Today I attended the BarCamp 2010, on online communities, organised the wonderful folk at Ideasshop in Wellington. It felt like a wee homecoming, talking with other people who ‘get’ the online community passions and pitfalls. Largely Comms and PR folk, there were also some very switched on Gen-Y+ students (have you worked on your personal brand yet? They have.) and a smattering of Marketing and social media consultants.
Chatham House rules being what they are, I will stay schtum on some juicy details but the key themes that seemed to emerge were:
- Don’t even start to create content, websites, media channels or a single tweet until you are very clear on who you are talking to and why. Keep them involved, collaborating and co-constructing the journey.
- Personas/user information are a great way to remind us that we do NOT own channels or communities – and that it’s the people, and their needs, that matter most. What do they want? When do they want it, and where? What are their mindsets at the point where they engage with you?
- Despite risk aversion, successful models are de-centralised and high trust with a clear line of sight to the business goals. Different voices for different channels. Remember that businesses do not intentionally hire idiots, so trust your staff to talk to your customers; they may be your strongest advocates.
- Mass broadcast is yesterday’s paradigm; local, specialised, personal is where it’s at.
- Websites are not information brochures but relationship management tools, controlled mutuality. Why do your users want to have a relationship with you?
- Social media is a different paradigm. We are pulling people to us, not pushing our message. Find your community and find your conversation. Where are your people, where are they hanging out and what are they saying? Listen to them. [Some great tools for this: SocialOomph, GoogleAlerts, Flock, Tweetdeck, Surchur, Technorati (influencer ranking), Radian6 (sentiment), and a plug for the local boys, NetEmpathy ( sentiment)]
- Engage with their communities first then use the community chats to leverage traffic to your own business.
All that, plus some relaxed people, enough sugar to put us all on the ceiling, and some good contacts for the future. Nice one.