Today is the first day of the O’Reilly Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco.

The first session I attended this morning was Community Building: Good, Bad, and Ugly. It was moderated by Jeremiah Owyang from Forrester Research and included Dawn Foster (Community Manager for Jive Software), Kellie Parker (Community Manager for PC World and Mac World), and Bob Duffy (Community Strategist for Intel).

Here are some of my rough notes (sorry – don’t have the time to pretty them up and form coherent sentences!).

Using social networks as a vehicle for customer service: Customer service was traditionally one on one. A person (usually a company) answered a customer’s question or issue.

Community allows a customer to put their question to a group and get answers from other customers, not just the company. It also enables broader conversation about the issue.

All of the panelists agreed that when it comes to building your own community or joining other communities the answer is to do both. Engage your audience where they are – even if it isn’t on your website!

On the differences between marketing and community building and management…

Community management is less formal. Managers and other company participants engage with customers as people.

This isn’t traditional push marketing. It’s bidirectional. Often companies position traditional assets AT the conversation rather than becoming part of the conversation.

Characteristics of a Community Managers …

Must be passionate both about the technology and the dialogue.

They should be the product experts not necessarily marketing staff.

They need to be amazing networkers. If they don’t know the answers they need to know how to get them. This also helps bridge the gap between the online and offline communities.

They should be diplomatic, often having to handle difficult customers and participants.

Perhaps the most personally enlightening comment for me was viewing the role of the community manager as both the advocate of the community to the company and the advocate of the company to the community.

That seems to be it in a nutshell!