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Online Communities: Private, Public, or Both?

What configurations of restriction and openness in online communities are most appropriate for specific business circumstances?


There are advantages to limiting access and participation, and others to hosting open communities where users self-define themselves as members. Because of features available in social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and others, people can use inclusion and exclusion to define the communities they communicate and work with. Google+ Circles overlap, and people can define the boundaries and rules of engagements of their personal and professional communities.

Other tools, such as Wordpress, provide the opportunity to build community environments for special purposes within and beyond firewalls.  In this webinar, our panel discusses the options available for businesses hosting online communities, as we ask:


  1. How are communities defined?
  2. Who needs private communities?
  3. What are the downsides of public communities?
  4. How does community management differ between public and private formats?


About the Panel:

Vanessa DiMauro, LeaderNetworks

Vanessa DiMauro is the CEO of Leader Networks.  A pioneer in business-to-business community building, Vanessa has been creating successful social strategies for more than fifteen years.  Vanessa is a popular speaker, researcher and consultant on online communities and organizational social strategy and operations best practices.  She has founded and run award-winning online professional communities such as Cambridge Information Network (CIN) for Cambridge Technology Partners, Computerworld Executive Suite and CXO Systems' Peer Visibility Network.  She consults with many organizations and has a blue chip client list which includes Cisco, Cognizant, HP, LexisNexis, Palladium Group, and SAP. Vanessa is an Executive-In-Residence at Babson College's Olin School of Management, and is also a member of the board and a fellow of The Society for New Communications Research (SNCR). Her work and ideas have been covered by leading publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and CIO Magazine.


Joe Cothrel, Lithium

Widely recognized for his pioneering work in online communities in business, Joe serves as Lithium's Chief Community Officer. In this role, Joe is responsible for thought leadership, research, and innovations that will drive the next generation of successful enterprise customer communities. Since joining Lithium in 2006, Joe has helped guide some of the world’s most successful enterprise social efforts, including those at Best Buy, BT, Comcast, PayPal, Symantec, and many others. He has been quoted in CIO, Computerworld, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune, and other publications. His work has been cited in more than 50 books on the subject of online community, collaboration, commerce, and knowledge management. Joe holds an M.A. from the University of Michigan and a B.A. from the University of Toledo.


Rachel Happe, The Community Roundtable
Rachel Happe (@rhappe) is a Co-Founder and Principal at The Community Roundtable, a company dedicated to advancing the business of community.  The Community Roundtable provides education, training, and advisory services to community and social business leaders.
Rachel has over fifteen years of experience working with emerging technologies including enterprise social networking, eCommerce, and enterprise software applications. Rachel has served as a product executive at Mzinga, Bitpass, & IDe, and as IDC’s first analyst covering social technologies. She started her business career as an analyst at PRTM. Rachel serves on Social Media Today’s Blogger Board, the Enterprise 2.0 Conference Advisory Board, and as an Isis Parenting Fellow and has spoken at numerous industry conferences.


Maggie Fox, Moderator, Social Media Group

Maggie Fox is the founder and CEO of Social Media Group, established in 2006 and one of the world’s most highly respected independent agencies helping business navigate the socially engaged Web. Pioneers in their field, Social Media Group has helped some of the best-known brands in Europe and North America get social, including Ford Motor Company, SAP, RBC, 3M and Thomson Reuters. Maggie has been interviewed about social media by Inc. Magazine, The Washington Post, CBC Radio, The Globe and Mail, CBC News, CTV News and The Financial Post, among others. In 2009 she was named one of the Top 100 Marketers in Marketing Magazine's 100th Anniversary Edition, and in 2011 The National Post named her one of Canada's Top Innovators. Maggie also sits on the boards of The Empire Club and