Twitter Killer: Must-have Features

Per Dave Winer, and other sources around the Internets, we hear the Google is going to announce a “twitter killer” tomorrow. Dave ruminates about his criteria for a twitter-killer, and I have added a few of my own suggestions to the list.

Dave Winer’s list of “must have” features for a twitter-killer:

So here’s the list of must-have features: 

1. Reliability. Twitter still has trouble dealing with high-flow events like last night’s SuperBowl. Lots of Fail Whales. So if Google is able to offer reliability, no matter how much of an advantage Twitter’s installed base is, it won’t matter. When Twitter goes down everyone will reassemble on Glitter.  

2. Enclosures. Can you imagine if you couldn’t enclose a picture or an MP3 with an email message? Why do we jump through so many hoops just to tweet a picture?  

3. Open architecture metadata. Let developers throw any data onto a status message, giving it a name and a type, and let everyone else sort it out. It would result in an explosion of creativity. 

4. Relationships with hardware vendors. I still want a one-click Twitter camera. If I can’t have it from Twitter, I’ll take it from Google. 

5. No 140-character limit. I debated this one with myself. At first I compromised and said okay let’s have a 250-character limit, or a 500-character limit. But I really don’t want a limit. If I want to write short status messages, no problemmo. We’ve already made the cultural transition. We know how to do it. But sometimes a thought just can’t be expressed in 140 characters. No one is wise enough to know what the limit is, so let’s just not have one. 

6. No URL-shorteners. I’ve explained this so many times. They’re stupid and ugly and they hurt the web. I like it when developers take the time to craft their URLs so they make sense to users. That’s all the shortening we really need and all we should have. 

I actually disagree somewhat with #5 & #6, but a conversation for another time.

To that list, I would add:

7. Mode. Am I at work? Am I at lunch. Some sort of simple flag / notation that shows my & others “mode” context would be great.

8. No character penalty for #tag characters (assuming limit stays at 140 or 180 to match global sms standards).

9. Location embedded in tweet. With ability to opt out (or in), of course.

10. Ability to toggle to a threaded message view, based on tags and/or @replies.

How about you? What is in your “twitter killer”?


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Online Community Unconference East: Moving Forward, Together

We are less than 48 hours from the Online Community Unconference East (yeah!). This is the third year we’ve run the Online Community Unconference in New York, and we’ve had great events both years. On think I wanted to be a bit more mindful of for this year’s Unconference was to really be mindful of focusing the group’s energy on specific outcomes. Our theme for this year’s Uncoference reflects this intention:

“Moving forward, together”

We will use the theme as a guiding principle for the sessions on Wednesday, and ask that participants think about what is needed to move forward personally, professionally, and to move community and social media forward as an industry. We will also explore what progress (moving forward) looks like. Our notional topic list from the Unconference wiki (which will be open to the public after the Unconference) reflects the “moving forward” intention:

  • Online Community & Social Media Metrics: Getting to Standards
  • Monetizing industry communities (not related to a single brand or company)
  • The Community Team: Roles, Responsibilities, Job Descriptions and Reporting Structures
  • Using Community and Collaboration Tools Within the Enterprise
  • Lessons Learned: Pitfalls and Best Practices in Community-Building
  • How to hire community & Social Media staff
  • Online Presence: Creating a social strategy on and beyond your domain
  • “Social Shopping” Communities (focus on online brand advocacy, product reviews and ratings, “social” information search, etc.)
  • Leaving (too many) online footprints in (too many) communities
  • How to interest and keep volunteers in a commercial environment?
  • Beyond “Listening” – Comprehensive Community & Social Media monitoring and engagement
  • Community and Social Media reporting and insights
  • Case Studies for the class of 2009: Successful community engagements and social media campaigns from 2009 (bring yours to share)
  • Validation: Do verified accounts make a difference in communities for better engagement?

There are still tickets available for the Unconference. For more information (including attendee list), please go here:

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What to expect at the Online Community Unconference East

The Online Community Unconference East will be held February 10th in New York City. To learn more about the event, or to register, go here: .

