IABC International Conference – Tom Keefe

UPDATE: Tom Keefe has posted his slides for this presentation at the IABC Cafe.

Tom Keefe

Tom Keefe tackled the subject Building and online community: New medium, new challenges?

He cited the June 2006 Fast Company cover story, observing that social media sites are growing up and technical barriers are going away.

Most importantly, people are interacting with other people, not just with computers.

Keefe identies three key elements that must be present for community: people with common interests, common location and interaction.

  • Traits that build online community include:
  • Trust: Trust is necessary in both a living and a virtual community. In an online community, trust is built through taking a person’s word that they are who they are.
  • Support: In an online community, one of the biggest things that we give to one another is support. Technical. Practical. Intellectual.
  • Commitment: People must have commitment to post and maintain their content as fresh.

The common element to all communities is communication – communication which spans social, emotional and intellectual dimensions.

He pointed to tagworld, friendster, linkedin as examples of online communities. In particular, ebay has been particularly successful in creating a community with a high trust quotient.

He pointed to the RSA (Royal Society of the Arts) as an example of a successful small-world network.” The small-world network has many advantages over hierarchy:

  • better connected
  • faster responding
  • more fault-tolerant

Social media are being integrated into companies. However, not all forms make sense in all situations. “Walk before you run (or you’ll risk chasing your management away from the idea.)”

He illustrated the challenge of introducting social media into companies by referencing his employer Volkswagen Credit. Externally, Volkswagen Credit is podcasting and has a MySpace presence. Internally, they have RSS availability and some Sharepoint services.

Volkswagen introduced podcasting at the 2006 Detroit Auto Show. Results? They saw a 31.6% click-thru rate for an emil to owners announcing our podcast project. Interveiw podcasts received 13th rank in A&E category

The company produced another podcast for the April 2006 New York AutoShow.

Volkswagen’s presence on MySpace was used for the GTI campaign. They also created MySpace profiles for fast and Helga.

The IT Department has not been enthusiastic about social media. It is important for communicators to work with IT to explain to them how social media can be a benefit to the company.

At present, Volkswagen does not encourage employees or managers to blog. There continues to be a concern about confidentiality within the company. Tom’s own blog is a personal blog.