Community Management, Social Media Case Studies, Social Media Strategy, Brand Communities, Social Media Marketing, Twitter Top 20 Interviews

Diane Hessan – The Twitter 20 Interview About Brand Communities

2 Diane Hessan   The Twitter 20 Interview About Brand CommunitiesDiane Hessan knows the wisdom of crowds first-hand. As the CEO of Communispace, a fast-growing major player in the brand community creation and management industry, she’s helped drive consumer insight and product innovation for dozens of Fortune 100 companies. Co-author of the book Customer Centered Growth, Diane was recently named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Boston Chamber of Commerce (a town that has one or two entrepreneurs floating around).

An avid (rabid) Red Sox fan, Diane is an interesting, entertaining, insightful force that’s helping major companies meld customer experience and social media. She shared her experience in community building in this live Twitter interview on December 1, 2009.

1. @jaybaer: Should every company have a brand community at this point? Are there company types that shouldn’t be involved?

  • @communispaceceo: I think every company should be in conversation with their customers at this point. Doing it via a community is one easy way.

2. @jaybaer: What do you find are the primary benefits of brand communities?

  • @communispaceceo: “Community” means a lot of things. At Communispace, we use them largely to help our clients get insights from customers.
  • It’s a terrible time to lose touch with your customers! Listening=more innovation, increased marketing effectiveness, increased relevance.

3. @jaybaer: What about ROI? Is the idea that community participation increases brand kinship & loyalty? How is that measured?

  • @communispaceceo: ROI is TRULY better/faster/cheaper & all can be measured. Regarding loyalty, it is easier to measure in B2B, but you can always ask.

4. @jaybaer: In terms of insights, do you prefer brands ask specific questions of community members, or just open it up?

  • @communispaceceo: The real breakthrough in using communities to listen is that it eliminates the “ad-hoc-ness” of most corporate listening.
  • And, listening is a hugely underrated marketing strategy.
  • If you have a good community, you do both: you ask specific questions, and they talk openly about anything.

5. @jaybaer: How then do you see communities aligning/intersecting with tactics like social media monitoring?

  • @communispaceceo: Do both. Monitoring = finding trends, knowing who’s saying what about you; Communities=insight/co-creation/understanding.

6. @jaybaer: Do communities need to be branded to be effective? Could you create it here, or elsewhere? (h/t @rustyspeidel)

  • @communispaceceo: Branding isn’t required, but it’s better! Members will work harder if they know who the sponsor is and it’s transparent.

7. @jaybaer: What about Facebook? A lot of brands are toying with making Facebook their social media home base. Pros/cons?

  • @communispaceceo: Our communities are private: targeted consumers. The conversation’s strategic: Not what you’d share with competition.
  • I love Facebook for “energizing your base”, but it’s not structured enough for ongoing insight, (e.g., ideation).

8. @jaybaer: Communispace believes in invite-only communities, right? Who gets invited? How? By whom?

  • @communispaceceo: We believe in lots that we don’t do.
  • But we do invite-only and the client drives who we recruit: their most loyal customers? nonusers? mix? A new segment or two?
  • It’s unbelievable what people will share and what they’ll do for you if they think you are really listening. The value of social media for listening.

9. @jaybaer: Are the members of the communities you manage compensated? Thus, is it more like a post-modern focus group?

  • @communispaceceo: Lite compensation for lots of hard work. Focus group on steroids (500 people in a room “all the time”.)

10. @jaybaer: Can you explain your engagement principle – why smaller communities are better? This is a paradox for many people.

  • @communispaceceo: Think about it: Are you more likely to talk/open up in a small group or in a large group? Shouldn’t be a paradox.
  • Intimacy is so powerful. People feel special, they trust you, & vice versa. Very important if you need game-changing insights.
  • @jaybaer: I think the paradox is that it runs counter to the “more followers, fans, & friends” is a legitimate success metric.
  • @communispaceceo: More followers/fans/friends is critical for messaging, energizing, etc. But you don’t need huge numbers to learn how to be relevant.
  • And, you can have lots of small communities. You know the deal: “Let’s all break up into small groups so that we can talk!”

