The Lithosphere is 1 year old today!
It seems like it was just a sort time ago, but so much has happened. Of course, time past is only one way of looking at the community and what we've achieved - so I thought I'd share a couple of other numbers from the last year that you might be interested in:
Over 5 million page views Over 2.2 million user sessions
About 620 user registrations
Number of new members registered last month: 93
Nearly 500 forum threads started, with over 1400 replies
170+ ideas submitted, with over 300 comments (since November '08)
8 ideas have been implemented, with 14 more under consideration
200+ blog articles,with at least 235 comments
Includes 10 guest posts and 6 interviews
There have been over 33,000 searches
The top search term of all time is 'restapi' (over 8000 times!)
Number of forum posts on the Rest API: about 120
Number of times JakeR stepped up to answer a REST question: at least 20
Number of forum posts on ranks: about 127
There have been over 7 webcasts, and 9 web cast speakers and moderators have participated on the community
1 major upgrade, and about 7 or so minor ones
2 major design changes
Uses of the word Lithosphereans: 4
Number of times it has been misspelled: 2 (my fault)
Number of ranks currently in use: 23
Comments on the pink rank names: 4
Comments on the gray rank names afterwards: 4
Over 50 accepted solutions, which have been viewed over 50,000 times
Members have given out over 1700 kudos
Last week: MoniqueL (3)
Last month: JohnnyJigsaw (14)
Last year: Mark_Hopkins (164)
...and 7 All-Star members recognized at the customer conference last May!
Avatar pictures I've had: 4
Minutes I've spent on the community: 102012 and still going
Moments of apprehension: a few
Moments of amazement and pure joy: too many to count
My thanks to each and every one of you for all that you've done to make this community a welcoming and helpful place - it's really because of you that we achieved what we have to date!
Here's hoping for many happy returns in the years to come!
Photo by Pink Sherbet Photography
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You may have noticed recently that a number of guests have put in an appearance here, discussing the myriad benefits their businesses are reaping from their communities. And as much as I'd like to believe that their controllers and CFOs are avid readers of my musings on this blog, sadly this is unlikely to be the case.
No, it is of course the Forrester Research Groundswell Awards that are once again upon us, and Lithium has ten customers submitting their communities for consideration. As you may (or may not) know, the Awards are arranged into categories under the B2B and B2C segments; those categories being based on the Groundswell book by Forrester analysts Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. Our customer's communities span multiple segments and categories this year - be sure to take a look at all the entries when you get a chance.
Here are our customers' entries by category:
Business to Consumer:
SUPPORTING. Help customers support each other to solve each other's problems.
Best Buy http://groundswelldiscussion.com/groundswell/awards2009/detail.php?id=113
Future Shop http://groundswelldiscussion.com/groundswell/awards2009/detail.php?id=189
Lexar Media (Crucial.com) http://groundswelldiscussion.com/groundswell/awards2009/detail.php?id=81
Linksys by Cisco http://groundswelldiscussion.com/groundswell/awards2009/detail.php?id=128
Business to Business:
SUPPORTING. Help customers support each other to solve each other's problems.
Pitney Bowes http://groundswelldiscussion.com/groundswell/awards2009/detail.php?id=144
EMBRACING. Integrate customers into the way a business works, including using their help to design products and improve processes.
SPREADING. Get customers or users within a company to encourage others to adopt a product or service. (B2B only.)
Juniper Networks http://groundswelldiscussion.com/groundswell/awards2009/detail.php?id=176
Of course there are many worthy entries posted on the Groundswell site for your review (though we have our favorites, to be sure). The winners will be announced in mid-October, and will be honored at the Forrester Consumer Forum and online later that month.
So what can you do to make sure your favored candidate wins? Votes help, so be sure to view the submissions and submit your choices! And if you have an inclination to post a review, that would be helpful too.
But hey, this is the groundswell after all! I'm sure some of you (and I'm not naming names) happen to be connected to some especially active folks in your communities. They just might be predisposed to help spread the word and get out the vote if you ask. After all, none of these communities would be candidates for this prestigious honor without their support - this is their hour to shine as well!
So spread the word! And congratulations to the entire list of candidates this year - each and every one of you has ample reason to celebrate! And good luck!
