Yesterday I gave my conference presentation
on online communities (and answered a bunch of questions on a panel
that included Emma Jenkins, Head of Interactive Marketing for P &
G, and Kevin Eyres, European MD of Linked In) . As everyone was so gracious with their feedback on my question, I thought it only fair I put the deck up here.
you will see, I used some of the feedback I got to make an illustrative
point about the power of a great community and how the best way to
learn about how they work is to be a part of one yourself. So thanks
again for helping with some great comments (only sorry I couldn't use them all). Regular readers may
recognise some of the slides that I have re-used or repurposed from my
earlier (and longer) presentation about What's Next In Media. In order to give some context to each slide, I've written a kind of short script below.
1: (Title slide)
2: I’m Neil Perkin, and as well as being the Director of Marketing and Strategy for IPC, I’m also a blogger. In fact I’ve been blogging for about two years now. And the relevance of this is that almost all of the most useful things I have learnt about how online communities work have come from being part of one. So if you remember just one thing from what I say today, make it this:- that the best way to learn about online communities is quite simply to get stuck in.
3: So of-course, there’s an interesting thing going on in media right now where media brands and media owners are increasingly defined less by the platform and more by the community they serve. It’s a big change.
4: Late last year The Future Foundation published The Future of Entertainment – a forward looking piece of research which IPC helped to fund and which emphasised just how important social dimensions already are to most people in their consumption of entertainment and media. Quite simply, it is more fun if it is shared.
5: And as we all know users are empowered. Everyone can now be a media owner. It’s easy. And it’s free. The means of production and distribution are now shared. That’s also a really big change.
6: And people do want to have their say. So the relationship they have with their media is different. It’s no longer one way.
7: In this scenario the whole value equation changes. It’s not just content. It’s knowledge, tools and services too. It’s not just about attention. It’s also about interaction and participation.
8: So this requires a different mindset. And different approaches. We have to relearn some of what we think we know.
9: And this isn’t easy. How do you know what will work? What won’t? What the right approach is? And yes, online communities can be a puzzle.
10: Until you remember that it’s not about the technology at all. It’s about the people. The value in online communities comes from connecting one person to another.
11: Understand that, and you understand that an engaged community can be a powerful and self-perpetuating thing. Engaged users come back often, add compelling content, make your site more useful and interesting.
12: So – how can I create one of these online communities?
13: Well, maybe that’s the wrong question.
14: When Mark Zuckerberg was at Davos last year he was asked that same question by the assembled media moguls. "Communities already exist", he said. "So instead think about how you can help that community do what it wants to do"
15: So it’s really important to understand your audience’s motivations. Often, it’s not just about entertainment and relaxation, it’s about community.
16: And understand that communities are self-forming. And most of them have at their core a highly active group of very engaged people – so why not acknowledge them?
17: Jimmy Wales describes the Wikipedia community as
“One part anarchy,(anyone can contribute)
one part aristocracy, (the sites superusers)
one part democracy, (they vote on disputes)
one part monarchy” (him)
18: And it’s important to add value to that community. Understand what it is they are trying to do and create tools and content to help them do it. Make it easy for people to find your good stuff by distributing your content. Make it easy for them to share it. Talk about it. Pass it on.
19: Listen to what they are saying. Act on their feedback. Encourage discussion.
20: And above all. Know your audience. At IPC, we’re lucky – we have editors.But we have also invested in the biggest ever continuous piece of consumer research we’ve ever done. The Origin Panel is a nationally representative panel of 7,500 women focused around an online hub. It informs everything we do from NPD to editorial to advertising pitchwork. We’ve done a whole series of major studies into female audiences, but we also combine that with community elements that enable us to get great qualitative insights
21: So – I said at the beginning that almost all of the most useful things I have learned about how online communities work have come from being a part of one. So here’s an example…In the lead up to this conference I posted a question on my blog. I asked my audience – in one sentence, what is your maxim for how best to engage and facilitate an online community? Within 3 hours I had 17 responses from agency digital strategy leaders, media researchers, account planners, creatives, media owners and some of the most reknowned thinkers on social media strategy. So there you have it – thousands of pounds worth of free consultancy on one slide. And that’s how online communities work.
22: Thank you.