11. @jaybaer: Great white papers on your site. Interesting concept of community “rituals” Can you explain?

  • @communispaceceo: Yes, there is a lot of “secret sauce” to good facilitation, especially because you don’t have everyone online at once.
  • Thanks on the white papers. Yes, we have some great ones. Check out the latest on the Sandwich Situation. icon smile Diane Hessan   The Twitter 20 Interview About Brand Communities
  • In our communities we average 3 projects every week. Could be different topics or all for one insight.

12. @jaybaer: How do you feel about community managers & humanization of brands? Communispace folks facilitate, yes?

  • @communispaceceo: I’m not sure brands need to be human. However, companies are filled with humans and benefit enormously when they leverage that.

13. @jaybaer: Do you proactively seek to make community members the star, rather than the brand?

  • @communispaceceo: In our arena, the members are the stars. Our clients want to understand their lives/dreams/frustrations.

14. @jaybaer: Given the emphasis on insight gathering, do you recommend one community per brand, or one per initiative?

  • @communispaceceo: Don’t need one per brand if your target consumers buy multiple brands. Typical: one per segment, but we can combine segments.
  • I tell people that if you did a big traditional market res project before 9/14/08, throw it out. Learn the New Normal!
  • @jaybaer: What is the significance of that particular date?
  • @communispaceceo: That’s the day Lehman Bros fell and the world changed. Honestly, things change every day; it’s why you need continuous listening.

15. @jaybaer: You mentioned focus group on steroids. Do you get members that get TOO powerful/influential? How do you handle?

  • @communispaceceo: Rarely get TOO powerful like offline. If obnoxious/unprodutive, we can say goodbye. Change their password. Be mean. icon smile Diane Hessan   The Twitter 20 Interview About Brand Communities

16. @jaybaer: Column in Forbes on how you adopted Twitter was great. Your take on state of Twitter now?

  • @communispaceceo: I love Twitter. It is my news source, my networking tool, a great source of learning, & I get to meet you, to boot.
  • But Twitter is like anything else: you get out of it what you put in.

17. @jaybaer: Should the community be anthropomorphized? Should it have a social media ID – avatar and a Facebook profile, et al?

  • @communispaceceo: Our communities wouldn’t because they’re private. In general, anthromophization is a little too cute for my tastes.

18. @jaybaer: This type of community would have huge wins for politics, I believe. Have you done any political communities?

  • @communispaceceo: We haven’t done any political communities, but it would be a lot of fun, eh?  A great application.

19. @jaybaer: What’s the role of email, or other communication methodologies in fostering the community?

  • @communispaceceo: We use email for recruiting members & occasionally for sending updates & reminders.

20. @jaybaer: You guest conducted an orchestra. Which is harder, conducting or running communities 4 Pepsi, Kraft, HomeDepot.

  • @communispaceceo: Ha!  Well, given that we’ve done 300 communities, we pretty much have them down to a science, but..
  • Conducting the BPO was very hard. A friend afterwards: “Diane, I didn’t realize how much conducting is in the hips”  icon smile Diane Hessan   The Twitter 20 Interview About Brand Communities

Lots of fantastic insights here. I loved Diane’s emphasis on listening, and using communities for a PURPOSE. How about you?

  • http://friendfeed.com/e/3252c43d-11b8-4b0a-8132-a8702bfc1408 dotcomexpert (Abd Essamad)

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  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Hey Jason,

    Very interesting use of Twitter to conduct interviews. I had heard this referred to as Twitterviews. What do you think about the medium for interviews?

    Mike
    .-= Michael A. Stelzner´s last blog ..Fun Social Media Promos Feed Souplantation Customer Frenzy =-.

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Hey Jason,

    Very interesting use of Twitter to conduct interviews. I had heard this referred to as Twitterviews. What do you think about the medium for interviews?

    Mike
    .-= Michael A. Stelzner´s last blog ..Fun Social Media Promos Feed Souplantation Customer Frenzy =-.

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com Michael A. Stelzner

    Hey Jason,

    Very interesting use of Twitter to conduct interviews. I had heard this referred to as Twitterviews. What do you think about the medium for interviews?

