Apologies for the slightly cryptic and unexplored post yesterday – a reminder that sometimes an idea needs a bit more fleshing out before clicking the Publish button!
What was foremost in my mind is something that is vitally important to my current role, and social media/community as a whole. And that’s the fact that, despite the growth in Web 2.0 technology, and adoption of community techniques – it isn’t half as widespread as you might assume from within the tech/blogging bubble. Plenty of people, even within the digital world, find it hard to see the reason for investing time in social networking and how it applies to them – and outside that area or department, it’s even more of a leap.
And what has come out of my work, attending valuable gatherings like Measurementcamp, and reading great blogs such as Web Strategy by Forrester Senior Analyst Jeremiah Owyang, or KD Paine’s PR Measurement blog, is that it’s the reporting, measurement, and justification of any community work is as vitally important as doing it in the first place.
And being able to show the measurable aspects of community/social media work, and explaining the direct and indirect effects on the bottom line is absolutely essential in changing the way companies think – particularly the larger, more institutional companies.
If you need a refreshing reminder about making things clearer for the rest of your company, and particularly more senior management, bosses, and CEOs, Avinash Kaushik has some good posts on Occam’s Razor which can feel like they pour a bit of cold water on the evangelical aspects of community and social media – but actually really help clarify the most useful methods of making things simple and effective – rather than relying on enthusiasm, buzzwords, and what it’s easy to assume is the inescapable logic of enagaging communities. Particularly this one, and this one!
I certainly don’t have all the answers – although the benefit of facing these challenges to varying extents in my day job means I’m slowly understanding more of the solutions – but what really interests me is how other people are tackling the challenges, what case studies people are willing to share, where people have found value, and what levels of commitment companies, particularly larger institutions, are actually committing to community engagement – is anyone finding the returns and solutions that make community pervasive through their company – or are large companies forever destined to limit it to experimenting via the fringes of what they do? And how much real effect does that have? And is technology – targeting adverts, engaging via Twitter etc, actually moving further ahead of where the biggest value is?
Personally, I think there’s a balance between using the tool of community marketing, and traditional digital and offline marketing. And that the trick is to be ahead of the mainstream by a small amount in order to establish and experiment in a space to ensure you’re on the right track before the crowds turn up – but what views have you got?
So are you in a large or small company? Or working as an individual?
Are you attempting to convince others – particularly management of the value of community and social media?
And are you targeting the early adopter communities right now? (e.g. Twitter, Plurk, Seesmic etc), or are you going with more mainstream efforts? (Facebook, Myspace, Digg, Stumbleupon).