community

It seems like even the laggard brands are now finding their way on Facebook. And what better way to kick things off than running a big promotion with a big prize. Wrong. Brands are relying too heavily on "going viral" and "amplification through social networks" and "sharing". As a result there are far too many social media promotions happening at the moment producing less than average ROIs. Big budget promotions are only receiving very little uptake. It's pretty much the reason I recently won a car. In fact right now I am in with a pretty good chance to win $10,000 in a video competition...

Stephen King wrote the novel Misery that later became a movie of the same name. Although I've not read it, Wikipedia tells me it's a story about a women who rescues an author after he crashes his car in the snow. She recognises him as her favourite author of a series she's obsessed with. Locked in by the snow, she takes him to her home and nurses him for months. However she discovers a manuscript of his latest novel and doesn't like it. Her series is ruined and it eventually leads her to cut off his foot, holds him captive and forces him to rewrite the ending. I think social media, particularly community managers, are increasingly going to have the same problem. Social media is great for building a community around your brand, or bringing together an already established one. What you can then do with this group of evangelists is limited only by your creativity. But by bringing together this group of hardcore fans, you also bring in the fans that are a little too hardcore; the fans whose obsession with your brand becomes harmful. They don't quite fit the mold of your perfect target market, where their social awkwardness is not limited on platforms of such an impersonal nature. Their constant activity becomes spam and a slight wrongdoing in their eyes creates an unwarranted response. These obsessed lovers become haters. I have a friend who does promo work, usually giving away free samples. I found it amusing when she told me she was only allowed to approach consumers who were in the target market, but never to turn down anyone when they approached her, no matter who they were. Many of those who approached her would not reflect positively on the brand. But she dealt with them by keeping them happy, allowing them to move on. But with social media these people don't have to leave. These crazies can continue to interact with the normals and when you create a branded community, they think they're being encouraged to do so. And dealing with these people can be difficult. Particularly if you like your feet....

I think the social media community manager role is going to explode over the next year or so. These roles will be responsible for looking after a number of small communities or have a full time gig looking after one big one. Even those that are large enough to run themselves require moderation to an extent.And the role will be a broad one. They'll require customer service skills, an understanding of how consumers use social media and technology, analytical skills, basic design skills and the ability to produce and source content.And if you're looking for one, I reckon the place to start is with your favourite Twitter personality. Find someone who fits your brand, produces relevant, regular content and manages their following well. Then bring them on board....

In my last past I spoke of how essentially anonymous people were getting together on Facebook and collaborating. In this case, I was referring to the creation of content around a developing meme. Now we can take things to the next level, where collaboration is helping to solve crime. The case in point is the Missing Kane Dadson Facebook Group. Now sitting at over 3,000 members, through the power of collaboration people have been able to work faster than the police investigation in gathering clues. Suggestions and comments posted on the wall have lead to spreading word of mouth and opened up new information that can be used by police. Last year in a similar situation, members of the group Missing Britt Lapthorn uploaded photos related to the case that other people were able to tag which lead to new leads of questioning. The group still has 18,000 members. Social media is more than just brands trying to engage with consumers. Or a group of people creating their own lolcats. Social media has more potential than I think anyone realises....

I love Wikipedia.Not only do I use it as a predominant tool for researching assignments (take that University lecturers) but I spend hours upon hours every week reading pages for my own amusement and education. In fact, it's not uncommon for me to have ten different Wikipedia pages open at once. This week alone I've read about a conspiracy theory, a science phenomenon, US Presidential impeachments, a box office flop and my favourite sitcom.An incredible example demonstrating the power of community, collaboration, and connectivity. Today it is the eighth most popular website on the Internet.Even more remarkably, Wikipedia has run for eight years with only 23 paid employees and is completely funded through donations. Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder, has recently released an appeal for donations.So. For every blog post from now until the end of January that mentions Wikipedia is in need of donations and links back to this post, I will donate $10. I know that's possibly some form of unethical link baiting, but I figure I will probably make a greater impact using your blog instead of mine.It's not going to cure cancer, but I believe it is still a worthy cause....