You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2009.

Jeremiah Owyang has a thought-provoking post today about whether or not blogging is evolving into life streams. He notes how bloggers like Robert Scoble and others are much more focused on the real-time web, while seemingly putting their blogs on the back burner or shutting them down altogether.  It’s a great read and I encourage you to go over the Jeremiah’s blog and take it all in.

What I want to focus on for a bit is the concept of building community through these life streams, or through an aggregation of life streams. I’m not sure that it’s possible.

I am a big twitter user. I also use Friendfeed and a great deal of other social media platforms. I like the constant stream of fresh new content coming in. But I also know that I miss a whole lot of it and the stuff that I miss is pretty much gone forever for me.

I may go back a few hours on my twitter stream as time permits, but for the most part, I don’t. I miss 85% of the happenings on Friendfeed, but since so much of it is feeds from twitter, blogs, etc….chances are I may see it somewhere else. So to be fair, I’ll say I miss about 65% of the content streaming on FriendFeed.

Existing solely through life streams seems a bit disjointed to me.

The ultimate aggregation of your activity across 10 or more platforms is not a selling point in my book. Talk about noise.  I do not believe that ones online presence is the sum of it’s parts, and that is what such aggregation suggests.

You can’t combine all of your activity into one place without somehow connecting the dots and expect people to latch on to you, or join your Tribe.

Now, I know that this may work for the superstars and we can see that it does.

But you will lose me if you resort solely to this kind of online presence. I am not saying that blogging is the only way. But your followers, readers and viewers sometimes deserve a complete thought with a beginning, middle and end. If you are providing that in your life stream, kudos to you. Maybe you will continue to build community, which for me is the ultimate goal.

What do you think? Are life streams a bit disjointed or am I way off-base here?

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Consider this a special invitation.

On Wednesday, July 1st I will be the featured guest on the Guerrilla Marketing Association call hosted by Roger C. Parker.

Roger is a best-selling author, designer, coach and consultant. He’s written 38 books which have been purchased by over 1.6 million readers and translated into 37 languages.

So the fact that he enjoyed  my book,  “18 Rules of Community Engagement” enough to invite me to discuss it along with my strategies for growing successful online communities with his association is quite an honor.

The calls are recorded for members of the Guerilla Marketing Association but it is live and there is an opportunity to ask questions.

I’d like you to attend as my guest, so consider this post an invitation to all of my readers to call in on Wednesday July 1, 2009 at 7pm EST.

To access the interview, call 404-920-6610. Once you’re in, please use the PIN: 192304#.

I’m excited about discussing my passion and I hope you can find the time to join us.

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Less than 24 hours after creating a Freshbooks Account to bill for a recent consultation and presentation, I received a follow up call from Jon Spenceley. It was the best 15 minutes of my morning and I can’t say that I’ve had a better customer service experience.

The call was unexpected but completely sincere. Jon seemed genuinely interested in my work and helping me succeed with their software. I ended up asking several questions and he provided honest answers. He didn’t try to up sell me to a paid account and even shared that the paid account wouldn’t do much else for me other than allow me to have more clients in the database.

He could have easily lied about that, but he didn’t.

You see, after talking to Jon I WANTED to upgrade even though I don’t need to at this very moment.

But when I do, who do you think I’ll call? I was so impressed by Jon’s follow up email which came 10 minutes after our conversation, that I asked his permission to share it in This post. Notice how he makes it all about me and even reveals how he was listening to pretty much everything I said during the call. I mean come on, he even mentioned my book!

Here it is in its entirety:

Hi Angela!

Thank you for taking the time to talk to me about your business. It was really great to learn more about your new freelance work, and congratulations again on publishing your book! I think it’s fantastic that you’re starting out to make some money on the things you enjoy doing, and I wish you the best of business, and a whole lot of new clients coming your way!

As I said on the phone, my job here at FreshBooks is something of a work-flow consultant (boring title, awesome fun job). If you have any questions on how FreshBooks works, what features may be interesting to you, or how FreshBooks can fit with your business, please feel free to let me know. I will also be happy to give you a discount on a paid package when you reach the point that you need to upgrade, because I think people who take the time to talk to me about their business are awesome.

If you need anything, you can reach me directly at 1-866-303-6061 (ask for Jon), or by emailing me at jon-at-freshbooks-dot-com.

Thank you very much for taking the time to tell me about your business. I really appreciate you checking out FreshBooks, and I hope you have a fantastic day! Thanks again for the Tweet!

