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Posts Tagged ‘Social Network’
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?
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.
Although I mentioned in a previous post age policies and how your community caters to different age groups I wanted to take the opportunity to bring your attention to some new documentation that has been released. The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (of which I’m a Council member for the Videogame working group) has updated their guidance documentation for Moderation, Social Networking and Chat / IM.
I had a quick read through the Moderation document and while most of it may already be factored into your Community Strategy there are a couple of things that I think need pulling out;
- Moderator Recruitment; what’s your process and are they all CRB approved?
- Do you have clear lines of reporting for both users, moderators and those managing?
- How much data are you storing about your users and who has access?
- Do you undertake risk assessments for your Community environments?
For all those involved in managing communities, teams of moderators or environments / channels that potentially cater to Young People I’d suggest taking the time to read the guidance documents in case there are things you aren’t aware of that might improve your processes and obviously the service you provide.
Links to the various documents can be found here; UKCCIS Website.
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.
Whilst it’s easy for brands to go and create accounts on the various social media channels and then start broadcasting their marketing messages it’s a lot more tricky to have active conversations and develop relationships with the customers that use those channels.
One of the things I’ve tried to do more recently is give a brand a personality by putting a face and name behind the account. Some may think this is a risky thing to do as people change jobs or roles and those connections with the customers can potentially break in the long term but in my experience it helps build those relationships in the first place.
If you have a real person managing an account, giving the key information to the audience but also stopping to take the time to have 1-to-1 conversations, answer questions and comment on other people’s activity it show that you as a brand (and the person behind the brand) are actively engaged in your customers lives. Giving a brand personality also makes it easier to engage with influencers as they are able to get a handle on who you are as a person (yes, the one managing the account) as well as the brand you represent.