Next week I’m going out to San Francisco for CommunityNext, a one-day conference about the realities of building, maintaining and monetizing a social network. There are a bunch of reasons I find this interesting and I figured I’d cover them here (plus I promised the other Noah I’d plug it). Before I begin, though, there are only a few tickets left (I’m sure Noah can chime in with the exact number), so go get yours at www.communitynext.com and if you’re going to be there, please let me know so we can meet up.
Okay, now onto the reasons . . .
- Clients: There’s a quote of mine to this effect on the CommunityNext site, but I’ll repeat it here: It seems like every week a client comes in looking for some sort of social network. I don’t foresee this going away. Social networks make a lot of sense from a marketing perspective because when they’re done right they can provide real value to customers. Not only can a social network help them connect with other likeminds, but it can also be a place to help build a more meaningful relationship between company and customer.
- Intranets: I expect this will be a growing area of interest (or maybe it already is booming and I don’t know). Social networks seem like an absolutely perfect fit for company intranets. They offer a logical way to share information and collaborate. I don’t know what else to say about this one . . .
- Adoption: It’s easy to come up with lots of great tools, gimmicks and whatever else for a community website, but getting people to actually use it can be tough. I’m incredibly curious to hear some lessons on how best to break through the early barriers of community building. I’ve been watching Da Bears Blog expand rapidly in the last few months, but it took us a year and a half. The size didn’t matter so much for us, since we were doing it for the love of da Bears, but clients are often not prepared for the slow growth. Any tips on speeding that up would be huge.
- Super Bowl: Is coming up this weekend. Which means it’s a good thing CommunityNext is not this weekend. Choosing a date is important, now all I’m going to miss is the Pro Bowl, and nobody likes it anyway.
- Community: I think people are starting to realize that building community tools into almost any application/website makes sense. I’ve been talking about building something here to better tap in, one of the brilliant parts about iTunes is the sharing functionality, Microsoft’s Zune was a sorry attempt at it and I could go on and on. With the internet extending to all parts of our lives, new tools will continue to pop up that connect us.
- likemind: When Piers and I started likemind it was mostly a whim, I don’t think either of us realized the desire people had to take their online relationships and move them into the ‘real world.’ Now we’ve got lots of people showing up all over the world as proof. I’m very curious to see if in the future we can find tools that help the community flourish (rather than grow, which I would rather happen organically). I’ll be listening to everything with an ear towards whether the learnings can be applied to help likeminds around the world meet, learn and grow.
Well, that’s it. Like I said, if you haven’t already, go sign up and if you’re going, see you there.