Jory Des Jardins, Co-founder, BlogHer LLC
Caterina Fake, Co-founder, Flickr
Jessica Hardwick, Founder and CEO, SwapThing.com – people exchange whatever. Uses social collateral.
Lisa Stone, Co-founder, BlogHer
Jenna Woodul, Executive Vice President and Chief Community Officer, LiveWorld
Importance of community. Is community a business model or does it need to be bought to have value.
Caterina Fake – Flickr was about break even when it was acquired. Big competitor was Photolog. Was started as a site for friends to share sites. They did not start as a business so it was hard for them to become a business. Flickr started as a business and as such they took care to design it as a business. Communities that are organic are owned by the community. Value is in the peripheral services.
Lisa – The community is worth money.
Jenna – Research of community vs single user. Studies showed ability to recal brands was much greater when engaged in a venue where users where interacting with each other – 4 times greater. Communities come 9 times longer. Stay 5 times longer. Buy more. Spend 35 – 57% more depending on study.
What makes effective community?
What is a community killer?
Caterina Fake – inattention. There needs to be people in there stomping on the trolls. When they started flickr they stayed online and helped out and interacted with each user for about 100 days to build the culture. Decide what you want to permit. What is cool. They mold the commuity.
Jenna Woodul – agree with Caterina. Brand your community, but let the message be driven by the people in the community
Jessica Hardwick – Flexibility. Create tools that let some users control their interaction while allowing others to open up to anyone.
Lisa Stone – don’t lie. Recent example with walmart blog. Walmart hired a couple of journalists who pretended to be a couple of middle age people traveling the country in their RV. They failed to tell users that the users were hired by walmart. Tell the truth.
How do you grow your community?
Caterina Fake – running ads all over the internet is a bad way to grow users. Users come via their friends that is the point of a social network. It helps if friends bring in friends. You need an “Abraham” a person or people who “begat” other users and shephard them along. You need key players.
Before flickr could setup credit cards they gave away pro accounts to users to give away which made their users look good. Caterina posted on her blog about tea. People made comments. She bought some tea and the company offered a $5 discount to anyone so she got the emails of all the people who posted and emailed them the discount and they loved her. She basically did the companies marketing for them.
Lisa Stone – You have to be passionate about answering the users questions.
Jessica Hardwick – wear shirts talk to everyone about the site.
Monetizing a community
Jory Des Jardins – turning a community into money has killed many communities.
Lisa Stone – Asked everyone if they wanted to participate in an ad network. Those who did not want to participate did not have to.
Jenna Woodul – Corporations are starting communities for many reasons – ads, research about customers, support using peer to peer conversation, others want buzz. When you hold a party you can’t just invite people in and leave them. You need leadership to meet and greet. Those individuals need to carry the culture forward. Trust increases when companies interact with users and allow them to interact even if the comments aren’t positive about the company.
Jessica Hardwick – Trust within a community. You can’t have a swap transaction without trust that both parties will deliver. Anyone can setup a reputation system. Trust circles or swap circles – people know each other or people know people. Involve users – ask them questions. Users wanted to brand their community. They wanted public and private communities. Reputation is their single most important parameter. People under 18 not allowed. Feedback forms. When launched they built a repuation system. Users asked if they could pull reputation from ebay but they couldn’t. Didn’t like that they were building a closed reputation system. Partnered with rapleaf (http://www.rapleaf.com/). They allow users to own their reputation and take it across systems.
How do you get your first advocates?
Caterina Fake – Empower users to own some part of your community. Communities tend to take on the characteristics of their founders so be sure to invite people of many backgrounds in. It can be hard to moderate communities when there are many cultures. Flickr had a large users base in Arab countries. In those countries certain pictures of women were not acceptable.
How do you deal with scale?
Jenna Woodul – you have to manage new and veteran users. Hopefully, your community leaders do that. In some communities allowing people to have designations based on time in the community is sometimes helpful depending on the culture.
Caterina Fake – build tools that let users expand what you do in ways that you may not currently understand. I hate pre canned community software. They lack identity and tend to be all the same.
Jessica Hardwick – users kill the spam.