The business of making communities

On Tuesday I went to Freshnetworks’ session on online communities in retail. Incredibly interesting morning, with 3 different speakers talking about the use of social media from different perspectives:  Helen Trim from Freshnetworks giving her top tips on what to do (and what not to do) in terms of social media;  Joanne Jacobs on measuring return on investment; and James Hart from online fashion site ASOS, talking about the (internal) route to launching the ASOS Life community (apparently launch was this Wednesday so I hope he has recovered now).

For a long while, I used to feel that few people in businesses of any sort really understood what social media did and how it feels – from the inside – to participate.  It was so pleasant listening to these people talk knowledgeably about how to do this.  Helen Trim’s slides in particular nearly made me weep with gratitude.  Yes. This is exactly what it’s like.

Anyway, I chatted to a couple of the delegates who were tussling with the headache-making question of how exactly your brand has a ‘conversation’ with its users.   Can a luxury brand, for example, have any real use for the democratic, tell-it-like-it-is world of social media?  And can you use customer reviews when your CEO has a phobia about negative feedback?

Afterwards I also chatted to the cheerful guys who were making a video of the whole thing.  I may have been overenthusiastic. *facepalm*

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