A Guide To Community Management

Just a few short months ago, I was an implementer of community and social media products and programs.  The success I had in those roles, and the knowledge I carry with me now, is thanks in part to the Forrester research reports that helped guide me along the way — so I’m especially excited to now be the author of one of those documents.

My first Forrester report is called the Community Management Checklist (Forrester clients can click the link to read it.)  It’s an overview of the process marketers need to follow and the important-but-sometimes-overlooked concepts and ideas to keep in mind as they work towards launching or engaging with their community.  

Through my research, I identified four phases of the process that can be handily summarized by the acronym PALM:

Planning: Laying the groundwork, setting objectives, exploring existing conversations, making necessary early decisions.

Alignment: Building internal consensus and processes.

Launch: Attracting and retaining members.

Maintenance: Cultivating relationships with your members and turning them into loyalists.

In the document, I’ve covered many issues that marketers have told me they’ve struggled with, so I hope you’ll find that it gives you actionable advice to help you during your own planning process. If it sparks other thoughts or questions, let me know in the comments here or on Twitter — a quick comment from you might turn into an important research topic for me.  

Is This The Year You "Go Mobile" With Your Brand Or Sales Channels?

Forrester is launching a new survey to find out how marketing leaders like you integrate the mobile channel into their marketing strategy.

Planning and organizing for the use of mobile technologies is a complex task. Some players are laggards. Some don’t think of the mobile channel as a priority. On the other hand, others are clearly ahead of the curve. Yet, the one question we consistently get is: “How does my organization compare with others in the integration of the mobile channel?”

We will try to answer that question with this ongoing Mobile Maturity Survey and more specifically how marketing leaders:

  • Coordinate the mobile channel with other existing channels.
  • Measure the impact of the mobile channel.
  • Plan to spend in the mobile channel in 2011.

Here’s how you can help:

Read more

Live Streaming From Forrester Customer Experience Forum 2010 — Day Two

It’s Day 2 of Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum 2010, and I'm incredibly excited to see this morning’s opening speech by our own James McQuivey. He's going to demo Microsoft’s new interface that uses gestures and natural language commands with help from the company that built it, PrimeSense. You may have heard of this as Project Natal or Kinect — but hearing about it does not do the trick. You have to see it and then hear James’ take on what it means for e-tailers, financial planners, media companies . . . wow. Forgive me if I seem a little blown away, but I’ve been watching the rehearsals, and all I can say is that I have to have one of these! Check back throughout the day for more about this speech and others.

Today's Live Stream

8:30-8:35 a.m.
Day 2 Opening Remarks
Harley Manning
, Vice President, Research Director, Forrester

8:35-8:45 a.m.
What Our Ethnographic Research Tells Us About . . . You!

Victoria Bough
, Vice President, Practice Leader — Customer Experience & Customer Intelligence, Forrester

8:45-9:30 a.m.
How Radical New Interfaces Will Transform Consumer Product Experiences

James McQuivey, Ph.D.
, Vice President, Principal Analyst, Forrester

Sponsored by RightNow

Winners Of The Forrester Voice Of The Customer Awards 2010

We just announced the winners of the Voice of the Customer Awards 2010 at Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum this afternoon. We received nearly 40 nominations, and the strength of the competition was seriously impressive. A number of trends emerged from across the nominations that show just how much voice of the customer programs have advanced since last year — as described in a previous blog post.

Needless to say, the judging was tough. We graded the nominations based on five criteria: clarity of approach, business results, customer experience impact, degree of innovation, and lessons provided for other firms.

And here are the results . . .

The 10 finalists (in alphabetical order) are:


American Express

American Family Insurance






TW Telecom


The three winners (also in alphabetical order) are:

American Express. The global services firm stood out for its significant focus on employee engagement. American Express trains customer service representatives in active listening, gives them a formal career path, and ties their performance assessments directly to customer feedback scores. These efforts drove a double-digit lift in “recommend to a friend” scores among customers who interacted with American Express through its active listening program, as well as a 10% improvement in service margins.

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Will We Ever Meet In Person Again? (A Review Of Virtual Events)

Last week, I attended the AMA virtual event, “Unveiling Marketing Research’s Future Online”. I was very excited to see just what this virtual event would be all about. Mentally, I was trying to marry the idea of a Webinar with the experience of a live event and was left wondering what the union would look like. On Wednesday, I logged in and was prepared for technical difficulties but, surprisingly, I connected without a single hitch! I immediately began to explore, trying to acclimate myself to my virtual surroundings. The environment was easy to understand and navigate. Areas were clearly marked so you knew exactly what was going on where and when. Again, I was pleasantly surprised. Overall, I found a great balance between content and exhibitors and enjoyed the ability to listen to a session while also perusing the materials in the exhibition hall — yes, I admit, I was event-multitasking!

