SXSW – Building a Community Ecology

Moderator: Jake McKee Lead Samurai, Big in Japan
Virginia Miracle Dir Word of Mouth Mktg, Brains on Fire
Rebecca Newton Global Safety & Moderation Mgr, Sulake.com
Terrence Ryan Moderator, suicidegirls.com
Betsy Whalen Dir Mktg, Discovery Education

Jake: why did i use the term ecology? working with communities, they are mini ecosystems, they require a certain amount of balance to survive. btw what community needs and what company needs.

Rebecca Newton: Habbo Hotel. Have 24 habbo sites and 15 million teenagers. social/virtual world for 13-17yo.
Virginia Mircel. works for brians on fire. a naming, identity and WOM marketing firm. create identities and personalities for community movements. Works with the fisketeers, a scrapbooking community. wanted to find a way to emotionally connect with customers. 60% of posts coming from GenY, although full range is 20-70
Betsy Whalen, works with Discovery. works on educator network, helps educators to integrate Discovery products into the classroom.
Terrence Ryan – moderate suicide girls community. started as a punk site and morphed into a alt-porn site 😉 Public userbase is 50/50 male/female, although the anon demo is mainly male.

Q: What would you do if a marketing team said they want fans to come to an offline event and help out….as they have no budget for ‘offical’ help.

Virginia: so whats in it for them. they want to feel like they are included. The PR team wante some public acts of crafting..they were good ideas but not generated by community. we spoke to some of the leaders int he community and told then waht the goals were and posed it to them; the project was changed and they still achieved the saem goal. at the end they thoguht it was a co-creation but it was a difficult balance. we included out advacate int he brand as she understood the brand.

Betsy: we have this issue coming up alot. we are the education devision…we wrre giving them products. we foudn that the teachers were turning up at the stores and talkign about it, they were telling people to watch the shows. once the network picked up onthis, we started workign witht he teachers who did want to do this. we ask them to particiapte and it makes them more connected,

Terrence – we have a very rabid community. when we got the first anniersay, it was supposed to be small. but peopel were coming from allover the countr. w e adtated and set iup local groups, meet weekly. we have to conintually adpat to user demands.

rebecca – we don;t advocate meeting offline (even f marketing group has occasionally thought about it). you have to be careful of the liabilities etc. meeting offlien could also break the magic.

Jake the recurring theme is the constant adjustment.

Q: if you canlt create own hub, how do you coinect it all together.

Jake: I worked with lego, adult community. we did nothing on the official site as there was enough happening. you don;t keep the standard voice, you share what is haoppening with you compnay. get them to indersntad the reality. constant mantra is everyione goes home happy. and that invludes the compnay.

Virginia: ex Dell. fokes who are trinaiend on how to reach out, answer questions. reach out and share. but if you are delaing with fear about having own community, byt fear not having a voice, then you have to create a community space.

Rebecca – what is happening, is that communities are driving a product and corps cannot control it. if they are afraid they are going to be in trouble as it is the buyer that is in control and have a big say. they need to be paying attention to the feedback

Terrence: we give people myspace templates, we keep an eye out.

Jake: you build a relationship…and its something you do anyway. so think about how you would approach a normal relationship. share your ideas and thinking and they get to know you. you have to make clear that you are willing to listen.

Q: microcommunities…how do you leverage them.

Betsy – we started with 5 members. we did a lot of stuff the that they would not ness be able to do that know. they focus on tech, not actions. we stay focus on customers with common interests.
Virginia – size does not matter – its whether you have a niche to feel, we created it to fill the need. only have about 1200 members, incredible active and a thriving part of the business
Terrence – we have timebound groups, associated with festivals. we combined them. and help during dead points.
Virginia – some are only timebound and that is OK
Jake – you have to define your success. you get caught up in discussion about numbers and cool techs, not the community

Q: how do you get them in and make them stay. (targeting 8-12, games.

Rebecca. we run a disney space, 8-10 yo. you wont get too many under 8. they’ll come there, they will need to do some drive to web, but they are online. you may have safety issues, not just getting people.
Jake: I’m always surprised about how much I don;t understand. they have multiple accounts. parental involvement is key, to connect together. make it easy to share. al prices of content can be passed around. an easy tag line to let people share.
Rebecca – let them create their own games look at club penguin, keep it simple. allow them to create own stuff.

Q: education component of community. for fundraising and advocacy. any experience of online fundraising and setting experience. what happens when things go wrong. (off-limits or things you did not envision)

Betsy: we did a couple. one that is complete disaster and one if ok. be very clear on what you site is and what is done. the community will start to develop their own vision and decide for you and usually its 10x better than you imagined. we tried to raise money for an effort and we basically did a call out to donate. [people did not invest. the second one we did making change for katrina. we went to community, told them their goal, tell us the best way to do it. it was about teachers and kids thinking about ways to get community involved, it became a classroom project. lesson learned – give clear vision, basic rues and let community discuss to, they will come p with stuff.
Virginia: develop leaders in community, design community. people join by making a relationship with leaders and then get sent a joining link. they work to keep personal connection.
Betsy – don;t be scared to have your members make a commitment to do things. we give people training materials and our teachers go out and do face to face training with other communities. don’t be scared to ask
Jake: give some context, then it makes it easy for people to work with. everyone likes some boundaries,.

Q: how do you deal with offensiveness

Terrence – we have flags, with have rules, we can warn and ban. you are in someone elses place of business and there are limits to what you can say. people do get upset and thing it is being restricted or it is not air. sometimes you have to put your foot down
Betsy – you have to set what abuse mans. some companies do not want people saying bad things about the company on their website. we had situation where people were removed, the community rose up and began saying things back but we rode it advised and it slowly came round
Jake – you can get n flags on some things and flags on things you would not even think about. helps you set policies

Q: Member conflicts – can you share some occasions about a feud?
Terrence – a lot of time like dealing with children. you have to separate and put them in corners. i have to go and talk to the people and get them to leave them alone. we have real world interaction.
Rebecca – worked with israel interactive…it was the worst year of my life. had to deal with lots. habbo has an ignore button. nationality, there as gangs etc. the kids all wanted ban tools, so changed name from ignore to ban chat.
Jake: one of my examples at lego, we did not do a lot of communities on the site, i published contact details etc. had open door policy. I was the trusted third party and got all the middle bit. I had to get out of the process, like standing between your wife and sister,,not a good idea
Terrence i had public breakup with model and people now come to me about relationships

Q: so how about people inside the company, how do I build micro-band within a company and you compete with paid work.

BEtsy – we’ve just started this. start small in manageable chunks. we wrote the first post and showed propel how easy to was to get responses. get the key influencers involved.
Rebeccas – if they know the bosses are looking, then that can work.
Virginia. try and pin down how participating can help in their other work. once people saw hoe much feedback they got not everyone wants to help
Jake: never seen one that started big go well.. have to start small.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

One thought on “SXSW – Building a Community Ecology