So, how does this Unconference thing work? The premise of our Unconference series is that the best source of information on online communities and social media is the community of practitioners actually doing the hands on work. The Unconference format provides a venue for participants to lead discussions about topics they are most passionate and knowledgeable about. At the end of the day, attendees walk away with new ideas, perspectives, and a long list of new professional connections. One of the most amazing parts of the day at our Unconferences is the topic selection process. Our Unconference uses the organizing principals of Open Space Technology to create the event agenda. Said another way, the topics discussed during the day are suggested and lead by Unconference attendees. At the start of the morning, any attendee who wishes can come forward, announce a topic, and claim one of the 50+ open slots on the grid.

Attendees announce session topics

The agenda begins to form

Within about 35-40 minutes the grid fills up with topics

Once all the topics are announced, we begin the Unconference sessions. The agenda grid plays the role of gathering place and ideamarketplace throughout the day, as attendees come back to the agenda to check for any updates, changes, or new sessions.

Outputs If you would like to see an example of the great content that comes out of an Unconference, please check out a few of these resrouces:

I would encourage you to spend some time looking through the session notes and the book of proceedings, as there is a lot of great content.

Again, to learn more about the event, or to register, go here:


Back to Basics: Want to Know What Your Community Members Need? Just Ask.

This post is part of an ongoing series about developing an online community strategy. As a reminder, all posts will be tagged #ocb2b In my last post, “The Strategy Team & Goal Definition” I discussed the importance of identifying internal stakeholders for a community, getting the stakeholders engaged, and the process of defining initial goals for the online community strategy. In this post, I will discuss the crucial role of member research in creating a successful community strategy. In the most basic form, a community strategy is a balance of an organization’s goals and member (a.k.a customer) needs. Note: I will be using the terms “member” and “customer” interchangeably in this post. I will also use the term “member” as a placeholder for current and potential members of a community.

Why Conduct Member Research? Conducting member needs research as part of the strategy development process brings the voice of customer to the center of the strategy, and helps create a lens through which to focus your community building activities. Specifically, member research can help answer questions like:

  • What are member’s expectations of you / your organization as a community host?
  • What role should you play as host, and what community activities should you facilitate?
  • What types of content and features should be present in the community?
  • Should the community be an “on domain” destination, or should the community presence extend on to other sites, like Facebook?
  • What types of members does the community want to include?
  • What type of culture does the community need to thrive?
  • What activities are members prepared to participate in that will directly or indirectly benefit the host?
  • What types of marketing and advertising would members find acceptable?

Techniques for Conducting Member Research: The process for conducting member research is straightforward: decide on the appropriate techniques given your budget, recruit subjects, conduct the research and analyze the results. Great places to recruit research subjects:

  • Your existing community
  • Your blog
  • Your corporate web site
  • Partners
  • Newsletter mailing lists
  • Customer Conferences
  • Independent communities about your product or in your market or topic area
  • Facebook or Linkedin groups about your product or in your market or topic area

One on One Interviews
One on one interviews can be conducted either in-person or over the phone. The key ingredients are a customer, an interviewer, a notetaker and a simple interview script (a sample can be found below). Interviews can be as short as 30 minutes, and generally should last no more than an hour (in our experience). In my experience, a minimum of 5-6 interviews will yield useful themes and give good data for strategy direction. If your community will serve many different products, market segments or customer types, a good rule of thumb is to try and do interviews with at least 3 people from each segment, if possible. One on One interviews can also be augmented nicely by a follow up online survey to a larger group, in order to drill down further on issues uncovered in the initial round of interviews.

Group Sessions Another great way to get feedback, and to get a lot of feedback at once is to conduct a group feedback session. This is similar to the one on one interviews, except you are guiding a group of members through the script, as opposed to just one. Involving multiple subjects at once increases the complexity of the process, so be sure to have someone skilled at facilitation leading the session to keep the conversation on track (per the script), as well as to ensure that all participants have equal air time to give their opinions and feedback.

