Category Archives: Conferences

An Update on the Online Community Unconference 2013 #OCU2013

ocu2013_2

I wanted to provide a quick update regarding the Online Community Unconference that we are putting together in Mountain View on May 21. It has been an amazing experience to reconvene the “community of community managers” that were first brought together during the period Forum One hosted these events, and inspiring to see the new members of the community: both practitioners and organizations that are embracing the art and science of building and sustaining online communities.

We are currently just shy of 100 registrants, with a target of 200. We have an amazing group of organizations and industry experts registered, including leaders from:

  • Answers.com
  • Autodesk
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Brandle
  • Ebay
  • George Lucas Education Foundation
  • Google
  • Intuit
  • Lithium
  • Mozilla
  • Netbase
  • Ning
  • Salesforce.com
  • SAP
  • WestEd
  • Wikia

and many more.

We will also be joined by independent practitioners, industry analysts and authors that are deeply invested in and knowledgable about the community space, including:

The OCU is shaping up to be a fantastic day of learning, sharing and networking. If you haven’t had a chance to register, you can find more info here:
Online Community Unconference 2013 Registration

I hope to see you all on May 21st at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View!

 

Announcing the Online Community Unconference 2013 – We’re Back!

ocu2013_2

File under: blog posts I never thought I would be writing – but excited that I am.

It’s been an interesting journey to get here (and I’m certain it will continue to be), but I’m very pleased to announce that we will hosting the Online Community Unconference in Mountain View, CA on May 21ist.

You can register here. <

The Unconference planning team is rooted in the #OCTribe meetup and is made up of me, Kaliya Hamlin, Randy Farmer, Scott Moore, Susan Tenby, Gail Williams, Rachel Luxemburg and Maria Ogneva. Our plan is to closely follow the successful format of the Online Community Unconferences that ran from 2007 – 2010 in the Bay Area and New York that I produced when I was at Forum One – specifically:

  • Personally inviting key professionals in the industry to ensure a knowledgeable and experienced group
  • Adhering to the principles of Open Space Technology to ensure a quality event experience & maximum content – no filler / no talking head keynotes and no recycled presentations that you’ve seen from “noted experts” at other conferences. This is about real professionals having real conversations
  • A great location in the Computer History Museum
  • A commitment to document the proceedings  – see an example of the Book of Proceedings from the OCU 2009.
  • A fun and collegial environment

I’ll have more details as we get closer to the date, but the key things for now are:

  • Registration is open now with early bird rates @ $85
  • We are currently looking for a modest amount of sponsorship (feel free to email me)
  • Our hashtag is #OCU2013
  • We hope you can join us on 5/21!

And lastly… its nice to be back :)

Using Unconference in the Enterprise – Manifesting Social Business

My theory on Unconferences (and other participant-driven events) is pretty simple: put smart and passionate people in a room to talk about a common cause with some light facilitation and good things generally happen. Along with all the great knowledge-sharing and network-building that typically happens, an Unconference can be one of the key catalysts for the culture change needed to evolve to a more social business:  a day of suspended organizational hierarchy, authentic communication (no PPTs), collaboration, learning and relationship development.

I’ve been a huge believer in participant-driven events since I started hosting Online Community Roundtables in the summer of 1995, and I was first  introduced to the concept of an Unconference by Jim Cashel of Forum One a couple of years later. I went on to work for Jim and host a series of Unconferences about Social Media and Online Community. When I came to work at Dell, I saw an opportunity to do an Unconference series as a compliment to our social media training and strategy development efforts.

At Dell, we’ve hosted 5 SMaC Talk Unconference events globally, with locations including Dell HQ in Round Rock, TX, Bangalore, Xiamen and London over the last 18 months, with thousands of Dell employees representing most departments and all levels in the organization participating. Michael Dell even came to close our very first Unconference event – we are clearly invested in the format as an organization.

When I facilitate the events, I promise participants two key things:
1. They will leave the event with a long list of new ideas to put into practice immediatly, and
2. They will leave the event with an extended network of practitioners to collaborate with, learn from and gain support from in their day to day efforts.

Agenda Wall from Dell's Summer 2011 Unconference in Round Rock, TX

So, what is an Unconference?
An Unconference is a participant-driven event, where the attendees actually create the agenda. The methodology to create and facilitate an Unconference is drawn from Open Space Technology – a methodology first developed by Harrison Owen and subsequently shaped by the global community of facilitators.

An Unconference (or Open Space event) differs radically from a traditional conference in a number of different ways, including:

  • Attendees are responsible for creating the agenda
  • Speakers and sessions are not pre-programmed (although they do relate to the Unconferences theme)
  • The agenda is malleable – sessions can be suggested or changed throughout the day
  • After the agenda is set, the day is self guided – attendees are personally responsibility for getting the most out of the day

So, how does this Unconference thing work? The intention of the Open Space format is to remove the constraints and restrictions of “normal” conferences and to allow maximum creative thinking.

