And The Consumer Says “I Want A Divorce”

I found these two videos on YouTube yesterday and want to share them.

In a very lighthearted way, the videos depict the current issues and problems between most traditional Advertisers and their Consumers.  The ads are very well done and were created (interestingly and surprisingly) by a group called Microsoft Advertising Solutions.  The only reference to Microsoft is at the very end of the presentation where a short URL is presented to their “Get Inspired Here” website.

Microsoft is not well known (at all) for connecting to their customers, so it’s a little amusing they created and are using these videos to inspire marketers to embrace to online media and their consumers.  The two bloggers listed on the About Us part of the website are based in EMEA and Southeast Asia – and not at headquarters in Washington – which is also curious.

In any case, both videos are quite entertaining and highlight the issues of advertisers and marketers just wanting to talk at consumers instead of engaging them in a conversation and really getting to know them and their needs.

The first video: THE BREAKUP

And the sequel: INSPIRATION ANYONE?

Is Happiness Your Business Model?

Tara “missrogue” Hunt posted a great presentation on Slideshare recently called “Happiness as Your Business Model” which is about “incorporating your human drive for fulfillment into your core business”.

Not only is the presentation visually pleasing, Tara makes several great points in the 197 slide presentation (don’t worry, it doesn’t really feel like 197 slides and you can flip through the presentation pretty quickly).

She starts out by comparing the theoretical “homo-economicus” to the more practical “homo-feelgoodomicus” and worked in Martin Seligman’s 1998 Positive Psychology study and humans’ need for happiness as a key to success,

Why is happiness important? Here are Tara’s 7 reasons that happiness is key to business success:

  1. happy customers talk to more people about their positive experiences (see my SnagIt post)
  2. unhappy customers talk to the most people about their negative experiences
  3. happy customers are repeat customers
  4. happy customers will pay more for an awesome experience
  5. happy customers are loyal
  6. happy customers will drive your marketing for you (see #2)
  7. happy employees are more productive, creative and loyal

Following up on that, she launches into a discussion of the 4 Pillars of Happiness (autonomy, competence, relatedness and self-esteem) which are offset by the 5 Barriers to Happiness (fear, confusion, loneliness, lack of control and struggle for survival).

Ultimately, it’s about finding an “axis of misery” where people are unhappy with their experiences and turning it into a money-making opportunity by them happy (think Zappos, Zipcar, Southwest Airlines, and Moleskin, etc.).

You can follow Tara on Twitter (as missrogue) or read more about her on her HorsePigCow blog.

Honk If You Love SnagIt!

I love SnagIt and use it almost every day.  After Firefox, SnagIt is my most used application and one that I consider an essential tool.

SnagIt Capture of SnagIt Webpage

SnagIt Screen Capture of the SnagIt Webpage

As a Social Media exercise, I’m going to share my thoughts on SnagIt and try to get some Link-love, Twitter-love and Facebook-love for my favorite product.  I don’t work for TechSmith or know anyone there – and they don’t give me free software.  But the point of Social Media is that they should know about me and want to cultivate more very happy customers like me who will go out of their way to trumpet their product.

So what is SnagIt and why do I love it? SnagIt is a screen capture utility from TechSmith.  TechSmith also sells some other products that capture screen and presentation recordings, and that do media hosting and usability testing, but SnagIt is their “ubiquity product“.  That means nearly everyone has a need for SnagIt, and will find it both useful and easy to use.  What more could you want out of a product?

I primarily use Snagit to capture pictures and logos for blog posts, emails and documents and to crop pictures for profile pictures.  You can also annotate your captures if you are using the screen shots to explain something to someone.  Obviously, you can do a lot more with SnagIt – but for me, using SnagIt for these simple, everyday tasks makes the purchase price of $49.95 well worth it.  (And sorry Mac users, SnagIt does not currently sell a Mac version.)

So what can you do to show your SnagIt appreciation? SnagIt does have a Facebook fan page, but there were only 161 fans when I checked it this morning.  TechSmith does have a blog and their chief evangelist is very active in Twitter.  But there is not a lot of SnagIt noise in Twitter – a simple search turned up about 75 mention of SnagIt on Twitter during the last 2 weeks and there is not a SnagIt-branded Twitter account.  The SnagIt website does have a section called “Why will you love SnagIt?” with a couple of testimonials and explanations of how people are using it.  But it seems like they could be doing more to reach out and tap into their user base to create more product evangelists.

In the meantime, I’m going to help them out a bit.

