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Archive for the ‘Social Networks’ Category
Yesterday morning I attended a #digitaltrends12 breakfast briefing hosted by the Hotwire group, one of the UK’s leading PR / Digital agencies. With a combination of speakers from Hotwire, the Financial Times and eBay it looked at what some of the major digital trends for this year will be.
So how does this relate to online communities? Well, four of the topics covered I think have relevance and three of them I’ve already written about here on the blog.
- Interest Graph
Forums aren’t dead and this point was covered off by eBay who mentioned their forums / boards continue to grow in size and number of contributions. Tablets (and mobile) are now one of the main ways to access Social Networks and it’s important to ensure your community is mobile and tablet friendly. Gamification, a hot topic at the moment but something that many communities already have built in without even realising it.
That leaves the Interest Graph. With Facebook adding more verbs and the ability to read what your friends are reading, listen to what music they are playing and various other bits and pieces focusing on the Interest Graph dimension could pay dividends for online communities. When someone registers for your community and they don’t yet have any existing relationships with other members why not look at suggesting associations or members with similar interests? Having a field on the registration form or in the edit profile area for personal interests could open up a whole new avenue for community building; bringing people together in to smaller related groups, proposing mutual relationships, easing new members in to your environment.
The other question to ask; will users start to expect this from your community if it becomes the norm on the big social networks like Facebook. If so, wouldn’t it be better to start looking at it now rather than later?
Rest assured this isn’t another Community Management post linking back to a film as some of my others have. This is actually about what’s happening now; SOPA. With many sites and several social networks planning to “go dark” in protest of the bill it just highlights how important it is to have your own community space.
You may have a million “fans” on Facebook but if they can’t interact with you because that site goes down what impact is it going to have on your relationship with those users? I was asked a question the other day about where the best place to build a community is. My response was pretty simple; anywhere you own the space and can then manage accordingly.
From a customer support perspective, if you use Social Media to respond to issues what happens if those services go down for extended periods? I know I’m sounding all doom and gloom here but the biggest message I’m trying to give is that part of your community strategy needs to be about contingencies. It’s going to be interesting to monitor the impact of SOPA and which sites do decide to “go dark” in protest. I’ll also be interested to hear from Community Managers and whether they notice an increase in traffic / contribution across their respective communities.
As we develop as individuals and professionals our thoughts and opinions also change. I’m currently going through this process at the moment and more specifically, in relation to Facebook. I was of the opinion that Social Media channels (like Facebook) can be used to build a community around a brand but having spent more time using the behemoth that is FB my view has changed. For me it’s lacking one key ingredient when it comes to trying to build a community and this missing link is starting to place it firmly in the camp of “audience”, at least in my mind.
The thing I’m talking about is relationships, namely relationships between users. Yes users may be there to develop a relationship with the brand and they may succeed (if they get some free swag or discounts then hurrah!) but it’s pretty difficult to build relationships with other users based solely on commenting on status updates. I’ve used forums for as long as I can remember and the ability for users to have profiles, create their own discussions and talk to other users without the need for faciliation by the brand means there is a far greater opportunity and potential for relationships to develop.
Ok, you could add the discussion element to your FB page but given the nature of FB I’m not convinced this will actually generate the level of activity required to turn your page into a community rather than an audience. With this being the case I now know how I’ll approach FB brand pages; provide the content and message whilst directing back to somewhere else for discussion.
Over the past few days there has been a lot of buzz about the new social network Quora and what it can offer to Social Media. Twitter has been ablaze with discussions and there has been an influx of new people getting in on the act, myself including. From having a poke around and answering some of the questions that have been posed by others I’m still a little skeptical about it and I’m about to tell you why.
The first one is the fact that Q&A sites have been around for donkeys and none of them have really succeeded in any great way. Even the behemoth that is Facebook hasn’t really seen much success with the whole “Facebook Questions” and they’ve got more users than they know what to do with.
The others reasons I’m skeptical about it come down to the way it operates, namely people posing questions and waiting for responses or viewpoints from others. After this users can vote up or vote down a response from other users on the same question. So here’s where I’m at with this; we all know that Digg suffered from people “gaming” the system by burying content they didn’t really like and if the masses get hold of Quora there is the potential for the same thing to happen. Not only could they post endless questions about nothing in particular but they could easily club together and make a mockery of the whole thing.
On top of that you can get so-called “reps” from companies that are having questions asked about them appear from nowhere without any form of verified status from what I can tell. I could easily change my bio to being the VP of some super well-known company and nobody would be any the wiser from first glance.
As a business tool I think it has potential but that pretty much means it needs to be either invite only or something you can only access after having an account fully verified for business purposes. Outside of that I can quickly see it being overrun and descending into the dark depths of another site the general populus don’t really “get”. Part of me is hoping I’m wrong.
Having spent some time playing around a little with the new social network Path my summary reads a bit like my school reports used to; “has potential, could do better”. Now don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of having 50 close friends on what is essentially a private network but I think it needs some extensions to be picked up in a big way.
Firstly, it asks me to enter my phone number and email address when I create an account so that other people can find me more easily but then doesn’t let me use numbers in my address book for friends. I don’t want to have to remember (or find out) all the email addresses of my friends and then have to enter them. Future work definitely has to tie it in with the mobile operators in some way so I can send an automated invite via text to a number that I know (with a name) and that person can accept (even if they aren’t on Path yet). That text should also give them a bit of information about Path and encourage them to get it installed so we can share those special moments.
On the adoption side, with that limitation of having to enter emails addresses I see it being picked up by corporate users a lot more quickly than your general consumer. Those with iPhones or Crackberries for work will more than likely already have a long list of email addresses in their phones they can tap into and look to create that “more connected with my client / colleagues” vibe.
The ability to add photos on the fly, add locations and people is pretty cool and can definitely work in terms of making people jealous; I’m at the best restuarant in town with whoever. I think another cool feature and to make it more engaging would be to enable your friends to post a reply comment to the updates that you post. I accept that primarily it’s about capturing the moment and sharing it with people close but I also think it’s important to get responses from them.
So, it’s the first steps to something that could be cool but there’s still a long way to go before I think it’s in a place for mass-adoption. If the barrier to entry is removed and there is the potential to hook-in with other Social Networks to pull friend information across it could do pretty well.