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Steal These Community Management Tips from CMX Summit Presenters

February 8, 2014

CMX Summit

This post was originally published on the DNN Software blog.

Community Management Tips Learned from CMX Summit

The first ever CMX Summit was held in San Francisco. It’s “a new event bringing together the world’s greatest community minds to share unique perspectives, experiences and ideas all around community building.”

The event included a full day of captivating talks from community management experts. And as you’d expect when a group like this assembles, there was a lot community building among the participants. Let’s take a look at some community management tips that I took away from attending this event.

The Importance of Building Trust

Community managers should understand how the mind works. By understanding how to inspire trust, you can motivate community members to take actions aligned to the goals of your community.

Robin Dreeke

Robin Dreeke, photo courtesy of CMX Summit.

Look no further than the head of the FBI behavioral analysis program to help show you the way. Robin Dreeke ( @rdreeke) is a behavioral and rapport building expert (at the FBI) and author of the book “It’s Not All About Me: The Top Ten Techniques for Building Quick Rapport with Anyone” (here’s the link to the book on Amazon ).

With regard to community members, it’s pretty simple:

  1. Understand what they want
  2. Help them achieve it

Community Management Tip:

“It’s not all about me” is a perfect mindset for community managers . It’s not about you (the community manager) and it’s not about the community. It’s about “them” (your members). Have a single-minded focus on helping them. Your members will begin to trust the community manager, then the larger community, then your organization’s brand. Help them first and then they’ll help you.

Read the summary at The Community Manager:

Why Should They? Trust Strategies for Every Situation (by Ashley Hayes)

Build Your Community Around Rituals

Emily Castor

Emily Castor, photo courtesy of CMX Summit.

You’ve probably heard of Lyft, especially if you live in the Bay Area. Lyft is a popular ride-sharing service that’s grown its business via community building. In an article published by TechCrunch , Lyft co-founder John Zimmer said, “Building community is what drives me and makes me so happy to work on this.”

Emily Castor is Director of Community Relations at Lyft. She presented the Lyft story, which revolves around its community and the rituals that have emerged within it. Castor noted the importance of the pink mustache that’s attached to the front of drivers’ cars (side note: it’s intentionally shaped in the form of a smile).

Riders are invited to sit in the front seat. This alters the nature of the driver/rider relationship . It’s no longer vendor/customer: instead, it’s simply two people having a conversation on the way to a destination. Lyft drivers give a fist bump (to riders) to thank them at the conclusion of a ride.

These rituals help shape Lyft’s customer experience. In turn, it helps shape their brand and makes their brand unique.

Community Management Tip:

For online communities, seek and encourage similar rituals. Rather than be creator of those rituals, be the sponsor. #FollowFriday is a ritual that emerged on Twitter. What if your community started something similar?

Read the summary at The Community Manager:

Crafting a Self-Sustaining Community Culture: The Power of Ritual, Purpose, and Shared Identity (by Ashley McGregor Dey)

To Build a Sustainable Community, Have a Firm Foundation

Ligaya Tichy

Ligaya Tichy, photo courtesy of CMX Summit.

Ligaya Tichy provided community management insights learned from managing communities for Yelp, Airbnb and others. Oftentimes, community managers like to get deep into the trenches with tactics, metrics and the like, before taking a look at the big picture.

And that was my biggest takeaway from Tichy’s talk: focus on the key pillars of any community:

  1. Learning
  2. Play
  3. Support

Community Management Tip:

At the end of each week, assess the activities in your online community that week . Did you help members learn something new? Did you afford them the opportunity to have some fun? And finally, were they able to get answers to their questions, or resolutions to their issues? If you do this exercise weekly, then take action to address any shortfalls, your community will be the better for it.

Side note: there’s a fourth pillar I’d add, which is “recognition.” Being recognized (within a community of your peers) helps build a sense of reward, which creates tighter bonds within the community.

Read the summary at The Community Manager:

The Evolution of Communities – Social Design and Key Metrics for Every Stage (by Ashley Hayes)

Connect Individually with Community Members

Ellen Leanse

Ellen Leanse, photo courtesy of CMX Summit.

During the 1980’s, Ellen Leanse was a user evangelist for Apple and founder of the Apple User Group Connection. In other words, Ellen was a community manager before the term was coined. On her first day on the job, Ellen received a stack of papers well over two feet high. They were letters from angry customers.

Ellen jumped right in and started calling them. One of the customers Ellen called was Dave Lavery, a NASA scientist who would later play a significant role in the creation of the Mars Rover. Not only did Ellen address Lavery’s issue, but she continued to check in from time to time. “ It’s important to stay in touch,” Leanse said in her talk.