    Mike
    .-= Michael A. Stelzner´s last blog ..Fun Social Media Promos Feed Souplantation Customer Frenzy =-.

  • http://www.SimpleMarketingBlog.com/ C.B. Whittemore

    Jay, terrific interview with Diane filled with valuable insight and sound advice. I love “listening is a hugely underrated marketing strategy.” Thank you both! CB
    .-= C.B. Whittemore´s last blog ..Press Release: Social Flooring Index From Simple Marketing Now Captures Industry’s Social State =-.

  • http://www.SimpleMarketingBlog.com/ C.B. Whittemore

    Jay, terrific interview with Diane filled with valuable insight and sound advice. I love “listening is a hugely underrated marketing strategy.” Thank you both! CB
    .-= C.B. Whittemore´s last blog ..Press Release: Social Flooring Index From Simple Marketing Now Captures Industry’s Social State =-.

  • http://www.SimpleMarketingBlog.com C.B. Whittemore

    Jay, terrific interview with Diane filled with valuable insight and sound advice. I love “listening is a hugely underrated marketing strategy.” Thank you both! CB
    .-= C.B. Whittemore´s last blog ..Press Release: Social Flooring Index From Simple Marketing Now Captures Industry’s Social State =-.

  • http://twitter.com/diannahuff/statuses/6273333541 diannahuff (Dianna Huff)

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    @CommunispaceCEO Diane Hessan interviewed for Convince & Convert blog: [link to post] – Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/diannahuff/statuses/6273333541 diannahuff (Dianna Huff)

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    @CommunispaceCEO Diane Hessan interviewed for Convince & Convert blog: [link to post]

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  • http://www.zeenatrasheed.co/ Zeenat Rasheed

    Great interview! Good questions and fantastic answers from Diane. Communispace’s work is incredibly relevant and integral to successful marketing communications. Good luck!

  • http://www.zeenatrasheed.co/ Zeenat Rasheed

    Great interview! Good questions and fantastic answers from Diane. Communispace’s work is incredibly relevant and integral to successful marketing communications. Good luck!

  • http://www.zeenatrasheed.co Zeenat Rasheed

    Great interview! Good questions and fantastic answers from Diane. Communispace’s work is incredibly relevant and integral to successful marketing communications. Good luck!

  • http://twitter.com/CBWhittemore/statuses/6270357969 CBWhittemore (CB Whittemore)

    Twitter Comment


    Another fascinating Twitter 20 interview from @JayBaer with @communispaceceo Diane Hessan [link to post] – Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/CBWhittemore/statuses/6270357969 CBWhittemore (CB Whittemore)

    Twitter Comment


    Another fascinating Twitter 20 interview from @JayBaer with @communispaceceo Diane Hessan [link to post] – Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/CBWhittemore/statuses/6270357969 CBWhittemore (CB Whittemore)

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    Another fascinating Twitter 20 interview from @JayBaer with @communispaceceo Diane Hessan [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/MackCollier/statuses/6273864161 MackCollier (Mack Collier)

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    Did you miss @jaybaer’s Twitter interview with @communispaceceo? Here ya go – [link to post] – Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/MackCollier/statuses/6273864161 MackCollier (Mack Collier)

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    Did you miss @jaybaer’s Twitter interview with @communispaceceo? Here ya go – [link to post] – Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/MackCollier/statuses/6273864161 MackCollier (Mack Collier)

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    Did you miss @jaybaer’s Twitter interview with @communispaceceo? Here ya go – [link to post]

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  • http://twitter.com/mattbivons/statuses/6279171753 mattbivons (Matt Bivons)

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    Currently reading RT @jaybaer 4 more bonus questions/answers on digital community building from @communispaceceo [link to post] #twt20 – Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/mattbivons/statuses/6279171753 mattbivons (Matt Bivons)

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    Currently reading RT @jaybaer 4 more bonus questions/answers on digital community building from @communispaceceo [link to post] #twt20 – Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/mattbivons/statuses/6279171753 mattbivons (Matt Bivons)

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    Currently reading RT @jaybaer 4 more bonus questions/answers on digital community building from @communispaceceo [link to post] #twt20