The topic of the future of market research (MR) is obviously a big draw, and sessions like those on DIY research and social media research in the B2B sphere could create quite a lot of chatter. But I think the virtual nature of the event itself is a topic to be discussed. Is this the future of events in general? Will networking over evening cocktails be a thing of the past? Will we simply know each other by our avatars? Here’s my take (the good and the bad). For me, virtual events:

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Live Streaming From Forrester Customer Experience Forum 2010 — Day One

Welcome to all of you at Forrester’s second annual Customer Experience Forum in New York City! And to all of you who can’t be here — we’ll miss you. Sales for the event were so far beyond our goals and expectations that we are flat out amazed. There are about 900 people here from many industries, especially financial services. Attendees come from many professional roles: We’re seeing a good mix of people who work in marketing, eBusiness, customer intelligence, and customer experience (of course), including a strong contingent of senior managers and executives. So please keep checking in here for the latest updates and discussions around our theme of customer experience breakthroughs!

Today's Live Stream

8:30-8:50 a.m.
Welcome And Setting The Stage 
Harley Manning
, Vice President, Research Director, Forrester

8:50-9:35 a.m.
Engage Online Customers With Emotional Experience Design

Ron Rogowski
, Principal Analyst, Forrester

Sponsored by Rightnow

Do Your Value Propositions "Go To Eleven"?

In Rob Reiner’s 1984 “rockumentary,” This Is Spinal Tap, one of the main characters, Nigel Tufnel, proclaims that they are different than other bands because their amplifiers “go to ll.” (You have to watch this clip if you don't know what I am talking about).

What a perfect analog of how B2B companies are trying to differentiate themselves today. I have the opportunity to work with sales and marketing professionals on the topic of competitive preference, and here are some actual quotes from vendors about how they think they separate themselves from “other blokes”:

  • “But we are truly global and our competitors are not” – a managed services provider
  • “We are much more scalable than them” – a software provider
  • “We deliver our services in the cloud” – a software-as-a-service provider

Translation? “These go to 11.”

You know the show MythBusters?

Forrester’s Sales Enablement team is testing the conventional wisdoms of sales and marketing by asking executive level buyers what they think. 

So, does “11” differentiate you? No.

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The Data Digest: The Social Technographics Profile Of Facebook And MySpace Users (US)

Forrester's Social Technographics® looks at how consumers approach social technologies — not just the adoption of individual technologies. We group consumers into seven different categories of participation — and participation at one level may or may not overlap with participation at other levels. We use the metaphor of a ladder to show this, with the rungs at the higher end of the ladder indicating a higher level of participation. You can find more background on Social Technographics and the concept behind it at our Groundswell blog.

Overall, engagement with social activities has increased significantly in the past few years. By the end of 2009, almost three-quarters of US online adults were participating in one way or another with social media. But how do users of Facebook and MySpace compare to each other when looking at how active they are? The following graphic shows that MySpace users are far more likely to be “Creators” — the group that actually creates its own fresh content.

We've also asked consumers in which categories they like to express themselves online. The behaviors of Facebook and MySpace consumers are quite comparable for most categories, but MySpace users score much higher on expressing themselves on music, video, or gaming online - true to their 'Creator' profile.

Want to understand your target consumers' social behaviors? Have a play around with our online Social Technographics® Profiling tool.

Forrester Consumer Product Strategy Podcast: Find Your Popcorn Episode 4

This is the fourth episode in the Find Your Popcorn podcast series, in which Consumer Product Strategy Analyst Nick Thomas describes new ways that media companies can monetize their content in the digital age.


Customer Experience Executives’ Top Priorities For 2010

I just published a new report describing “Customer Experience Executives’ Top Priorities For 2010.”

The research uncovered a significant shift in focus for established customer experience execs.

In their early days, most customer experience executives focus on building their teams, gaining visibility and momentum, and fixing broken experiences. Now, many execs have survived their early days, and they're starting to think longer-term. This shift is clearly reflected in the two most common areas of focus for this year: defining clear strategies and developing repeatable management processes. Other common efforts include infusing customer experience into standard business processes, aligning employees by tying compensation to customer experience metrics, and taking more action in response to available customer data.

We here at Forrester see this shift as a sign that customer experience is rapidly maturing, largely driven by the emergence of the chief customer officer (CCO) as a key leadership role within many organizations. As existing CCOs gain influence and other firms see the financial and competitive advantages of strong customer experience leadership, we expect this trend to become even stronger.

What do you think: Will CCOs become as common as CMOs?

On a related note: I'll be presenting the findings from this research at Forrester's Customer Experience Forum next week. Hope to see you there!