When it comes to social media and community management, few folks in Portland—arguably few folks in the world—understand it as well as Dawn Foster, @geekygirldawn.
For those of you who haven’t had a chance to meet her, Dawn is a community management powerhouse. She has more than 13 years of experience in technology and software with expertise in open source software, web 2.0, social media, blogging, and community building, working at companies like Intel and Jive Software. She’s also a co-founder and board member for Legion of Tech. Dawn currently consults on social media and community management and serves as the community manager for Shizzow.
So when I heard she was working on a book that was going to give me access to some of her insights, I got a wee bit giddy.
Companies and Communities is focused on helping your company get real business value out of participating in online communities and social media. This 80 page eBook contains practical advice and suggestions for how companies can engage with online communities and social media sites.
How practical? Well, it’s full of things which we—as individual social media participants—may think are obvious, but are far from it. Especially for corporations. Things like:
Not all about you
Social media is a conversation, which is by definition two-way. In other words, it is not all about you, your company, your products or your agenda. It involves listening and participating in the broader community of people. Don’t just expect people to help you; jump in and help other people in areas where you have some expertise. If all you do is pimp your products without adding to the broader conversation, people will lose interest in you pretty quickly.
Today, creating a vibrant and interactive community around your product or organization can be the difference between unheralded success and unimaginable failure. And no one knows that better than Portland’s Dawn Foster, one of the leading authorities on the subject.
Dawn has just completed a series of posts on corporate communities that is a must read for anyone attempting to work online with customers.
What’s a corporate community, you ask?
Corporate communities refer to any custom community created by an organization for the purpose of engaging with customers or other people who may be interested in the organization’s products and services. For the purpose of this post, custom corporate communities include communities created by corporations, non-profit organizations, educational institutions and similar organizations. These corporate communities can take many different forms: support communities, developer communities to help developers work with your products, customer and enthusiast communities, and many others.
See? I told you. How could you not fit in there?
So grab a cup of coffee (or some bubble tea if you want to be even more like Dawn) and dive into this great series of posts:
Custom Corporate Communities: Planning and Getting Started
Before jumping in to create a new community, you should think carefully about the purpose of this new community including your goals and objectives, fitting your community efforts into your organization’s overall strategy, measuring success, and committing the resources required to make your community flourish.
Maintaining a Successful Corporate Community
I decided to follow up my post on Monday about Custom Corporate Communities: Planning and Getting Started with this post containing tips about what to do and what to avoid doing if you want to have a successful corporate community. While some of these tips are specific to corporate communities, most of them also apply to other types of communities as well.
A Structure for Your Corporate Community
I thought that it would be a good idea to also spend a little time on the things that you should be thinking about when coming up with a structure for your community. It is important to keep in mind that every community software package is likely to have unique strengths and limitations when it comes to configuring your community. From a design and architecture perspective, I strongly recommend looking at this strengths and limitations of the platform and taking them into account before starting any design or architecture work.
Promoting Your Community Efforts the Right Way
In this final post for the corporate community series, we will spend some time on the right and wrong ways to promote your community efforts. Some of this advice also applies more broadly to promotion of other social media efforts as well.
Recently, I’ve seen a number of companies struggling with how to get more savvy about social media and interacting with online communities. My focus will be on providing consulting services to help guide companies in developing a comprehensive social media and community engagement strategy. I will help companies engage with their community both online and offline to help generate buzz around their products. I can also help companies find, monitor, and respond to what others are saying about them online.
No doubt, Dawn’s expertise will be highly sought. I’m looking forward to her continued success on the other side of the desk and would like to, again, congratulate her on this exciting new endeavor.