Tag Archives: Online Community

Do your Online Community / Social Media initiatives need a living trust?

stepsIt is no secret that there is a lot of turnover happening the social media industry – just take a peek at the regular “People on the Move” updates on Jeremiah Owyang’s blog. This is only going to get worse as more organizations adopt social media, organizational structures change, the economy improves, and people in social roles mature (or burn out).

One key reason I bring up the growing churn in the industry is this: Social media and Community programs suffer when staff turns over… especially when that staff is the senior leadership that helped make key platform, policy and program decisions, or community managers that have built relationships with large swaths of the community.

I was talking about this with some folks at the eMarketing Summit in Portland last week, and the concept of a “Social Media Living Trust” surfaced.  What if, as part of the requirements for social strategy & governance, senior leadership had to create a living trust document that outlined:

  • A look forward: The 3-5 year strategic plan, with assumptions about market conditions, platform, staffing, funding and performance metrics.
  • A look backward: The rationale and history behind key decisions like: platform, policy, team structure, personal, etc.
  • An overview of most active / impactful members & subgroups
  • Naming the person / team that would succeed the current team, and assume stewardship of the community / social program?
What components of the “living trust” am I missing? Would this be valuable in  your organization? Would it be viable? I’d love to discuss via comments,  or use the hashtag #smoclt on twitter.

Slides: Building Sustained Community Engagement: from eMarketing Summit Portland

Evolving to Social Business (and beyond)

Most organizations are well into the process of incorporating social media into their day to day business – and many are starting to wrestle with the challenges and opportunities of being “social” over the long haul: the resource commitment, the necessary changes in leadership and culture, and the responsibility to engage in  conversation, collaboration and community with customers, prospects, partners, employees and other stakeholders.

Many rubrics have emerged over the last few years to try and provide a context for the transformational phenomenon that is partially expressed by social media: Enterprise 2.0, Open Leadership, Social CRM, Social Business… the list goes on. By listing these terms, I don’t mean to dismiss any of them. I like and find value in all of the concepts I’ve listed – I love Charlene Li’s book “Open Leadership“, and find a lof of value in the recent discussions about Social Business, especially Stowe Boyd’s writing on the subject, and particulalrly, his defintion:

“A social business is an organization designed consciously around sociality and social tools, as a response to a changed world and the emergence of the social web, including social media, social networks, and a long list of other advances.”

With all of the good thinking and conversation happening around the topic of business transformation via “social”, I do feel like we are all describing different parts of the same elephant. I would propose the larger context – and the north star – for social initiatives is really about Sustainable Business. Think more Senge’sThe Necessary Revolution” than Open Leadership (which is still important, but a component).

A Sustainable Business (or organization) is a business that creates generative (net-positive) value in the form of:

  • Social Capital – Stakeholders are engaged and help shape the business, products and policies.
  • Financial Capital – The business is profitable.
  • Ecological Capital – The business has a net-positive impact on the ecological resources it uses.

How does “social” fit in to the concept of Sustainable Business? At least 3 key ways (and there are many more, this is a big topic).

  1. Stakeholder Engagement: Connecting to customers, prospects partners and employees has never been easier or more impactful than today, via social technology. Social media, online community and collaboration tools offer a high bandwidth and near-real time opportunity to communicate, discuss and share. Further, managed properly, social tools allow organizations to communicate and manage relationships at scale.
  2. Leadership and Culture Change: The process of adopting social tools, like hosting an online community or offering support via Twitter, is a forcing function for culture change in an organization. Business culture has to evolve to have an honest dialog with customers and prospects, and leadership has to support this honest dialog, or the investment in social tools won’t pay off.
  3. “Social” is Generative Asset: This is the key point – social sites, online communities and collaboration spaces, when done correctly, produce net-positive value in the form social and financial capital. Claiming ecological capital is a bit of a stretch here, but one could argue that the impact of conversations and  collaboration online vs. in-person favors online from a positive impact perspective.

In short, I’m proposing that we collectively acknowledge that there is a larger and more important context for the activities we generally refer to as social media, that the call to action around leadership and culture change is rooted in creating sustainable businesses, and that the term “Sustainable Business” may be a more helpful way to describe the macro trend we are collectively involved in.

I would love to hear what you think, and discuss via comments.

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.

Announcing Community Chat!

