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.