Awareness Inc. Webinar: Building Digital Communities on the Social Web, featuring Larry Weber ~ Takeaways

Webinar Date: April 9, 2009 2:00 PM EST

Host: Mike Lewis, Vice President of Marketing, Awareness, Inc. on Twitter)

PresenterLarry Weber is CEO and chairman of The W2 Group Inc. in Waltham, MA.  W2 Group is an ecosystem of marketing services firms that includes Racepoint Group (public relations agency), Digital Influence Group (interactive agency) and Two Martinis (branding firm.) Weber Shandwick, which Larry also founded, is the world’s largest technology PR firm. 

Other credentials for Larry include being cofounder and Chairman of the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange, the world’s largest online advocacy organization.

He is the author of Marketing to the Social Web (978-0-470-12417-8), from Wiley, and Sticks and Stones: How Digital Business Reputations Are Created over Time and Lost in a Click. (Sticks and Stonesis available for preorder on Amazon right now but will not be released officially until July 2009.) 

Format: A live WebEx session (with slides now available at Awareness Inc.), with chat function as well as discussion on Twitter, via #awarenessinc.  

The webinar describes how to leverage social media in marketing, defines new rules of engagement, and provides seven steps to building digital communities.

What is the Social Web?

The social web is “an online place where people with a common interest can get together to share thoughts, comments, and opinions.”  It represents “a new world of unpaid media created by individuals or enterprises on the web.”

Users control the message through blogs, conversation, collaboration, video, and podcasts.

The Marketer’s New Job

“Future marketers will shift from being broadcasters to content publishers and aggregators of communities. Rather than talking at customers, marketers should talk with them, by participating in, organizing, and encouraging social networks.”

Entering Web 4.0

Weber believes we are entering Web 4.0.

  • Web 1.0: The Web was just a publishing platform.
  • Web 2.0: Browser invented  & evolution of 1stgeneration of Web companies. For example: eBay & Google.
  • Web 3.0: Social Web, with Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and YouTube (2nd most popular search engine).
  • Web 4.0: Emotive Web: A highly visual place. No longer just a channel. Must have a complete digital strategy.

Seven Steps to Building Digital Communities

Weber spent most of the webinar discussing how to build digital communities:

  1. Observe the conversations. [Use the search engine for the blogosphere:]
  2. Recruit community members. [Social media is not out of the broadcast era, not one way communication. Social media is one to many communication.]
  3. Evaluate online conduit strategies. [Online conduits include blogs & news sites, reputation aggregators, e-communities, and social networks. For examples, see the excellent slide for this step at]
  4. Engage communities in conversation.  [Build content that facilitates conversation.]
  5. Measure the community’s involvement. [Another great slide at Shows examples of qualitative and quantitative measurements.]
  6. Promote you community to the world. [Calls for an organic search strategy.]
  7. Improve the community’s benefits. [The Lesson of Friendster.]


  • “It’s not about talking at customers and prospects. It’s about creating and engaging with communities.”
  • Brand is dialogue.
  • Weber predicts YouTube will have a huge impact on the way we market (second most popular search engine).
  • Micro-segmentation will be critical to the way social media evolves.
  • To those who point out podcasting has not taken off, Weber suggests that in scenarios where podcasting has not worked, it was either because it was “boring” or the podcast was not promoted correctly.
  • Podcasts remain important, but are giving way to video. Rich media and visual communication will only become more important.
  • Amazon is the future of commerce sites, where we go to our favorite stores to be entertained, educated, and then to buy.
  • When discussing Leveraging Social Media in Marketing: Weber noted that social media is not just for marketing, but every department that touches the customer. Examples: Sales, HR, Customer Service.
  • On content creation, Weber notes the need for a combination of enterprise and user-generated content. Professionals must remain in the mix.
  • On measuring the community involvement, we need to do a better job assessing the qualitative  as well as the quantitative.
  • Companies who get it: Marriot, Hershey’s, Sony, & American Heart Association.
  • The social web approach for Business to Business is more gated, micro-segmented, and formal.
  • “Marketing has been too focused on buying our way into the hearts of customers, not talking our way into the hearts of customers” through direct conversation.

Additional Information

If you missed this presentation, check out the complete slides at

The next webinar at Awareness is
Marketing Agencies & Social Media: What marketers expect from their agencies

Featuring Emily Riley, Sr. Analysts, Forrester Research
April 29 – 11am ET
Register at Awareness, Inc.


Farah from RacePoint Group provided the following helpful information about how to best keep up with Larry Weber: