversations
  • A great location in the Computer History Museum
  • A commitment to document the proceedings  – see an example of the Book of Proceedings from the OCU 2009.
  • A fun and collegial environment

I’ll have more details as we get closer to the date, but the key things for now are:

  • Registration is open now with early bird rates @ $85
  • We are currently looking for a modest amount of sponsorship (feel free to email me)
  • Our hashtag is #OCU2013
  • We hope you can join us on 5/21!

And lastly… its nice to be back 🙂

#OCTRibe Topic: Valuing Participation in Online Communities

Note: This is cross-posted from the Online Community Report.
I’m pleased to be kicking off the 2nd topic in the #octribe discussion, following the kickoff topic of “Influencers” by Gail Williams two weeks ago.

How OCTribe works

Write something tomorrow (Tuesday, July 28), tag it #octribe or tweet it as #octribe, and your post will be linked from the recap page. Moving forward, each 2nd Tuesday and 4th Tuesday of the month, the call and the recap will be hosted on the site of another one of the bloggers in the loosely defined OCTribe group. This conversational project is just starting, so please join in!

The Topic: Valuing Member Participation and Contribution in Online Communities
Admittedly, this topic is a bit of a double edged sword: Assigning financial value to online community member participation and contribution.

On one hand, a community manager could can paint a compelling portrait of value for internal stakeholders by determining a financial value to member participation (assistant moderate, guiding discussions, welcoming new members, etc.) and assigning value to member contributions (support forum posts, tutorials, reviews, feedback and ideas).

On the other hand, if an organization were to make the valuations of member participation and contribution public, it would likely set off a firestorm of debate about member compensation, legal boundaries around “volunteer opportunities”, and ultimately, force the host organization to account for true cost and true value of the activities and content created in their online community.

It seems clear that it would be useful for organizations to have at least notional values for member contributions and participation. What is less clear is how (if at all) to talk about this value with the community, and how (if at all) social capital is exchanged for financial capital in online communities.

The questions I would like to explore in this #octribe series are (feel free to pick one, all or explore your own!):
• Do you currently assign an internal financial value to member contributions and participation?
• Do you use an assumed value as part of your communities ROI reporting?
• Do you account for social capital in your system of accounting for online communities?

Reading the following article from forbes (2001) spawned the “participation value” question for me. In the article, staff writers sketched the value of the cost savings AOL benefited from via their volunteer program.

http://www.forbes.com/asap/2001/0219/060s02.html

“How much has AOL saved by using volunteer labor during the past nine years? That’s not an easy question, and with AOL involved in litigation, the company is not eager to furnish the answer. But even with the most conservative numbers available, we estimate that by using volunteers AOL escaped nearly $973 million in expenses since going public in 1992. That poses the question: Would AOL have thrived-or even survived-on Wall Street without free help from volunteers during its first seven years as a public company? Not likely.

The many jobs that volunteers have performed for AOL would be compensated at a wide range of hourly rates in the labor market (see story). To be safe, we used a conservative figure of $15 per hour-about equal to that of a security guard-as the median salary for today’s AOL volunteers. We adjusted the hourly rate backward using an annual rate of inflation of 4% (historical note: Inflation hasn’t been as high as 4% since mid-1991). For the purpose of the model, each volunteer is assumed to have worked 10 hours per week, 50 weeks a year.”

Please note that I am including the article because it is one example of valuing member participation.

So, to wrap up:
• Please post your thoughts on valuing member participation on Tuesday, July 28th
• Tag the posts and any related tweets as #octribe
• I’ll compile a wrap up post that includes all tagged posts by the end of the week

If you have any questions, please email me.

Online Community Unconference 2009 Wiki Open & Session Highlights

Cross-posted from the Online Community Report.

One of the most exciting things about the Unconference format is the fact that there are so many sessions running simultaneously. This can also be on of the most frustrating, as it is impossible to be everywhere at once. Thankfully, participants generally try to take thorought notes of their sessions to share back with the group.

