SXSWi2009: From Flickr and Beyond: Lessons in Community Management

Panelists: Heather Champ – flickr, Mario Anima – CurrentTV, Matthew Stinchcomb – Etsy, Jessamyn West – MetaFilter (aside – LIBRARIANS ROCK), and Micah Schaffer – YouTube

Excellent – Jessamyn introduced the Metafilter part of her jobs, then mentioned I’m a public librarian in my day job. Awesomeness.

Metafilter didn’t have moderation for about the first 5 years. Started out as some dude’s blog, and grew from there. They recently added flagging, to mark content as breaking the guidelines.

Youtube – harder to perceive trends as they grew. They’re figuring out how to do it by slicing metrics in different ways

Etsy – Challenge – how to grow big but to stay small at the same time. A goal – make sre they’re having a dialogue. Have to remember the community is king before they do anything.

CurrentTV – they have different types of communities, ie., viewers and producers – they have to balance that.

They all mentioned mean names their communities have called them at times.

The YouTube guy – probably speaking the truth about YouTUbe – but he’s talking about bikinis and sex a lot. His point was that their site has a diversity of content, and sometimes you might not want, say, a bikini to mix with your hedgehog videos.

(aside – dude – don’t sit by two women and say “the internet’s about sex” and talk about liking bikini videos. Just sayin.

CurrentTV guy talks about content of conversations. IE., your comment will be taken down if you say “I will hunt you down …” etc. They actually say edit that out, and we’ll put it back up.

YouTube – criticism is good. They have to balance good, constructive criticism with crazy person criticism.

Flickr – Heather has learned when NOT to respond. She lets craxy people “dig their hole to crazy town” by not responding – it allows the community to notice and ignore the crazy person.

CurrentTV has multiple ways to deliver feedback – email, twitter, video responses, etc.

Etsy agrees – communicate in as many ways as possible.

YouTube – realize you’ll have to adapt your policies and guidelines as your site and your product evolve.

Etsy – people use site and communicate in ways you don’t expect – because of that, they have to revisit their policies every few months.

Metafilter – be able to explain your rules, and why you think that rule is a good one

Q&A now:

Q: How do you get community engagement in flickr?

A: You get what you give. You have to participate in groups for example. I’d add that you have to have a real community / network first – they’ll view and comment. Also wondering if he’s actually ASKED for comments?

Q: Does YouTube delete comments?

A: Their community guidelines apply to comments. Comments are the lowest barrier to entry at YouTube – it’s easy.

A: Allow members to determine what’s ok and what’s not.

Q: question about being logged in and being stupid …

A: Etsy – login name is same as their shop name, so your reputation follows you big time.

Q: Clay Shirky asked a question – funniest thing with community disagreeing with them…

A: Jessamyn – they banned someone, community started an “unban this user” …

A: Etsy – the Etsy 5 thing …

A: CurrentTV – a guy constantly complained a lot, then “asked for a divorce”

Q: what happens when another user community invades your own

A: flickr … you have to protect your own community first, really watch it – she gave a few examples. She calls them community crashers

Attracting Friends, Part 1

A couple posts ago, I suggested that libraries stop friending other libraries and to focus instead on their local community. (aside – If you need/want to connect with other librarians, that’s great – make your own personal account for that).

Now, on to how? What are the different ways one can friend others in popular social networking sites, and how can you find and attract friends in each? That’s a bit more difficult, and takes a bit more work. I’ll take a couple of posts and give some pointers (and would love for you to join in and suggest your own idea,s too!).

Here are some general ideas that work for most of the new social networking tools:

  • Setting goals (have I mentioned this one enough?). You need to figure out what you want to achieve with your twitter/facebook/etc account. Do this first!
  • Focus on a target audience – it might help to focus on a target audience, rather than to focus on a generic “patron.”
  • Be human, instead of a stuffy organization. @Zappos and @Timbuk2 do this well in Twitter – when you send them a question or comment about their product, you generally get a real, live person replying, being helpful, answering questions, etc. (hmm… that sorta sounds like a reference librarian).
  • Good content rules! Make interesting posts/tweets/updates
  • Advertise/promote it! Think business cards in the library, articles in the library newsletter, etc.
  • Link to it on your website, and explain what it is and why I should care.
  • Find out where people who use these tools hang out, and go there. And post flyers, pass out cards with your social networking info on it, etc. in those establishments (I’m thinking bulletin board in a coffee shop here).
  • Teach classes on the tool. Show attendees how to set up an account, and how to follow the library. Instant followers!
  • Even better – do the same thing at a local chamber brown bag lunch or other business oriented gathering. Show them how the library can meet real needs via these tools.
  • Library programs/events? Take the first 2 minutes and push it there.
  • Colleges/high schools nearby? Put an ad in their newspapers.
  • How about a local newspaper or local magazine? Put an ad there or check into writing an article for them (better yet, a weekly tech column).

You might have noticed that most of my suggestions on getting friends for social networking tools … doesn’t involve using the tool to make friends. Instead, it’s all about YOU leaving the library and meeting your community. Getting out of the building. Actively introducing your community to these tools. Or even talking to peole inside your library that you notice use the tools.

That’s the hard part – lots of walking and talking and meeting people, physically and digitally. But it will pay off.

Next post – I’ll look at some specifics of finding friends by using the tools – Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Flickr.

Now – on to your ideas. How do you get friends with social networking tools? Have I left off anything?

photo credit

Update: This is part of my slowly-growing series on organization-based friending in social networks. Here’s what I have so far:

Testing Flickr Video

Hey – just me, testing out the embed part of the new flickr video option. The what??? If you haven’t heard – flickr now allows video uploads for pro members (translation – those who have paid $30 a year for a flickr pro account).

The limitations? Not overly produced (I think the idea is to upload those videos people take with their phones); 90 seconds max in length (you can do a lot in that time frame); and only certain video formats are allowed – if you’re interested, you can read more about the specifics here.