Me and Sally have been debating copyright. Perhaps a little more heatedly than we should. Her web copy has been stolen and she's furious, as most people would be.
So does she get legal on the thief and have the copy taken down? What about next time? What about if 50 people do it? Or 500? How much time and money can you spend chasing up your copyright? Especially when programs can be written to automatically steal your web copy the second it's published.
What options does she have? If she lets it slide then she risks losing clients who fear their competitors will get the work they're paying for, for free. If she spends her time and money chasing it up, you have to feel that will be at the expense of current client work.
I'm on the unpopular 'change your business model' side of the fence. I think we need to make our work more copyright proof. If you do web copy, maybe you should advise your client to make their products and services so unique it doesn't make sense anywhere else.
Nobody steal's Apple's web copy, nor Dyson's. Their copy wouldn't make sense for anyone else. Nobody steals Tesco's low-prices and uses them on their site neither. The fact that Sally's web copy, especially product descriptions, can be stolen and used on another website says something about the lack of difference between the two companies.
Isn't technology amazing? You can watch the Inbound Marketing Summit Live through my blog. I'm not even there. It's a massive testament to the spread of ideas and technology. Here's the schedule (local time).
Think about this; for your next product launch you might not need to invite anyone. You just need to make sure the right bloggers have the right code at the right time. Incredible stuff.
It’s amazing how easily you can reach your client on the phone when they are paying good money for your services. Money is respect, and good money raises you a few notches on a client’s to-do list.
Is it far-fetched to believe the more you charge, the better co-operation you will have with your client, and the greater the success of the project?
Martin Reed has recently launched a new online community for women.
Martin makes a great point: “when developing any website, you need to accept that it will never be perfect and it will never be ‘finished’. A website is a living entity – it should be continuously developing, maturing and improving.”
If you let a client spend $20,000 building the website, they’re going to want a return on that investment as soon as possible.
Lets the expenses mirror growth. Maybe begin using a free forum. Grow a little, then spend on a new forum, or website. Grow a little more, spend a little more. You can’t be disappointed.
Not everyone seems to know why they want to build an online community. It reminds me of this great video:
Here's my take on it.
Step 1) Build an online community.
Step 2) Ask them what products they want, then make those products. Sell these products to them, and encourage them to sell to their friends.
Step 3) Profit.
Sure there's increased brand loyalty, market research opportunities and cost savings on advertising/PR. But if you need an explanation of what to do with your shiny new online community – this might help. It's easier than collecting underpants.
How about finding the community manager first and letting her scope out out the community a little? Let her develop the online profiles of the audience and then hire the techies…if you need them.
If the people you’re trying to reach only use Facebook, then a dazzling blog with an integrated wiki/YouTube platform, wrapped snugly in the client’s branding, isn’t helpful. Worse, the client will want to use it, because it cost a lot.
The difference, is the community builder has a vested interested in building a thriving community. I like to point to previous communities I’ve built and say “see, I can do this”. A techie wants to point to the best-looking infrastructure possible and say “you see, I build that. It looks great!”.
Which will work best for your business?
Part of the community builder's job is to find and train his/her replacement. You don't want The Apple Dilemma; one great leader propping everything up.
But how do you find your replacement?
Give your community members as many opportunities to put themselves forward. Here are a few ideas:
- Open up forum moderation duties
- Ask for help creating content
- Create a size-limited committee to discuss community issues and strategy.
- Who wants to help create a new logo/design?
- Arrange an interview with your client or someone within your field, and call for questions from the community. Who submits 1? Who submits 5?
- Create new roles, and see who wants them "head of growth", "traffic analyst" hmm..
- Run a campaign. Say you're leaving in 3 months and you need a replacement. The community gets to campaign and vote. Watch out for rifts (and Alaskan pitbulls).
When you find a replacement, or several, be sure to give them responsibility. And some money would be nice too.
Every so often, a big company realises they need to provide their customers with a platform to talk to each other.
It's tempting to launch big, promote heavy and ramp up to 80,000 registered members. I think that's a mistake. The outcome can be a mess that drives either newcomers or existing members away. Here are two different approaches:
1) Launch Elite: Use the big company's connections to recruit the most elite and highly regarded community members possible. Make this a community everyone else wants to join. Then let these people decide who else they want in and the structure.
2) Launch niches: Launch by area, topic, or any other niche. Then go about connecting the niches to each other.
Start small, get the right interactions, the right structure and grow steadily.
A lot of people are arriving here from Seth's blog at the moment, so here are 5 things worth knowing.
- I'm a British community builder. I help companies build online communities and then ride away into the sunset.
- I'm currently working with Seth Godin in New York (until Nov 22).
- I'd love to hear about communities you're building and discussing ideas.
- Offers of work are greatly appreciated, though advance notice helps (unless you urgently need me in Hawaii).
- I'm writing an ebook about building online communities. Could use an editor/feedback.
And here are a few of my favourite posts to get you started:
- 6 things only good community builders can do
- How not to launch an online community
- Should you kick people out of your online community?
- No-one wants to do the hard work
- How to spend a £30m marketing budget
- Building a 12,000 strong community
Hopefully you'll visit again.
So say you hire me to build you an online community.
I do my job well, I build relationships with the key members, tighten the group around me and you pay my invoices on time.
Then one day something goes wrong.
Maybe you pay an invoice late, or I want to up my rates. Does your community belong to you and me? Can you stop me from using my relationships and emigrating with your community? Maybe to your competitors?
It's a predicament. If you don't get involved, you could be in trouble.
So it's best to take an interest. Make sure you get the consultancy, as well as the labour, from your community manager. Why not ask her "so who are the key members?" and drop them a nice e-mail from time to time? Discounts, sneak previews and fancy offers work well.
If you wouldn't give one salesman responsibility for all your big accounts, why would you give your community manager entire responsibility for your community?
I'm flying out from Gatwick to New York tomorrow morning.
Will blog when and where I can.
Whether it's an online community, YouTube competition, Facebook group or even a blog, you need to have a core group of people already there, already engaged.
Chris Brogan thinks you need to plant seeds. Maybe start some conversations for people to get involved when they join. He's right (he always is), but you also need to focus on getting to double-digits before promoting it around the web. I prefer the party metaphor. Imagine inviting hundreds of people to turn up one at a time to a party. If nobody's there, they will leave. It don't matter how good the venue looks, or how tasty the snacks are.
That's why you should always, always, begin you're online marketing efforts by making as many individual interactions as possible. Try to get 10 to 20 people together, and tighten the group a little. Now you can encourage them to invite friends and eventually promoting your online effort. Wait as long as you can possibly afford.
It's easy to take this a step further. Find those 10 – 20 people first, and ask them what sort of community, competition or blog they would like. It's easier to find the first 10 – 20 people then.
No-one turns up to an empty party twice. If you launch with nothing, you're ruining your chances of engaging these people in the future. We only have one shot at getting this right.