I had heard good things about the Community 2.0 conference in prior years, so despite how crazy it was at the office, I decided to join a small ComBlu contingent and head out to Boston last week. It didn’t disappoint. Here are a few key takeaways from a Social Media and C 2.0 conference first-timer.

Face it: it’s an ADD Culture

Michael Tchong @Ubercool points to “time compression as the accelerator of life.” Taking hold in the late 1940s with the invention of the Polaroid camera and Radar Range, the trend has been picking up steam ever since. People have less and less time for hobbies, and “found time” is a precious commodity. While we split our “connected” time across Facebook, Twitter and mobile, consider this: the average time spent on a website is just 56 seconds. Not a lot of time to make an impression. As marketers, we’re fighting for the fragmented attention spans of consumers who are busily multitasking.

Find Your Social Voice

Given the limited time to engage, stop pushing information and look for ways to collaborate. Marc Gobé argues that connection needs to be made on an emotional level. He warns that many brands are still married to a “blowhard” strategy when they’d be better served by finding an authentic social voice that’s more humanizing. Tell consumers what you believe in, what you know about them and what your leaders stand for—that they are inspiring, genuine and ethical people. Better yet, let your CEO tell his or her own story. Scott Stratten, author of UnMarketing, echoed with a reminder that people do business with people they know, like and trust.

There’s Still No Substitute for Flawless Execution

The social media team and community meisters at Scottrade know the value of social engagement. Members of their private customer community are 28% more profitable. During the same period, the difference in trades between community members and non-members was a whopping 58%. And by the way, there are nearly 50,000 members. Their formula for success is pretty straightforward:

· Welcome new members; give them homework to get over the initial activation hurdle.

· Watch closely so you know who your next brand enthusiast is likely to be.

· Engage by starting a conversation, introducing them to like-minded members and posting challenges to get their attention.

· Encourage continued participation by praising helpful contributors.

· Celebrate milestones to reinforce that they’re important to the community.

What’s more impressive is that they affect this level of engagement in a highly regulated industry.

Strive for Awesome

People spread awesome. By contrast, “meh” goes nowhere. Stratten offers a few more reality checks:

· Stop dancing around the need for great content—it’s non-negotiable.

· Write for readers, not Google rankings.

· If you phone it in, it will be noticed, and you’ll hurt your cause.

At Sega, Kellie Parker’s team is constantly looking for ways to do something amazing that will resonate with fans. To inspire the community management team itself, they’ve created a Wall of Awesome: a collection of stories, fan letters, artwork and generally cool stuff that helps keep fans top of mind. Brilliant, since those team members are the face of Sega to the fans. If they’re not engaged…well, you know the rest.

Now, think about your work—what would find its way to your Wall of Awesome?

Cheryl Treleaven
Cheryl Treleaven

Principal

Engaging your customers is at the heart of successful marketing programs. For more than 20 years, Cheryl has been building and executing content and thought leadership strategies designed to do just that. She is excited to be applying that well-honed skill to a help companies like Microsoft, Cisco, 3M, Intel, Capital One and Barclaycard tap into their stakeholder communities and build sophisticated content strategies.

Her experience base spans a range of industries – from technology and financial services to retail, travel, consumer products and healthcare. Cheryl has served as an integral member of her clients’ marketing teams, providing counsel on marketing and brand strategy, thought leadership, media relations, product introductions, and event management.

Prior to joining ComBlu, Cheryl spent 10 years leading corporate marketing for large, complex organizations.