I recently attended the Community 2.0 conference in San Francisco.  I am going to try and distill my experience down into a couple of key thoughts about what I learned.

1.  Brands have begun to understand the importance that their operation (i.e. the other elements of the business that deliver against the promise they tee up).  Granted, I think they knew these other areas were important, it is just that for the first time, operational aspects of the business can participate in brand building…using community and also social media tools.

Community infrastructure allows for dialogue and learning to occur between the parties involved.  It’s two way.  Everybody gives and takes.  Community.

Social media tools allows for a broader reach of a brand message at a lower cost than traditional mar-com tools.  Oh, if done right, they are also more measurable.

Marketers seem excited…and a bit concerned with the challenge of ‘operationalizing’ of social media and community efforts.  Why?  Their job just got more complex and more important all at the same time.

2.  Agencies still want to cram everything into the shiny penny they are selling.  Forget whether it belongs or not.

Plus, based on the tweets I saw during the presentation on risk planning that Drew Bartkiewicz gave, most agency attendees feared they would start bleeding from their ears due to the ‘blandness’ of his topic.  Another attendee from the brand side commented, half joking, he may as well been presenting the value proposition of patent law….those that ‘got it’ understood its importance and paid attention but this importance was lost on a big section of the participants-mostly because it wasn’t sexy.  In my opinion, it was their loss; the people who paid attention were smarter for it.

In the end, there were a number of terrific presenters and marketers attending that are asking smart questions.  Some great lessons learned but we still are not addressing the big issues.  Such as:

  • What’s the overarching strategy for either social media or community…or both?
  • How do these efforts deliver business value across the organization specifically?  What is the ‘ratio’ of activities which get applied to categories such as Advocacy, Feedback and Support and what’s the value we attribute to each of these categories, as well as, the ratio?
  • How does the organization (beyond the marketing department) play a role on an ongoing basis?  How is this defined and managed?
  • What are the real and hard metrics which prove value and sustainability?  How are these metrics aggregated across the organization, absorbed and acted upon?


Interestingly, and not by my design, these questions and topics marketers were focusing their questions mapped to the slides I included in my last blog post, ‘Community by the Numbers’.  I shared the draft of that blog posting to a number of people and was urged to publish the first installment during Community 2.0, which I did.

Granted, these are hard topics to tackle.  However, nothing worthwhile is easy.

Steve Hershberger

Steve Hershberger