One of the most amazing parts of the day is the topic selection process. At the start of the morning, any attendee who wishes can come forward, announce a topic, and claim one of the ~50+ open slots on the grid.

Attendees announce session topics

Announcing topics - image courtesy of Forum One

The agenda begins to form

Image courtesy Forum One

Within about 35-40 minutes the grid fills up with topics

Image courtesy Forum One

Once all the topics are announced, we begin the Unconference sessions. The agenda grid plays the role of gathering place and ideamarketplace throughout the day, as attendees come back to the agenda to check for any updates, changes, or new sessions.

How can Unconference be used in the Enterprise?
Unconferences tend to be very effective when there is a large group of knowledgeable people struggling with a complex problem set. Although we’ve primarily used Unconferences for discussions of social media and social business, other likely topics in a large enterprise could be Sustainability, Change Management, Product Development or Brand re-engineering / relaunch.

The Net: An Unconference (using Open Space Technology) can be a great tool for your organization, bringing together diverse groups of people to collaborate and network around common organisational goals. Participants will leave the event with new ideas, new energy, new connections and shared vision and purpose.

Further Reading:

Open Space Technology - By Harrison Owen

OpenSpaceWorld – A community about Open Space Technology

Slides from my Dreamforce 2011 session “Embracing & Sustaining Your Community Ecosystem”

Slides: Building Sustained Community Engagement: from eMarketing Summit Portland

Community Leadership Summit West 2011

I’m planning on participating in the Community Leadership Summit West on January 15th in Daly City, CA. The CLS West is an Unconference  that aims to connect online community practitioners in person to discuss, share and learn.

The Unconference is being organized y Van Ripper and will be facilitated by Kaliya Hamlin.

To register for the CLS West, please go here:
http://clswest2011.eventbrite.com/

ps: The topic, format and facilitators may look familiar to those who participated in Forum One unconferences – just wanted to underscore the fact that I am not helping organize this, only participaitng. With that said, i think it will be a very productive and fun event.

#OCTRibe Topic: Valuing Participation in Online Communities

Note: This is cross-posted from the Online Community Report.
I’m pleased to be kicking off the 2nd topic in the #octribe discussion, following the kickoff topic of “Influencers” by Gail Williams two weeks ago.

How OCTribe works

Write something tomorrow (Tuesday, July 28), tag it #octribe or tweet it as #octribe, and your post will be linked from the recap page. Moving forward, each 2nd Tuesday and 4th Tuesday of the month, the call and the recap will be hosted on the site of another one of the bloggers in the loosely defined OCTribe group. This conversational project is just starting, so please join in!

The Topic: Valuing Member Participation and Contribution in Online Communities
Admittedly, this topic is a bit of a double edged sword: Assigning financial value to online community member participation and contribution.

On one hand, a community manager could can paint a compelling portrait of value for internal stakeholders by determining a financial value to member participation (assistant moderate, guiding discussions, welcoming new members, etc.) and assigning value to member contributions (support forum posts, tutorials, reviews, feedback and ideas).

On the other hand, if an organization were to make the valuations of member participation and contribution public, it would likely set off a firestorm of debate about member compensation, legal boundaries around “volunteer opportunities”, and ultimately, force the host organization to account for true cost and true value of the activities and content created in their online community.

It seems clear that it would be useful for organizations to have at least notional values for member contributions and participation. What is less clear is how (if at all) to talk about this value with the community, and how (if at all) social capital is exchanged for financial capital in online communities.

The questions I would like to explore in this #octribe series are (feel free to pick one, all or explore your own!):
• Do you currently assign an internal financial value to member contributions and participation?
• Do you use an assumed value as part of your communities ROI reporting?
• Do you account for social capital in your system of accounting for online communities?

Reading the following article from forbes (2001) spawned the “participation value” question for me. In the article, staff writers sketched the value of the cost savings AOL benefited from via their volunteer program.

http://www.forbes.com/asap/2001/0219/060s02.html

“How much has AOL saved by using volunteer labor during the past nine years? That’s not an easy question, and with AOL involved in litigation, the company is not eager to furnish the answer. But even with the most conservative numbers available, we estimate that by using volunteers AOL escaped nearly $973 million in expenses since going public in 1992. That poses the question: Would AOL have thrived-or even survived-on Wall Street without free help from volunteers during its first seven years as a public company? Not likely.

The many jobs that volunteers have performed for AOL would be compensated at a wide range of hourly rates in the labor market (see story). To be safe, we used a conservative figure of $15 per hour-about equal to that of a security guard-as the median salary for today’s AOL volunteers. We adjusted the hourly rate backward using an annual rate of inflation of 4% (historical note: Inflation hasn’t been as high as 4% since mid-1991). For the purpose of the model, each volunteer is assumed to have worked 10 hours per week, 50 weeks a year.”

