Web 2.0 The power of online communities

Original Post on 05.06.2008

The Power of Online Communities: Lessons from the Best of the Consumer & Business Community Managers

 

Caroline Dietz (Dell), Kingsley Joseph (salesforce.com, inc.), Sam Mankiewicz (Kiva.org), Matt Warburton (Yahoo!, Inc.), Heather Champ (Flickr)
2:40pm – 3:30pm Friday, 04/25/2008

What makes Web 2.0 companies different? It’s all about the people. Web 2.0 companies and their technologies lower the barrier to membership, empower and engage community members, and develop a two-way communication channel between the community and the decision makers of the company. Online communities can vary from personal interests and hobbies to businesses building closer relationships with their customers, and even doing good for individuals and communities in need.

 

This panel took lessons from the leading Web 2.0 community innovators, including community managers from Yahoo!, Dell IdeaStorm, salesforce.com IdeaExchange, and Kiva.org. What are the best practices for developing and fostering an online community? What can entrepreneurs learn from these pioneers? What beyond individual technologies do communities managers need to know when facilitating constructive communication with members? After you’ve built a successful community, where do you go from there? What challenges do managers face as a community expands internationally and how can these issues best addressed?

 

Heard from : Matt Warburton, Director, Community Management, Yahoo!, Inc. Warburton is the community manager for Yahoo!’s Communications & Communities products heading up community efforts for Yahoo! Groups, Yahoo! Mail, and Yahoo! Messenger. Prior to joining Yahoo!, Warburton spent eight years at eBay where among his responsibilities included managing the Voices of the Community program, community events, and community forums (discussion boards, groups, etc.) for the company’s community management group.
Caroline Dietz, Manager, Dell IdeaStorm IdeaStorm is an interactive web site that enables customers to generate ideas about technology they would like to see, along with suggestions for current and future Dell products, services, and operations—and ultimately challenge the way Dell does business. Customers post ideas and the community “promotes” or “demotes” their suggestions, causing the most popular ideas to rise to the top. The community also discusses ideas with one another to ultimately see how Dell is putting their ideas into action.
Kingsley Joseph, Senior Product Manager, salesforce.com IdeaExchange The recent winner of Forrester’s Groundswell Awards for excellence in business uses of social technologies, IdeaExchange has changed the face of product development by giving the salesforce.com community a voice in shaping future product releases through an ongoing, live public debate. With the goal of harnessing the power of community to drive business innovation, members of the salesforce.com community submit, vote, and comment on everything from new product features and branding to company strategy.

 

Sam Mankiewicz, CTO, Kiva.org Recently featured on Oprah and the Today show, Kiva has revolutionized microfinance by using the power of the Internet to facilitate one-to-one connections that were previously prohibitively expensive. Kiva let’s anyone connect with and loan money to unique small businesses in the developing world. By choosing a business on Kiva.org, you can “sponsor a business” and help the world’s working poor make great strides towards economic independence. As loans are repaid, you get your loan money back. Approximately 95% of the loans are paid back in full.

Kingsley Joseph
salesforce.com, inc.
Kingsley Jegan Joseph is a web strategist at salesforce.com and creator of the IdeaExchange. The recent winner of Forrester’s Groundswell Awards for excellence in business uses of social technologies, IdeaExchange has changed the face of product development by giving the salesforce.com community a voice in shaping future product releases through an ongoing, live public debate. With the goal of harnessing the power of community to drive business innovation, members of the salesforce.com community submit, vote, and comment on everything from new product features and branding to company strategy.
Web site

 

Sam Mankiewicz
Kiva.org
Sam leads Kiva’s engineering team and is responsible for the day-to-day operations and ongoing development of the website. He comes to Kiva with almost 10 years of experience working with over a half-dozen technology startups, ranging from self-service kiosks and enterprise systems integration to digital tickets and online video sharing. Sam has traveled extensively through Southern Africa, Southeast Asia, and Central America. Sam graduated with a B.S. in Computer Science from Stanford University.
Web site

 

Matt Warburton
Yahoo!, Inc.
Matt is currently Director of Community Management for Yahoo’s Community and Communications Group – supporting products such as Groups, Messenger, Mail, Bix, 360, and Mash. Matt’s team is responsible for community input/advisory panels, product blogs, community events, and engagement programs.
Prior to joining Yahoo!, Matt spent 8 years working for eBay. While at eBay, Matt spent 3 years managing several components of eBay’s Community Managment team – input programs, events, and forums
Web site

 

Heather Champ
Flickr
As the Director of Community at Flickr, Heather Champ oversees member activities for one of the world’s largest and most popular photo sharing communities. She joined the Flickr team in May 2005 and has seen the community grow to more than 23 million members who have shared more than 2 billion photos.
Heather is very much enamored with personal publishing on the Web, having launched her first home page in 1994 while working at the School of Architecture, Princeton University. She is an award-winning Web designer with more than ten years of experience maintaining her own site, hchamp.com, as well as the Mirror Project. Prior to joining Yahoo!, Heather also co-founded JPG Magazine with her husband Derek Powazek.

 

Conference Notes

 

Panel Member sites
http://success.salesforce.com/
www.dell.com/community
http://www.flickr.com/
http://www.kiva.org/
http://www.yahoo.com/
http://ideas.salesforce.com/

 

Online Communities
Flickr – 25 million members, bought by yahoo, 260 million photos, just launched videos
Kiva – microfinancing and lending service, 275,000 lenders, 25 people staff (non profit)
Yahoo – Communication and Commuinty products, community team of 4,
Dell – ideastorm – online community
Yahoo – created a round table program in which they bring in users to meet with product managers and work on getting direct feedback and idea sharing with direct influencers for helping guide product directions.
Blogs to go along with your community group allows the ability to push important information content.

 

Yahoo guys are doing offline meetings to engage community with presentations and Q&A’s. the are also doing workshops online using the same format concerning looking at products coming up and features of products and how to information. The idea is to engage the community with providing constant and consitant information and education on the current products/ upcoming products / what the company is working on / what is scheduled for the web site / then capturing information from the users on what they want and allowing the users to engage in asking questions and getting answers.

 

Many of the groups are going to online training. Many of the groups are pushing our a list of 20 ideas of things that are being considered through product development and allowing the community members to vote on favorites with also showing the ranking of the ideas. Another positive thing that these companies are doing is opening up the communities to allow them to help each other and start discussion groups and panels to discuss problems and issues to help each other figure things out. Getting community to answer each other questions is a good way to approach making everyone happy while reducing number of calls and pushes to customer service.

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