20th October 2007

Will I see you at WOMMA?

November 13-15 is the annual Word of Mouth Marketing Summit & Research Symposium.  More information and registration information here.  I got involved with WOMMA less than a year ago, but the relationship has really been beneficial to me in expanding my thinking on the implications of communities, social media and influencers.  I have the pleasure this year of both speaking on the topic of influentials and co-chairing the launch of a new Influencer Council with Peter Hershberger and Brad Fay.

The topic of influentials has really taken off this year and I’m excited to present and help launch a council focused on thinking through the discipline of finding, thanking and engaging the enthusiasts that are radically changing the conversation on the web about products, brands and services.  Whether you’re a customer service/support, product development or marketing leader with robust communities or staring at the cold start problem, there’s no more important place to begin than with the enthusiasts.  Far to often our functional silos are disconnected from one another, but this is a critical place to bring these groups together.  Marketers often talk about the conversation starters.  Find those starting brand/product conversations and work to reach and engage these word of mouth leaders.  I prefer to think about finding the conversation stoppers.  Why are your users in your communities?  A substantial number of conversations started on the web (in forums, blogs, newsgroups…) are actually questions - requests for help.  This means I want to capture two things…what are people commonly asking for (feeding a voice of the customer process- a post for a later date) and who are the people giving all the best answers - the conversation stoppers!  And guess where word of mouth (both positive and negative) usually comes from?  Someone requests help and gets either exceptionally good service or exceptionally poor service.  You know who talks more about a brand than someone who loves it?  Someone who has a bad experience.  Any idea who talks even more than that person?  Someone who had a bad experience that the company shows up and makes it right.  Take a look at this well known example from Dell.

Such a rich topic to debate and discuss and a core place to tear down organizational silos as you think about flat companies!  I hope you join us in Las Vegas or at least stay tuned here for more on the topic from me.

One final thought on WOMMA.  Ultimately, I judge the value of my participation in events and associations pretty simply.  I take a one year view and as I get close to that anniversary, I ask myself about the quality of learning and people I have met through the activity and it’s likelihood to continue to impact me professionally, personally and/or academically. By this measure, consider this post to be positive word of mouth on the Word of Mouth Marketing Association

WOMMA Facebook group here: 

WOMMA Blog: http://www.womma.com/blog/ 


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Popularity: 46% [?]

posted in Events, Influencers, Word of Mouth | 2 Comments

18th October 2007

Real Influencers - Profiles in Action…

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to meet Patty Seybold and Matthew Lees of the Patricia Seybold Group, at the Forum One Online Community Business Summit.  Patty has long been a thought leader on customer experience and more deeply connecting the voice of users with business innovation.

Recently, I was contacted by Matt who was working on some research titled:  Active Community Members:  What Makes them Tick?

Given the work I’ve done the last several years leading the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Award program, I’m often asked about the DNA of community influentials.  In the 4+ years I’ve been leading this program, I suspect I’ve met personally more than 3000 Community leaders from well over 50 countries.  Whenever I meet with press, analysts or peers from other companies, a common interest is why do these community leaders do what they do??  Sometimes I just want to say: "if you have to ask, you just don’t get it."  (that of course is not a very helpful answer.)

In some ways it’s easier to just be really explicit about what isn’t the reason.  It really starts with one which I think is key to the ethos of understanding communities:  Community leaders don’t do what they do to help you - the company.  They do what they do to help their fellow users.  The benefits to you (the company/brand) are by-products, not motivations.  Failure to understand this difference is one of the most common errors I see in how companies try to engage in communities focused on their products.

When Matt contacted me, he was anxious to talk to one of our MVP’s as part of pulling together some profiles of real community leaders.  He connected with Bharat Suneja, Principal Exchange Architect at Zenprise; Microsoft MVP and member of the Microsoft Exchange Server Community. 

You can read a synopsis of Matt’s research outputs here which includes not only the outputs of his interview with Bharat, but several other community leaders as well.

On a side note, I’m honored to be joining a group known as Patty’s Visionaries for an upcoming event November 6th-7th in Santa Monica California.  Another great chance to connect and learn from others!


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16th October 2007

So many "friends," so many "streams"…

So many colliding streams, I’m nearly ready for social channel surfing.