Online Surveys The fastest, and often lowest overhead way to get member feedback is to create a short online survey to send to research participants. Online surveys are really great at getting quick quantitative feedback, and the results (depending on the tool) are fairly easily to analyze and study. A few issues with online surveys are that the quality of the results depends on the quality of the questions, and in particular, thinking through appropriate choices for multiple choice questions, and also creating effect write in questions that will yield helpful qualitative feedback.

In most cases for the community and social media strategy work I do at Forum One, I will generally conduct a set of 7-10 One on One interviews with community members, and follow up with an online survey to at least 100 community members.

Questions to Ask During Research There are essentially 3 overarching questions you want to answer as an output of member reearch:

1. What do community members need from you as the host? Ask questions that explore member expectations of your organization in the role of host. What are the member expectations around your level of participation, your effort in developing content, in fostering participation and your commitment to hosting the community long-term?

2. What do community members need from each other? Explore what community members might desire from interactions with other community members. This could range from knowledge sharing, to providing mentoring, to ongoing professional or personal support.

3. What can community members contribute? It is important to understand what ways community members are capable of, prepared and willing to participate. Participation could include sharing domain expertise, offering content samples, answering suport questions, or even just participating in casual online conversation. In order to answer the key questions, you will need to ask a series of baseline demographics questions (for context), as well as exploring each of the three key questions in a more granular way. A sampling of questions that can be used to create a script or facilitation guide are included below. Sample List of Interview / Survey Questions:

  • Name, organization, title, a brief role description
  • What information sources do you rely on (relating to the topic of the community)?
  • What groups (on/offline) are you a member of (relating to the topic of the community)?
  • What products / services do you use (relating to the topic of the community)?
  • What is the biggest challenge you face in your day to day work (assuming this relates to the topic of the community)?
  • How satisfied are you with the level and type of communication you have with organization x?
  • Do you currently participate in any of the following social media activities: blogging, discussion forums, facebook, twitter, youtube etc (shape the list based on your audience)
  • What information, insight or content do you want to share with other customers?
  • What kinds of information would be helpful for other customers to share with you?
  • If organization x were to offer the following content or features, please rate how useful each would be to you: discussion forums, expert Q&A, tutorials & tips, video previews, customer blogs, etc.
  • Would you be interested in connecting with other members at local, in-person events?

A Note About Being “Member Shy” I continue to be surprised at the lack of member research in many community strategy projects. Even for organizations that are highlighted as examples of “getting it”, there are still cases where the community wasn’t engaged in research about a major platform change, feature enhancement or policy shift (facebook privacy anyone?). In many cases there seems to be a real fear (or at least discomfort) in connecting 1 to 1 with customers. Fear could be rooted in the ability to have meaningful interaction at scale, the overhead associated with regular contact, or the lack of an evolved organizational culture that encourages this type of interaction. Any community strategy development (or refinement) initiative *requires* the input and direction of the members. I’ve seen investment in member research pay off consistently, just as I’ve seen the severe cost of not conducting member research hamper or sink many community projects. In short: Want to know what your members want from their online community? Just ask.

Posted via web from Social Architect

*Rough* Notes from the Online Community Roundtable: 1/11 at / The WELL

<img src=”” align=”left” alt=”” /> We started the 2010 series of Online Community Roundtables last Monday, January 11th in San Francisco at the offices of / The WELL. Salon hosted ~ 30 of us (THANK YOU!), and we had 3 hours of fantastic conversation about our collective experiences in 2009, and most importantly, where we are going as an industry in 2010, and how community professionals can help support each other.

Organizations present included: Autodesk, Apple, / The WELL, Overtone,, Cisco, Peachpit Press, Zendesk, the SF Symphony, and TechSoup. We had several independents in the room as well, including Randy Farmer and Cliff Figallo.

What follows are rough notes from the Roundtable, compiled by Gam Dias of Overtone (@gammydodger) and Randy Farmer (@frandallfarmer), one of the godfathers of online community, and co-author of @BuildingRep. Caveat: thesse are rough, mostly unedited notes. I’ve attempted to highlight some of the gems (and there are many) in bold. 

