Monday, 28 June 2010

Enterprise 2.0: Social Media and Community


   The second session on communities was a panel led by Rachel Happe, Principal at the Community Roundtable and featuring:

  • Eran Barak, SVP, Global Head of Community Strategy, Thomson Reuters
  • Matt Johnston, VP of Marketing and Community, uTest
  • Michael Petillo, Enterprise Sales & Marketing Systems Leader, W.L. Gore
  • Megan Murray, Community Manager/Project Coordinator, Booz Allen Hamilton


The terms social media and community are often used interchangeably but they are not the same thing. One has a heavy emphasis on social content and the other is focused on building a tight network of relationships. So which approach is the most appropriate? It depends a lot of the type of relationships desired with the targeted constituent group. It also has a huge impact on operations -- tools, integration needs, policies, processes, and the management techniques employed. Come find out why this distinction matters and learn how three different types of companies are approaching the challenge of socializing their organizations.


Supporting the earlier workshop, the panel agreed that the word Community tends to be used too freely.  Communities aren’t just loosely affiliated groups.  There’s a difference between a crowd and a community – communities have deeper levels of connection and trust.

However, the key focus of this session, for me at least, was that choices re community depend on the context – whether the situation is B2B. B2C etc.  There are lots of choices but no right answers.


Eran Barak discussed Thomson Reuters support for tons of microcommunities (300k members in 6000 companies) all with different needs that the company is bringing together for content and expertise, forming an ecosystem

Matt Johnston talked about his community of 30,000 software testers that basically form the uTest business.  Community management is critical but they only have 2 people to manage it.

Michael Petillo explained that Gore has a social organisation the introduction of technology. It has a unique culture which influences all of their interactions internally with other associates and externally with partners and customers. It governs how they work together and collaborate.

Megan Murray talked about Booz’ which includes 495 internal communities, 25k people, most outside the building, working in a partnership model (also see my conversation with Thomas Stewart about this).  Booz consultants have different areas of focus but overlapping skills.  However the firm found finding people difficult so it created social spaces to make this happen.  People also come together around a passion or a problem – things they are interested in the most.  You put together new person x and new person y and this may result in a new capability all together.


Some of the key points made by the panelists include:

  • The distance between nodes - how connected and how tight it is - influences how fast the community can move.
  • There is value in lexiconical analysis of what community members are saying – it provides context of what you want to achieve.
  • Managers often worry about people engaging in chit chat.  But often this is part of something else, eg the post mortem of a business transaction  And the chit chat is what leads to trust – not the transaction.
  • You can identify the NPV of a network by how many connection there are, how often people tweet, and by identifying the people who connect one part to another – structural holes, weak ties etc.
  • It’s useful to identify the influencers of broadcasters – the broadcasters don’t have time but the influencers probably do.
  • You can’t be prescriptive - forcing people into groups is a recipe for disaster.  When you’re setting up space you can be specific about what needs to get done but allow room for emergence.


You might like to check out the Rountable’s own link to the session – which includes a pic from my own conference proposal (not sure why!):


See my other reviews from the conference at



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