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CommunityNext Community Ecology

The following are notes I took during the CommunityNext conference held at the Annenberg Auditorium at Stanford University in Palo Alto on February 10th, 2007.

Jake McKee, Community Guy, Lead Samurai, Big in Japan.

Community Ecology: Finding Balance When Working With Fan Groups

Previously worked for five years at Lego as community manger and had to tackle the question: what happens when you start engaging with a community that exists already and that you didn’t’ create?

The big question is always “monetization vs. support”. Which do they do? The answer is a balance between the two. The really right answer is “everybody goes home happy”. Make sure this happens. What does it mean? It depends on what you’re trying to achieve.

So how to deliver on this concept?

  1. Redefine Success. Traditional marketing is about getting the most numbers to sign up, participate, etc. But often you can get what you’re trying to achieve by selecting the right people. What are they really trying to achieve?
  2. Share. A lot. Be open and transparent. Don’t hide intentions. Come out and say “here’s what’s going on with me”. Don’t forget that fans are enthusiasts and they dig the good stuff. Information can be an alternative currency. Openness creates a relationship and strong bond between the company and its community. So, what is sharing? It can be just basic information. Even minute details. Lego always wanted to make a big announcement in 6 months and never the little updates in between. Everyone wants to know the inside story. Listen and pay attention and you will know what the small pieces are that gain the interest of your community.
  3. Constantly Adjust. It’s a balance between monetization and the support of the community. The community always wants something. Gave his email address to the community so that they had an opportunity to tell him what they wanted.
  4. Skip the NDA. This is the most important. Companies get really caught up in getting people under the NDA. But NDAs stop the conversation. And it’s a get out of jail free card. But the community manager has to get marketing folks to open up. Ie. What’s the worst that can happen? NDAs may be good for business but terrible for community interaction.
  5. Set and Maintain Expectations. Lego had funded a community event for $1700. But the next year Lego lost $200m and had no money to give to the event. And this turned out very poorly. So set expectations correctly and then maintain them.
  6. Train Your Colleagues. The people in this room are 400 light years ahead of anyone in any company on these issues. No one else gets it. No one else understands how importance this balance is, how important it is that “everybody goes home happy”. But make sure everything you do is based on this concept.

What’s Big in Japan?

Has nothing to do with Asia but is a fun name to make you ask about us. It’s a small development shop. They’re talking about how people learn, have fun, engage with each other.

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February 13, 2007 in Marketing-Advertising, Starting up | Permalink


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Tracked on Feb 14, 2007 1:48:13 AM


Thanks for the recap! Great notes!

Posted by: Jake McKee | Feb 14, 2007 12:44:17 PM

Thanks, Jake. It was nice meeting you at CommunityNext.

Posted by: Alex | Feb 14, 2007 12:51:40 PM

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