– Jon Spenceley

Isn’t Jon fabulous?

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The minute the  ice cream truck was in my neighborhood today, my children knew it. I probably knew it a full 20 seconds before they did though, because I have 28 and 33 years more experience with the ice cream truck and it’s marketing tactics than they do. My ears were trained long ago.

It starts with a jingle. That jingle tells you it’s coming and forces you to act. You will either run home for money, ask a friend to give you some or, depending on your age, burst into tears because you know you don’t have the means to make a purchase.

If you already have money, you can get a jumpstart on persuading the truck to come down your street. A combination of vertical leaps, wild hand-waving and whistling or screaming usually does the trick. Although, you may have to resort to a quick sprint, but that’s only if the driver is a speed-demon.

The point here is this: The ice cream truck is reliable. It always has the goods. You know for certain that there is something on that truck that will make you happy, and it doesn’t matter who is driving.

The driver of the truck knows that he has what you want, so there is no need to recruit you or cajole you into flagging him down. He announces the trucks presence with that jingle and waits for you to make a move. There is no question about his power and he is always at the top of his game.

Does your community have the goods? Is it reliable? Is there something there that will make your members happy every day? What happens when you change drivers?

I am not happy with my answers to those questions, and I bet you aren’t either.

I think we can learn a lot from the ice cream truck. Our communities should speak for themselves. Our content should be top-notch and we should try to offer surprises every now and then. There should be other drivers who care just as much about the truck and it’s upkeep to keep it running in the event you can’t. Many of us are solo acts and I don’t know if that’s a good thing.

Shhh…

Do you hear that?

I’ve gotta run home to get my money. You flag him down. I’ll.be.right.back!

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This is a cross post from the blog, Newspaprgirl. Author Janet Thaeler asked me to share my top five rules of community engagement and I was happy to oblige. Janet is currently working on a book about online marketing.

Have you ever struck up a conversation with a complete stranger in the checkout line at the grocery store once you both realize the line hasn’t moved in the last ten minutes?

Perhaps you’ve locked eyes briefly with a parent as you both painfully watched another parent manhandle their screaming 3-year-old at the park.

The connections you make with strangers in these types of situations are based on a shared experience. Something that affects you both and has no bearing on whether or not you were previously acquainted.

These are the same connections we can make online, and sharing personal experiences is one of the most effective ways to engage an online community.

As a community manager, I have employed many tactics to engage members and encourage participation. Some work better than others but nothing seems to resonate more than a personal story. When you share something personal, it evokes emotion and prompts others to share similar experiences.

When I blogged about the anniversary of my father’s death, stories about dad’s who’d died too soon poured in and the level of sharing was unbelievable. The same thing happened when I recounted a time in high school when I almost froze to death while waiting for the city bus. It was as if there was suddenly a competition to see who had endured the worst winters and could recall all of the gruesome details.

If you ever want to start a conversation fast, sharing something personal will get the job done. If you share something from your own life, it is almost certain others will follow suit.

It is what I consider one of the top five rules of community engagement.

Here are the other four:

Stroke a few egos
Flattery will get you everywhere. It is imperative that you go above and beyond in this department. When you have constant contributors, and people who are vested in the best interest of the community, you have to express your grattitude. and tell them how much you need and appreciate them.

Ask questions
Never underestimate the power of a question. Ask members what they think about current events, or potential changes in the community or forum.Find out what they think about local and national issues. Ad don’t think your questions have to be intellectual. Sometimes something as simple as “What are you cooking for dinner tonight?” can create a major dialog.

Acknowledge good work
See, “stroke a few egos.” Acknowledging good work publicly is good for everyone. It encourages the contributor and shows your appreciation of their time and efforts

Accept and respond to criticism
This simply shows that you’re human. Building an open honest relationship with your community is key. When people know that you are accessible and available and willing to hear them out and respond, you build a level of respect that cannot be bought. It also illustrates your commitment to the community and how much you value their presence.

Today’s consumers are faced with infinite choices, and if you don’t provide an experience worth their time, they won’t be back.
Remember, we are living in the conversation age, where the number of choices online are infinite and the audience that was once easily bought must now be earned.

You can find out more about engaging online communities in my new book, “18 Rules of Community Engagement: A Guide for Building Relationships and Connecting with Customers Online.”