We had over 50 sessions at the Online Community Unconference, and notes for most are captured on the Unconference wiki. The wiki is now open for public reading (editing and commenting are reserved for Unconference attendees).

The Online Community Unconference wiki can be found here:
http://www.socialtext.net/ocu2009

A few highlights from the session notes include:

Managing the Mob: What to do when things go wrong
Melissa Daniels of Yahoo! convened this session to discuss how to integrate your community into the organization’s decision making process, even when the community mood is dark.

Social CRM : Mapping Social ID’s, Behavioral Targeting & Common Profiles
A session about managing customer relationships across multiple domains, convened by Ajay Ramachandran of SourceN.

Using Community in Strategy Development
Nilofer Merchant of Rubicon Consulting convened this session to explore how companies can use communities as a strategic tool and integrate feedback and learning from communities into product development and company strategy.

Community Driven Product Design – Collecting Feedback from your Community
Siko Bouterse of hi5 convened this session to explore the best ways to build feedback systems.


B2B Communities – What works, Best Practices

Mike Rowland of Impact Interactions led a session sharing community management best practices based on his firm’s experience over the last 10 years.


What is Community Leadership?

Scott Moore convened this session to explore the attributes of leadership in communities.

Social Network Analysis (in excel!)
Marc Smith of Telligent led a session on social network mapping and analysis, and offered a demo of NodeXL, a free, excel-based tool.

Mission Aligned Twittering
Jill Finlayson of Social Edge led a discussion on a holistic approach to Twittering: figure out how the whole organization can get value.

Are we a Community Too? Ways Community Practitioners Stay Connected. What’s next?
Gail Williams of Salon Media Group and Scott Moore explore the concept of a community manager and strategists “tribe”.

Please feel free to share the link to the wiki, or to link to the source session notes from your blogs / tweets.

Highlights from Unconferences Past

Cross posted from the Online Community Report.

We are just over 2 weeks away from our Online Community Unconference, to be held 6/10 in Mountain View at the Computer History Museum.

One of the most valuable resources that comes out of our Unconference series is the set of session notes that are posted to the event wiki. We generally have between 40-60 sessions at each of the Unconferences, and many of the sessions are captured and posted. The wiki (and session notes) are open to the public shortly after we complete each Unconference.

In preparing for this year’s Unconference, I’ve looked back over our previous event’s wikis, and I (re)discovered the following gems that I thought I would share.

Key Sessions from Previous Online Community Unconferences:

Community Management 101: How to get started in this big wide world
An excellent overview of how to get started in community management.

Social Psychology 101 for Community Managers
Useful notes that apply social psychology theory to the context of online community.

Worst Case Scenerios – What to do when things go terribly wrong
Lessons learned from challenging community management situations.

Twitter for Business
A thorough look at use cases for Twitter use in and for the enterprise.

Managing + Motivating Community leaders
A discussion on how to energize and engage super users and moderators.

Unconference 2009
If you currently drive the community or social media strategy for your organization, and you are in (or will be in) the SF Bay Area on 6/10, I would encourage you to come check it out!

Current attendees include: Google, REI, Get Satisfaction, Intuit, Microsoft, TechSoup, Symantec, and many others.

Registration
To register at the pre-event rate of $195 ($245 on site) please go here:
http://ocu2009-rpm526.eventbrite.com

OCU 2008 Wiki
The wiki is available if you would like to read the session notes:
http://www.socialtext.net/ocu08/

You can see pictures from the 2008 Unconference here:

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=ocu2008&w=all&s=int

We also have several sponsor opportunities open for this Unconference. If you are looking for a cost-effective way to reach community and social media professionals, please contact me about our sponsorship options.

Session Notes from the OC Unconference East (and the wiki is open)

Cross posted from the Online Community Report:

We just opened up the wiki from the Online Community Unconference East, held 2/12 at Baruch College in New York.

The wiki can be found here:
http://www.socialtext.net/ocue2009/ You will find notes for many of the sessions on the wiki, and folks are still adding, so be sure and check back.

