19th February 2007

Online Discussions - Insights you could use!


In the series I wrote on Convincing the unconverted, Part 3, I talked about using the data/evidence approach to convincing your business of the value of communities.  It often feels to me like many of the investments being made in communities by businesses are first and foremost about brand and brand marketing.  That is not inherently wrong, but I do feel it is too limited a purpose for communities and in fact if done in isolation to other motivations may be perceived as insincere by your users – (and, they might be right!).  I guess I tend the see marketing benefits as a good by-product of why you do communities, not the reason you do it.  I thought in this post I’d talk a little more about “insights.”  This can be broken down into a number of areas:

1.     Product feedback (both current and future) – Important:  Don’t assume you know everything you need to know from your call centers!!  That is a “going out of business feedback model.”

2.     Policy, program or content feedback

3.     Demographic insights – better understanding who uses your products

4.     Preference information – Why people use your products or why not

5.     Companion information – people who use your product also use _____?

6.     Competitive insights – whose products do they use instead of yours

7.     Unexpected insights – users often do what you didn’t intend with your products – this might indicate new markets or avenues of sales/development


Now, realistically, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to do all of this – particularly in a short time frame.   Just collecting all these insights is non-trivial to say the least – it could be a massive amount of data (unstructured data)!  And taking action on it, which your users expect, is even more challenging.  Not all of it is actionable and you can’t be all things to everyone.  So deciding how to manage this is a complex, but important task. 

Perhaps, together we can share some thoughts on who we think is doing this particularly well and what we think about the approach is effective.

I’ll start with a couple of examples:

http://connect.microsoft.com/: Now, I’m not hiding that I work at Microsoft, but I don’t work on this project and either way, I still think this is very good.  The concept of connect is to provide an engagement, feedback and voting mechanism on Microsoft products.  On the splash screen, you can see connect has over 800,000 members who have registered over 225,000 bugs and over 30,000 product suggestions.  You can quickly view a list of connection opportunities, manage your participation and join others in publicly contributing and/or voting on others contributions.  Imagine, a public database of everything that is wrong with your products – this would be heresy for many companies.  But communities are all about transparency. 

http://www.dellideastorm.com/: This is pretty new, but is another interesting engine for gathering insights.  After registering, you get a quick idea of the size of the community and some light reputation based on top participants.  More importantly, you can quickly navigate user provided insights and either add to the insights or vote on existing.  As a company that brands itself on user customization, this is an interesting way to extend their customer research process.

:  Just so I’m not accused of any Microsoft biasJ  The level of activity here doesn’t seem very high yet (I think this is fairly new), but the idea is quite similar to those mentioned above.

As the collector of insights, knowing how to think about the thresholds for when you take actions and how you close the loop back will be an important part of your planning process…but the first step toward collection and transparency seems to have some obvious long term benefits.  A big challenge of feedback systems is that they can add so much noise to the system that you don’t know what to do.  That’s what I love about these examples with voting models implementing.  With nuturing, the community will manage the noise out by voting for what is good and marginalizing what isn’t most important. 

Imaging how your users will feel when they “see” their feedback in your product!!  This ain’t easy!!  But, that should be the core principle. 

Now, who do YOU think is doing this well!  (yes you, this means now you post a comment) 

Feeling informed? Digg it!


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This entry was posted on Monday, February 19th, 2007 at 9:59 am and is filed under Business Strategy, Convincing the uncoverted, Part 1-4, Examples, General Community Discussion, Influencers, Social Media, Why Community Matters, online communities, web 2.0. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

There are currently 12 responses to “Online Discussions - Insights you could use!”

Why not let us know what you think by adding your own comment! Your opinion is as valid as anyone elses, so come on... let us know what you think.

  1. 1 On February 19th, 2007, Deirdre Walsh said:

    Sean – First of all, thank you for setting up this necessary site. I look forward to exchanging ideas with others who share my compulsory passion for developing and nurturing a strong, successful community. Sorry I’ve been MIA since the conference. I think I brought more than a gift card from the original Starbucks back with me from Seattle. I was on my deathbed all last week.

    Anyway, Patty Seybold’s latest book, “Outside Innovation,” takes a look at 30 companies around the world that have successfully harnessed customer-led innovation, including my employer National Instruments. The report evaluates by-invitation-only communities such as Kraft and open communities like our partner LEGO, which does an excellent job of incorporate feedback from its’ lead-user program. Additionally, this resource provides “a self assessment to see how far along your company is in empowering your customers to strut their stuff.” For more information, visit www.psgroup.com.

  2. 2 On February 19th, 2007, Sean ODriscoll said:


    Hey, Thanks for posting!!! Great to see you here. Sorry to hear you weren’t feeling well.

    It’s funny you mention that book, it was recommended to me just last week and I ordered a few copies (for myself and some friends) just the other day. I like “community” reading too as a way to group learn. I think I’ll post here soon on what I’ve read and/or am reading as a reference on this topic as I’d love to know what else I should be adding to the expanding pile!


  3. 3 On February 28th, 2007, Exploring communities and corporate HR… « Community Group Therapy said:

    […] (except recruiting), role of HR will be tested by this evolution.  Product and services insight gathering is certainly low hanging fruit already underway, but I think that is just the beginning.  […]

  4. 4 On March 4th, 2007, The Evolution of Consumer Empowerment… « Community Group Therapy said:

    […] than ever before. They will be in the driver’s seat.  They will even be invited into the innovation cycle.  Consumer to consumer conversation as part of the consumption cycle has become an expectation and […]

  5. 5 On March 5th, 2007, Does your company support employee blogging? « Community Group Therapy said:

    […] how much I’ve heard this.  If this sounds familiar, I’m sorry - maybe my post on insights can help.  I’m actually waiting to be challenged on this one in my own role - I will let […]

  6. 6 On March 24th, 2007, The Business Case for Community and Web 2.0...Sharing some useful links « Community Group Therapy said:

    […] to me is the discussion of the notion of “collective Intelligence” which has been a core topic here at Community Group […]

  7. 7 On March 29th, 2007, Time to consider the Pareto Principle... « Community Group Therapy said:

    […] the history.  I haven’t directly discussed this principle here yet and how it applies to Community insights and research, but I thought it was about time.  This principle is often used in quality […]

  8. 8 On May 24th, 2007, Halo 3 - user generated insights... « Community Group Therapy said:

    […] 24th, 2007 Ok, I’ve talked a lot about online communities as a vehicle for capturing product insight and generating a sense of maternity in your innovation…well, here’s an example right […]

  9. 9 On June 3rd, 2007, Where for art thou" Community ROI « Community Group Therapy said:

    […] the link to previous post on Insights you can use.  The one I didn’t cover as much was Supportability, so let me expand on this.  […]

  10. 10 On November 16th, 2007, "Happy Birthday" Community Group Therapy… : Community Group Therapy said:

    […] Online discussions…insights you could use […]

  11. 11 On November 16th, 2007, Online "Brand Management:" Good? Bad? Or it depends? : Community Group Therapy said:

    […] how this worked.  The concept here I think fits very well with insight capture discussed in an earlier post.  And of course I am a huge proponent of influencer detection and engagement as a cornerstone […]

  12. 12 On November 16th, 2007, A guide for those that are new to this blog… : Community Group Therapy said:

    […] Online Discussions:  Insights you can use! […]

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