Managing B2B Forums & Chat Boards

(Kath Reuben) #1

I’m interested in hearing from other B2B Community Managers on how you manage business sensitive information on chat boards/forums. My Community is support led and gated, but access to view and post on the boards will be open to all within the Community (just not the general public or those who have not been authenticated). I am anticipating that discussions will focus more around best practice and industry conversation and that most people would not be posting highly sensitive information. However, others within the business are concerned that identifying information or proprietary information will be disclosed and cause issue. How have others managed this?

(Suzi Nelson) #2

My community it made up of marketers, most of whom are entrepeneurs who freelance or own their own business. It’s a private group, but you know… screenshots are a thing.

We have a disclaimer in our community guidelines that says something like, “We expect our members to value each other’s privacy, but please be aware that information you post could be shared outside of this group. Please use your best judgement when posting confidential information.”

I hope that helps…

(Kath Reuben) #3

@Suzi_Nelson - thanks for your feedback. Yes, I was def planning on including a line in the guidelines around Confidential info but the business seems to be more concerned that either forums/chats/boards won’t be utilized bc people will be concerned about sharing identifying information or that we’ll get ourselves into trouble. Have you managed both B2B and B2C Communities? - is there a noticeable difference in frequency and style of engagement that can be traced to concerns around sharing identifying/ sensitive info?

(Suzi Nelson) #4

I’ve only been CM of this community. I’m pretty new at community management (been here a year and a 1/2) but I’ve found that if you work hard to establish a solid sense of community and encourage positive behavior, people just tend to trust each other more.

We are starting an initiative for members to ask questions anonymously (not because of privacy concerns, more that they are afraid they will sound dumb or something)… might be an option to explore as well.

(Sarah Hawk) #5

I haven’t worked in a community where disclosure has been an issue, but I researched financial communities for a client and it was often raised as a concern (and potential barrier to posting). I imagine @Patrick_Curtis likely comes up against this at Wall Street Oasis. Any insights Patrick?

(Patrick Curtis) #6

The use case with Wall Street Oasis is a bit different since we have 100% anonymity…we do this because we know in order to get finance professionals to speak freely and give advice to aspiring professionals, they need to be protected from their own employers (not surprisingly, many banks are not cool with employees on message boards spouting the truth)…

We have still run into issues where users will suddenly delete one or most of their posts because they have revealed a little too much about themselves and someone has reached out to them offline, but it’s pretty rare.

I would say for B2B, it’s tough to fully protect confidential information in a forum setting…it helps if it’s a private group, if you have a clear Terms of Service letting members know that while you will do your best, you can’t guarantee that other members won’t share what they share outside the community…

I think the level of concern really depends on what you’re dealing with…will the different members be part of competing businesses? Is the industry one where there are a lot of trade secrets? I could see either of those cases really inhibiting participation from your users…

Best of luck!

(Sarah Hawk) #7

Did you start out this way or was it a change you made as a result of learnings?

(Patrick Curtis) #8

always been this way. It’s not an easy route to go since you get people creating multiple accounts, harder to moderate, etc…but I think it also has many benefits (people feel safer to provide true opinions & insight which is really what we’re after).

We also have a “Certified User” process where members can get a gold star next to their username. This indicates that we have confirmed (privately) that they work in the industry and at the level indicated in their profile (so other members can trust those accounts / comments more)…

(Suzi Nelson) #9

that “certified user” designation is awesome. wish we could do that!

(Sarah Hawk) #10

What do you think would stop you from doing so?

(Suzi Nelson) #11

We have a Facebook group. Not sure about the logistics of that.

(Sarah Hawk) #12

Ah right – of course. And you’re right, I don’t think it would logistically possible because you can’t display any kind of indicator against a profile, and you have no personal control over what others could display, even were it possible.

(Kath Reuben) #13

Thanks for sharing these thoughts. Our community is closed group and we will ultimately have profiles with user certification to help validate the authenticity of the knowledge. But yes, these are all competitors in a specific industry, so there is some concern that competitive advantage/sensitive information will be exposed (although I would hope the Terms of Service would help inhibit that type of sharing).

(Sarah Hawk) #14

@Patrick_Curtis I’m interested in how you originally set up your community and came to the decisions that you did (which obviously worked for you). Did you research your audience first, or make decisions based on your gut feeling? And if it was the latter, did you end up making changes once you launched?

(Patrick Curtis) #15

sorry for delay responding here…

honestly it was more gut feel / common sense. It’s a fairly secretive industry and i knew the employess and/or applicants in the industry wouldnt share anything if it had their name attached to it…so anonymous was really the only way we could go.

The Certified User idea came later when we could see that a specific member was a professional and people were claiming they were a college student. We thought it was a good way to build more confidence and show off that there were actually more than just college kids on there :slight_smile: