Lessons From The 2014 State of Community Management Report

Posted by: in Social Media Insights & Trends on April 23, 2014


On Tuesday, my good friends from the Community Roundtable, Rachel Happe and  Jim Storer, released the 2014 State of Community Management Report. The report is in its 5th year and it continues to prove the strategic value of community management for both large and small brands. Here is a quick recap of the last 5 reports in case you are interested. I highly recommend you give each one a read as it provides context to this year’s data, insights and recommendations.

  • In 2010 the report compiled and documented what TheCR Network members were learning together.
  • In 2011 the report consolidated and organized even more common practices, creating a reference guide for community managers.
  • In 2012 the report documented a different look at communities and covered the initiatives and milestones that they go through as they mature.
  • In 2013, the report evolved the research to a quantitative platform about communities, community managers and community programs that delivered data about engagement rates, standardized programs and community manager characteristics.

The key findings from this year’s study pretty much validate what many have been advocating for years. If you are or have been a community manager … high five to you. This report’s for you.

Community Maturity Delivers Business Value.

Two things were compelling and significantly different about the most mature (best-in-class) communities – they were almost twice as likely to be able to measure their business value, and they were significantly more likely to match their strategy with a fully resourced roadmap in order to execute on their ambitions. Of those with the most mature processes – the best-in-class (the top 20%) in this report, 85% can measure the value of their communities vs. 48% for the average community.

The lesson. Well this is easy. Building community is important and critical to your brand’s success. So what are you waiting for? Go do it. There are several software platforms that can help – IBM, Jive and Lithium to name a few. But you need a strategy first.

Advocacy Programs Increase Engagement.

Community advocacy and leadership programs can have a significant impact on engagement rates. Those with multi-tiered programs see some of the highest engagement rates, with 46% of members contributing in some capacity and a significantly higher percent of community members collaborating with each other to create value.

Only 33% of communities without any leadership opportunities are able to measure value – that rate more than doubles to 71% for those with formal advocacy programs.

The lesson. If you don’t have a formal advocacy program, create one. Not only does it increase engagement, but content generated from your community is more trusted and highly credible – more so than branded content. Believe it. There are several software platform that can help you formalize brand advocacy programs as well – Social Chorus, Dynamic Signal and Branderati to name a few. Again, you need a strategy first. 

Executive Participation Impacts Success.

While it is not surprising that communities with CXO participation are more likely to have a fully funded community roadmap, it was surprising how much executive participation increased general engagement, particularly when the CIO participated. This data suggests the critical role executives play in both supporting the community and in modeling behavior.

This validates the need for both sponsorship and behavior modeling on the part of executives. In best-in-class communities, 58% include CEO participation vs. average CEO participation rates of 36% – those are the same communities that are most likely to be able to measure value, have a fully-funded roadmap and have advanced community leadership programs.

The lesson. Find executive support. If you are having trouble finding support and/or budget, position the community as a test case in order to uncover customer insight about a product, service or the brand itself. It’ll cost about the same as a traditional focus group but with better results.

There are several other nuggets you will find in the study.  Like the fact that community managers do, in fact, matter; and they make a huge difference in engagement, maturity and the ability to measure value.  You will also find some excellent data highlighting the similarities and differences of internal and external communities.

The study is categorized by the following 8 competencies, which allow for a quick and easy reference followed by very strategic recommendations:

  1. Strategy: This competency measures how community objectives are created, defined and translated into plans.
  2. Leadership: This competency measures how both emergent leaders (community advocates) and formal leaders (executives) influence community performance.
  3. Culture: This competency articulates the norms of a community and explores their impact on participation and engagement.
  4. Community Management: This competency measures the resources dedicated to managing a productive community.
  5. Content & Programming: This competency measures a community’s formal activities and content.
  6. Policies & Governance: This competency measures how organizations are structured to support community efforts.
  7. Tools: This competency measures the infrastructure and features that give members access to content, activity and each other.
  8. Metrics & Measurement: This competency measures the tracking and reporting of the community’s performance.

Enjoy the report.

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By: Michael Brito

I’m a Group Director. Been making things happen online since the mid 90s with the legit hustle. I get mad when the Niners lose, really mad.

Find me on: Twitter
Pre-Commerce Check out Chief Technology and Media Officer Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.

April Showers Bring… Associate Meeting Recaps

Posted by: in Social Media Insights & Trends on April 21, 2014

It is interesting to see how the New York Associate meeting has taken shape over these past five months. Associate presenters are gaining more confidence, guest speakers are raising their hands and asking to come speak with us and, best of all, we continue to utilize this monthly forum as a tool for knowledge and good old fashion debates.

As we continue to delve into deeper and more meaningful discussions, we know you are eager to see how everything unfolds month to month. Read all about how our meeting went below!

