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Everybody goes home happy

Over the years, I’ve realized as I talk to community interaction professionals, whether internal employees or external firms, the issues we all struggle with are basically the same set of core challenges.

When I was at LEGO I found myself repeating certain things enough that I was eventually known for them. These mantras have stuck with me, and I’ve written about a few of them in the past.

Perhaps the most crucial mantra was quite simple: Everybody goes home happy.

The idea is simple - when creating connection between consumers and there needs to be a balanced maintained. Brands shouldn’t be giving away their time and product for no reason, and community members should be volunteering to help a company for no other reason than “they asked”. Both sides should be getting something fulfilling out of the interaction.

But here’s the all important question….what is “fulfilling”? Who knows! That’s up to each party to determine, and then communicate. The goal is that whatever the fulfillment, at the end of the day Everybody goes home happy.

This is a scary concept to businesses who are not used to interacting with their consumers. You don’t get an answer through a focus group, or surveys. You can only get real answers (rather than strictly data) by interacting with fans directly. Interacting isn’t only about asking questions, it’s about watching patterns, learning the inside jokes, and looking for potential benefits.

As a related sidenote, Tara was on a panel yesterday here at Blog Business Summit and shared basically the same theme, with different words. I love the fact that I’m clearly not alone in this way of thinking.

Tara says: “Community is a non-zero-sum outcome: everyone benefits”

Beautiful Seattle and Blog Business Summit

More coming later, but I’m at Blog Business Summit today and tomorrow. Meeting great people and hearing some great discussion. Oh, and partaking in too many late night Seattle microbrews…

In the meantime, check out some of the live blogging happening:

There’s a ton more coming shortly if they’re not up already. Check out the Technorati search for more linky goodness.

FX Posters!

Jason from FX Network sent us some posters for the office.  Hopefully we get to do Fancasts for all of the FX shows!  Thanks, Jason!

Podcast Interview: Combat Studios

At first our latest interview may seem a bit out of place for the Big in Japan podcast. After all, what does Battlefield 2 have to do with social media and community building? Quite a lot, actually. The gaming industry has been connecting with consumers and building communities around their products for years. Most brands could learn a metric ton from the gaming industry.

The latest interview on the Big in Japan podcast is with Michael Lewis of Combat Studios, the creators of Battlefield 2 Combat. BF2C is an amazing community system that adds a new level of play and community interaction to the Battlefield 2 PC game. Michael shares his experiences working with his community, and shares some great pointers we can all learn from.

Subscribe to the Big in Japan podcast

Download the file directly here

    The opportunties of Podcasting

    I came across an interesting article on podcasting tonight and thought I’d share.

    Scott Gatz from Yahoo was in town for the BlogOn conference and he stopped by our offices to talk about a survey done in August about RSS and podcasting that Yahoo recently released.

    Other bloggers covered the RSS results, but I was intrigued by the results on podcasting…..28% of the people surveyed were aware of podcasting, but only 2% actually listened to podcasts.

    I asked Gatz, so is this a bubble? And he said, nope, an opportunity. He pointed out that this survey was done before Yahoo this month released its podcasting service. The difference between those who had heard of podcasts and those who had used them actually reflected the fact that the tools for finding and listening to podcasts were too hard to use. With their podcasting service, Gatz said, Yahoo planned to make podcasting as accesible as it had done with RSS.

    Yahoo does seem to have had real success by embedding RSS within My Yahoo, so well that most people don’t even know their using RSS. Gatz said that a few million people (under 10 million was the guidance he gave) now use RSS on My Yahoo, up from 6,000 in January.

    Even though this article is old, and even though numbers for podcasting have risen, I still think this is an interesting point. What is “podcasting”, really? It’s not about an iPod and it’s not even about downloading to a mobile device. To me, podcasting is about making cool audio content easy to create and easy to access. If that means it can be quickly moved to an iPod, great! But that’s only one part of it.

    That’s actually the premise we’ve built the Big in Japan Fancast system on - ease of use for all involved. Audiences can use a traditional phone to record content. They can listen to the content online or on your iPod (or other music player). And organizations can easily moderate content to ensure a positive, yet honest flow of content.

    Interview with Bob Langert of McDonald’s

    The McDonald’s Corporate Social Responsibility team recently launched their “Open for Discussion” blog, and not surprisingly were quickly caught up in controversy. The key issue was that the comments weren’t being moderated very quickly, and as such the blogosphere assumed that McDonald’s was taking a hard line against actual open discussion. Turns out, the real issue was a lack of moderation resources to actually moderate the comments.

