Should I meet you here or there?

6 04 2009

communityI have had a lot of discussions of late about the validity of “destination” communities. In Australia, most social media campaigns utilise pre-existing social networking platforms like Facebook, to engage with their audience.

My line of work deals predominantly with destination communities, that is online-communites which are built specifically for a brand or a topic. These sites will typically include functions ranging from a blog, a discussion board, surveys, member profiles, to an idea exchange, and voting.

At the recent Ad:Tech several speakers talked about social media being all about “going to where your consumers are”. So if your target market is 16 – 21 year old males, then setting up shop in youtube, Facebook and Myspace is where you need to consider.

But I don’t think that this is necessarily the case. How many brands have arrived at Facebook just to set up an unseen and unvisited group/profile, or created an application that quickly became hidden amongst the other millions of applications that exist on Facebook?

The US has numerous (hundreds and hundreds) examples of successful destination communities, that engage a large audience, have a high percentage of return visitors, and exist completely removed from any of the well established social networking platforms.

For most in agency land I can imagine that setting up a campaign in a pre-populated network makes a lot of sense, takes less time/money/effort to set up, and when the campaign finishes, users are left to communicate on the site.

Destination communities are set up for the long term – used to establish relationships and loyalty with their customers.

Which do you think works better in today’s digital age?

Is it a good idea for companies to be entering people’s social networking space to try and involve them in a brand – or do consumers feel like these sites should be left solely for interaction with their friends and family?

Should they be used to complement each other?

Examples of these destination online-communities:

And the list goes on…

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5 responses

6 04 2009
Julian Cole

Nice post, I really like your insight that pre-populated communities are better for campaigns and that long term destinations are probably better for long term.

In my opinion with things like Fanpages people are not going to notice when your brand leaves, whereas a destination community you are expected to keep updating the platform, people can get quite pissed off if you leave the community, it is more noticeable.

6 04 2009
emmakatetyler

Yes definitely agree, while I prefer destination communities (yes I’m biased), brands should only be interested in launching an online-community of this type if they are prepared for the long-term. You can’t take users for granted and if you create a community for your customers and then leave shortly after, you’ve not only pissed off your users but also damaged their future relationship with the brand.

8 04 2009
Yahoo Going Back To The Future Under Bartz — Hobby Cash: Make Cash Blogging About the Things You Love

[…] Should I meet you here or there? « Community Girl […]

8 04 2009
Yahoo Going Back To The Future Under Bartz — Hobby Cash: Make Cash Blogging About the Things You Love

[…] Should I meet you here or there? « Community Girl […]

14 04 2009
returnon

How about covering all bases? Oyster magazine started with a destination website/community, then launched a MySpace page to host its video content (for which I shot much of their early content). Their relative success yielded a content deal with Fox to head up MySpace Fashion Australia. Now they have a Facebook site with 2500 fans. I guess this way, they’re covering more demographics?

Incidentally, Oyster was one of the Destra fallen empire’s more costly purchases (with ThreeD World). The founders, stricken with the mistreatment of their baby, purchased the group back at a fraction of the price. Nice!

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