Slideshow Karaoke: Bringing back the classic after a brief hiatus, Chris Mignolet and Meghan Evans were our volunteers for Slideshow Karaoke this month and they did a great job. Thanks for being such good sports and getting up in front of the group.

Guest speaker: We were so happy that Gary Grates was able to take some time and speak with us this month. Gary has been with W2O Group for just over two years, coming to us from Edelman and, prior to that, working for General Motors and his own firm which he eventually sold to Grey Advertising. Gary shared what it is like to be a part of the Corporate and Strategy team here at W2O, including crisis and issues management, internal social media, corporate reputation and acquisitions. He also mentioned his role with the Social Commerce program in partnership with Syracuse University, encouraging us to all get involved. After Gary spoke about his career growth over the years, he opened the floor up to a larger discussion about our thoughts on the company and industry as a whole.

Associates shared thoughts on experiences, both good and bad, here at W2O. We talked about the progression of the company as well as ways that we can enhance W2O. In Jim Weiss fashion, Gary gave us some good insight and advice, emphasizing that we need to “solve the problem.” He encouraged us to have a voice and take action to get what we want, not only at the company but also for our careers in general. Seemingly, this is becoming a recurring theme with our guest speakers.

Thank you again, Gary, for talking with us! We really appreciated the open forum discussion – it was a great learning experience for us all!

A Word from Brianna Quaglia: For this month’s associate meeting presentation, I wanted to share one of the most exciting and rewarding projects I work on at Twist. I was brought onto the Onyx Pharmaceuticals account towards the end of last year to help with account management and specifically to help manage their corporate and unbranded social media channels. Onyx has a corporate Twitter handle as well as a Twitter handle and Facebook page for its unbranded awareness campaign, called “Make Your Mark.” I manage the social media editorial content, draft monthly content, provide weekly insights into the type of content that is succeeding and help drive timely, new content daily. It has been one of the best learning experiences I’ve had here at Twist because I was able to own the projects, execute them and deliver them directly to the clients. I decided to share this experience with the associates because I think it’s important to remember that there are organic opportunities for professional development/growth on every account, and that it’s essential to take advantage of them. I find that I am more successful when I am fully integrated in a project from start to finish and have a bit more responsibility in delivering it to the client. As account associates, our goal should always be to take on higher-level projects so we’re prepared for the next step in client management.

Overall, the New York Associates Meeting was wonderful! We got some great face to face time with Gary, had the chance to discuss some important topics of interest at W2O Group and more. For our May meeting, we are excited to have Taylor Carr speak about what it’s like to be a Corporate Strategy Associate.

As always, thanks for helping us Go.Ahead!

Lauren Barbiero & Meredith Crowder

By: Lauren Barbiero

Lauren is a media associate on the earned media team at W2O Group. You can reach her at lbarbiero@w2ogroup.com

Find me on: Twitter
Pre-Commerce Check out Chief Technology and Media Officer Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.

The WCG Spark Series: Exploration, Art and Storytelling

Posted by: in Innovation, Insights, Thinking Creatively on April 21, 2014

At WCG, we believe that innovation is something that must be willingly cultivated.  And that the path to inspired thinking depends largely on our own personal curiosity for new ideas and experiences.  The Spark Series is all about recognizing the people, places and things that have provoked us to think differently.  From a particularly powerful exchange with a colleague to a book we can’t seem to put down, the Sparks Series aims to explore the curious dynamics behind big ideas.  With that, below is the first in what will become an ongoing series of “sparks” from Laura Ciocia, Director of Media & Engagement.


Spark 1: Serenbe & the Paths Less Traveled

Late afternoon at Serenbe

This past Saturday I visited Serenbe, a 1,000 acre sustainable living community located about 45 minutes outside of Atlanta.

Serenbe is hard to put into words and certainly unlike anywhere I’ve ever been.  It’s spacious land, winding trails and tightly knit neighborhoods where the houses almost touch each other and front porches act as living rooms.  Serenbe is home to an organic farm, three award winning, farm-to-table restaurants, and it’s very own theatre company, the Serenbe Playhouse.

My visit there to take an outdoor yoga class is ultimately what inspired the idea for the Sparks series.  For a mere 30 bucks and a 45-minute car ride, I was reminded of the importance of staying curious and deliberately seeking out the paths less traveled.  Because every new experience is an opportunity to learn, grow and expand on our creative capacities.

For the record, “creativity” is not something I consider exclusive to those with “Creative” in their job title.  Whether you’re building a custom dashboard or designing an influencer engagement plan, creativity is at the heart of all great work.  And any artist will tell you that creativity requires cultivation.  Even science shows us that those “lightbulb” moments aren’t just random flashes of genius but rather a cumulative result of the ideas, experiences and interactions we take in over time.