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Have you seen the TNT media blitz on Facebook today? It seemed as though Jada Pinkett-Smith was following me all over the place. I mentioned it on Twitter and the @replies soon debunked my own belief of it being a Black Female demographic thing. What I learned is it’s clearly a FEMALE demographic thing. This promotional blitz is all about women, period.

TNT has apparently bought the Facebook farm today and they have a serious campaign running for two of their shows: Hawthorne and Saving Grace.

I wonder if those ad dollars were taken from a traditional media campaign, or if networks now have a new line item labeled: Facebook.

Here are a few notable responses from my initial inquiry on twitter:

holyfieldTV: @communitygirl I’m getting them, too! And for ‘Saving Grace’ TNT must be blowing it out

Tue Jun 16 – 4:46:35 pm
communitygirl: So we’ve figured out the Pinkett-Smith ads on FB are a combination. Targeted ads and full promo blitz. Agreed?

Tue Jun 16 – 4:34:20 pm

LisaSullivan: @communitygirl I made note of that earlier too, especially in respect to the launch of her series AND Wedding Day, also tonight on TNT.

Tue Jun 16 – 4:28:41 pm

jeffachen: @communitygirl yes it is. Facebook offers target marketing by demographic.

Tue Jun 16 – 4:26:28 pm

asquibb: @communitygirl LOL – she’s all over my Fbook too; all 3 ads. Big question: does it make you want to watch her new show?

Tue Jun 16 – 4:25:39 pm

techherding: @communitygirl All you black chicks are pretty much the same, right? Us middle-aged white guys sure are…

Tue Jun 16 – 4:24:35 pm

lkelly: @communitygirl hmmm, I’ve got her ads, too. Must just be a female demographic thing!

Tue Jun 16 – 4:24:19 pm

tracyweeks: @communitygirl they are on mine too

I received similar responses on Facebook.

Any thoughts on how much all of those targeted Facebook ads set them back?

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Last Friday brought another interesting hour of #Cmtychat, created by Bryan Person and Sonny Gill. We had a robust discussion about community management, growing communities, the 90-9-1 Principle and the importance, or lack thereof, of community lurkers.

I stressed the importance of providing content that makes it easy for lurkers to participate: A quick poll, or blog post with a fun question that most people would find irresistible and want to chime in.

While lurkers may not seem important, they are. I can’t tell you how many new members have told me that they’d been lurking for anywhere from 4-8 months before finally deciding to join the community.

One community manager on the chat mentioned that her community had so many new people joining that they don’t really focus on lurkers. I can understand that philosophy but that has not been my experience. I am always trying to impress non-members with our content to encourage them to take the leap from lurker to participant, and then from participant to active participant.
In my opinion, it’s a member drive that never ends.

After all, if you don’t encourage lurkers, how can you grow?

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Amazon book reviews are great and so are complete blog posts devoted solely to your creative prose. I’m looking forward to them both. But with the popularity and power of twitter, Twitviews (that’s what I’m calling reviews posted on twitter only) are worth watching.

I was completely amazed at the number of tweets about my new book, yesterday. And while they don’t qualify as full-fledged book reviews and may not show up in a Google search, I find them very powerful given the reach of our networks.

Here are a few:

DerekShowerman: @communitygirl provides 18 rules of community engagement in an eBook form. http://ow.ly/dh0R
tomhumbarger: Build a Thriving Online Community – New book out today by @communitygirl provides 18 rules of community engagement http://ow.ly/dh0R
LainieH: @communitygirl just saw the press release for your new book about online community engagement. Congrats! http://tinyurl.com/koxzt7..
NewspaperGrl: Get to know @communitygirl who just wrote a fabulous book about managing an online community. #gno #gno
NewspaperGrl: I’m a big fan of @communitygirl & her new book – short on theory long on practical advice for running an online community

ksablan: On community: “You need them, ore than they need you” (from new book by @communitygirl, out today http://cli.gs/mJGrAn )

JustinFenwick: If you don’t have the time or patience to engage and do so genuinely…you cannot realistically expect to grow a community” @communitygirl

JustAskNicole: Hot off the press! “18 Rules of Community Engagement” http://idek.net/E9V (new book by @communitygirl).

timwtyler: @communitygirl just read your new 18 Rules of Community Engagement. Great practical advice w a passion for your members. Recommended reading

alisonmichalk: @communitygirl will be sure to read your new book on Community Engagement but too busy to commit to reviewing it 😦 good luck for launch!
Full_Throttle: RT @communitygirl “There are many ways to attract an online audience, but keeping one requires creativity [and work]” – http://bit.ly/IO9mK

The bottom line here is authors should find value in all reviews, not just Amazon. Social media has opened up many doors. It’s up to us to walk through them.

