The ability for members to freely exchange information. Most CMO's and business managers rely on web analytics - they look at quantitative data - to make decisions. CMO's should be changing their thinking about value. Rarely do they have a feel for the qualitative information. You know, the kind you would get from actively participating in a community or talking to customers. Ohhhhhhhh messy. Too time consuming.
From McKinsey, "Succeeding at open-source innovation: An interview with Mozilla's Mitchell Baker." This article offers three great tips for any size organization wanting to tap external ideas. Ms. Baker also talks about having a participatory culture.
What makes an online community work? We know software is only part of the solution. But, with any social software application, you need to understand: Collaboration - Participation - Information Flows, how people get work done, and relationships. The application must balance form and function - user experience - to be effective. Those items are critically important to implementing a successful community. We initially learned about them from working in open source software (OSS) communities as we implement social applications for customers.
Here's a podcast for anybody wanting to understand the basics of developing an on-line community or social networking or web 2.0 application. Covers both technical, rss and tagging, and the social aspects, trust and participation.
From Knowledge at Wharton, Podcast: What Makes an Online Community Tick? Ask Craigslist, Yahoo and Pheedo. (registration required)
The New Yorker, Financial page, IN CASE OF EMERGENCY by James Surowiecki, The term “crisis management” may seem like little more than a euphemism for “snow job,” but there is an art to it. Spin alone won’t do the trick. ...unrealistic optimism, insofar as it’s a byproduct of self-assurance, assertiveness, and conviction, may be a handy trait for those seeking success in business. It will come as a surprise to no one that in most surveys executives are found to be consistently optimistic and overconfident."
Danah Boyd writes, " I’ve been meaning to write a paper on The Significance of ‘Social Software for some time, but… In the meantime, i’ve written an abstract for public criticism."
"In this paper, I will explore the contributions of social software. I will argue that there have been notable technological advancements, but that their significance stems from the rapid iteration of development in ongoing tango with massive user participation. In other words, the advances of social software are neither cleanly social nor technological, but a product of both.
I will explicitly address three case studies central to the narrow scope of social software - Friendster, blogging and Flickr. I will discuss how tagging, audience management (such as ACLs) and articulated social networks are neither technological advances nor social features, but emerge as a product of collective action and network affects. While parts of these technologies have been built in research, the actual advances are impossible to construct in a laboratory due to the sociological effects necessary for maturation."
The "rapid iteration of development in ongoing tango with massive user participation" is right on target. She is opening her research to anyone that is interested and that wants to particpate. I bookmarked it and tagged it with socialsoftware and research on del.icio.us.
What can businesses learn from this? From a marketing angle, check out the posts from Evelyn and Hugh.
Watch the Stories You Make Up About Your Customers Evelyn writes "Marketers are simply notorious for it: we segment, and slice and dice the population and make broad-ranging assumptions. We make up stories about sets of customer..."
make your customers the marketing department from hugh on gaping void is about what he and his partner sig believe. Sig: "Make the customer integral to the process, make the customer the central player in "The Flow"" and Hugh: "Make your customers the marketing department."