Tag Archives: readwriteweb

ReadWriteWeb Guide to Online Community Management

I was lucky to get a review copy of the new ReadWriteWeb Guide to Online Community Management, which was just released this morning. I was also interviewed for the report, so you can find tidbits from my experience sprinkled throughout the report.

My favorite thing about this report is that it isn’t just a PDF document, it comes with a companion site, the Community Management Aggregator, which provides great ongoing resources for people interested in community management. It has a custom search engine for the best community management content along with 3-10 new community management articles per day from some of the leading community management practitioners. I’m already finding great content that I hadn’t yet discovered on my own throughout this companion site. It also has other useful tidbits including OPML files with lists of great blogs, links to Twitter accounts for the top community management thought leaders, and more.

The report is also really interesting. It contains basic information, discussions about whether you really need a community manager, return on investment for your community, job descriptions, dealing with difficult members, interviews and more. The report also has plenty of links to other content, links to reference materials, and other pointers to great content. You can also download a free sample section of the report to get a better feel for the type of content being included.

The whole package is priced at $299. You can learn more about the report on the ReadWriteWeb Guide to Online Community Management page.

Related Fast Wonder Blog posts:

Beyond Aggregation — Finding the Web's Best Content at SXSW

Here are my notes for this session. These are the words of the panelists (not mine) as best I could capture them (please forgive the typos).

Beyond Aggregation — Finding the Web’s Best Content

Marshall Kirkpatrick   VP Content Dev,   ReadWriteWeb
Louis Gray   Author/Publisher,   louisgray.com
Gabe Rivera   Founder/CEO,   Techmeme
Melanie Baker   Community Mgr,   AideRSS Inc
Micah Baldwin   VP Business Dev,   Lijit Networks Inc

This was another full session with people packed into the aisles.

Louis: limit sources to those things that are highly relevant. Uses Google Reader as a starting point. Read fast, share fast, decide fast. Know where it goes when you share it & engage there, too. Louis beats many of the top tech blogs with startup knowledge using these techniques.

Gabe: Techmeme is powered mostly by automation to find the top tech stories. Relies mostly on links to determine newsworthiness. It also looks for clusters of news on the same topic. Helps to surface most of the good news, but he recently introduced an editing process into the mix to add / remove headline.

Melanie: AideRSS focuses on social interactions to determine the best content (links, bookmarks, comments, Twitter, etc.). Best posts show the top articles. New beta product will be more focused on content discovery.

Micah: Start with trusted sources. Read the posts plus the links. Includes Lijit to aggregate these sources.  Focused on trust relationships to drill down until you find the content you need.

Marshall: “How to find the weirdest stuff on the Internet” Used Delicious, PostRank, Yahoo Pipes, and Feedburner to find the weirdest stuff. Delicious to find the content, PostRank to find the best, yahoo Pipes to splice filtered content together, and Feedburner to give people a feed of the content.

Micah: For those looking to be found online. No matter how good you are, if you don’t interact with people, no one will find you.Many products take RSS, filter it, find the interesting content, and make it easier to find. Look for the products that have a human element & are not just algorithmic (Google vs. Delicious).

Melanie: Even for the tools, those are built by people and each one does something a little different & you need multiple tools to solve a problem, so you can’t take the human side out of the equation. It’s more important to find what people are actually reading and bookmarking vs. what they are recommending.

Louis: Follows other people’s Google Reader shares. Uses FriendFreed to put people in specific lists to find the best of the day within a specific list. Finds new information that he didn’t have before.

These techniques work best for tech, politics and a few others. It only works when people link to each other, comment, etc.

Gabe: This is why he hasn’t launched any new sites for a while. The data just doesn’t exist to do a Techmeme for many other topics. He might tackle something in a more traditional business / economic / finance area, but these topics alone are too small and aggregated might be too broad, so he’s looking for the right mix.

Louis: MacBlips has a family of sites with tech and a few other topics branching out past tech / politics.

Melanie: Disagrees that it doesn’t exist outside the tech space. It’s smaller and different, but it’s still there. Religions, knitters, etc. They are harder to find.

Micah: Launching content networks grouping like-minded bloggers to aggregate content (Security Bloggers Network). There are ways to utilize the tools outside of technology bloggers. We’re too close to the technology to see what is outside of our world. Does not think that you can automate recommendations. We take recommendations from actual people that we trust.

Marshall: He creates elaborate systems to find the lists of top blogs in a topic, but sometimes forgets to just Google it to see what lists other people have created.

Melanie: The way people think and search and make lists is on a personal trust basis. Be able to scan information to find the trusted sources.

Louis: What is your goal for finding information? Do you want to be first? Find new content? Find interesting things to read? Your methods will differ depending on your goals.

Micah: How do you find the next meme. FriendFeed is a river of information. You should try to find a new blog every day to find something new. Each one should drive you deeper into new things.

Melanie: Many of us are using Twitter more to get information at the expense of our RSS readers.

Louis: People are live tweeting (it’s easier) rather than writing blog posts.

Marshall: Twitter real-time search in Google (Greasemonkey script). He also builds custom search engines to search only within a defined list of sources. He also uses a FF plugin that allows him to get a grid of places to search.

Louis: Don’t be afraid to unsubscribe and prune content.

Marshall: Prefers to oversubscribe and prioritize. Never unsubscribes, just moves things lower in priority.