Community Management Tip:

This tip is taken directly from Leanse’s talk: each week, pick up the phone and call 3-5+ community members. Ask them how things are going and how you can make their participation more useful. You’re guaranteed to have a positive ROI from these calls.

Read the summary at The Community Manager:

Lessons from the History of Communities – Why They Matter Today and Tomorrow (by Ashley Hayes)

Conclusion

The first ever CMX Summit was splendid. If you were there, perhaps you had similar takeaways as mine. If you weren’t there, I hope you’re able to apply some of these tips in your own communities.

Community Management Blog Series

community management blog series

Colleague Clint Patterson published a great blog series on how to create sustained engagement in online communities. Check out Part 1 of Clint’s series, where you’ll find links to Parts 2 and 3.

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How to Avoid and Minimize Fake Social Media Reviews

October 22, 2012

Introduction

I was surprised to come across a press release from the research firm Gartner, which stated that “by 2014, 10-15 Percent of Social Media Reviews to Be Fake, Paid for By Companies.” As someone who relies on reviews to make purchasing decisions (e.g. on Amazon, Yelp, TripAdvisor and many other sites), this concerns me.

For actions such as views, Likes and followers, the “cost” (overhead) is low, while the action can be performed somewhat anonymously. A review, on the other hand, requires more “work,” and is often associated with some sort of identity (profile) of the reviewer.

In the press release, Gartner indicated that companies will emerge to assist brands: “Gartner analysts said they expect a similar market of companies to emerge specializing in reputation defense versus reputation creation.”

I have a better solution – and that’s to “attack” the root of the problem, which is the review site itself. Thankfully, many review sites are already structured to separate the quality reviews from the fake reviews.

Let’s look at some examples and consider some related ideas.

Review the Reviews.

“Meta,” according to Wikipedia, is “a concept which is an abstraction from another concept, used to complete or add to the latter.” To determine the worthiness of reviews, there’s nothing bet-ah (better) than meta (bad pun).

Let’s consider the reviews on Amazon. First, notice that the heading is “Most Helpful Customer Reviews.” Amazon allows users to indicate whether a review was helpful and then sorts their reviews list in order of “highest number of helpful review ratings” first.

The “Most Recent” reviews are listed off to the right column, in less prominent real estate. Also note that the reviewer is an “Amazon Verified Purchase,” which means that he purchased the book on Amazon.

Granted, one can still manipulate the system, as the New York Times detailed in a piece titled “The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy.” But the Amazon system is effective because it relies on its users to tell us which reviews have been helpful. It also means that to display the “verified purchase” label, a fake reviewer would need to purchase the book on Amazon.

Establish “On-Site” Reputation.

In the Amazon example, the helpful reviews rose to the top, while the “non-helpful” reviews remained at the bottom. In this way, the Amazon reviews are similar to search engines, as few people click past Page 1 of search results pages (and the cream rises to the top).

In addition to rating the reviews, sites could establish reputation ratings for end users. eBay has been an innovator on this front, with their Feedback ratings. If you’ve ever purchased something on eBay, you probably viewed the seller’s ratings and read through comments (on that seller) left by other users.

Of course, an online review is a much different than an online purchase. Reviews won’t garner as much feedback as transactions. But the concept remains: allow users to establish reputation on the site, which will influence other users’ judgment on the published reviews.

Amazon, in fact, has a program called “Hall of Fame Reviewers” and Yelp has a program called the Yelp Elite Squad. Reviews that prominently display these sorts of reputation “achievements” (next to the reviewer) emphasize the “high reputation users” over those who may have ulterior motives (i.e. fake reviews).

Integrate Third Party Reputation Data.

Services such as Klout, Kred and PeerIndex aggregate public data (about you) to calculate online reputation scores. While not quite as useful as “on-site” reputation, linking reviewers to an online influence profile could help ward off fake reviews.

Influence equals credibility. And in considering whether a review is bonafide, I’d take an online influence score over nothing (i.e. an anonymous profile).

Deeper integrations between review sites and online influence services could tie “review topics” (e.g. books on Finance) to “influence topics” (e.g. Finance).

So, for instance, a review of a Finance book could link to the reviewer’s “Finance topic” page on the online influence site. Users reading the review could then determine how much weight to place on that particular review.

Integrate Third Party Social Identities.

Blogs and web sites use services such as Livefrye to conveniently integrate social identities (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) to web site and blog comments. Tying reviews to a social identity is far better than anonymous reviews. At minimum, the reader can visit the social profile of reviewers to make a judgment on their worthiness.

