Sara Scurfield, AIMS volunteer and Online Program Manager at Advantex Marketing got the inside scoop from Lee Dale, founder of Smack Inc. on his ideas for the upcoming AIMS event on April 25th “Building Community” This is part 2 of 2...(Part 1 is here)
SS: What are some of the emerging trends in online tools? How are they being applied to community building?
LD: Chevy was experimenting with consumer created content and suffered the consequences of not having a toolset that would allow their community members to come to their own defense. Basic tools like commenting and ratings could have given community members a voice, supported a healthy debate on the issues, and allowed competing perspectives to be voiced and understood. But this still doesn't help us build a community. These are a variety of tools that support interaction, but don't collectively engage a community. In order to take the next step, marketers need better access to their community members, to understand a member’s role, and potential benefit to a community.
Using sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, last.fm, Amazon, and more, users have the ability to make lists of friends. Some of these sites allow the user to tag friends with keywords, write descriptions, or see degrees of separation between the user's friends and other people. But what we don't see on any of these sites is the ability for users to categorize their friends in a way that is easily trackable by marketers. Who are these "friends"? How close are they to one another? Is a friend someone you've just said hi to three times at the water cooler? Or someone you would trust to make business decisions on your behalf? If marketers can define the relationships between users on their site, then they can determine what level of influence a user has on others. With this level of understanding, marketers can see who the key contributors toward community building are, and better enable those contributors to fulfill their role within the community.