So whether it’s expanding your peer circle, committing to a new hobby or taking an outdoor yoga class on a sustainable farm, it’s the sum of these experiences that enable us to better understand the world we live in and in turn, the individuals we aim to reach.

Spark 2: Before I DieBefore I Die

While meandering through the commercial district of Serenbe, I stumbled on an installation of Before I Die, the brainchild of artist Candy Chang and what turned out to be my second spark.  Launched back in 2011 in her New Orleans neighborhood, Before I Die is nothing more than a giant chalkboard canvas mounted on a public wall space.  Community members are then invited to complete the phrase: “Before I Die I Want To __________” with their own hopes, dreams and aspirations.

Candy created the first Before I Die wall in response to her personal struggle with grief in hopes that it would inspire others to reflect on their own lives.  Since the first wall went up, Before I Die has grown into a global movement with 450 walls & counting in over 60 countries around the world.

What’s perhaps most compelling about Before I Die is that it’s left entirely up to the community to install and populate.  There’s no website address or QR code, no call to action, no credit to the artist and no guidelines for how or what to write.  Just a semi-blank slate and a few pieces of chalk.  Yet somehow it’s managed to grow into this global phenomenon resonating across cultures, religions, races and socioeconomics.

Before I Die reminded me of the power of simply creating for creating’s sake.  Candy never set out to go “viral”.  She turned her very personal experience into a public experiment and stood back and watched it catch fire.

As marketers, so often the experiences we create come with expectations or conditions attached.  We want to believe we’re adding value but more often than not we’re just adding to the noise.  But what would happen if we allowed intent to power the experiences we create for our customers, and the world at large?  No agenda or expectations other than the hope that it might stir something in others.

The lesson of Before I Die for marketers is to let go of the demands and requirements at the onset and focus on creating something magical.  Because if we invest in the integrity of our products, messages and communities in a way that speaks directly to our intent, the results generally take care of themselves.

Spark 3: Show Your Work 

Austin Kleon was in town recently for a talk and meet & greet promoting his latest book Show Your Work.  You may know Austin from his bestselling Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative a whimsical guide for finding inspiration in the work of others and using it to inform your own creativity.

Where Show Your Work picks up is as a manifesto for how to use your process as a means to evolving your finished product.  As Austin explained, “it’s not about self-promotion, it’s about self-discovery” and being brave enough to share what goes on behind the curtain, before the final product is revealed.   I jotted down several sparks during the course of his talk but two in particular really connected for me.

 1. “Your process is now your product.”

A friend & mentor's process on display.

A friend & mentor’s process on display.

This applies not only to individual creative efforts but also to organizations.  As consumers become more connected and empowered, their expectations of the companies they support continue to grow more complex.   The “how” and the “why” matter more than ever and “showing work” is just another manifestation of this shift.  One of the best examples of this tenet in action can be found on Zappos Labs, an extension of the Zappos company website. Zappos Labs is an open source test and learn platform where users can interact with and provide feedback on the tools and shopping add-ons that are still very much in beta phase.

2. “The story we tell about our process is often central to why others connect with our product.”

We’ve always known mission is critical to brand identity but today’s consumer is interested in how we’re living that mission through the stories we tell.  Revealing process, learnings, and other “in-progress” initiatives that define the organization all help to humanize a brand and give consumers something tangible to stand behind.  Simply put, the mission IS the marketing.

Have you been recently inspired by a “spark”?  Share your experiences below along with any tips you might have for optimizing creative capacity.




By: lciocia

Laura Ciocia is Director of Media & Engagement at Twist Atlanta where she focuses on Social & Influencer strategy for consumer clients.

Find me on: Twitter
Pre-Commerce Check out Chief Technology and Media Officer Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.

Employees Are Not Customers!

Posted by: in Corporate and Strategy, gary grates, Thought Leadership, W2O Group on April 17, 2014

Why Marketing Techniques and Thinking Don’t Work Internally…How to Turn your Workforce into an Influencer

It’s the big day!  Your organization is announcing a new product and internally employees are being greeted with posters, videos, messages, balloons, mouse pads, mugs, and pithy slogans in an effort to get them “excited” about the launch.

So, what typically happens next?

Employees take the goodies home or throw them out (how many mugs can one person have?)  The balloons and banners eventually deflate and fray.  The messages dissipate and the videos are neither viewed nor shared.

In the end, while the intention may be noble the execution is flawed due to one critical insight – employees are not customers!

Customers and employees are distinct communities, each with specific levels of understanding, beliefs, bias, motivations and expectations.  They each have different mindsets.  Customers tend to see what you want them to see and believe about your product and company.  Employees see behind the curtain and are much savvier about the company’s strengths and weaknesses.

