This is the ninth in our series of key takeaways from some of the presentations and panel discussions offered at the Social Commerce Summit in May 2008.

Kelly Mooney, president of Resource Interactive, and author of The Open Brand, interviewed artist, actor, comedian, and Internet phenomenon Ze Frank. In addition to a crash-introduction to Ze’s eclectic online community, the audience received some important information regarding the nature of brand, community, and authenticity.

1. Don’t Fear Change

Ze considers himself a brand, and believes other brands share many of his challenges. To meet these challenges, he recommends committing for the “long haul” and “reinvesting materials for the implementation and forward stages.”

2. Engage the Community by Highlighting a Few

Ze finds the relationship between companies and individuals inherently unequal and, consequently, recommends addressing the community as a whole whenever possible. He explains, “When I get 1000 emails, I read them, and then respond to the entire community and point out a few.” This not only scales well, but as he pointed out, “It gives us a shared history,” which further fosters community.

3. Remain Authentic

Ze feels successful brands remain authentic. During the interview, Kelly asked him whether brands can reasonably display the same level of sincerity he does. Ze responded, “I think it’s almost necessary. There is a certain emotional landscape that comes out. There’s a range of emotional spectra that you can piggy-back on. But if you go with the really big platitude you’ll run out.”

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