I blogged earlier about the would address.  I’ve friended about 500 people in .  As I described in the earlier post, I’d like the ability to create, manage and publish to a variety of "friend populations" that I control.  Not all friends are the same, nor do I want to share the same media and or content with all my friends - and frankly, many of them likely could care less about much of what I share.  The current model sets up a lowest common denominator experience or shotgun approach when what I really want is to create and follow social channels.

So, not only would I like to be able to create and manage discreet channels of friends, I’d like to be able to toggle through and or subscribe differently to these different groups.  For example, maybe I have one group I want mobile updates for what they are doing, but others I only want to view on-demand.  Ok, this adds complexity and the use case may be at the margins today for how people are using FB, but it doesn’t seem that big a stretch for where this stuff needs to go.

Would love to know how others are handling this.  Heck, maybe there’s a slick way to do this in FB today and I just don’t know it!  Fill me in, quick!


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posted in General Community Discussion, Social Media, online communities | 0 Comments

14th October 2007

Social Media: Fad or Trend…

Sharing another in a series of slides I’m using in talks this fall:


I generally can’t get through this slide without some reference to Maslow’s hierarchy and the role the age of individualism is having on the portability of talent - more and more people operating at the level of self actualization. This also interplays nicely with Friedman’s notion of a Flat World and my own expected emergence of flattened companies.

Input, ideas and additions welcome.


Popularity: 33% [?]

posted in General Community Discussion, Social Media | 0 Comments

13th October 2007

Busy week ahead (actually 2 weeks…)

I’m really looking forward to the next few weeks.  I’m off Monday to the Bay area where I’ll be meeting Monday with Support Space and going onsite with the online team at Tivo.  To say I’m a fan of Tivo as a user would be an understatement and their community is legendary, so I’m anxious to learn about any secret sauce they might share.  I’ll have some 1:1 time Monday driving from Tivo to Downtown San Fran with peers from the LA Times, Citrix and Weather.com.

Tuesday and Wednesday I’ll be participating in a two day event hosted by Creative Good.  This event brings together senior leaders from a wide range of companies to discuss best practices, current challenges and networking for ongoing business collaboration.  Looking at the list of my fellow attendees, it promises to be an amazing 48 hrs.

I close my trip to the bay area Wednesday night with Dinner with Bright Ideas.  I’m anxious to learn more about what they are doing to productize innovation via the "wisdom of the crowds."

On Thursday I’m off to Orlando to attend and speak at the Consortium Member Summit put on by the Consortium for Service Innovation. 

I’ll be happy to get back home to Seattle for the weekend ahead of leaving for MVP Events in South America the following week.

I’m sure I’ll have some insights to share from these visits in the weeks ahead.


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11th October 2007

15 years is a milestone worth a quick blog post…

15 years ago I joined Microsoft.  I’d like to say I was 12 at the time as the milestone makes me feel a little old!  What an amazing 15 years.  When I started we were still selling DOS.

My first job was in the call center - I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said: "Thank you for calling Microsoft, this is Sean, how can I help you."  I remember once answering my home phone like that on accident!

I’ll save trips down memory lane, but I will say "thank you" to Microsoft.  I know for me, this place has been incredible and I’ve had the opportunity to work on amazing projects and with incredible people.  It’s also a place that responded to my personal moment of truth - having to step out for almost 3 months due to my own medical emergency without once being concerned about my job or how I would pay bills or even when I had to be back - that part was simple: "come back when you are ready."

So, for all of that…Thank you MS.

At a group meeting this week a photo was taken to commemorate the moment…that’s me just to he right of center.

DSC00141 (3)


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posted in Events, Microsoft, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

8th October 2007

Inc. Technology Coverage on Online Communities…

You never know how you will come out after a 20 minute interview for a few comments in a story, but I think this came together ok and overall it’s a good piece.  Have a read of Helping Customers Help Each Other Online in Inc. Technology online.

There’s also worthwhile reference in the story to a company called Get Satisfaction that is worth exploring.


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Popularity: 26% [?]

posted in General Community Discussion, Social Media, online communities | 0 Comments

2nd October 2007

A fun way to see our brand…

Japanese Digital Media MVP Satoru Koshiba did some really cool work with the MVP logo I thought I’d share.  Awesome work in a really fun format!

Thank you Satoru-san!

Watch the video here.


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Popularity: 40% [?]

posted in Influencers, MVP | 1 Comment

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