BlueGlass Panel Session on Online Communities. Moderated by Chris Winfield. Panel consisted of Drew Curtis, CEO at Fark.com, Tamar Weinberg, Author of 'The New Community Rules', and Cameron Olthuis, Director of Audience Development at Clicker.com. Narrated by me, Thos Ballantyne, pest control guy.
ChrisWinfield – How do you define Community? Some call it social media, or social if you want to be cool
Tamar- Lot of people joined communities because they want to be part of something. People just want to belong. You cant always find the ability to congregate in real life. Barriers just fall down on line
@Clicker/Cameron- Building a social layer on top of Internet TV layer was our foundation. Create profile, follow friends, interactive, check-in to movies.
DrewCurtis - One of the tricks is to not kill it off accidentally. All social sites have been killed accidentally or purposefully. Owners that go on and harass people to create controversy. By accident I managed to transfer one of my key ideas of life No matter how much you disagree with someone you can still hang out with them. We instilled this belief in the Fark Community.
@Clicker/Cameron – Passionate isnt a problem for us, because it is built around tv. People are already passionate about TV. Game mechanics behind it. Whos the leader. Leader boards. Share. Compete. Watch what features are being used and what are not. Develop the features they are using a lot.
DrewCurtis – You must hit critical mass. What that number is(shrugs)? Its probably easier to do it with fewer numbers if they really are passionate but you cant really make people more passionate. Community with no rules is crap. Full of crack jobs and spammers. I would rather have a smaller community with people I can hang out with.
ChrisWinfield- Digg was attacking their top users You know that 18% of users are the ones that are providing content. How do you foster your brand evangelists? Do reach out to them? Do you make them feel special?
@Clicker/Cameron – Mining through data. Did research on top 10,000 users. How are they using the site how are they sharing. There are many tools you can use. Google analytics. We surveyed the power users. We could see what people like and what people dont like. See if the users have the right tools and if they know how to use them.
(In my Head @Thos003 YES Listen to your customers. You have the data. Use it. How many times do people need to hear that? Listen to your customers/users. Read J.D. Powers people Sorry, off my listen kick. )
Tamar- It really is finding users that are not just data mining. You can find if they are tweeting about you without your hash tag. Other tools Backtype it monitors comments. Web Analytics Mint you can find if its stumble upon or a tweet. Reward Engage them let them know they are appreciated. Let them know you are listening. You can monitor conversation. Show them their value. Do you really care what they are saying?
DrewCurtis- If you get an answer you were not expecting. Just do that. If they are talking about NASCAR maybe you should just add a community for them. We have a community that posts silly cat pictures. Im not a fan but I am not going to discourage it. We had a guy that was putting together tweets about the war. Reporters where telling each other to go read it because it was that good. Iranians started trying to tweet their message. He started weeding out tweets from the Iran government, calling them out publicly.
DrewCurtis- People hate change. OCD is 20% of the population. People just wig out when you change things around. I know because I screw with my friends apartment Wait 3 days and see if they are still upset. Main thing is dont change core functionality. If you move layout around people will get use to that, but you cant change core functionality. Ive got people telling me that I am ruining the community because of the political hit. Its less than 1% if my site. If you are passionate about it and feel your right then go with it. Of course it helps when you are right and you better be right.
DrewCurtis – Rollback function I still cant figure out how to change twitter back. Small but major is better than major but irreversible. Engineers make a labor of love for 8 months and they are not going to just undo it. Basically Digg made a move that was irreversible. The site has suffered.
Tamar- Having a business aspect on your blog is key. Having your own core community that you respond to. Clients have their own blog and their own website. If FB does go down, there should be some home base coming from your domain. Use baskets to enhance but put everything on your own site.
DrewCurtis – Social sites usually last 5 years. Twitter on a downward trend after they hit 5 years. I did see Blizzard launch a feature find friends or games. 15 million active members were created over night. What is going to be the next big thing is probably already out there. Make your stuff not platform specific. We want people to be identified as Fark users where ever they are.
Tamar – I am actually building a social network right now that is a little stealth. I am going to start digging through people out there. So at first you want to start with search and find out what people are seeking out. Find a need and accommodate that need. Reach out to people and reach out to them and ask them to take a leadership role.
DrewCurtis- Throw a party. I am being serious. This is to get your people face to face. It grows that bond stronger. It helps tighten your bond. You must create a barrier to enter. Otherwise you get all the bums that are willing to drink your free beer. I throw parties in Berkley because they have to drive across the bay. This keeps out the rift-raft.
Audience: How do get a paid model community?
DrewCurtis – Subscription part of the site for Fark It was a small amount but it kept us alive. In order to get people to pay you must have something of value. People will pay dearly for stuff they cant get anywhere else. When that small community got together they liked each other a lot and then we said buy your friend a subscription and the community built itself.
Audience: How easy is it to out source building a community?
DrewCurtis – If you give them to the opportunity to turn it off they will. Legit complaints after 3 days. Backgournd was too white. Dont be afraid to piss them off but dont piss them off permanently.
Audience- When is controversy good?
DrewCurtis – Best controversy is when you are half right. But you dont want to piss people off.
Drew Curtis- Am pretty sure that Michael Jackson and the Catholic church would disagree with that.
Audience: How do you determine spammers and prevent misuse?
Drew Curtis – We created our own platform so you have to create spamware to come after our site. Makes it harder.
Audience: What about giving the users too much power?
Audience: What do you do when you have to ban a very active user for good reason? What if they go off and start their own or hurt your reputation?
Drew Curtis – You have to let them do it. They ran off and started their own site because of too much censoring They started their own site and they took all the crappy users with them. People dont tell all the reasons they get banned. Explain your position. We did this we stand by it. We let people back on after 5 years. People get older and they mature. We have let people back on and they now understand the community.
Audience: How do you bring people to your site?
DrewCurtis – Cross pollinate communities. Two sports blogs got mad at each other. I told them to link to each other more not less. They did and they gained each others audience so they both grew together.
Audience: How to grow after a plateau?
DrewCurtis- They get to a point where they dont want to invite more users. Its kind of like this is our turf now and we dont want any more members. We splintered them off and have micro communities within Fark.
Audience: How do turn regulars into contributors?
DrewCurtis- Some people wont ever do it. 1% really add comments.
Audience: How to get people who are not wired in to online communities and get them wired in?
Tamar- They are all wired in some way or another they may just not recognize it. Email is wired in. Yahoo communities still exist. Identify those communities and tell them what you have to offer and where.
Audience: Is there a quick way to get people to come over?
DrewCurtis – You can do joint projects. At Christmas weve done joint charities. Joint parties.