Photo by e_calamar
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The CRM Evolution 2009 in New York has passed, and I missed it. But this is the world of social media after all, so you can be sure it was tweeted and blogged by many.
But Lithium was well represented - our own Haresh Kumar was among the team to attend, and collected the following impressions from the Lithium folks in attendance:
Here are some of the highlights gathered from Evolution CRM conference:
1) Speakers and attendees are well aware of the presence of social media and the impact it has on the brands. It was particularly enjoyable being the cool new company on the block and translating the social interactions to the business value that we provide. Our innovative approach was awarded the Rising Star award by CRM Magazine (along with Google and Facebook).
2) Great to see evidence of the broad deployment/impact of social not only for businesses, but in the public sector as Brian Komar of Center for American Progress described how they were beginning to integrate social with their CRM systems http://www.americanprogress.org/
3) It was very interesting to see the various levels of participation by the attendees and their significant use of social media for business applications. Their insightful questions stirred some interesting conversations around how to best manage customer conversations and best practices around it.
4) There was the usual dichotomy between "backward looking" and "forward looking" ways of looking at the world. One school of thought, typified by Bill Band, was that you ask people what things have the most traction in organizations - which means what have people spent a lot of money and effort on over the past five years - and then tell others to do those things. The other can be somewhat breathless, but it says, "The whole world is changing and everything is new." Lithium is, I think, well positioned because we take a pragmatic and business-oriented approach to the new, and retain ties to the old.
Thanks Haresh for compiling these and sharing them with us! I'm making my plans for next year, and hoping I'll see you there!
Did you attend the CRM Evolution - what was your impression?
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One final entry into the upcoming Forrester Groundswell awards, graciously shared here for the benefit of our members!
Please welcome to the blog Thierry Hay-Sabourin, Senior Manager of eCommerce for Future Shop, as he describes how the Future Shop customer community helps the company's online channel, Futureshop.ca, extend the company's brand promise of trusted, personalized service:
Future Shop is Canada's largest retailer and e-tailer of consumer electronics. With over 141 stores from coast-to-coast and over $3.7 billion in annual revenue, Future Shop is dedicated to providing customers with expert technology advice both in stores and online.
Canada's #1 Technology Community
Future Shop's overall goal is to deliver trusted, personalized service with the customer in mind. The company's online channel, Futureshop.ca, strives to extend the company's brand promise with its mandate "to deliver an expert guided experience for customers that creates loyalty, trust, and customers for life."
Futureshop.ca is executing on its mandate with a Lithium-powered online community called the Future Shop Community Forum whose motto is "Connect, Share, Learn." The Future Shop customer community is Canada's #1 community of technology and consumer electronics enthusiasts. With over 110,000 members and 190,000 posts to date, the community is thriving with a four-fold growth in traffic over the last year. Best Buy, Future Shop's parent company, recognized the forward-thinking nature and success of the community with the company's $1 million Chairman's Innovation Award.
Future Shop’s Tech Blog has also been critical to providing customers with the latest news, reviews, how-to’s and commentary from Future Shop’s expert blog team. Updated daily, each article is fed to Twitter (@FS_Connect) where bloggers and their followers retweet the most interesting posts.
Future Shop's community is available in both English and French, has 14 key discussion categories ranging from home theatre to home office to appliances, with some boards boasting over 15,000 posts to date. The community's main target audience is consumers, but the site also serves merchants and vendors who are able to gather direct customer feedback, and in-store Product Experts. Not only can Product Experts increase their personal brand equity by helping customers online, they also have an opportunity to improve their product knowledge and learn from customers and each other. Future Shop encourages them to log-in to the community from kiosks on the store floor.
As proof of the community's importance and support within the organization, several hundred recipients including Future Shop's top management receive a weekly report that includes key activity statistics and highlights issues and hot topics. With its high degree of visibility, the community is quickly becoming a go-to vehicle for departments across Future Shop to accomplish business goals:
Customer Support: The community helped build a self-service knowledge base that customers tap into to find answers to product information questions, helping them make more informed purchase decisions and get post-purchase support.