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  • CB Whittemore

    Another fascinating Twitter 20 interview from @JayBaer with @communispaceceo Diane Hessan http://bit.ly/6fxQKc

  • http://twitter.com/zeenatrasheed/statuses/6280173151 zeenatrasheed (Zeenat Rasheed)

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    Great twitterview yesterday b/w @jaybaer and @communispaceceo on using online communities for research. Check it out: [link to post]. – Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/zeenatrasheed/statuses/6280173151 zeenatrasheed (Zeenat Rasheed)

    Twitter Comment


    Great twitterview yesterday b/w @jaybaer and @communispaceceo on using online communities for research. Check it out: [link to post].

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/diannahuff/status/6273333541 Dianna Huff

    @CommunispaceCEO Diane Hessan interviewed for Convince & Convert blog: http://bit.ly/6gkM41

  • http://twitter.com/mackcollier/status/6273864161 Mack Collier

    Did you miss @jaybaer's Twitter interview with @communispaceceo? Here ya go – http://bit.ly/6fxQKc

  • http://twitter.com/intersection1/status/6274467611 Mark Smiciklas

    Diane Hessan – The Twitter 20 Interview About Brand Communities http://ow.ly/HBF0

  • http://twitter.com/mattbivons/status/6279171753 Matt Bivons

    Currently reading RT @jaybaer 4 more bonus questions/answers on digital community building from @communispaceceo http://bit.ly/6fxQKc #twt20

  • http://twitter.com/zeenatrasheed/status/6280173151 Zeenat Rasheed

    Great twitterview yesterday b/w @jaybaer and @communispaceceo on using online communities for research. Check it out: http://bit.ly/6fxQKc.

  • http://twitter.com/andrea88/statuses/6304270025 andrea88 (Andrea Wasik)

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    RT @tweetmeme Diane Hessan – The Twitter 20 Interview About Brand Communities | Social Media Marketing | Social Medi… [link to post] – Posted using Chat Catcher

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    RT @tweetmeme Diane Hessan – The Twitter 20 Interview About Brand Communities | Social Media Marketing | Social Medi… [link to post] – Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/andrea88/statuses/6304270025 andrea88 (Andrea Wasik)

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    RT @tweetmeme Diane Hessan – The Twitter 20 Interview About Brand Communities | Social Media Marketing | Social Medi… [link to post]

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  • http://twitter.com/canadiangal84/statuses/6247891469 canadiangal84 (Gretchen Doores

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    RT @jaybaer Diane Hessan – The Twitter 20 Interview About Brand Communities #Social Media Marketing [link to post] – Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/ryanzuk/statuses/6250971915 ryanzuk (Ryan Zuk, APR)

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    @jaybaer’s Twitter interview w/ @communispaceceo re Brand Communities | Social Media Marketing | Social Media [link to post] #twt20 – Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/ryanzuk/statuses/6250971915 ryanzuk (Ryan Zuk, APR)

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    @jaybaer’s Twitter interview w/ @communispaceceo re Brand Communities | Social Media Marketing | Social Media [link to post] #twt20 – Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/canadiangal84/statuses/6247891469 canadiangal84 (Gretchen Doores)

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    RT @jaybaer Diane Hessan – The Twitter 20 Interview About Brand Communities #Social Media Marketing [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/ryanzuk/statuses/6250971915 ryanzuk (Ryan Zuk, APR)

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    @jaybaer’s Twitter interview w/ @communispaceceo re Brand Communities | Social Media Marketing | Social Media [link to post] #twt20

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/andrea88/status/6304270025 Andrea Wasik

    RT @tweetmeme Diane Hessan – The Twitter 20 Interview About Brand Communities | Social Media Marketing | Social Medi… http://bit.ly/4pIc8m

  • http://www.gravit8.com/ Chris Bailey

    A couple of things stand out to me here:

    1. The value of private communities. I’m curious about how individuals are chosen to be part of these communities…or is there an application to join? I have mixed feelings about whether private communities really work (though acknowledge and respect Diane and Communispace’s experience). My reservations are largely in how these “engineered” and exclusive communities remain vibrant and not calcify into echo chambers. What are the risks and how are these risks mitigated?

