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April 23, 2008

Micro Communities

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Time to learn about micro communities. Teaching us will be speaker Rand Fishkin. I promised Rand I’d be super nice to him. Apparently I was a little snarky when I recapped his session yesterday morning. You know it’s out of love, Rand. Really!

Hee! Danny’s baiting the people at the Real Estate conference outside to come into the room. He’s ranting (read: yelling) about low property taxes and how this session is the place to learn about real estate. My stomach hurts from the giggling.

Rand is up. He says he has no humorous slides in this presentation. He’ll have to entertain them with his jokes. He hopes I’m okay with that.

What are micro communities? They’re niche portals where communities gather together. They have social networking features that allow you to influence people and the potential to promote your brand. Rand says Llama Larry can promote his llama blog in llama land.

Why go Micro?

  • Traffic vs. Relevance: You can have lots of users where only a few like llamas or a small community where everyone likes llamas.
  • Accessibility: You have a louder voice in a smaller community.
  • Brand building opportunities: You can brand yourself as a llama expert.

How to Discover Micro Communities

  • Through the Web Search Engines: He means the Google. You can find small groups for handmade goods or artists communities.
  • Social Media Discovery Blogs: Any time you go out and you find a blogger who writes about your topic, see which communities they point to.
  • Social Media & Web 2.0 Lists
  • Recommendations & Networking: Listen to the influencers in your community.

How do I determine if a Community is Right for My Business?

Look at membership numbers. If there are only 25 people, that site is probably not worth as much of your time as a large group.

Topical focus and relevance. Not every real estate network is going to be a match for you. There may be sites for real estate webmasters, real estate foreclosures.

Look at the feature list to see what the site is really about.

A Journey Through Dozens of Valuable Micro Communities:

  • Scrapbook.com: It’s for scrapbooking! No one would ever classify that site as Web 2.0. It’s one of those sites you’d have to go looking for. They have forums and blogs. Forums are a good place to do micro community-influencing.
  • Fast Company/Inc: Geared to business professionals and businesses themselves. SEOmoz has done work on both those sites. They told them to reward participation. If you participate, the links in the profiles page become live. They’re not nofollow’d.
  • Comic Sketch: Comic book site. You can go there and make your own comics.
  • Xing: People search network. Namez is very similar. There can be value in these places if you’re reaching the right communities.
  • 9 Rules Network: Heavy into blogging sphere.
  • StyleHive: It used to be just a blog but it’s a social community now. Fashion-based. Reaches a demographic that is really hard to reach on the Internet – online women shoppers.
  • BuddyTv: Rand is on their board of advisors. It’s a site around television shows. There are little areas for each programming. He talks about how he proposed to his fiancĂ©e. He says if you don’t like a show, tell him and he’ll propose to his gf on it. Then they’ll cancel it the next season. Hee! [So it's Rand's fault Veronica Mars is gone? Death! --Susan]
  • SpyMedia: It’s a hybrid between evil and Flickr. Evil means paparazzi. You can go in there and people talk about photos that will be used in tabloids or news articles.
  • Associated Content: Users can submit content, AC will promote it and you can get a lot of traffic.
  • Education.com: SEOmoz worked on it. It’s a large site for parents with school-aged children. Have a lot of community sharing stuff.
  • NowPublic: Launch business news that’s happening.
  • News.YCombinator.com: One of Rand’s favorite micro communities. It’s a startup project in Boston. The News site is where a lot of the startup people congregate.
  • AdultSwim: The Cartoon Network’s late night version. Great for the late night snacking demographic.
  • TravBuddy: A travel site. Meet other travelers, look up hostiles, view blog entries and photos, etc.
  • BountyFishing: Fishing community. Have a forum, offer prizes, etc. Excellent fisherman are put on the front page. Rand spends 10 minutes making fun of Canada. Danny is turning red. He’s afraid the entire country now hates him. Then Rand starts talking trash about the U.S. Oh brother.

Rand keeps rattling off micro communities. I’m sure they’re all great but I’m not going to jot down all their names. There’s little point and I’m not trying to make this the Longest. Entry. Evar. If you’re looking for a micro community, go throw your keywords into Google or see which communities the bloggers in your topic area link out to. [I think the SMX twitter feed got them all, if you're curious. --Susan]

Some of the others he lists later include: WebMD, DeviantArt, Yelp, SportsShooter, Threadlesss, Cork’d, Imbee, Virb, Wayfaring, CouchSurfing, Wikihow, Etsy, Shoetube.com, Draftmix.com, LibraryThing, Tulia, PeerTrainer, DonorsChoose, ThinkVitamin, ThePoint, AllRecipes, ActiveRain, BestStuff, RedefineGod, GoogleGroups, and about a million more.

Question and Answer
How do micro communities feel about corporate presence on their Web site?

In general it’s not welcome, unless it’s done with a very human face. He would not create a profile at Sphinn called SEOmoz and then go in and try to promote SEOmoz’s stuff. He would create a profile for himself and then participate in that manner. A lot of it is common sense.

StyleHive loves it when the fashion industry folks come in and leave comments. Rand says he often goes and leaves comments as Tim Gunn. Make it work, people. Hee!

What sites are good to create your own turnkeys? What’s the best platform to use?

Danny says Sphinn uses Pligg and he highly does NOT recommend it. They had to hack it to death. They may just build their own platform. Drigg is good.

Randy says you have to know there will be a lot of limitations. When you get into a lot of customization, it’s better just to build it from scratch. SEOmoz built theirs from the ground up.

If you’re going to create a social network, make sure the popularity of your site can handle it. You don’t want to have a social site with 0 people in it.

What are some good blogs to learn about SMM?

Danny talks about Search Engine Land’s blog roll.

Rand mentions TechCrunch and Go2Web20.net

Is there a directory of micro communities?

Rand says there’s one inside SEOmoz Pro.

What do you look for when hiring a SMM person?

Find someone who has a culturally fit with these communities. You don’t want the PR guy with 20 years of expertise. Look for the plugged in person. Ask them what they vote for on Reddit or Digg. If they have answers, they’re probably the right person for the job. He ballparks their salary around $40K-$60K.

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3 responses to “Micro Communities”

  1. Igor The Troll writes:

    Lisa you really know your stuff!
    I highly recommend to people in the industry to read and reread what Lisa writes!

  2. Marcus Orelius writes:

    Why do Igor’s useless comments get published on a regular basis?
    On a more helpful note, I’d like to point out something that was obviously missed here: micro-communities are great sources for longtail keyword research. Yours truly has done it with saturated markets and made otherwise hairy campaigns work.

  3. Lisa writes:

    Marcus: We’d ask that you please try and be a bit more respectful of our readers. We’re aiming for a friendly BC blog environment. :)

    That being said, thanks for joining the micro-communities discussion and adding your two cents!



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