Is your network a community?

Something's bugging me: Increasingly, I hear marketers using the words "community" and "network" interchangeably.

But a community is just one type of network.  My working definition of network is: a group of people who have something in common and who have a motivation for connecting.  For example, a bunch of people who all buy the same brand of toilet paper, but have no desire to meet, are not a network.  Another type of network is a mob (commonality: enraged about something, motivation for connecting: aggregate power to use against something).  Yet another type of network is a clique.  It's not all warm and fuzzy.

It's easy to recognize different types of connected groups offline.  But as marketers wade into the less familiar universe of social computing, a lot of people assume that any type of online network associated with their brand is an online community. 

What other types of online networks are there?  Using the working definition above, I'm going to take a rough crack at teasing out some distinctions:

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Social Computing As Disposable Technology

by Rob Koplowitz.

The question of measuring ROI of social computing is hot because it's so much a part of enterprise software acquisition. As information and knowledge management professionals move to get ahead of this emerging technology curve, they find a very consistent pattern:

  • People are using this stuff! Blogs and wikis in particular are popping up everywhere. Why not? They are easy to access, often free, and they are dead simple to use. It's one of those permission / forgiveness things. We've all done it.
  • If people are using these things that IT doesn't know about, there is no way of ensuring security, privacy, availability, governance, compliance, risk mitigation and all of those good things that keep the organization running and employees out of trouble (maybe even jail!).
  • Most really don't want to shut it down because in many instances these are more efficient solutions than those provided by the organization. These tools are often just easier and better for generating and publishing content.
  • The natural inclination in this situation would be to bring in the tradtional software vendors and see if they can support these new technology directions. Not surprisingly, a number of big vendors are ready and willing to help, including BEA, IBM/Lotus, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP.
  • Sounds great. Lots of reasons to go with one of the big vendors (see bullet 2).
  • How much will it cost? How much will it give back? In other words, can the acquisition be justified with a strong return on investment analysis?
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Forrester's Web 2.0 Briefing Day - October 23rd

If you're a web 2.0 technology vendor who might be interested in an in-person briefing day at Forrester, read on...

Forrester cordially invites you to the Web 2.0 Briefing Day on October 23, 2007!

What is it?
A complimentary event that gives you the opportunity to brief leading Forrester analysts who focus on Web 2.0 trends and technologies.  The day will take place in Forrester's Cambridge office.

How does it work?

  • Meet Sheri McLeish, Vendor Relations Manager.
  • Engage with up to three analysts in 1-to-1 briefings.
  • Learn about Forrester’s perspective on the size of the Web 2.0 market with a presentation by analyst G. Oliver Young.

Which analysts will be there?

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New Research On Engagement

We've just published a new report titled Marketing's New Key Metric: Engagement.

The link is here. [UPDATE 8/13, 2pm (Eastern): This link redirects to a page on the Forrester Web site which includes the executive summary. The full report is accessible to Forrester clients.]

The premise behind the report is that the center of the marketing funnel (consideration and preference) is more complex than many like to believe. This complexity is largely influenced by people's changing behaviors online, fueled by social computing.

As a result, marketers need to focus on engagement. In the report, we define engagement as:

Engagement is the level of involvement, interaction, intimacy, and influence an individual has with a brand over time.

The four components of engagement are:

Involvement—Includes web analytics like site traffic, page views, time spent, etc. This essentially is the component that measures if a person is present.

Interaction—This component addresses the more robust actions people take, such as buying a product, requesting a catalog, signing up for an email, posting a comment on a blog, uploading a photo or video, etc. These metrics come from e-commerce or social media platforms.

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