Conclusion

Online reviews play an enormous role in worldwide purchasing decisions. As with any data source, effectiveness is closely tied to credibility.

If 10-15% of social media reviews are fake, then credibility suffers. And when that happens, people will look for other means of purchasing decision research. As such, web sites that provide reviews should look to successful examples from Amazon, Yelp, eBay and others to help avoid and minimize fake reviews.

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .


How Virtual Events Can Adopt Location Based Services

January 28, 2010

These days, it seems the social web is like real estate – it’s all about location, location, location.  Foursquare, Gowalla and Loopt are gaining popularity as location based, mobile social services.  Yelp has rolled out Yelp Check-ins, which mirror a popular activity on the aforementioned services.  Twitter added location awareness to its API in 2009.  Facebook, some speculate, may enter the fray with their own location based services.

So how would it be possible to enable Location Based Services in a virtual event?  Well, consider that location tracking is inherent to the virtual event platform – in other words, it has a built-in GPS for all users!  I wrote previously about gaming in virtual events – that gaming can generate  retention, engagement, enjoyment and loyalty.  Location Based Services, in the form of competition and gaming, can achieve all of these benefits.  Let’s take a look at how.

Source: flickr (User: dvxfilmerdoug)

It Starts With The Buddy List

Users first need to build their social graph.  This can be accomplished with a virtual event platform’s “buddy list” feature – all users in your buddy list would receive status notifications from the location system.  The notifications would be sent to users within the virtual event (if you’re logged in).  Once you log out, you can opt to receive status notifications via email.  This way, even if you’re no longer in the event, you can receive updates (via email) on what your buddies are up to.

Build A Reward System

Next, a reward system serves as an incentive for users to participate.  The concept is similar to the becoming “mayor” of a location on Foursquare.  In a virtual event, perhaps you allow privileged users (who have achieved a certain status) to obtain a badge – whereby the badge can superimposed on their avatar image – or, listed on their profile page.  In addition to the badge system, a master leaderboard (and perhaps segmented leaderboards) should be utilized, allowing users to track their performance relative to other users.

The Virtual Trade Show

First, the notion of a social graph in a virtual trade show may be an upfront challenge.  At most trade shows, you may know a handful of colleagues or associates who are also attending – but for the most part, everyone else is a stranger (to start).  Thus, a system may need to be in place first to encourage users to add other users to their buddy list.

Assuming you can achieve decent-sized buddy lists, then the “check-in” becomes quite relevant in a virtual trade show.  Each visit that I make to an event area can be tracked (by the platform) as a check-in – allowing my buddies to know what areas I visited – and, where I am right now.  Secondly, I might leave a review or comment about a particular area – perhaps I enjoyed the content in an exhibitor’s booth – or, I didn’t find a Webcast to be all that useful.  When my buddies enter those same areas, they can then view the comments I left them from my prior check-ins.  Thus, when a buddy enters the same exhibitor booth, she knows that I visited earlier and enjoyed the content there.

Exhibitors could then sponsor areas of the event (besides their own booth) – the Lounge, Auditorium, Resource Center, etc.  Then, attendees can vie to become the “mayor” of a given area.  At the end of the live event, perhaps the mayor of the Lounge receives a prize that’s awarded by the Lounge’s sponsor – and to receive the prize, agrees to have a short conversation with that sponsor.  Already, you can begin to see how this location “app” can generate additional activity and engagement.

Source: flickr (User: Live Solutions)

The Virtual Sales Conference

In a virtual sales conference (and related corporate events), attendees naturally have a large list of potential buddies – the trick is to incent the attendees to populate that list within the virtual event.  Alternatively, management may choose to pre-select the buddy lists by organizing the sales force into teams – whereby your buddy list is pre-seeded with your fellow team members.  The location app is all about checking in (with each other) and sharing information towards gaining points for your team.  In this manner, the location app helps encourage learning and collaboration, making the virtual sales conference more effective.

Social Networks

For certain types of events (e.g. virtual trade shows), integrating the location system with users’ social networks can be powerful.  For instance, a check-in to the keynote presentation can auto-generate a tweet out to the attendee’s Twitter followers – providing a registration link to the event.  Similarly, a check-in at an exhibitor’s booth may prompt the user whether she wants to post an update to her Facebook wall.  In summary, the location service should facilitate sharing not just within the virtual event, but to external social networks as well.