In particular, I wanted to highlight a handful of session notes that I thought were particulalry valuable. I woudl encourage you to check out the following:

Social Psychology 101 for Community Managers
Scott Moore, Independent
http://www.socialtext.net/ocue2009/index.cgi?social_psychology_101_for_community_managers

Social Networking in the Enterprise
Cody Burke, Basex
http://www.socialtext.net/ocue2009/index.cgi?social_networking_in_the_enterprise

Twitter for Business
Ron Casalotti,BusinessWeek Digital
http://www.socialtext.net/ocue2009/index.cgi?twitter_for_business

Managing + Motivating Community leaders
Sara Stefanik, Google
http://www.socialtext.net/ocue2009/index.cgi?managing_motivating_community_leaders

Moderation Strategies
Bryan Person, LiveWorld
http://www.socialtext.net/ocue2009/index.cgi?moderation_strategies

Online Community Unconference East – 2009

Our first event of 2009, the Online Community Unconference East is going to be held on February 11 in New York City. We expect 150 online community and social media professionals to attend, and we expect there to be between 30-40 collaborative sessions.

Current attendees include: Google, Edelman, Ebay, Consumer Reports, Deutsche Telekom, iVillage, and others.

To register at the early bird rate of $145 ($195 after 1/19) please go here:
http://ocue2009.eventbrite.com

Last year’s Unconference East was fantastic, and we expect this years to be even better. We had an amazing group in 2008, including:
AOL, MTV, Consumers Union (consumer reports), Cyworld, Business Week, Socialtext, IBM, Mzinga, Spinvox, Twing.com, Salon.com, Harvard Business, MediaBistro, KickApps, HP, TV Guide and Zagat.com.

We also had an amazing list of sessions, including:
– What is necessary to start a successful social network?
– Social Movements/Communities with a Cause:
– Enterprise And Large Organizations Meets Community
– User Managed Communities: where users make the rules
– Community Building: Resources and Considerations
– Virtual Goods 101
– Social Media Optimization
– Customer/Consumer Communities for Co-Innovation
– Twitter Strategies for the Enterprise
– Culture vs. Community: Intention-based content
– Community Analytics: measuring success & failure
– Social Networks: Likes/dislikes and what you want to know
– Virtual Goods and Virtual World Interactions
– Building Enterprise IT: Colloboration & interface to internal systems (using wikis)
– Open ID & other user-centric identity technologies (Higgins, Infocards, SAML)

You can see pictures from the 2008 Unconference here:
http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=ocue2008&w=all&s=int

OCU East 2008 Wiki
The wiki is available if you would like to read the session notes:
http://www.socialtext.net/ocue08/

Register
Again, to register at the early bird rate of $145 ($195 after 1/19) please go here:
http://ocue2009.eventbrite.com

If you currently drive the community or social media strategy for your organization, and you are in (or will be in) the NYC area on 2/11, I would encourage you to come check it out!

We also have several sponsor opportunities open for this Unconference. If you are looking for a cost-effective way to reach NYC community and social media professionals, please contact me about our sponsorship options.

Online Communities: Surviving and Thriving in a Downturn (Part 1)

Note: this is cross posted from the Online Community Report

Unfortunately, there has been a lot of very grim economic news of late. The purpose of this post isn’t to give an overview of the current situation, but to highlight possible implications of a slower economy on business, and by extension on online community budgets. More importantly, I want to start a discussion about Community Managers can help their community’s survive and thrive during the downturn.

We have seen this cycle before, and relatively recently. When the web 1.0 bubble burst, many “community”-based startups ceased to exist, and spending on online community development in the enterprise all but dried up. From personal experience, most of the community initiatives at Autodesk were suspended in the closing months of 2001, and we shifted focus to our discussion groups and some customer-generated content activities.

What was different with Community 2.0?
By late 2004 and early 2005, key changes in in the marketplace, in organizations attitudes and in customer (user / people online / etc) behavior led to an explosive growth of social media, use of social networking and increased online community building activities by many organizations.

