My Community Goes to 11

Susan Scrupski pointed me to a post by Debbie Weil asking (begging?) readers to go to one of her client’s blog and comment.

I couldn’t help but imagine some VP Marketing at GSK calling Debbie (cuz pharma is notorious for unflattering emails turned up in legal proceedings) saying "Debbie, we need a community around this blog and we need it now, get on it".

Remember that classic Rodney Dangerfield flick Back to School, possibly only second to Animal House in the collegiate genre, when he picks up the paper the researcher is working on for him, weighs it in his hand and says "feels like a B, add more pages, make it heavier". That’s what is happening here.

My friend Kevin just did extensive research on brand perception in travel and hospitality and found that on sites like TripAdvisor that brand value was perceived to be higher as more user comments, negative and positive, were attached to profiles. In other words, most people respond, according to Kevin’s research, to the number of comments about a hotel or travel destination, not what people are actually writing about. So maybe GSK is correct to push quantity in this sense even if it goes against the grain of what we believe community is all about?

As for the tactics Debbie is using to generate comments, aka begging, well it does strike me as a little desperate. She might consider hiring a group to post comments on the site… 1,000 comments for $200 seems reasonable, if one can get past that ethics issue.

And then there is the story today about Whole Foods CEO John Mackey posting on a Yahoo! message board under a pseudonym about a company he was acquiring:

A month later, Rahodeb wrote that Wild Oats management "clearly doesn’t know what it is doing …. OATS has no value and no future."

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6 thoughts on My Community Goes to 11

  1. Oh MAN, I love that movie. In fact, I need to work on my Triple Lindy this summer…

    The Weill thing is so cringeworthy, more so because she truly does not seem to think that she’s done anything wrong. Either that or she’s a liar. No matter how you slice it, bad news.

    Thing is, anybody can write a book about blogging and social media, or call themselves an expert. I know of companies that have called in lots of the big names out there referring to themselves this way – I won’t embarrass them here, but you’ve heard of them all – and come away from it much lighter of pocket and still with no clue what to do. They feel rightly scammed by these people, and end up feeling more lost and disgruntled towards web conversations than ever. It’s embarrassing for me, as I hear these tales, that these people can smear blogging with their crap and get away with it.

  2. makes me think we should be writing books about blogs instead of devoting our attention to writing blogs…

  3. Jackie, You are quick to jump from the one to the many. There are a great many consultants who givetheir hearts to helping clueless corporations. The failure is often not because the consultant was incompetent. Jeff–trust me, writing a book about blogging is a lot hard than blogging. I got well paid for a blog book author and I estinmate that I made about $6 an hour for the time invested.

  4. Shel,
    And I actually have YOUR book on the subject, but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking this is a black art at this point. When you and Robert wrote Naked Conversations you were breaking new ground but 1 1/2 years later and it’s still the same ‘ol song-and-dance… markets are conversations blah blah blah.

    I get approached by companies because of my work at SAP on this and it’s the same questions and the same stock answers. Where are the disruptive case studies, where are examples of companies that broke out based on their use of blogs?

    The shocking thing is not that CEOs don’t blog, it’s that when they do they have so little to say when they do.

    I’m not criticizing you or anyone else for that matter, just throwing some assumptions to the wind to see where they land. Actually, I think Mackey is deserving of some criticism.

  5. Jeff, WRT the research you give me too much credit; the team here at Circos is doing the heavy lifting. We’ll be rolling out some of findings next week via blog entries and will send you a copy of the report once it’s completed.

    WRT writing a book- Shel did pretty well if he cleared 6$ an hour. I cleared something closer to 0.10$ an hour *smiles but than again we did write 720 pages and clearly exceeded the point of diminishing returns. I can’t recommend it.

    WRT to CEO blogs- In the past I had jokingly noted that corporate performance (measured using stock price) and CEO blogging frequency are negatively correlated. Maybe that will be our next research project. *smiles

  6. Shel, I know all too well that a ‘consultant’ can only do so much for a company – the real investment in effort and commitment must be made by them. It is what they do with the tools and knowledge that counts. (This is partially why I have always rejected questions about projected ROI as ludicrous.)

    But having heard these stories, and trusting the source(s), I can assure you that a string of self-proclaimed blog ‘experts’ failed to connect the dots and badly let down their clients. I feel Debbie Weill has done the same, and I only wish she was the only one.

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