I opened the Community 2.0 conference this morning with a few observations about what transpired so far. Personally I was left with the impression that we are facing a series of expectation gaps – many of which are related to language.
The first expectation gap happens between us, community managers, coordinators and facilitators, and corporate management. Much of that gap can be attributed to the “curse of knowledge” – which happens when your language, which is based on your knowledge, is not understood by others. Think about what we’re talking about – engagement, awareness, general marketing benefits, and customer sentiment – take that your CFO… No wonder that corporate management believes that we have a love affair with vague strategies and squishiness.
The second expectation gap is between us and the people who participate in our communities. Think about a successful community that you have participated in. What made it successful? Things like trust, ability to connect with peers, get help, get the right recommendations are probably things that come to mind. Yet as managers you are looking at success by measuring the growth of visitors, pageviews, awareness, etc.
The third expectation gap happens between the community managers and the business people whose business process those communities are supporting – customer support, new product innovation, new product development, etc. If only we could use the same language to evaluate what actually happens in those communities as it relates to those business processes, we would be much better off.
The last issue with language that struck me at the conference was how people make a distinction between B2B and B2C communities. Not too many people talked about B2E (employees) communities – even though they should be considered as low hanging fruit when it comes to leveraging communities to improve your business. More importantly – are any successful communities really B2B, B2C or B2E? Or are they P2P, C2B, C2C, E2E? It may sound like a subtle distinction, but by calling a community a B2C community you may risk to start developing bad behaviors – like running marketing campaigns within your community. That is a B to c activity after all – isn’t it?