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4/20/2012
01:35 PM
David F Carr
David F Carr
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A BrainYard Experiment: Let's Have A Social Conversation

As editor of the BrainYard, a news site about social collaboration in the enterprise, I know I'm supposed to be an expert on this--but how do I get you, the reader, to talk more on and about this website?

11 Management Systems That Can Help You Get A Handle On Social
11 Management Systems That Can Help You Get A Handle On Social
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Community managers and social media marketing mavens, help me out, please.

One of my goals for 2012 is to increase the volume and quality of the social media conversation on and about The BrainYard. That includes getting more activity in the comments on our stories, here on the website, as well as more sharing and liking and tweeting on the social web. Of course, these are the same goals every website has, not to mention every competing Web publication.

I just think we ought to be doing a lot better at being social on a site dedicated to social media. I'm asking for your suggestions, and your critiques.

[ Is it just luck? See Science Probes Why Tweets Go Viral. ]

In particular, I'm disappointed that we don't get more comments on the news and analysis stories that appear on The BrainYard. This story is going to be an exception, right? Tons of comments? Help me out, here.

At first, I thought there might be technical issues with the commenting system, and maybe that was true at some point. That excuse went away when The BrainYard and other sites in the InformationWeek family moved to Disqus, particularly once it was fine-tuned for easy single sign-on from any social media identity. I like Disqus and have used it successfully on other websites, but still I'm not seeing the explosion in comments and profile pictures I'd like to see at the bottom of articles here.

Even when our writers end a column with a request for comments, as Debra Donston-Miller did with her piece on social tech leaders on the Time 100 list, the response is often underwhelming. Why is that? Comment below, please.

Possibly, we should be doing more to invite readers to talk about what they want to talk about -- not necessarily just in the form of comments on stories.

A few months ago, Ted Hopton, community manager for our parent company UBM, had me read the book Online Community Management for Dummies by Deborah Ng. Although the title didn't suggest a lot of confidence, it was a good primer, and I read it in a weekend. It gave me a better understanding of the job of nurturing and moderating comments, but I'm still working on how to translate that into action.

At one time, we discussed creating a more active online community, aimed at fostering conversation that would go beyond just comments on our own articles. Our most ambitious plans, which involved fielding a public Jive community, have not come to pass -- partly because I recognized that trying to take on the community manager job in addition to my editorial duties probably was not a recipe for success. It sounded more like one of the case studies I've written about what not to do.

Instead, I've been trying to stir up some conversation on The BrainYard's Facebook page (see below).

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Rosemary ONeill
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Rosemary ONeill,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/23/2012 | 6:10:34 PM
re: A BrainYard Experiment: Let's Have A Social Conversation
The cobbler's children have no shoes, right?

One thought I have (since I'm a frequent reader and infrequent commenter) is that the site feels like a broadcast channel, not a community. No faces of members popping up, and if I go to your Twitter feed, it's pure broadcast channel, no replies or mentions at all. It feels very robotic. No one wants to sit down and have a rousing convo with a robot. I'd loosen the tie a bit. Just my two cents, thanks for asking :)
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
4/23/2012 | 8:38:53 PM
re: A BrainYard Experiment: Let's Have A Social Conversation
Thanks for the input. I haven't put the same effort into personalizing the @thebyard Twitter feed as I have on the Facebook page. Just a matter of picking a starting point and trying to build from there.
MyW0r1d
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MyW0r1d,
User Rank: Strategist
4/23/2012 | 8:56:55 PM
re: A BrainYard Experiment: Let's Have A Social Conversation
You know, it used to be there were only one or two icons to like, print, email, tweet, etc. now look at the string. Your article has them all over but the tone is "hey I'm social why don't you like me?" What would your friends in the hood do to an expression like that? "Wierd, like totally." Social media is because it is. I click on the Facebook like button because someone asked me to help them or the comment like because I agree with the post. The definition of your site is not a social media site but an analysis center of social media sites. So your audience are not members of the social media sites to contribute but those who manage them (if they have the time or inclination to do so and help their competitors?). Might be a good idea in an academic setting, a curriculum item for a SM class. Finally, do you really like the name "the BrainYard"? Just some opinions or thoughts for reflection.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
4/23/2012 | 10:52:22 PM
re: A BrainYard Experiment: Let's Have A Social Conversation
OK, so mock me, why don't you? Seriously, I appreciate the feedback.

Unofficially, I can tell you we're likely to change that "the community for social business" tagline, acknowledging that this is an editorial website not a community in and of itself. Still, I think it would be helpful to build some more community features and sense of community around it. A healthy news website ought to include feedback, comments, and critiques for starters.

As for the name "The BrainYard," I didn't pick it, but I've slowly grown fonder of it. It is distinctive. I always envision cartoon brains being shuttled around a Conjunction Junction rail yard.
RobGarciaSJ
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RobGarciaSJ,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/24/2012 | 5:10:14 AM
re: A BrainYard Experiment: Let's Have A Social Conversation
I follow you guys. I enjoy the content you guys put together. I should be commenting in at least 3 out of 5 posts you put out... the reality is a different one. Here's why:
-Disqus is awesome, but you hide it behind a "UBM TechWeb Log-in"
-The said UBM TechWeb login sucks big time... it's so 1990s. Seriously.
-Your site looks like a blog, and blogs are, in general terms, not receiving comments lately. This is a general trend: most of the coversations are going on on twitter or Facebook. There are some plug ins that allow you to "track" those conversations and embed them into your site.
-Agree with the other commenters that perhaps you don't want to become a "social" site. If you do genuinely want to host conversations, perhaps the format needs to chance.

Hope this helps!

Rob @UpMo
Lexirodrigo
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Lexirodrigo,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/24/2012 | 1:26:14 PM
re: A BrainYard Experiment: Let's Have A Social Conversation
I think the biggest problem is that we need to register to the site before we're able to comment. Few are so committed (as I am) to commenting on your blog as to go through the trouble.

As for Disqus, I utterly hate it. As do many other people. I usually abandon commenting altogether if the blog uses Disqus.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
4/24/2012 | 2:41:12 PM
re: A BrainYard Experiment: Let's Have A Social Conversation
I'm belatedly realizing that our Disqus integration is not where I thought it was, or where I would like it to be, in terms of social sign-on. The experience of logging in as a moderator is familiar enough that I didn't realize some of the other functions I was used to had been disabled for the sake of integration with our registration system. It took your feedback for me to realize I needed to switch to a different browser and go through the steps of registering as a new user. I'm working on getting that process streamlined, at least.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
4/24/2012 | 2:41:54 PM
re: A BrainYard Experiment: Let's Have A Social Conversation
What is it that you dislike about Disqus?
RobGarciaSJ
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RobGarciaSJ,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/24/2012 | 4:05:50 PM
re: A BrainYard Experiment: Let's Have A Social Conversation
Exactly. Sign up as a user, you'll see the experience is different. But it's not Disqus, it's the other stuff IW puts in front of it (advertising for subscription, etc). I makes it the opposite of a delightful social experience to first timners.
RobGarciaSJ
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RobGarciaSJ,
User Rank: Apprentice
4/24/2012 | 4:11:09 PM
re: A BrainYard Experiment: Let's Have A Social Conversation
Antoher thing I just noticed, David: in all other places where I use Disqus, my comments are linked back to my twitter account, as well as my profile picture is sucked in. Not happening here. Perhaps a configuration issue? or a user error?
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