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8 February 2013

Online community VirComm Summit 2013 round-up

Rachel Hawkes, account director, Elemental By Rachel Hawkes

VirComm Summit 2013Throughout the year, Tim and I regularly attend conferences on marketing, PR, digital, social, media and so on.  The second Virtual Communities Summit was the first in our 2013 calendar, and being about online community management I was particularly interested to hear the panels.

The first session was a keynote from John Coate, former community manager of one of the first online communities The WELL.  John (pictured right) took us through an overview of the very unique way he found himself working in community management… but actually living much of his early adult life in (hippy) communities.  Reading a bit about The WELL during the tea and coffee break, I learnt that the members of this two-decade old community actually pooled together to buy it.  If that doesn’t speak volumes for the real relationships and passions that can be found online, I don’t know what does.

I won’t take you through session by session, instead I’ll refer you to some other great blog write-ups of the conference here or if you’re Dutch, here.  Or, you can read through the collection of tweets and photos here.  Instead, I’m just going to quickly share my thoughts on three of my favourite sessions.

The first was on measurement, and how to determine the value in your online community.  Richard Millington from FeverBee said that there are two measures of value (1) what is the return on investment of the community and (2) what is the health of the community.  So, how much does the community cost to run, in terms of the platform, the maintenance, content production, management and moderation etc.  What determines a ‘healthy community’ would be measurements such as return frequency, shareability and so on.  He also went on to say that they see a very correlation between communities that are ‘healthy’ and ROI.

The presentation by Robin Hamman from Edelman was super interesting.  He said it was the first time he had sat down to write a whole new presentation in a very long time (I think he said nine years?).  Here’s hoping he has the opportunity to dust it off again and again because it was fascinating learning how things were done with social and community at the BBC back in the late 80’s and 90’s.  My one regret of the day was not getting a chance to take a look through the Beebs online community guidelines from 1991 that Robin dug up.  He said that reading through it himself after all this time, not much has changed which I can well believe.  The core values of online communities, and actually communities generally, such as openness, communication and so on are integral.

The last session of the day by Meg Pickard was my absolute highlight.  It was not only (IMO) the best presentation of a very long and informative day, but it was also the most enjoyable session I have been too in a very long time.  Meg, former head of digital engagement at The Guardian, took us through the ABCs of community management.  Below are just a few I recalled this morning… but I sincerely hope that someone managed to jot down them all and will share them on the interweb with us (or if Meg is kind enough to Slideshare her presentation!). 

H – Heckling actually has an interesting and noble origin
T – Trolling it isn’t always a negative thing!
V – Ban the word virtual, we are all real people doing real things
Y – You Own Your Own Words. No need to expand on this is there?
X – The alarming increase of texts, emails, tweets and everything else (even from brands!) ending with a kiss xxx

And as someone who takes their knitting to the cinema, I really appreciated seeing Meg in the audience with her crochet!  Actually, scrap my wish for the slides.  What this guy said…


Thanks to the lovely people at VirComm for such an informative and interesting day… #vircomm14?


Categories: Social media, Marketing, Events

Tags: Vircom Summit, online community, community management, social media, community managers

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