I’m pleased to announce that tomorrow, Wednesday October 13th, Thomas
Knoll (@thomasknoll) and I will be kicking off a weekly podcast:
Community Chat!
Every Wednesday at 12 Noon PT, Thomas and I, plus a special guest,
will talk about the building, managing and growing healthy online
communities.Details for tomorrow’s show:
Title: Episode 1 – Community Chat Kickoff!
Time: 10/13/2010 03:00 PM EDT
Episode Notes: The kickoff episode of Community Chat! Bill Johnston
and Thomas Knolls will be discussing the premise of the Community Chat
podcast with special guest Randy Farmer. Will also be getting a
preview of Blog World Expo from Check Hemann.

You can access the show (and archives) here – http://bit.ly/cmtychat

The tag for the podcast, and subsequent discussions is #cmtychat.

Back to Basics: The Community Strategy Team & Goal Definition

This post is part of an ongoing series about developing an online community strategy. As a reminder, all posts will be tagged #ocb2b

Define Business Goals and Objectives
As I mentioned in my previous post, the recommended first step in developing (or refining) your organization’s online community strategy is to answer the question: What are you, as an organization, trying to accomplish? I acknowledge that this is a simple, but loaded, question. Answering the question of Organization intention is 1/2 of the equation for a successful community strategy. The other half of the equation is understanding community member’s needs and predisposition, which I cover in the next post in the strategy series.

Generally, an executive taps a strategy lead to help develop online community initiatives at an organization. In some cases, the strategy lead actually rises out of the ranks to propose direction to the executives. In both cases, there are two essential roles:

  • Sponsoring Executive: The C-level or SVP that is the champion of community & social media in the C-suite. This is often the CMO, the VP of Marketing, or VP of Support.
  • Strategy Lead: The person charged with directing strategy development from kickoff through launch or annual engagement planning.
  • Said another way: The Sponsoring Exec has the financial and political capital to fund the community initiative, and the Strategy Lead executes research and planning necessary to create the community strategy.

    Next, the Strategy Lead forms a core team to facilitate discussion with the extended stakeholders around the following topics:

    • the intention in engaging the community;
    • the potential value the organization hopes to create for itself and its customers;
    • the risk associated with engaging, including worst case scenarios;
    • the overhead, including headcount, budgets and staff time;
    • the level of readiness to participate, and the required culture change to be successful
    • Identifying and Engaging Internal Stakeholders
      The current definition of stakeholder on wikipedia describes the role of stakeholder as “… a party that affects or can be affected by the actions of the business as a whole.” Given the inclusive nature of many social media and community efforts, an argument could be made that everyone in the company is a stakeholder in the strategy, and in a sense, that is true. In order to actually get work done, you need to trim the list a bit, down to relevant and representative stakeholders that represent key roles and departments affected by, or expected to contribute resources to the community.

      A list of likely internal stakeholders includes:

      • Marketing: Representatives from brand, field and demand generation;
      • Web Team: User experience, analytics, content and technical / development resources;
      • Product: Product management, product marketing;
      • Support: The manager of any existing support forums, knowledgeable, as potentially a representative from technical writing;
      • HR: HR representatives to help develop participating policies and guidelines;
      • Legal: to develop policies and guidelines, as well as terms of use;
      • Process: Kickoff, Work Sessions, Interviews and Synthesis
        So, how does all of this actually come together? I’ve used the following process on the job at my former employer Autodesk, as well as in our services practice here at Forum One. The process starts with a kickoff meeting, continues with individual interviews with key stakeholders, includes follow up working sessions with a core team, and concludes with analysis and synthesis of all of the inputs by the Strategy Lead.

        Kickoff: A meeting is convened by the Strategy Lead, and usually includes the Executive sponsor as well as key internal stakeholders. The group is generally no more than 5-7 people. The kickoff usually lasts 2-3 hours, and covers:

        • Project scope, participant roles, and communication protocols;
        • Review of the current state of online community and social media activities (if any);
        • Discussion of potential goals for the community strategy, related to organization’s mission and annual goals;
        • Potential sources of value from online community engagement, including qualitative and quantitative measurements;
        • Recent customer research and/or feedback;
        • Existing customer community touchpoints & activities (blogs, facebooks groups, etc)
        • Possible Inluencers / Lead users in the community ecosystem (bloggers, Twitter pundits, etc)
        • Discussion of additional stakeholders to involve;
        • Discussion of potential risks;
        • Stakeholder Interviews:
          After the kickoff, interviews with key stakeholders are held to take a deeper dive in to the questions explored in the kickoff meeting, and also to give the stakeholder “airtime” to state requirements, explore ideas and express concerns. The interviews can be done face to face or over the phone, generally last between 30-45 minutes, and are conducted by an interviewer, with backup by a note-taker. Depending on the size of the extended stakeholder pool and the complexity of the project, I generally try to do at least 8 stakeholder interviews. As an augmentation to the in person interviews, I’ve also done an online survey for stakeholders that is based on the interview script. This is a good way to reach a wider audience and get a large set of quantitative and qualitative data.