    Recently I had a chance to chat with Bob Langert, the McDonald’s VP that leads the CSR team, and one of the key bloggers on the site. I’ve posted the interview in the Big in Japan podcast. Grab the BiJ podcast feed or download directly.

    Big thanks to Bob for spending time with me!

    Speaking at Dallas PRSA

    I’m going to post about my experience this week speaking to DFWIMA … let’s just say that my mojo was seriously compromised by a series of technical issues.

    On the bright side, through that speaking engagement, I was invited to speak on a panel about Web 2.0 at the Dallas PRSA Media Day
    on October 20. If you’re in town, come on out. The headliner is Betty
    Nguyen from CNN’s Saturday and Sunday Morning, and there’s several
    other interesting panels I’ll be sticking around for.

    If you plan on being there, drop me a line so we can meet up in person!

    Community Participation: Breaking 1%

    According to Jakob Nielsen, “In most online communities, 90% of users are lurkers who never contribute, 9% of users contribute a little, and 1% of users account for almost all the action.”  He calls this the 90-9-1 rule.
    Some interesting numbers cited by Jakob include:

    • 1.1 billion internet users
    • 55 million internet users have blogs (5%)
    • Only 1.6 million posts per day (.1% post daily)
    • Blogs are worse than the rule with 95-5-.1
    • 99% of Wikipedia’s users are lurkers (68,000 active contributors)
    • Less than 1% of Amazon.com users write reviews

    Jakob suggests that you can’t overcome participation inequality, but you can help shape the curve.  His ideas?

    • Make it easy to contribute
    • Make participation a side effect
    • Edit, don’t create
    • Reward participants
    • Promote contributors

    Interesting post.  Take a moment to check it out.

    WordPress - Yahoo! Mashup

    Jack Slocum mashedup WordPress’s comment system with Yahoo!’s UI.  Very neat project as Jack describes,

    I think it turned out to be a perfect example of what can be done in a very small amount of time with Yahoo UI and YAHOO.ext. In a day’s worth of work, I have completely transformed the comments system on this site. Around half of that time was spent on the user interface, and the other half modifying WordPress to do the things it needed to do on the backend.

    The system looks nice and it speeds up page loads as the comments are posted via Ajax.  NICE!

    Target Market: Single Men

    It pays to understand you target market.  For example, get in their heads by getting into their environment.  Here is a picture of a bathroom shared by 20 men (and 1 woman - she took the pic).

    New Project Launch: True Ventures!

    Big in Japan has been working together with  renowned design shop Mule Design to create a Web site and blog for True Ventures, the venture capital company that is behind such groups as Automattic, GigaOm, Hive7, and Meebo.
    We had a great time working with the Mule team (that sounds so funny, but they love the name), and are very proud of our work.  So what are you waiting for? Check out the site!

    When unlimited doesn’t actually mean unlimited

    I’ve been getting all excited lately because a work crew has been
    putting in Verizon fiber-to-the-house lines all around the
    neighborhood. As I was checking the mail last night, I saw spray
    painted grass -  a sure sign they’re almost to our end of the block.

    Here’s the sad part: After reading Cringley’s latest article, I’m not sure that I’m ready to get in bed with Verizon.

    How much Internet service is “unlimited” Internet
    service? If you are a user of Verizon Wireless’s Broadband Access
    wireless Internet service, “unlimited” means five gigabytes per month
    or less. The company is quite specific in its advertisements that the
    service is for unlimited e-mail, web surfing, and corporate intranet
    use, but not for downloading music or videos or running servers.

    That
    sounds fair, I guess, but what happens if you go over your five gigs
    per month (a figure that is not published anywhere)? You get a letter
    saying that you’ve gone over your “unlimited” allotment and had better
    cut back or risk being booted from the system. Even then you aren’t
    told that you’ve gone over five gigs, just that you’ve been using too
    much.

    If you continue to use too much
    bandwidth, your account will be cancelled and you will be charged the
    $175 early termination fee.

    (Cringley goes on to mention that with normal usage, he quickly exceeded this limit)

    Yes,
    I understand that the article is referring to wireless access, not
    fiber access. But do I really want to do business with a company that
    has an approach like this? When you tell me something is “unlimited”,
    I’m going to think I can get all I want without risk of paying extra or
    other penalities. You know, unlimited. They don’t publish the limits,
    nor do they, apparently, make it easy to contest a cancelled account.

    Bad, Verizon. Very bad.

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