We started by brainstorming a list of key areas for potential advancement in 2010. 

What problems do we need to solve collectively?
How do we fully engage executives?

Community Team Hiring Practices

  • What does the community team look like? What are the roles?
  • Job Description templates?
  • Screening Practices?


  • Identity
  • Reputation
  • How should platforms evolve?


  • How do we get them in place?
  • How do we get leverage to make the strategy happen?
  • How do we monitize?
  • What are the metrics?
  • These are hard to measure, how do we deal with that?
  • Context is king


Lot of lists of what to measure – lots of web analytics available, but as a group can we talk about how these metrics are tied to strategy – what is the measurement process, communities have their own needs, revenue is only one aspect

For example, engagement has different meanings for different communities – so this is what I measure, and this is how I derive what I measure –

What are the strategic contexts for measurement – how do you pick the appropriate contexts

Contexts – Two extremes that have emerged, marketing centric (trying to reach your customers) and community centric (user generated content), if you only have those contexts, the systems are very different and therefore the metrics – the definition of community is per context

How to set that definition for your context (Randy – in the last two years, have advised clients not to have their own social networks, rather to piggyback e.g. using facebook connect)

Suggesting creating patterns for community definition and strategy – 3 types of community (from Cliff Figalo) – singular / audience / bazaar – can start describing our community as a pattern – this may be a good place to start.

Always been fascinated by value – passion and commitment – of individuals who will make a community happen – how can we identify and quantify these – one thing that is different about The Well is that people get to know each other on whole different contexts

Having had to screen candidates, lots of qualified and experienced people from both marketing and community perspectives – sometimes they want a brand blogger, othertimes they want a true community manager – if we start to differentiate roles, then these may help polarize things

How many people have participated in writing job descriptions and been satisfied / unsatisfied with the final job desc used by HR


What is “Online Community”, “Social Media” and “Conversation”

Still lots of reguritation of cluetrain regarding ‘conversation’.

How can we pitch Community to the sponsoring organization as something that creates value – so a definition that we are happy to share with our boss.

A conversation is that people are prepared to listen, that evolves, that is considered

We may have some issues with scale here – could a good conversation be had with small numbers of people?

Why are these conversations good to be had within a community versus 1:1

Audience is the difference here – even though 2 people are driving the conversation, the audience is what differentiates a community from a 1:1 discussion

Lurkers are an undervalued aspect of communities

There is a tension that we can leverage – things that can attract attention create more value that pulls back in the lurkers (who are also part of the community) – this is different to the broadcast messages from a company

Lurkers contribute attention and this may be just as valuable to the community – they may consume the advertising thereby generating revenue or they may contribute later on

Spectrum of one way to bi-direction to multiple dimensional conversations (extropy – emergent order)

So what is community?

Community formed by interaction over time – Over time being the key statement that turns interaction into context

Since the explosion of social media – community can be anything – people can feel a sense of community or feel part of one – particularly if their views are being represented by the conversation

Part of the design of a community includes giving back to the community as a whole – people who want to give their knowledge and expertise back to the community for whatever reason

What makes a yahoo group different to a message board – the difference (in this context) was membership.

Twitter is a membership structure – but the content in there is public

All communities will have a unique key structure –

Is the confusion about the word community because we see meatspace communities and purely online

The word Community is in vogue a buzz word that is completely confusing

What is the difference between community and social media – social media is the technology of twitter and is not automatically a community

For the opensalon community – it is social media because you can subscribe and follow blogs, but there is also participation. I can swing by a blog read and leave comments which makes me a participant, but if there is recurrence and reciprocation makes this community

Who owns the conversation inside a community  – who owns the blog?