Key factors were (IMHO, I won’t list all):
• Cost of platforms dramatically decreased, and in some cases fell to zero
• Consumer and workplace broadband reached ~100% penetration
• Consumers accepted less formal content, trust in “people like me” exceeded authoritities
• A certain segment of the group formerly known as “the audience” decided they wanted to actively create, participate and connect
• Many companies started to accept and practice the principals outlined in the Cluetrain Manifesto, and in the many key books, blogs and conference that followed, evangelizing the metaphor of conversation

Things Were Going So Well, What Happened?
Earlier this year, we started to hear significant rumblings from wall street that things were not ok, particularly with the credit markets. Over the last two weeks, the markets have been in turmoil. Many organizations are seeing the dark shadow of a recession. Some argue we are already there. One thing is clear: most organizations have shifted to a more conservative outlook for 2009.

As organizations take a more sober look at the last quarter of 2008 and make projections for 2009, there are some likely implications for online community programs:
• Budgets will likely shrink
• Headcount will likely be frozen
• Positions may be consolidated (merging of roles)
• Layoffs may happen
• It will be harder to upgrade / make improvements to infrastructure
• Pressure will increase quickly and dramatically for some articulation of value
• Programs may be cut back
• In extreme cases, some community programs may be abandoned

Thriving in the Downturn
I want to be very clear here: I don’t think the global economic circumstances mean gloom and despair for the entire online community sector. The circumstances for Community 2.0 that I outlined above still generally hold true, and I still believe most organizations can create real value by engaging in online community activity. Signs that interest in online community is still high are all around. For instance, demand for qualified community managers and strategists is at an all time high (even though we are starting to see the first hints of staff reduction).

However, I do think that Community Managers have some work to do in order to navigate some of the potential challenges I outlined above. I’ve outlined the following tactics that can help (and I’d love to here your suggestions via the comments).

• Focus on Defining / and Reporting Value
In order for your community strategy to be sustainable, you need to be able to articulate value back to the organization. This value has to be articulated, at least in part, in the cultural language of your organization. In some organizations, it’s all about impact to customer loyalty, it some organizations, this value is growing an audience (member registrations). You will likely wind up with a report that is a mosaic of quantitative and qualitative sources. We’ve studied this issue in the Online Community Research Network, and you can see a report excerpt here:

Online Community ROI and Revenue Techniques

• Reach Out to Other Departments (CSR / Marketing / Support)
Online Communities offer value to almost every department in the organization, from HR (recruiting), to Support (call avoidance), to Marketing (awareness / reach), to the Product team (feedback, customer led innovation). Now is the time to reach out to other teams and create cross-organizations ties, and involve other teams in community building and engagement activities.

• Show the Cost of Not Participating
One way to show value back to management is to paint a picture of not having a community or community engagement strategy, and the associated costs and losses. These hypothetical costs can range from increased awareness of competitors to decreased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

• Be Honest About Your Strategy
Take a look at the community touchpoints and programs you are engaging in. Are there a few that have little or no participation? Are there features that score consistently low on your community research? Now is a good time to look at shedding these features and programs that are not creating value for your community. This is also an opportunity to involve the community in continuing to shape the experience and ongoing direction. Lastly, are there features or programs that you are struggling to maintain, that would be better served out in the community ecosystem? For instance, a particularly strong, independent Facebook group for your brand that you have been struggling with, or a user group that has a competitive feature on their site? Let it go.

• Stick Together
The worst feeling in trying times is feeling alone and isolated. If you and / or your team don’t have peers at other companies to talk to and share strategies and tactics with, start making those connections now. There are lots of meetups (like my Online Community Roundtable), conferences and organizations (like the social media club and the online community research network) to help support you.

What do you think?
I would love to hear what you think, either via comments or email. Are you seeing changing attitudes towards your online community initiatives? Have you been affected by the downturn? Do you have advice or suggestions to help other navigate these issues?