Sense of community

27 03 2009

conversationIt never ceases to amaze me what people want to talk about on-line.

But a lesson in on-line communities is that you can never assume to know what people will care about or be passionate about.

An on-line community will be successful if you provide the right environment and content to allow people with the same interest to talk.

You must also encourage ALL conversation, both negative and positive, because what’s a conversation if it’s not balanced??

One of the on-line communities that I moderate at the moment talks mostly about supermarket matters, and while this may baffle a few of you, the truth is that groceries, food shopping and supermarkets are a large part of our weekly activity – why would we not feel motivated to talk about it at some point?

What conversations would you energised to be a part of?

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Tips for On-line Communities

20 03 2009

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.





The Future of the Traditional

19 03 2009

With Google announcing in October 2008 that they have digitised over 7 million books  – the future of books looks set to exist on-line.

While I like to think that I attempt to embrace most advances in technology, I have to admit that I remain a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to personal reading. While I spend hours on-line reading sites, blogs and researching information – I still find that there’s nothing quite like holding a physical book in your own hands.

I recently came across Penguin’s We Tell Stories – Digital Fiction from Penguin, a digital project which wholly demonstrates how far writing has come in the digital arena. With one writer using Google maps to tell his tale, and another writer telling a horror story through a serious of blog posts. The future of literature is interactive and exciting – but will it impact on the quality of the content?

Readers will no longer rely solely on the words on the page to engage them – but now expectations will be set that stories will involve some form of interactivity, will be in original formats, and will even use user generated content – where the reader is in control of the story.

For an increasingly expectant and tech savvy younger audience, it won’t take long for readers to expect these new formats, what does this mean for old classics? While Google’s actions will ensure that most literature won’t be forgotten – will they stand the test of time when compared to the shiny new ones?

Digital has seen the shift of the most traditional aspects of our lives onto the on-line space, businesses, our conversations, our memories, our transactions, and the list continues to grow.