Lit blogger and Book bloggers – book bloggers all acted as a community versus lit bloggers are broadcast editorial blogging

So what’s a blog? Sequential posts versus a conversation

Who is having an impact on a community – Francois G and @jowang commented that the colonists within a community are also important, @gravity7 commented that nomads are also important

Multiple hubs can stretch a community over time and

Vendors who interact with the community are valuable (cisco) – adding the shameless self-promotion district

#OCTRIBE tag – homework to explore this what is community, socialmedia, conversation – anyone want to lead this initiative? Randy volunteered 🙂

Conversations, Attention, Community, Social Media

“Community is formed by interaction over time.” – Gail quoting Cliff. 🙂

“People can feel a sense of community even if they don’t actively contribute…” – Cliff

Does RL Community definition mess stuff up?

Scott More separates Social Media (technology) from Community (behavior) – trust among the members.

Membership, not necessarily reciprocity.


What is the job description of a community manager?

Loyalty Marking, The Face, Community Relationship Facilitator, Den Mother, Editor, Advocate to the Organization

Metrics and Sentiment

Scott – Don’t be the ONLY representation of the community.

Janitor not Rockstar – Nina Simon

“I am here to deal with your problems, you’re here to make the party”

Communities require engineering/product design

Conversation facilitator

Fostering loyalty – increase awareness

Editorial role on content

Advocacy to show return on community investment

Being the public face of the organization

To listen and reflect the organization back to the community

Represent the community to the organization (via color coded sentiment and topic)

Don’t be the only representative and the sole person or lone voice – (the community should not die when the manager leaves)

Analyst – metrics but teaching people how to derive their own metrics

Product design advocacy – communities require engineering support

Are you human – how much of your own personality do you / are you allowed to inject into the community

In large communities, the members know when they are being shilled

Apologizer – knowing how to apologize well is a very valuable skill

Rodeo Clown – to divert the anger that other members have against each other

This is not a single role – these aspects could be shared into another

A theme this year for many organization is the maturity of the community team inside the organization, and the natural evolution of the community manager role into specializations within the community team. 

Here are a couple:

Curator – what is the answer to this question, how good is this answer, Welcoming (greeter), Policing – vandal control (from wikianswers)

Host – Community Manager – Manager (from apple) – thinking about the difference between on-domain and off-domain communities. This org lives in Support, so difficult to determine Apple’s role in social media esp from Customer Care – particularly because of the strength and

Social properties – tracking conversations, then connecting the community with the organization – community managed by Marketing (VM)


Real Time Feedback Loops
Rich Reader led a discussion about real time feedback loops (more here:

How real time feedback loops contribute to panel discussions – like eating a meal you don’t remember

(Happened at online community meetup as well as Danah Boyd at #w2e)

How do you use real time feedback to increase innovation?

Lots of followers listening into online conversations

What’s the conclusion of a feedback loop – panel has consolidated and synthesized the feedback, written it up and re-circulated it, then re-solicited the team to get further comments

Can increase the audience to widen the inputs – discussion for first week of Feb for Social Media week

New book called the Backchannel – about integrating Social Media into presentations

Posted via web from Social Architect

The tech / social media news cycle: are we cats chasing laser pointers?

Photo attribution:

I often feel like the tech / social media news cycle is a bit like watching cats chase a laser pointer around the room.

On the one hand, I feel like I am in a flow of rich information. One the other hand, I feel like a large amount of data I feel compelled to pay attention to because of "the crowd" is focused on the smallest minutiae: incremental feature & network enhancements, new companies that likely won't be around in 3 years, and flamewar 2.0 dialogues about the state of social media personalities.

What to do? I've tried a couple of things:

In the last month, I have started to lean more on delicious feeds from a small network of folks. I'm also starting to participate with Twine more. The last thing I'm doing is paying attention to favorited tweets from the "SuperFilter" personalities, like @Scoble.

I'm also in the process of reassessing information sources I pay attention to, particularly blogs and tech news sites. For any given day's content stream:
• Will this matter in 3 months? In 36?
• What impact does this information have? Feature, product, company, industry, society? (scale~ from small to large)
• Can I use this information, in a practical sense, for my work?
• Am I (or my clients) missing out by not knowing this? (news item X)

p.s.: I discovered some great pics on flickr if you want to explore the intersection of technology and fluffy cuteness:

What do you think? How are you managing your information stream?