How much do you love SnagIt? To show your love, here are some activities you can do:

  • Join the Facebook SnagIt Fan Page
  • Re-tweet my “Honk If You Love SnagIt!” tweet
  • Send a Tweet to Betsy Weber, the SnagIt evangelist – @betsyweber
  • Link to this blog post
  • Download the free 30-day trial of SnagIt and try it for yourself
  • Check out the TechSmith Visual Lounge blog where they use a lot of short videos to make their points
  • Upload a how-to or video commercial to YouTube (note that there are many SnagIt video tutorials already on YouTube and it doesn’t look like they were generated by TechSmith and there is no SnagIt)
  • If you’re a Mac user, implore TechSmith to come out with a SnagIt version for the Mac!

I’ll provide an update next week on my grassroots SnagIt Social Media campaign.

So, What Do Community Managers Make?

I participated in the Forum One Online Community Compensation Survey in July and the results were just emailed to me last week by Bill Johnston who coordinated the survey.  The research was sponsored by Mzinga, Solution Set and the Online Community Research Network.

Here are my take-aways from the report:

Wide range of salaries – The survey showed a wide range of salaries for community manager positions.   The low-end represents volunteers, part-time staff and people in start-up environments working on developing communities.  While people earning more than $125,000 represent only 16% of total respondents, my sense is that this is the sweet spot for companies that are serious about social media and community strategy – and recognize that these are the salaries that the people filling these roles will command based on the depth and breadth of their experience.  (see my Community Managers and Quarterbacks blog post for more information on that topic.)

Derived from Forum One Aug. 2008 Report on Community Compensation

Derived from Forum One Aug. 2008 Report on Community Compensation

Disparity of experience levels – The report pointed out that people with less than 3 years of experience accounted for 34% of the total, people with 3-5 years of experience accounted for 19% and people with more than 5 years experience accounted for 47% of the total.  The Forum One conclusion was that “the body of respondents generally represents a senior and seasoned body of practitioners. The dip in responses in the 3yr to 5 yr range likely represents the general waning of interest in online community during the 3 years after the Internet bubble.”  I also think that the large number in the under 3 year category represent employees who are getting involved in community at companies that are just entering the experimentation phase with community and social media – and that these employees had related jobs in marketing, but not specifically community jobs, before getting involved in community.  That is definitely my situation.  I was involved in various product marketing, product strategy and consulting roles before getting assigned a project to develop and launch the Catalyze community.

Variety of job titles – There are a wide variety of reported job titles in the survey including:

CEO, Managing Partner, Community Manager, Director of Community, Director of Product Management, Manager, President, Community Host, Intern, Moderator, Intranet Coordinator, Professor, Social Media Strategist, Social Media Manager, and VP of Community & Social Media, VP of Interactive Development, Director of Knowledge Management, Executive Director, Head of Communities, Social Media Evangelist and VP of Marketing

This may be a self-serving comment, but I think we’ll be seeing more titles like the VP or Director of Social Media and VP or Director of Social Media Strategy as the space matures.  These titles describe how social media is the overarching description of what’s going on and that online community is just a component of a larger strategy.  There will always be community manager roles, but they will report into the Social Media and Social Media Strategy positions.

The entire Community Manager Compensation report can be purchased for $295 from the Online Community Research Network.  You can also download some free research from the Online Community Report website.

BTW, I am in the market for a “sweet” social media strategy and management position.  Check out the About Tom Humbarger tab above if you want to hire an A+ social media person.

Confused About Community Registration?

Confused About Community Registration

Confused About Community Registration?

Communities walk a fine line when they are trying to get people to register for their site.  On one hand, community managers and sponsors want to know as much as possible about each member as possible.  On the other hand, most people are reluctant to part with their data or do not have the patience to complete a long registration form or submit to an arduous process.

The bottom line is that you don’t want your registration process to stop people from joining your community or start out their community experience on the wrong foot.

Some of the easiest registrations include just an email address and password.  While that is simple for the enduser, it does not provide much in the way of member demographics.

In the community I used to manage, we started out with a very onerous registration process.  Prospective members had to complete 15 required fields and after pressing the enter button, we would send them a confirmation email with a registration code.  Many members never received their registration code and others were stymied by the process which limited our conversion numbers.

In the end, we knew that we had to change the process and eliminated the confirmation code part of the process.  We also streamlined the required fields to the following:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Email address
  • Company name
  • User name
  • Password
  • Country

Additionally, we had a section of the registration page that was clearly labeled as optional.  The registration fields in this section included: company industry, address, phone number, job title, years of experience, role, topics of interest, and professional memberships.  About 50% of new members filled out some or all of the optional fields.

We also explained why we were collecting the information in the optional fields which probably helped with our conversion rates:

We would like you to complete some or all of these fields when you register, but they are optional. These fields help us to better understand our members and serve you better. You can also re-visit your profile and update or review your profile at a later date (using the View/Edit Profile link in the top right corner).

Finally, here are some simple tips for community registration:

  1. Keep your community registration “simple and easy”
  2. Look at the process for many different communities and incorporate the best ideas into your process
  3. Examine and re-examine your registration process from a new member standpoint
  4. Use drop-down boxes or check boxes to simplify and standardize input wherever possible

What data do you collect during registration for your community?  Are you happy with your process?