Please note that I am including the article because it is one example of valuing member participation.

So, to wrap up:
• Please post your thoughts on valuing member participation on Tuesday, July 28th
• Tag the posts and any related tweets as #octribe
• I’ll compile a wrap up post that includes all tagged posts by the end of the week

If you have any questions, please email me.

Online Community Unconference 2009 Wiki Open & Session Highlights

Cross-posted from the Online Community Report.

One of the most exciting things about the Unconference format is the fact that there are so many sessions running simultaneously. This can also be on of the most frustrating, as it is impossible to be everywhere at once. Thankfully, participants generally try to take thorought notes of their sessions to share back with the group.

We had over 50 sessions at the Online Community Unconference, and notes for most are captured on the Unconference wiki. The wiki is now open for public reading (editing and commenting are reserved for Unconference attendees).

The Online Community Unconference wiki can be found here:
http://www.socialtext.net/ocu2009

A few highlights from the session notes include:

Managing the Mob: What to do when things go wrong
Melissa Daniels of Yahoo! convened this session to discuss how to integrate your community into the organization’s decision making process, even when the community mood is dark.

Social CRM : Mapping Social ID’s, Behavioral Targeting & Common Profiles
A session about managing customer relationships across multiple domains, convened by Ajay Ramachandran of SourceN.

Using Community in Strategy Development
Nilofer Merchant of Rubicon Consulting convened this session to explore how companies can use communities as a strategic tool and integrate feedback and learning from communities into product development and company strategy.

Community Driven Product Design – Collecting Feedback from your Community
Siko Bouterse of hi5 convened this session to explore the best ways to build feedback systems.


B2B Communities – What works, Best Practices

Mike Rowland of Impact Interactions led a session sharing community management best practices based on his firm’s experience over the last 10 years.


What is Community Leadership?

Scott Moore convened this session to explore the attributes of leadership in communities.

Social Network Analysis (in excel!)
Marc Smith of Telligent led a session on social network mapping and analysis, and offered a demo of NodeXL, a free, excel-based tool.

Mission Aligned Twittering
Jill Finlayson of Social Edge led a discussion on a holistic approach to Twittering: figure out how the whole organization can get value.

Are we a Community Too? Ways Community Practitioners Stay Connected. What’s next?
Gail Williams of Salon Media Group and Scott Moore explore the concept of a community manager and strategists “tribe”.

Please feel free to share the link to the wiki, or to link to the source session notes from your blogs / tweets.

Highlights from Unconferences Past

Cross posted from the Online Community Report.

We are just over 2 weeks away from our Online Community Unconference, to be held 6/10 in Mountain View at the Computer History Museum.

One of the most valuable resources that comes out of our Unconference series is the set of session notes that are posted to the event wiki. We generally have between 40-60 sessions at each of the Unconferences, and many of the sessions are captured and posted. The wiki (and session notes) are open to the public shortly after we complete each Unconference.

In preparing for this year’s Unconference, I’ve looked back over our previous event’s wikis, and I (re)discovered the following gems that I thought I would share.

Key Sessions from Previous Online Community Unconferences:

Community Management 101: How to get started in this big wide world
An excellent overview of how to get started in community management.

Social Psychology 101 for Community Managers
Useful notes that apply social psychology theory to the context of online community.

Worst Case Scenerios – What to do when things go terribly wrong
Lessons learned from challenging community management situations.

Twitter for Business
A thorough look at use cases for Twitter use in and for the enterprise.

Managing + Motivating Community leaders
A discussion on how to energize and engage super users and moderators.

Unconference 2009
If you currently drive the community or social media strategy for your organization, and you are in (or will be in) the SF Bay Area on 6/10, I would encourage you to come check it out!

Current attendees include: Google, REI, Get Satisfaction, Intuit, Microsoft, TechSoup, Symantec, and many others.

Registration
To register at the pre-event rate of $195 ($245 on site) please go here:
http://ocu2009-rpm526.eventbrite.com

OCU 2008 Wiki
The wiki is available if you would like to read the session notes:

http://www.socialtext.net/ocu08/

You can see pictures from the 2008 Unconference here:

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=ocu2008&w=all&s=int

We also have several sponsor opportunities open for this Unconference. If you are looking for a cost-effective way to reach community and social media professionals, please contact me about our sponsorship options.

Are you going to SxSWi?

I’m slightly embarrassed to admit it, but I’ve never been to SxSWi.

I’m planning on fixing that this year. Are you going? If so, I would love to connect!

Contact info:

Cell: 415.299.9638
Twitter: @billjohnston

A few posts I’ve found helpful in planning my trip:

SXSW Survival: 2009 Edition – Community Guy
SXSW ’09: Updates
– Being Peter Kim
Razorfish SXSW Guide – Razorfish (AWESOME + optimized for mobile)