I am sitting at the back of an auditorium at the Red Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, where everyone just shared a champage toast to kick off Community 2.0. In a couple of hours, I will be moderating a panel entitled "Lessons Learned from Non-Business Environments." The panelists: Craig Newmark, Scott Meyer, and Alexandra Samuel.
The topic intrigues me. First, as a Silicon Valley PR professional, I am often asked for advice on community-based marketing. I have strong opinions and biases on this topic.
And as many of you know, I write an almost weekly column on cliches in the workplace, and if there is one word that is under great stress these days, it is probably community. A fair number of people in my world have wondered if marketers are using the word to whitewash their commercial interests. Perhaps that's true ... sometimes. But I think there's a simpler explanation. As marketing and communications continues to socialize, the rules of business and society will collide. And, of course, when rules collide, language collides. I do believe that marketers are using the word community too loosely, but not because they are evil, but because they have not taken enough time to closely examine the word in the business context.
The panel I am moderating looks at the two worlds in question -- the business world and the non -business world. In addition to looking at best practices, I will ask the panel to also discuss
(1) What is community?
(2) Does business have any business using this word?
(3) Assuming the answer is sometimes yes, what are the rules of engagement -- best practices, worst practices, ideas for the future?