Cross-posted from the Online Community Report:
The Shared Insights folks have posted links to all the blog covergage from the Community 2.0 conference here:
I’ve had a few days to let all the threads running through my brain since the end of the conference settle. Here are the things that rise to the surface.
Mobile Communities: Thanks to Anders from Nokia, I am now convinced that the mobile web in general, and mobile communities in particular will play a large role in shaping “what’s next”. For mobile communities to take off in any meaningful way in the US, the carriers will have to agree and services and standards. Companies like Loopt are already making inroads with the major carriers. How significant a shift will this be? It seems reasonable to think that any social application (think next gen myspace or linked in) that doesn’t require the form factor of a large lcd display to interact with it will make it’s way on to a mobile.
3D / Avatar-based Communities: In general, folks at teh conference seemed to think that these destinations are interesting, but not really meaningful. Kaneva just entered the space that Second Life, and to a certain extent There, have been dominating. I think there is lot’s of opportunity for innovation with this type of experience, especially given the wild success of World of Warcraft and other MMOGs that are essentially the older brothers of these more hangout-oriented sims. Unfortunately in their current state, the experiential investment required to participate Second Life is not worth the overhead. I look forward to changing my position on this.
Marketing in Online Communities is bad / evil / wrong: There was lot’s of discussion about the intersection of online community and marketing. The Edelman / Wal Mart fiasco came up in a couple of presentations, and in conversation. There was also an interesting exchange at the breakfast sponsored by WebEx. The main points of the marketing vs. community debate seemed to be:
- A marketeer has as much of a license to market in the community as the community gives, and this license can be revoked at any time.
- A marketer should be transparent about their intentions for participating in or sponsoring a community.
- The pre-Cluetrain models of marketing no longer work nor are appropriate
Obviously this is a topic ripe for further discussion.
Some Companies Too Risk / Transparency Averse: I was a little surprised at the volume of questions about the pros and cons of engaging in community building activities. I’ll just make a few blanket statements here Yes, your company needs to be blogging. It won’t be as hard, take as much time or come with as much liability as you think it might. Further, you should think about making the electronic brochure that is your current web site a little more participatory (forums, content sharing?). For those of you who actually have online community offerings, how about not burying them 2 and 3 layers down on your web site?
ROI: Matthew Lees from the Patricia Seybold Group led a really interesting panel on the ROI (return on information) of online communities. He has a really great model, and I know he intends to post some of his slides so I won’t try to paraphrase them. I will say that one of the points of value I forgot to mention in the discussion was that of comparative value. For instance, how much does it cost to blog vs. conducting a print advertising campaign? How much does it cost to host a discussion forum on a topic related to your business vs buying a tv spot?
Attention Saturation: Every day, more and more online experiences are vying for attention. From a supply and demand perspective, Joe or Jane Websurfer’s attention seems to be getting to the point of being fully saturated, while new online social experiences are popping up every day. Something has to give, and it will likely result in destination site closures and/or consolidations.