from Communispace

October 9, 2006

Communispace, a client of mine that helps corporations develop closer relationships with their customers through online communities, has released a top ten list with some great tips.  I’ll reproduce them here because they deserve reproducing, and then of course I’ll add my own commentary because, after all, this is my blog.

  1. “Invite the right people.”  You bet.  Exclusivity is extremely important to social networking, and it’s really been undervalued.
  2. “View members as advisors.” Absolutely.  Too many executives think they’re driving the ship, when really, their customers should be at the helm.
  3. “Find the social glue.”  This one is harder to understand, but what they mean is you need to treat your online conversations like real conversations.  If you talked about yourself the whole time, people wouldn’t like you very much, and the same is true online.
  4. “Work at building the community.”  Like a good hostess, experienced community facilitators know how to give people reasons to strike up a conversation and making people feel comfortable.
  5. “Be genuine.”  Communities won’t work without trust and honesty; people pointed and laughed at McDonald’s blog when Bob Langert pretended the Happy-Meal Hummers were “Just toys, not vehicle recommendations”, even though they were part of a promotion paid for by the advertiser.
  6. “Just plain ask.” Important, although I would have broadened it a bit. It’s part of just having a normal conversation and not getting all uptight about “messaging” and “positioning”.
  7. “Listen more than ask.”  This is kind of part of 2 and 3.  What the community thinks is important is likely to be more important than what the marketers think is important.
  8. “Don’t squelch the negative.”  This is SO important!  Lots of companies still think that if they try to hide it, it will go away.  We see how effective that’s been with clerical abuse of minors and Mark Foley’s instant messages.  Cover-ups don’t work anymore now that we have the Internet, folks.
  9. “Don’t ask too much too often.”  Yep.  There’s a limit to how much busy people can pay attention to you and your needs.
  10. “Keep experimenting.”  This might be the most important one of the bunch.  There’s no innovation without experimentation.  New techniques are disruptive — and expensive — but they keep you on your toes and they keep you competitive.
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