While I enjoy all aspects of social media, on-line communities is what I have been living and breathing of late – and I have come up with some general tips for companies who are thinking about creating an on-line community for their brand.
Be sure that you are ready to listen to your customers
If you are not genuinely interested in listening to your customers, don’t bother with on-line communities. Don’t waste your time or your customer’s time and beware that a half hearted attempt at social media will almost certainly have a negative impact on customer loyalty.
Be prepared to respond to your customer’s questions
There is no point creating a forum to give them the opportunity to talk to you, if you’re not going to listen. People will only have a one way conversation for so long before they become disinterested and move on.
Respect your customers
Brands can no longer assume that customers aren’t aware or that they are passive. In today’s world if customers do not feel like your brand is being genuine on-line with them, they will tell others about their negative experience – creating negative word of mouth.
Be prepared to dedicate enough time and resources to invest in a real conversation
Remember that creating an on-line community for your customers is a long term investment, that will hopefully create a long term relationship as a result.
Keep your content relevant and interesting
To ensure that your customers will want to return to your community, want to contribute, and participate – the community must contain relevant information, interesting conversation and a space for them to interact.
In tough economic times, and really at all times, a company’s greatest asset is customer loyalty. Customers now have a wealth of information at their fingertips, and are almost always researching reviews of products before they buy.
I won’t book a hotel without reading the reviews on tripadvisor, I won’t buy a product on-line without checking for cheaper deals beforehand, I won’t visit a restaurant before reading the reviews on-line and checking their website…
A recent study found that “86% of consumers read online business reviews before making purchasing decisions; 90% of whom say they trust these reviews” (Kudzu.com survey of 600 users, December 2008).
Source: Bazaarvoice.com, read the full post here.