Life. Then Strategy

My Ignite presentation about building communities

Presenting at Ignite was really, really cool. It has inspired me to never make a crap presentation or sit on a boring panel EVER again (hold me to it). Here’s the presentation with a quick dump quasi-verbatim of my main points. Would love your feedback.

If you’re putting a presentation together yourself, you may like to read these
8 tips for your Ignite presentation.

Slide 1: Intro

Slide 2: I make a joke about how you and I both don’t like 50 Cent but to not confuse 50 Cent with the hip hop culture I’ve been connected to. It’s really funny.

Slide 3: In 1999 I established Stealth Magazine. The magazine was dedicated to underground, independent hip hop culture. We became full colour, attached a bonus CD-Rom and, at one time, had global distribution (through the likes of Tower Records)

Slide 4: The website was set up in 2000 but has been running primarily as a message board since around 2004. In 2008, these were some of our statistics… I didn’t get to spend a lot of time on the website last year – possibly 2-4 hours per month. These stats are from Google Analytics.

Slide 5: Since 2002, we’ve had a message board on the website. These are the stats. Compared to more mainstream music website, the number of members is relatively low but they’re highly engaged and a lot of them are in the scene – making music, painting, writing, etc. 70% of our members have posted at least once.

Slide 6: So, who’s this? This is Dr Dre a few years before he joined NWA and became a gangster rapper. The point: credibility is earn-able. It’s easy to lose but it is achievable.

Slide 7: And the best way to become credible – in any scene – is to pay your dues. Work hard for the cause, get your skills up, learn the language, love it. A bit of self-martyrdom will prove your point – whether that’s poster-ing for your event at 4am or organising a free gig for a bunch of other groups to perform at.

Slide 8: Influence is easy to mis-read if you’re new to a scene or are an outsider. You need to take time – watch, learn, listen. Once you understand who the constructively influential people are, collaborate with them… but be focused and selective.

Slide 9: When I was younger, I used to come across these guys in their 30s who’d surround themselves with teenagers. I’d call them King of the Kids. As a group, they’re loud, look big, look influential but they’re very difficult to collaborate with in any meaningful way. They’re not what I’d call constructively influential.

Slide 10: Anonymity is antithesis to community. Whether you’re a brand or an individual, put your name to stuff and expect the same from the community you’re building. Don’t ‘seed’ ‘viral’ stuff anonymously – that’s just fast food, high-sugar diet advertising. Put your name to everything you believe in or don’t do it. Relationships take effort and time.

Slide 11: I believe that accountability drives authenticity. If you know my real name or my stage name (one that I am attached to), if you know where I live, if you know where I hang out, chances are that I’ll be more ‘real’ with you. This is one reason I used to insist that people who wrote for Stealth (unless they were known figures) use their real names. It makes people accountable to their ideas.

Slide 12: Authenticity leads to stickier relationships because we all know what we’re buying into with each other (same with brands – don’t be vanilla!). And then the outcome of all of that is an engaged, real community… one that believes in itself, in its members.

Slide 13: Drama and conflict – as long no physical threats are made – can actually build community. It forces fast thinking and changing about ideas, it brings people together – even if just a sub-set of the community. It brings website traffic, new readers, new thinking.

Slide 14: We’ve had a tonne of beef on the message board over the years. One of the weirder stories started with the community dissing a book about the local hip hop scene in 2003. In 2004, a journalist then got dissed about an article he wrote. The academic (from 2003) read the journalist diss and then wrote a 17-page article on the social hierarchy of the board, quoting people at length. The community found the article, dissed the academic again, and, finally, the academic joined the conversation. Interesting.

Slide 15: Another key thing about running a community is the realisation that it’s not about you. It’s about them, your members. You need to facilitate, inspire, encourage. A light touch most often is all that’s required.

Slide 16: This J-Curve from Bazaar Voice was from some research they did across thousands of consumer reviews. It shows that people are mostly positive when they express themselves online. It’s not hardcore research and has plenty of limitations but it supports my gut feeling that communities of people are mostly optimistic.

Slide 17: And because they’re optimistic, you can find the active and responsible ones and invite them to become regulators… as well as allow the community to self-regulate. A community’s vested interest is in it working well. A swing to the negative for a period of time will correct itself.

Slide 18: Get off the computer and meet your community face to face. Offline interaction builds online interaction.

Slide 19: Events are a great way to do this because they create content opportunities, generate traffic, show what you stand for, ferment shared experiences.

Slide 20: The points in summary:
1. Pay your dues
2. Understand the dynamics of influence
3. Keep it real
4. Non-physical beef is ok
5. Pass the mic
6. Let people self-regulate
7. Get off the computer

Slide 21: But the secret to everything we do… is this Flavor Flav quote:
“All you gotta do is just stay positive and love people. Whatever you give away is going to come back ten times. So, if you give it away with intentions of trying to swindle somebody, in the long run, you may get it but it ain’t gonna last you a long time. But if you give it from your heart ’cause you know this is what must be done that’s when shit can happen.'” Full Flavor Flav interview.

Looking for more presentations? Try:
Social media (aka Don’t use social media)
Twitter. WTF? (ideas about Twitter for personal use)

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