Marketing: Marketing not only amplifies promotions through the community, but also reaches out to the community as a key source of product input and feedback. For example, the project manager of a new marketing program tapped the community to suggest program features and names. The community also enhances Future Shop's brand image of expertise.
Corporate Communications: Corporate communications uses the community to keep its finger on the pulse of Future Shop customer sentiment. Should an issue bubble up in the community, it can be investigated, addressed, and de-escalated in a matter of hours.
Recruiting: Recruiting reaches out to the community, a natural pool of Future Shop sales talent, to bolster holiday season and general recruiting efforts. An engaged contributor in the French community was hired through this system in large part due to his participation in the community - which impressed his manager a great deal.
Keys to Success: Innovation and Promotion
With its community, Futureshop.ca took an innovative approach to extending the Future Shop brand promise of personalized service and product expertise online. The company paired its customer community with a virtual product expert - an avatar named Aaron or Fred, depending on whether you prefer English or French - who serves as a user-friendly gateway to and promoter of the community for new users.
Aaron (or Fred) lives on the Futureshop.ca homepage, and encourages users to "Ask an Expert" if they have a technology-related question. The avatar helps users find answers by scanning conversation threads and highlighting relevant information, and if the user doesn't find the answer they're looking for, they can ask Aaron to post their question to the appropriate discussion board in the community. This facilitated approach to new user engagement has contributed significantly to the community's growth and popularity.
Future Shop actually began to build momentum for its community right out of the gate by executing a well-planned launch. In addition to garnering coverage by print and online media and key blog sites, Future Shop enticed users to visit the community by inviting them to an online debate between well-known technology experts. Future Shop continues to promote the community with strong visibility on the homepage and by syndicating to key department pages a "Hot Threads" widget that highlights relevant discussions.
Bringing the Community to Life
Future Shop prides itself on being on the leading edge of innovation, a spirit which helped bring the community to life. That said, the idea of a customer community, let alone pairing it with a virtual product expert avatar, wasn't instantly embraced internally. I, along with my colleague Robert Pearson, Vice President of e-Commerce for Future Shop, had to scrape resources together from a number of different areas, navigate around roadblocks, constantly communicate with internal influencers, and convince a lot of nay-sayers that this was the right direction to take. In the end, the project not only got completed, it won the support of the entire organization.
Managing a Thriving Community
Because of the prominent role the community plays in the success of Future Shop, the company leverages moderation services from Lithium to augment their team. Active moderation ensures that Future Shop always has its hand on the pulse of community sentiment and is never in the position of playing catch-up on what's going on in the community.
In addition to oversight by a Future Shop community manager and Lithium moderators, the community benefits tremendously from a key group of highly engaged community members, or superusers, who are frequent contributors to discussions. These superusers volunteer their time to participate in a welcoming committee for new members, create their own widgets and tools that benefit the community (e.g. a widget that displays a user's posts broken down by discussion category), and provide feedback on proposed site enhancements. Future Shop recognizes its superusers with "Kudos King or Queen" contests, gift cards, and simple thank-yous.
Thank you Thierry for coming here and sharing your community with ours!
Be sure to visit the Future Shop community when you get a chance to see for yourselves: http://www.futureshop.ca/marketing/community/default.asp?langid=EN&logon=&langid=EN
Note: updated 9/2 to include the Future Shop blog and correct some of the numbers quoted.
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Long time residents of the Lithosphere know that when we have a webcast here at Lithium it can mean only one thing. Yep, it's your chance to ask follow-up questions of the speakers and discuss it here in the community!
Today's featured guests: Lois Townsend, Manager of Social Media Strategy and Operations at HP and Natalie Petouhoff, Ph.D, Senior Analyst at Forrester Research Inc.
The topic: The New Customer Service Imperative: Driving ROI with Peer-to-Peer Social Networks
Best practices for using social media to reduce expenditures on costly support channels
How to obtain feedback, identify emerging product issues, and improve support content from your customer network
Key steps for building your business case and measuring results
A huge thanks to both our speakers for sharing their experience and research during the webcast, and also for coming back to the Lithosphere community afterwards to participate!
Once you've seen the webcast or the video, you can continue the discussion and ask additional questions here on the community!
This discussion board will be read-only after September 18th, so be sure to stop by before then to join in!
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