Gabe: Information overload is a problem, but if you want an audience, they don’t always have the information overload problem. You have the problem, but your readers want interesting stuff.

Louis: FriendFeed best of day (I missed part of this)

Marshall: Looking at the bookmarking history and finding the people who bookmarked them first to identify some key people who are the first people to disover content, and subscribe to them.

Melanie: Ping her to get a beta code for the new PostRank feature.

Micah: Close to releasing a way to score individuals based on influence and connections. It should be released in the next 30 days.

Community Manager / Social Media Jobs are Still Hot

ReadWriteWeb’s Jobwire site has been keeping up with who is being hired, while many other sites are focused on layoffs and the downturn. It’s exciting to see them publish their numbers showing that people are still hiring community managers and social media specialists.

I’ve been seeing a similar trend anecdotaly, and so far at least, I’m still getting clients who want me to consult with them to help build online communities, new blogs, or improve their social media presence.

They have some other data available in their full post, which you should take the time to read. It’s just nice to see a little good news about people getting jobs now and then.

Trust and Corporate Blogging

I’ve spent a fair amount of time talking on this blog and in other places about what to do and what not to do with a corporate blog. Here’s a short summary:

  • Don’t regurgitate press releases. Do focus on content relevant to your industry
  • It’s not all about you. It is a conversation.
  • Don’t focus on marketing messages. Have a personal tone.
  • Make sure the blog doesn’t get stale. A content roadmap can help you stay on track.

This morning I read Josh Bernoff’s Forrester Report, Time To Rethink Your Corporate Blogging Ideas, which focused on whether or not people trust corporate blogs. I was not surprised by the finding that only 16% of online consumers who read corporate blogs trust them. I don’t usually trust press releases, which tend to tell one side of the story (the company’s side) always in the best possible light and sometimes with so much spin you can’t find the meat of the announcement. Too many corporate blogs seem like a series of press releases, and I don’t trust those blogs. However, there are also many excellent corporate blogs written by people that I do trust.

I tend to agree with Richard MacManus on ReadWriteWeb:

To the larger point of whether corporate blogs are trustworthy, it depends on so many things that it’s difficult to make a sweeping judgement. For example, I trust some Microsoft blogs more than others – depending on the person blogging and perhaps even the department they work for. It depends on the style of blogging, the content that’s published, the way the blog is promoted, and so on. (Quoted from ReadWriteWeb)

Based on the recommendations in the report, I suspect that Josh agrees with us:

Like any other marketing channel, blogging can work. But it’s not about you; it’s about your customer. Our rule of thumb is that if the person reading the blog says, “Sure I don’t trust corporate blogs, but I don’t think of your blog that way,” then you’re on the right track. (Quoted from Time To Rethink Your Corporate Blogging Ideas)

Josh includes a few tips for improving the trust on your blog (his article has a few more tips and a paragraph with more explanation on each one):

  • Blog about the customer’s problem.
  • Blog to your hordes of fans.
  • Blog about issues at the core of a community.
  • For B2B companies, get your employees in on the act.

(Quoted from Time To Rethink Your Corporate Blogging Ideas)

The real message here is that trust has to be earned. Trust has to be earned for each new corporate blog and each individual blogger. Jeremiah Owyang put together an informal checklist to help you evaluate your current company blog. A great corporate blog can be a trusted source of information, but it takes real work and diligence to get to that point.

How’s your corporate blog performing?

ReadWriteWeb's Seven Social Media Consultants

Wow. I’m honored to have made Marshall’s list of Seven Social Media Consultants That Deliver Tangible Value on ReadWriteWeb today:

In this post we highlight seven social media consultants that consistently bring tangible value to the table. These folks aren’t full of hot air – they use their blogs to offer clear examples, links, tutorials and other resources you can put to use. If the goods you can see for free are so solid, that’s all the more reason to investigate paying for these peoples’ services.

The full list includes:

Specifically, here is Marshall’s assessment of my consulting practice (good and bad):

Dawn Foster is a relatively new entrant into the consulting world but her blog Fast Wonder is already pumping out the usable information and tools.

She’s built an enthusiastic community of supporters by delivering things like Brand Dashboards, Yahoo! Pipes and RSS Hacks and a review of a recent Community Manager compensation study.

While Foster’s work with research and tools is exciting, we feel less inspired by the parts of her discourse that are short on detailed examples. Her years of experience at Jive Software, Compiere and Intel are clearly helpful in consulting but we hope that with more consulting experience she’ll be able to offer a wider variety of examples to back up the advice she gives.

For a new consultancy, though, Fast Wonder is quickly gathering value through work with bleeding edge projects like the pseudo-stealth location-based social network Shizzow.

I’m OK with this assessment. I launched my consulting practice less than three months ago, so I think the criticism of needing more examples is fair. I’ve been working with communities in one form or another since around 2001 starting with open source communities on behalf of Intel. Later I worked for Compiere and Jive, and I am currently responsible for the Shizzow community. I also do quite a bit of community work within the Portland tech community through Legion of Tech by organizing local meetups and events. While I have great examples from these activities, it is still a relatively small number of companies. On the upside, my consulting practice is really starting to take off, and I hope to be able to offer more examples over the next few months.

Again, I feel honored to be included on this list, which includes several people that I admire and whose blogs I read regularly.