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Okay, it’s my first stab at a video for this blog.  I shot it in my kitchen using my BlackBerry very close to midnight.  The good part is I’m well aware of the lack of video quality and I promise if I decide to shoot more video, I will invest in a flip camera!

18 Rules of Community Engagement, by Angela Connor from Angela Connor on Vimeo.

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18 Rules of Community Engagement launches today!

18 Rules of Community Engagement: A Guide to Building Relationships and Connecting with Customers Online (Happy About Publishing) is officially out today on all major online retailer sites. You’ve read my blog, seen the endorsements and maybe even downloaded a free chapter from the book website, so what are you waiting for? You’ve got a community to engage, so get your copy today.

I hope you enjoy reading 18 Rules of Community Engagement and I can’t wait to get your feedback.

Here’s the press release:

Build a Thriving Online Community – New Book Helps you Attract Thousands

An online community can bring new business and visibility , yet most businesses build an online community that fails to attract members. A new guide shows how to beat the odds and attract thousands of people. The principles in this new book can be applied to any social network or business community that wants to grow their membership base.

Cupertino, CA (PRWEB) June 9, 2009 — Building an online community with active, participating Book cover| 18 Rules of Community Engagement  members is a challenge. Over half of businesses that attempt it fail to get over a thousand members. That’s why Angela Connor wrote the guide to building relationships and connecting with customers online. The book ’18 Rules of Community Engagement,’ outlines the principles Connor used to take the online news community for the top-rated TV station in North Carolina from 0 to 11,000 members in just eighteen months.

A study of more than 100 businesses with online communities found that 35% had less than 100 members and less than 25% had more than 1,000 members. Recently, Sam’s Club announced a new community for small businesses owners. They had an existing network of thousands to draw on. Most businesses don’t have that luxury.

Building community can be daunting whether it’s on an existing social network or a branded community for business. The principles taught in this book can be applied to building an online community on social media sites, on a branded community site, or on a blog.

The key is to interact – to be social – in a way that builds value. “In the age of instant communications, where we are constantly connected and faced with infinite choices, consumers want and expect more. We are now living in the conversation age, where one-way communication is no longer acceptable or desired. People want to engage and discuss, react and interact,” notes Connor.

The key aspects of building an online community are:

1. Give people something to talk about.

2. Engage with people.

3. Provide useful information.

The book provides examples of tactics to use to connect with people and help them connect with others. An online community thrives when a community manager facilitates interaction. This guide tells exactly how.

There are answers to common questions such as:

What’s the best way to deal with troublemakers who harm communities?

What’s the best way to encourage participation when stats say most participants are lurkers who don’t contribute?

How much time is required each day to grow an online community?

What’s the best way to help community members feel appreciated and welcomed so they not only stay, but help drive the community?

Learn this and more from someone who has achieved what most businesses have not.. Build a strong online community and bring greater visibility and new customers.

Key stats:

– Title: 18 Rules of Community Engagement

– Subtitle: A Guide for Building Relationships and Connecting With Customers Online

– Authors: Angela Connor

– Date of Publication: May, 2009

– Price: Paperback $19.95, eBook $14.95

– ISBN: Paperback: 978-1-60005-142-5 (1-60005-142-1)

– ISBN: eBook: 978-1-60005-143-2 (1-60005-143-X)

Library of Congress Control Number: 2009923129

– Forward by HARO’s Peter Shankman

About Happy About®:

Happy About® books educate, entertain and evoke. You will quickly gain wisdom with our smaller, compact, high-impact books. Visit Happy About at http://happyabout.info and http://42rules.com for more info. For quantity discounts, please contact the publisher, Mitchell Levy at mlevy(at) happyabout.info, 408-257-3000. If you want to explore publishing a nonfiction business book, we don’t need a long book proposal.

Please, contact the publisher and ask for the “6 questions” or go to this url: http://happyabout.info/contribute.php.

Press Copies:

A free copy of the book is available to the press upon request. Please send an e-mail to prupdate(at)happyabout.info

Get “18 Rules of Community Engagement” at http://happyabout.info/community-engagement.php

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This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer. Feel free to challenge me, disagree with me, or tell me I’m completely nuts in the comments section of each blog entry.

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