Posted via email from Social Architect

Announcing – Back to Basics: Developing an Online Community Strategy


The topic of online community strategy is one of the things that occupies a large chunk of my mental cycles. I’ve written about a pretty basic process and framework a few times over the years, and I think the baseline concepts have held up well. You can read a couple of relatively recent posts here (I’d love to hear your thoughts):
How to Develop a Community Strategy
Holistic Community Strategy

Why am I Doing This?
I’m very passionate about the opportunities that online communities and social media bring to the table, and I’ve had my fair share of real world experience (10+ years), but the primary reason I want to write this series is pretty simple:
Organizations are still challenged with setting strategy. From our efforts with the Online Community Research Network, we still see that only about 25% of our participant organizations have a comprehensive community strategy in place.

Over the next few weeks, I will explore the following topics, offering my own opinions and insight, data from our ongoing community research, as well as other relevant content from experienced community-building professionals. I’ll also try to post as many templates that I use (or can borrow), where appropriate. In short: I’ll be posting, you will be adding to the discussion, and we will all (hopefully) be making our day to day community practices a little better. I hope that sounds like fun :-)

The Topics
The topics, which generally follow my strategy development process, will be:

1. Goal Definition:
How to assemble an internal stakeholder team and facilitate definition of business goals for the community.

2. Member Needs Research:
Processes and techniques for engaging community members in a process of discovery and conducting member “needs” research.

3. Social Media Ecosystem Research:
Methodology for conducting a discovery exercise of the relevant parts of the social web to find out where your community (or potential community) is already working and playing.

4. Designing an Online Presence Architecture (with a hat tip to Chris Brogan):
Factoring the goals of the business, the needs of the members, and the opportunities in the social media ecosystem to create a presence architecture that maps out where to focus engagements.

5. Engagement Planning:
How to develop content & activity plans for the community, including
–Where: to engage (home, outposts)
–Who: responsible party
–How: specific activity
–When: frequency of activity
–What: expected outcomes (prototypical metrics!)

6. Community Platform Selection:
Guidance on how to select a community platform, along with recent ratings for major platforms.

7. Management & Moderation
An overview of the important and evolving role of the Online Community Manager, building an online community team, and best practices on moderation.

8. Metrics & Reporting
What metrics to collect, what they tell you, who to report them to, and how often.

9. Policy Creation & Roll-out
How to develop community and social media policies that fit your organization, and how to deploy them.

10. Governance
Creating a governance structure in your organization, keeping exective stakeholders informed and engaged, and achieving the right balance of of inter-departmental communication and guidance.

11. Superusers / Elites
A review of the best superusers programs, with a focus on process, identification and incentives.

Again, I would LOVE your feedback on the topics above. My goals is to write an article a week over the next 12-14 weeks. Each article will be labeled “Back to Basics”, and will be tagged #ocb2b

Posted via web from Social Architect

The Real-Time Web: A Short Reading List

A recent series of articles from ReadWriteWeb has spawned discussion here at Forum One of what impact the “real-time web” will have on online communities. Those conversations continue, but I wanted to share our short list of selected readings on the topic from the last 12 months.

Ken Fromm wrote the series of articles about the real-time web, and they can be found here:
The Real-Time Web: A Primer, Part 1,
The Real-Time Web: A Primer, Part 2,
The Real-Time Web: A Primer, Part 3

In the articles, he describes the collection of activities that describe the emerging Real-Time Web:

As with other recent waves of innovation (Web 2.0 and cloud computing, for example) there is no single definition of what the term “real-time Web” means. As a result, it is used as a catch-all phrase for a number of developments underway. At this point, we can identify that the real-time Web…:
1. is a new form of communication,
2. creates a new body of content,
3. is real time,
4. is public and has an explicit social graph associated with it,
5. carries an implicit model of federation.

Other recommended reading:

Google vs. The Real-Time Web
O’Reilly: The Real-Time Web

Real-Time Web Summit
Forum One is working with ReadWriteWeb to promote the Real-Time Web Summit in Mountain View on October 15th. I’ll be there – will you? You can register here. Price is $195 until October 8th.