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Last night I attended the #NashuaTweetup and sat down with @SteveMurthey at the bar. We were talking about Social Media experts and how there seems to be so many “self-appointed” individuals out there, as this seems to be the latest and greatest employment opportunity for many. During our discussion, I came up with this comparison. It is like in the movie Aladdin. You had the Genie, who was obviously good at what he did. He knew the rules and was able to guide Aladdin into making some good decisions, and had “thousands” of years of experience in his back pocket.

* namecartoons.blogspot.com

But on the other hand you had Jaffar, and his snake staff. The staff was an incredible tool which mesmerized people and forced them to make decisions that they would not have if they had a better understanding of the situation and were guided properly. He also made promises that he could not keep, and there was always a “hidden agenda.”

 

* disneyvillains.net

Next time you sit down with some who is assisting you in anything, it does not have to be strictly a Social Media campaign or strategy session, make sure that you are not being promised things that seem unreachable, and make sure that you partner with someone who has proven their worth and has the experience to back it up. Don’t forget, you generally get what you pay for. What are your thoughts?

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When we talk to our clients about Social Media, we talk a lot about creating, building and growing relationships for the long haul. While you definitely need to retain your current audience (whether it is your partners, customers or employees, it does not matter), you also need to figure out how to engage with a new audience, or those who may not be aware of who you are and what you do and acquire new individuals. This is not specific in the B2B or B2C world; it is about business in general. When I was at eBay, we went by the rule of the 3 A’s – Acquisition, Activation and Activity. This is a good framework to think about when you are thinking about Social Media. How do you plan to acquire a new audience, activate them and get them involved, while at the same time engaging with your current audience? How busy is your website? Are you doing the right SEO steps to place higher on the result pages? Are you engaging with your audience and putting a personality behind the brand? Are you providing a compelling and interactive experience once your audience visits your site? Does your audience on your website know that you have a Twitter or Facebook account and vice-versa? How are you communicating on these platforms and broadcasting messages to them? I came across the following graphic a few months ago, and modified it slightly to update it with current Social platforms:

* original viewed on www.socialmediavision.com/social-media/

Now when we describe Social media and how it relates to your website, we envision this concept of the wheel. Your website is at the center of it all. You control the content of your site and the organization of that content – now granted user generated content (UGC) you may not control, but you do have the right to enforce policies so that you can remove specific pieces of content if they violate those policies.

You can leverage SEO techniques in order to get your ranking higher on the search results pages for the larger search engines (I realize that YouTube is one of the largest search engines, but I place them in the Social aspect for this purpose).

You can also leverage these external Social Networks in order to create brand awareness and drive an audience back to your website – after all, is that really not the reason to have a presence on an external network – to drive people back to your website and increase your brand awareness? As I mentioned on a follow up blog post from my webinar a few months ago, leveraging these external networks are only 1 aspect of a Social strategy, you should not put all of your eggs in 1 basket.

Once you are able to drive people back to your website, what are they looking for, and how can you provide them with a pervasive web experience (I also borrowed that term from @rustyw who I believe coined the phrase).

Whether it is Blogs, reviews, ratings, forums, profiles, testimonials… you could go on and on with the different ways to provide your audience with a great interactive experience on your website. But the key is finding the right way to do it.

*cross-posted on Ektron.com and eBizq.net

 

In a time of immediacy and the Internet, with the information flow as fast as it is, why is NBC still holding on to the “tape delay” aspect of the Olympics? Why can they not understand that people want to see events live and not have to tip toe around the internet during their day in order to not find out who won a specific event?

Now I understand the whole “commercial” part of the Olympics and that everyone wants to be in “Prime-Time, but it is not like some of the most popular events are not happening at night. Is NBC just living in the past? Are they afraid that they can not work in a “Live” workplace?  They could still stream the events live on their website and place banner ads where they please. I really think that they are missing out on a significant opportunity here.