Prevent Gaming (of the System)

The virtual events platform will need to carefully build the measurement and scoring methodologies to ensure that the “game is not gamed”.  In the real world, there is overhead involved in becoming the mayor of a watering hole – in the virtual world, clicking 50 times to enter an exhibitor’s booth is quite easy.  The scoring system ought to consider rate limits, as well as threshold values around selected activities.  Additionally, becoming “mayor” should factor in actions that are not as “game-able” as mouse clicks or visits.

Conclusion

There’s  probably a lot of work to enable the underlying platform to accomplish this – however, such a system can go a long way to achieving retention, engagement, enjoyment and loyalty.

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How Location Awareness And Augmented Reality Can Be Leveraged For Events

November 24, 2009

Photo source: Layar.com

With the addition of a compass, GPS and associated software, the PDA/smartphone has become as powerful as ever.  Services are emerging that blend social networking and location awareness (e.g. Foursquare, Google Latitude) – in addition, augmented reality has received a lot of recent attention.  Amsterdam-based Layar has interesting technology that they call Layar Reality Browser – Version 2.0 (a mobile, augmented reality browser).

How could location awareness and augmented reality apply to events and trade shows?

Event Check-In

Source: flickr (User: Buckeye Beth)

Event planners could partner with location awareness providers to determine which registrants have appeared on site.  Attendees would need to register and opt-in to the location awareness service – but once they do, the technology can determine who’s on site and provide automated check-in.  Imagine arriving at the event, skipping past the long check-in line and going straight to a self-service kiosk, where you can print your event badge.  Once you have your badge printed, perhaps the event planner disables the location service, to give attendees the reassurance that they’re not being watched, a la Big Brother.

Eco-friendly maps

Photo source: Layar.com

You’re at the main lobby of the event – imagine holding up your PDA and having a map appear of the venue.  You no longer need to ask where the keynote session is being held – your PDA can map it for you – and perhaps guide you right there via its GPS function.  Such a service would make support overhead more efficient (less staff required to direct attendees) and be eco-friendly, since the printed event guide (and map) may no longer be required.

Augmented Reality at Exhibitor Booths

For trade shows that include exhibitor booths, augmented reality provides for some interesting possibilities.  I’m standing at the event’s most popular booth – the event staff is swarmed with visitors and I have to wait in line to speak to the exhibitor and/or get my product demo.  While I’m waiting, I bring up the augmented reality app on my PDA – it shows an image of the physical booth (right in front of me) with the following information overlaid:

  1. Related content from the exhibitor that I can view (right now) from my PDA – documents, white papers, on-demand videos, etc.
  2. Bios/profiles of event staffers who are in the booth right now – so I know that the most popular demo is being given by the exhibitor company’s Senior Product Manager for Mobile – I can view his LinkedIn profile, so that when my turn comes, I already know that we have a connection in common.
  3. An option to view the demo – perhaps the physical booth demos are being streamed out to the web – e.g.  into a hybrid virtual event.  With a click, I’m able to view the live stream of the demo via my PDA.  I’ll admit, it’s an odd thought to watch a live demo that’s occurring a few feet from you – but sometimes at events, it is truly hard to see the demo from the back of an assembled crowd.
  4. An option to join a text chat with a virtual booth staffer – again, in a concurrent virtual event, perhaps the exhibitor supplements their physical staffers with online staffers in the virtual environment.

Social gaming and following friends/colleagues

Events could incorporate a gaming aspect, with points tied to actions – and activity tracked via location awareness.  Exhibitors no longer need to scan an attendee’s badge – instead, the location awareness service tracks which booths they’ve visited.  Safeguards need to be established, of course, to ensure that a booth visit was real/substantial, as opposed to a “drive by”.  To use a Foursquare analogy, perhaps exhibitors offer a grand prize (e.g. HDTV) and award that to the attendee who holds the title of “mayor” (of that booth) at the conclusion of the event.

In a sales meeting, on the other hand, you often have colleagues who want to attend sessions together – instead of texting or IM’ing to coordinate meet-ups, a location awareness service (think Google Latitude) can allow opted-in attendees to track one another’s location on the show floor.  If your colleague is spending too long on line for coffee, go grab him so that you’re both not late to your boss’ presentation.

The important stuff – food!

Photo source: Layar.com

Layar, Yelp and Urbanspoon have all released augmented reality apps related to restaurants.  Whether it’s lunch during the event or dinner afterwards, you’ll always be a few augmented clicks away from knowing where’s the best burger, steak or burrito.

Perhaps what we need is a conference on augmented reality and location awareness – where all of this becomes reality!


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