Source: Scoobay on Flickr

“In recent years organizations have raced to connect with fans and customers in new ways via social media.

Yet, the results have been mixed. Many organizations are struggling to start up communities, while others that have a community aren’t sure what to say or do with them. Meanwhile, a few companies are racing ahead to very productive collaborations yielding new offerings, better service and more sales.

BBH New York hosted a panel for Social Media Week last Friday called “Forget Communities of Fans. Get Partners,” to understand this world and find ways to navigate it.

The panel consisted of three people: The first was Peter Espersen, Global Community lead at LEGO, one of the most successful organizations working with communities today. The second was Kristen Taylor of NYU’s ITP program who is studying the art and science of community uncovering insights few brands have yet to consider. The panel was moderated by Shaun Abrahamson, CEO of Mutopo, a highly innovative social product development company.

Here are a few key bits of wisdom from the panel using Storify:

A number of important themes were discussed but the eight rules that the community manger of Legos introduced were probably the most helpful:

  1. Set Expectations: Let the online community know what they will expect
  2. Be Respectful: These aren’t freaks, they are important partners
  3. Ensure Win-Win: Give them something to get something
  4. Be Inclusive: Let everyone in the community have a chance at glory
  5. Be Reliable: If you say something follow through
  6. Ensure Transparency: Have answers to all questions
  7. Limit Secrecy: Secrets drive the wrong type of relationship
  8. Fair Compensation: If your fans provide real business value, treat them fairly

What do you think about brands partnering with fans for ideas and product development? What do you think about the rise of Community Managers in agencies or client organizations? Do you think most brands can keep to the rules that Lego has set out?

We just got our hands on the video. It’s about an hour long but worth every minute:

Watch live streaming video from smw_newyork at