I don’t know, maybe it is just me, but I really think that the format needs to be changed with having this coverage “Live” and as it happens. #fail IMO

Here I would like to highlight a few corporate responsibilities that I feel are important when launching an Online Community or “Social Media” area.
Online communities should not be developed because “everyone else is doing it”. These communities generally end up in failure. An endless amount of time, thought and management is essential to the success of any endeavor. You should not jump right in with both feet with out discussing the below – as a main starting point.
crawlb4uwalk
1. Key Questions
Who is your target audience?
What is your communities purpose?
What is the “hook”?
What are people looking for?

The above 4 questions are a starting point for any company. Many discussions and debates will assist in developing an initial corporate strategy. These answers will also assist in the below (#2)

2. Features and Functionality
As a company is willing to expand their outreach and launch an online community, many factors come into play. One of the most important decisions – what they are going to offer their community….features and functionality, and how are the members going to interact with one another? Launching a full blown community with too many offerings
(blogs, wiki’s, profiles, friending, forums, video, photo’s….the list is endless) and choices can be very detrimental to the success of an online community. A staggered approach is the best way to ensure that your members are not initially overwhelmed.

3. Member outreach
It is up to you to find people that you feel will benefit from your community as well as those that will assist in the development and growth. “If you build it, they will come…” but they will not stay and you will not be able to retain any member if they see the “Empty Restaurant” (see prior blog post). Finding those key individuals and influences are key to the success and growth of any online community. Building this initial foundation is key for the longevity of your community.
Building

These are 3 important steps for corporations to take before they jump right into an Online Community or Social Media launch.
As always, thanks for reading and comments are welcomed!

When was the last time that you walked by a restaurant with no one in it and decided to walk in?
chairs
Empty seats, how inviting is that?

As I have stated many times, Moderation and Management services have transformed over the last year or so. In the past, Moderation services were strictly thought of in a reactive nature – removal of content and the associated member accounts.

Now, the roles and responsibilities of Community Moderators have expanded to include a more proactive nature. Communities that are just beginning need to be jump-started. Content needs to be posted and interactions need to be portrayed within the community, so when potential members “stumble-upon” the area, they are aware of what is acceptable and allowed; what the community is geared towards. Not only that, members need to be aware of all of the features and functionality that is available to them.

Moderation services can assist with the seeding of content and active facilitation of interactions within a community to get it on track and moving forward. While some communities may need more than others, these services can be tailored to meet any companies needs.

After all, when you visit a restaurant or an online community it is nice to know what you are getting into.
restuarant

The next time that you think of an online community and how to manage and moderate it, please think of what your needs and goals are, and how you expect to accomplish them – while at the same time, taking a look from the Outside.

Moderation and Management (whether internally or externally driven) of any online community is not something that should be an after-thought, because if it is, you are already setting yourself up to sink.

Defining your Online Community policies is one of the most important steps when launching a community. Members need to be aware as to what “is” and “is not” allowed to be posted within your community. However, planning on how these policies will be enforced within your community is an effort that does not end when you launch your community. Continuous tweaking and decreasing of the “subjective” nature of your policies is an important step to remember.

All of our clients policies, and most other communities in general, have some aspect of “subjectiveness” to them. While we may try to define policies and guidelines that are straightforward as possible, there are always cases where members are unsure where the line is drawn. It is important to continually refine your policies so that your members are aware of what “is” and “is not” allowed.

At the same time, preparing for potential situations in advance is very important as well. How are you going to address content that may have a negative tone concerning your business or your product? What are you going to do when someone says something negative concerning your leadership? What if someone is giving another wrong advise? Where is the line drawn between constructive criticism/discussion and malicious behavior? These are some (definitely not all) of the questions that you need to ask yourself and others within your corporation before you launch your community. If you plan ahead and handle these situations appropriately, then your community will know where the lines are drawn. If you do not handle these situations appropriately, and address these situations inconsistently, that is where confusion comes into play. Trying to think of every situation in advance can be a daunting task, but having a baseline understanding of how certain situations are going to be handled will display to both your company and your community that you have a plan in place, and you are prepared.

As always, thanks for reading.

Mike

Note: Cross-posted at mzinga.com

Employment

I am currently employed at Autodesk as a Senior Manager of Online Community and Social Engagement. My team is responsible for the Customer Support initiatives across all of our Social channels.

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