Employees expect not to be entertained but informed.  They need context and purpose.  They need input and involvement.  They need dialogue, discussion and debate.  What is usually missing when communicators use marketing techniques to “promote” strategies, products, services, or initiatives inside companies is that employees don’t respond to campaigns – slogans, give-aways, speeches.   Rather, they are looking for information, education, discussion, and feedback so as to make the argument for themselves.

When this happens people feel more compelled and confident to share with their networks – both internally and externally – acting as both ambassador and advocate for the company’s position.  This is important given that recent surveys identify employees as the most credible source of information about a company’s products, services, and promise turning them into a legitimate influencer in today’s social and digital environment.

What to do

Instead of canned videos touting your new product, set up web chats with the product’s designer that employees can access and gain insight into the thinking behind the effort.  Instead of banners and balloons, provide interactive modules with potential customers or users and select company representatives gaining a deeper appreciation for the product’s efficacy and usage.  Instead of themes or slogans, explain the marketing program including objectives, strategies, target customers, techniques and timing to cadence an employee’s use of social media to expand outreach.  Instead of prepared messages, engage senior leaders with employees through Town Halls and corresponding on-line discussions via internal collaboration platforms (Yammer, Jive, etc.) that initiate new conversations on the product and the company.

All of this shifts internal communications from a “sell” activity to a “discover” strategy engendering trust among the workforce through strengthening people’s knowledge, confidence and treating them as active members of the organization’s success.

When done right, internal efforts become external opportunities with employees leading the way and providing necessary, credible arguments on a variety of topics to customers, prospects, media and influencers.

Bottom-line: Marketing and Communications are trying to achieve the same overall goal – organizational success – but need to support that goal via vastly different yet complementary strategies, approaches, techniques and measures.

It starts with recognizing and respecting that employees must be addressed differently than customers and that your workforce is not a homogenous group.   It continues with working in partnership to align the company’s promise and products in a manner that results in employee understanding, confidence, and engagement.

Think about it.  Who better to supplement your existing marketing and sales effort than your workforce!

How many coffee mugs do you have?

Pre-Commerce Check out Chief Technology and Media Officer Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.

Outdoor advertising was the original ‘tweet’ – Jon Maron of INRIX – The Live from Stubbs Interview

Posted by: in Advertising, Austin Social Media, CMO, Innovation, Integrated Marketing, Marketing Insights, Pre-Commerce, Social Media Insights & Trends, Thought Leadership, W2O Group on April 17, 2014

MaronJPreCommerceLive from Stubb’s is an interview series created by the W2O Group to capture the thinking of the world’s best, brightest, boldest, most innovative and most fun people – with a strong dash of Austin thrown in for extra flavor. The interview series has featured business leaders from places like Verizon, Mastercard and Kaiser Permanente, Newsmakers like NBC, drivers of social good like the Livestrong Foundation, and even breaking bands like Lord Huron.

Today’s featured guest is Jon Maron, VP of Global Marketing and Corporate Communications, at INRIX.

Key Messages:

Is outdoor advertising dead?:

“People forget about traditional out of home marketing – the problem with out of home in many markets is that you have these old dilapidated billboards that are on the side of the road that essentially people don’t want to do anything with at this point, and even more importantly they have no idea how to measure what is happening with those billboards.”

“We’ve looked at billboards as a bigger opportunity, especially now as they move to digital, to really communicate with consumers in a way that doesn’t feel like noise.”

Most marketers think about how they can reach someone who’s driving 60 MPH – which is the wrong approach:

“It’s not about going 60 miles an hour, it’s about where are the areas where traffic is actually sitting still and then what kind of message can you put on that billboard.”

“We measure distance in minutes instead of in miles.”

On the future of the “Connected Car:”

“The connected car of today looks like I’m driving down the road at 60 miles an hour and all of a sudden I get a little warning on my dashboard that says all the cars 3 miles in front of you just hit the brakes and turned their lights on, probably they just drove into a rain storm or snow, you better slow down so you don’t drive 60 miles an hour into that same problem.”

“The problem today isn’t the data; the problem is creating something that works with the data we get.”

Enjoy the interview! And don’t for get to connect with Jon (and INRIX) on Twitter and LinkedIn:

Jon’s Twitter: @jmaronny

Jon’s LinkedIn

INRIX’ Twitter: @INRIX

INRIX’ LinkedIn Corporate Page

By: Greg Matthews

Greg Matthews is the the creator and Managing Director of the W2O Group's MDigitalLife - Understanding and Engaging Physicians in the Digital Age

Find me on: Twitter
Pre-Commerce Check out Chief Technology and Media Officer Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.