          Work Sessions:
          In addition to the kickoff, there are generally 1-3 work sessions to review and refine key points from the discussion in the kickoff meeting. These additional working sessions are a great place for brainstorming potential community features and engagements, and to discuss examples of online community and social media from competitors, leaders in the industry, or shiny object examples outside of your industry. The outputs of the work sessions are analyzed in the Synthesis phase.

          Synthesis:
          The outputs of the kickoff, working sessions and stakeholder interviews are analyzed by the Strategy Lead, and summarized in to a working strategy brief (typically a word doc). The key elements of the brief generally include:

          • A statement of purpose or intention for the online community strategy;
          • Business goals for the online community initiative, ideally showing support of organizational mission and goals, and with initial metrics of success;
          • Key findings from the stakeholder interviews (which will have informed, and ideally support, the two points above)

          • Next Up: Member Needs Analysis

            As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, the Organization’s goals are half of the equation for a successful community strategy. The other half is obviously assessing the needs and predisposition of the community. In the next post in the series, I will talk about how to find and solicit feedback from potential (or current) community members, and what to do with that information.

            Posted via web from Social Architect

            Announcing – Back to Basics: Developing an Online Community Strategy

             

            The topic of online community strategy is one of the things that occupies a large chunk of my mental cycles. I’ve written about a pretty basic process and framework a few times over the years, and I think the baseline concepts have held up well. You can read a couple of relatively recent posts here (I’d love to hear your thoughts):
            How to Develop a Community Strategy
            Holistic Community Strategy

            Why am I Doing This?
            I’m very passionate about the opportunities that online communities and social media bring to the table, and I’ve had my fair share of real world experience (10+ years), but the primary reason I want to write this series is pretty simple:
            Organizations are still challenged with setting strategy. From our efforts with the Online Community Research Network, we still see that only about 25% of our participant organizations have a comprehensive community strategy in place.

            Over the next few weeks, I will explore the following topics, offering my own opinions and insight, data from our ongoing community research, as well as other relevant content from experienced community-building professionals. I’ll also try to post as many templates that I use (or can borrow), where appropriate. In short: I’ll be posting, you will be adding to the discussion, and we will all (hopefully) be making our day to day community practices a little better. I hope that sounds like fun :-)

            The Topics
            The topics, which generally follow my strategy development process, will be:

            1. Goal Definition:
            How to assemble an internal stakeholder team and facilitate definition of business goals for the community.

            2. Member Needs Research:
            Processes and techniques for engaging community members in a process of discovery and conducting member “needs” research.

            3. Social Media Ecosystem Research:
            Methodology for conducting a discovery exercise of the relevant parts of the social web to find out where your community (or potential community) is already working and playing.

            4. Designing an Online Presence Architecture (with a hat tip to Chris Brogan):
            Factoring the goals of the business, the needs of the members, and the opportunities in the social media ecosystem to create a presence architecture that maps out where to focus engagements.

            5. Engagement Planning:
            How to develop content & activity plans for the community, including
            –Where: to engage (home, outposts)
            –Who: responsible party
            –How: specific activity
            –When: frequency of activity
            –What: expected outcomes (prototypical metrics!)

            6. Community Platform Selection:
            Guidance on how to select a community platform, along with recent ratings for major platforms.

            7. Management & Moderation
            An overview of the important and evolving role of the Online Community Manager, building an online community team, and best practices on moderation.

            8. Metrics & Reporting
            What metrics to collect, what they tell you, who to report them to, and how often.

            9. Policy Creation & Roll-out
            How to develop community and social media policies that fit your organization, and how to deploy them.

            10. Governance
            Creating a governance structure in your organization, keeping exective stakeholders informed and engaged, and achieving the right balance of of inter-departmental communication and guidance.

            11. Superusers / Elites
            A review of the best superusers programs, with a focus on process, identification and incentives.

            Again, I would LOVE your feedback on the topics above. My goals is to write an article a week over the next 12-14 weeks. Each article will be labeled “Back to Basics”, and will be tagged #ocb2b

            Posted via web from Social Architect