Getting the Most Out of Community Metrics

I was the community manager of the Catalyze Community – a B2B niche community for business analysts and usability professionals – from its inception in early 2007 and oversaw its growth to over 4,000 members in July 2008.  During the 18 months under my leadership, tracking and analyzing metrics was an important part of my job.

I tracked a number of metrics on a weekly basis.  Half of the stats came from Google Analytics and the other half were derived from a standard report from Mzinga, our community vendor.  Using Excel, I created a spreadsheet to track all of the stats on a weekly basis in one place.  It is critical to track these statistics on a weekly basis in order to have the necessary information to monitor the trends and health of your community.  Sometimes it felt like a pain to pull the numbers, but it really only took 15 minutes or so per week to pull the raw numbers and then some additional time to study what it all meant.

You should also keep in mind that the metrics you are tracking will change over time as a community evolves.  In our case, we were totally focused on member growth and pageviews in year 1 of the community and were starting to swing the importance to member engagement for year 2 of the community.

Here is a picture of the spreadsheet I used for the Catalyze stats:

Catalyze Community Metrics

Catalyze Community Metrics

From Mzinga, we tracked information on member growth, posts to blogs, forums and resources and resource downloads and views.  From Google Analytics, we tracked traditional website stats such as visits, pageviews, bounces, number of pages visited and average time on site.

I cannot say enough about Google Analytics.  First, its free.  Second, it allows you easily select the time period to analyze and the quality and ease of use for the interface is rare for Google.  Third, did I mention that Google Analytics is free?

I also calculated a couple of additional metrics from the existing statistics.  The most interesting one for us was “Visits as a % of Total Members”.  I used this as a proxy for what percentage of our membership was visiting the community on a weekly basis.  Our average % was 40%, but it ranged from 25% to 50%.  The weekly variance was definitely impacted by the frequency of the bi-weekly email updates and by the quality of our content.

On a quarterly basis, I also took a complete download of our member data and created a series of cross-tab reports to analyze additional information about our member base.  The data for this analysis was collected during our registration process, but most of it was clearly labeled as optional.  Still, more than 75% of our members voluntarily provided us with their data.  Using this data we were able to identify frequency of visits, geographic origin, size of company, interests, and membership in other groups.  Using this information, I was able to create a special email update for members who had not re-visited our site since they registered.

Based on my experience with the Catalyze Community, I would recommend that you:

  1. track key statistics on a weekly basis
  2. turn on Google Analytics for your community site
  3. never get too complacent with what you’re tracking

Of course, I was never satisfied with what we were doing with our community metrics and constantly pushed our vendor to make it easier to get to additional data.  I will devote a future blog post to discuss my Community Metrics Wish List.

Hey Michael Phelps – Don’t Forget About Paavo Nurmi

Paavo Nurmi and Tom Humbarger

Paavo Nurmi and Tom Humbarger

Dear Michael,

Please don’t forget about Paavo Nurmi!

Congratulations on winning your 8 Gold medals this year and on your 14 total Gold medals.  It’s definitely been an exciting Olympics this year.  With all of the hype and hoopla around you and your record-setting achievements at the Beijing Olympics and your comparisons to Mark Spitz, I wanted to remind you about the greatest runner in Olympic track and field.

Paavo Nurmi (1987-1973), known as one of the Flying Finns, won a total of 9 Gold and 3 Silver medals in the 1920, 1924 and 1928 Olympics in distances ranging from 1500 meters to 20 kilometers.  He set 25 world records during his career including one for the 10000 meters in 1924 that lasted for 13 years.

In 1925, Paavo toured America and competed in 55 events, winning 53 of them over the course of 5 months.

Paavo planned to run in the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles to compete in the 10000 meters and marathon, but was barred from running after being branded as a professional in a move conducted by some Swedish Olympic officials.  This was unfortunate because the rules around professionalism were much stricter in 1932 and Paavo claims he would have won the marathon by 5 minutes.

Paavo was a vegetarian and one of the first athletes to bring systematic approach to training which I am sure you could appreciate.  He always trained with a stopwatch in his hands.

In later life, Paavo ran a haberdashery store and lit the Olympic flame for the 1954 Olympics held in Helsinki.  When he died in 1973, he was honored with a state funeral.

I visited Helsinki in 1998 and had my picture taken in front of the Paavo Nurmi statue at the Olympic Park.  If you ever get a chance to visit Helsinki, I hope you take time to pay homage to Paavo.  In Finland, they have a term called sisu which is roughly translated as “strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity”.  You definitely share the sense of sisu with Paavo.

And good luck in the 2012 Olympics in London…

Sincerely,

Tom