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BREAKING NEWS: They made Spam better.
Creative Commons License photo credit: brownpau

In July, I discussed the Sports Legends Challenge saga a bit and I posted an investigative piece on my personal blog outlining the unethical tactics they used. Suffice to say, it’s spam, spam and more spam. Not just spam, but devious, misleading spam. And tons of it.

But, I got to thinking… let’s say that someone who did this turned to me or even to you and said “please help us clean this up.” What would you do? Where would you start?

I pulled together a panel of friends to help me analyze the situation. They are Brandon Eley, Interactive Director at Kelsey Advertising  & Design, founder of online shoe retailer 2BigFeet.com and co-author of “Online Marketing Inside Out”; Jeremy Wright, CEO at digital strategy agency netmobs, co-founder of b5media and author of “Blog Marketing”; Jason Falls, principal at Social Media Explorer and Martin Reed of community management blog Community Spark and the administrator of the JustChat.co.uk, Female Forum and Soap Forum communities.

The result is an article on my personal site that I hope lays out a strong blueprint that would allow such a company or individual to make an attempt at restoring their brand.

I’d like to know your thoughts, too. What else can or should they do? What would you do different? Please let me know in the comments.

Social Media Business ForumShortly after I get back from Blog World Expo 2009, I’ll be heading to Durham, North Carolina for the Social Media Business Forum at the North Carolina Central University School of Education. It’s being organized by Kipp Bodnar of Howard, Merrell & Partners, Wayne Sutton of OurHashtag, Ryan Boyles of IBM and Jeff Cohen of OurHashtag.

My specific presentation(s) are not yet set, but the speaking lineup looks really cool and includes people like Jason Falls of Social Media Explorer, Wayne, Kipp, Jason Keath of Social Fresh, Angela Benton of BlackWeb20.com, Laurie Smithwick of kirtsy and others.

If you’re interested in attending, the early bird registration of $125 runs through September 18. After that, it’ll be $250. I look forward to seeing you there.

wp-greet-boxDoes your online community receive a lot of traffic from sites that are big on link sharing? For example:

  • Social bookmarking sites like delicious and StumbleUpon.
  • Social news sites like Digg.
  • Social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.
  • Microblogging services like Twitter.
  • Social aggregators like FriendFeed.
  • Or any site that allows and encourages people to easily share links – perhaps sites with a focus on the niche that your community is based on.

If you do, you should consider installing a WordPress plugin. “But, Patrick,” you say. “My site doesn’t run WordPress.” I thought you might say that!

The plugin I am talking about is called WP Greet Box. In short, it recognizes visitors who are coming from these social sites and shows them a custom message that you set, inviting them to subscribe to your site or share content with the site they came from.

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I recently took some time away. Literally three weeks without logging into my forums. And guess what? They were still there when I got back!

Regardless of what you do, what your profession is, what your hobbies are; sometimes, we can get wrapped up a little too much where we think something needs us every single day and cannot live without us. “I can’t leave – what might happen?!”

This is one of the reasons you want to have moderators or staff members of some kind because a smart staff member is golden at these times. If you don’t have one, it’s likely that your community is fairly small and might be OK without you for a while. Or, if you’d like, you could ask a trusted friend to watch the place for you. Just like you’d ask for someone to check in on your pets and make sure they are taken care of while you are away, you can do the same thing for your online community.

What did I come back to? Well, yes, hundreds and hundreds of new posts, public and in the staff forums, private messages and e-mails. But, beyond that, were my communities in ruin? Were all of the posts spam? Had numerous members left? No, no and no. Things were fine. Things were functioning. They could do without me for a while.

In a way, that’s good community management. If you have to be at your community at all times for it to work well, you should really go do something else because you are going to end up sapping all the joy out of this job (or hobby).

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It’s that time of the year again! The SXSW 2010 PanelPicker has opened and, with it, 2,219 proposals are up for consideration for the Interactive portion of the conference. I am on 7 (yes, feel free to giggle) of these.

Online voting accounts for 30% of the decision making process (30% goes to the SXSW staff and 40% to an advisory board). Anyone can vote and registration is required. I would appreciate any and all consideration and, if you feel any of my sessions are worthy, your vote. I have spoken at South by Southwest twice, but both were solo book based presentations. I’ve never been on a panel or done a normal solo presentation. I’m hoping this is the year I can break in, with your help and I appreciate your support.

Here are the proposed sessions that I am a part of, along with a description and my fellow panelists on each (click on the title to vote):

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Back in June, I mentioned how I had submitted or was included in a few proposals for Blog World Expo 2009. Today, they released the schedule and I’m happy to say that I will be speaking at the even (I’ll be doing a book signing for “Managing Online Forums,” as well, but that is not yet scheduled).

On Friday, October 16 at 5 PM in Room 288, I’ll be participating in the “Social Media: What’s Not to Like” panel, which also features Amber Naslund; Director of Community at Radian6 and blogger at Altitude Branding, Wayne Sutton; Partner at OurHashtag and blogger at SocialWayne.com and Robert Scoble; Managing Director at Building43.com at Rackspace and blogger at Scobleizer.

Here is the description we came up with: We love social media. It’s helped us meet new people, to further our careers and even to speak at this conference. But, that doesn’t mean it’s all sunshine and roses, either. There are tactics and social trends that, frankly, worry us because we want social media to grow and for more people and companies to participate.

Beyond just worrying us, though, they can hurt your brand, scare people away and damage your relationships. From the mob mentality to self entitlement, we’ll tackle some of the most troubling and how you can avoid them.

And the takeaway: A better understanding of the social media landscape and how to participate with respect toward others, while also having a beneficial experience, both personally and professionally.

A big thank you to everyone at Blog World (Rick Calvert, Dave Cynkin, Jim Turner, others) for having me. It should be a ton of fun. If you want to come, you can use the discount code IFROGGYVIP for 20% off. I look forward to seeing you there.

As you may have noticed, the blog has been a little quiet for a couple of weeks. I took a vacation! I’m sorry I didn’t provide more notice. Truthfully, I didn’t expect to be so out of touch. But, I’m back now and I’m tackling the monumental pile of messages and tasks sitting in front of me. Hopefully, I’ll be back on top of things this week.

It’s good to get away (from your online communities) some times and that’s something I’ll be writing more about soon.

Before I hit publish on this post, I wanted to highlight a couple of posts that were made on blogs I monitor, in the time that I was away. First, I enjoyed “Community Netiquette: How to Avoid Stepping on Virtual Toes,” by Jake McKee. It talks about “the basics of conducting yourself properly when engaging on behalf of an organization within the existing Social Web,” something that I certainly enjoy talking about. It’s a wonderful article.

The other post is “The Power of New” by Jason Falls. Jason (like Jake) is a friend and has made the leap from corporate job to business owner. He’s a great guy and I wanted to take this opportunity to wish him the best in this endeavor.