    2. Political usage of community. In the November elections, we saw one gubernatorial candidate use a Ning community site to engage his supporters. While some things worked, I was disappointed by much of the effort…mostly because there was little true community guidance and understanding of how online communities are best built. So, there is definitely a play to made here.

    Great interview with much to chew on.

  • http://www.gravit8.com/ Chris Bailey

    A couple of things stand out to me here:

    1. The value of private communities. I’m curious about how individuals are chosen to be part of these communities…or is there an application to join? I have mixed feelings about whether private communities really work (though acknowledge and respect Diane and Communispace’s experience). My reservations are largely in how these “engineered” and exclusive communities remain vibrant and not calcify into echo chambers. What are the risks and how are these risks mitigated?

    2. Political usage of community. In the November elections, we saw one gubernatorial candidate use a Ning community site to engage his supporters. While some things worked, I was disappointed by much of the effort…mostly because there was little true community guidance and understanding of how online communities are best built. So, there is definitely a play to made here.

    Great interview with much to chew on.

  • http://www.gravit8.com Chris Bailey

    A couple of things stand out to me here:

    1. The value of private communities. I’m curious about how individuals are chosen to be part of these communities…or is there an application to join? I have mixed feelings about whether private communities really work (though acknowledge and respect Diane and Communispace’s experience). My reservations are largely in how these “engineered” and exclusive communities remain vibrant and not calcify into echo chambers. What are the risks and how are these risks mitigated?

    2. Political usage of community. In the November elections, we saw one gubernatorial candidate use a Ning community site to engage his supporters. While some things worked, I was disappointed by much of the effort…mostly because there was little true community guidance and understanding of how online communities are best built. So, there is definitely a play to made here.

    Great interview with much to chew on.

  • http://twitter.com/kileyturner/statuses/6320888611 kileyturner (kiley)

    Twitter Comment


    Great interview on brand communities with Diane Hessan … good to remember that small can be good. [link to post] – Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/kileyturner/statuses/6320888611 kileyturner (kiley)

    Twitter Comment


    Great interview on brand communities with Diane Hessan … good to remember that small can be good. [link to post] – Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/kileyturner/statuses/6320888611 kileyturner (kiley)

    Twitter Comment


    Great interview on brand communities with Diane Hessan … good to remember that small can be good. [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/kileyturner/status/6320888611 kiley

    Great interview on brand communities with Diane Hessan … good to remember that small can be good. http://j.mp/7uPCwI

  • http://twitter.com/rob_s_college/status/6338701792 Rob S.

    RT @jaybaer: Startling insights on brand communities from Twitter interview with @communispaceceo http://bit.ly/4E3hbr #twt20

  • http://twitter.com/cipriangavriliu/status/8908560738 CiprianGavriliu

    Interesant: Diane Hessan, Interview About Brand Communities: http://bit.ly/aaVpuu

  • http://www.communispace.com/ Diane Hessan

    Chris, I am sorry to respond 2 months late. ACH!

    Re your first question, the criteria for member selection are driven by the client. So, for instance, Godiva might want a community of all “chocoholics”, 1/2 who love Godiva and 1/2 who buy other types of chocolate. Our amazing Member Services team, then handles the recruiting, selection, screening, etc. — as well as execution of the member agreements (confidentiality, etc.). The communities are hugely vibrant (even the tough ones have over 50% participation because we have designed our software and services around what we've learned after doing 350 of these (not all successful, I might add). Our PhDs have studied the echo chamber effect extensively, and actually, we've found that people get more honest over time. It's the same as in the offline world: when you build real relationships and trust, people tell you the truth rather than what they think you want to hear. Of course, we refresh our communities from time to time if the client isn't getting insight. If you have more questions, scream! @communispaceceo.

    Re your political example, the problem with Ning is that it's a tool. You can have great technology, but if you don't know how to make a community really “sing”, you can set up a zillion communities, and they'll be dead. That happens all the time.

    Best,
    Diane

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    I like to read Diane Hessan. She really does nice job.

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