An article by Utpal M. Dholakia and Silvia Vianello in today’s Wall Street Journal weighs the great division between company social forums, and examines why some are good, bad, and just plain ugly.
In the growing world of communication, new social media outlets for brands and products have opened the doors for bold, customer-oriented interaction. Blogs, discussion boards and customized company pages on sites such as Facebook and Twitter are increasing in popularity, and provide a vehicle for companies to harbor “brand communities”. And there is much to gain from these discussions in cyberspace. However, what initiatives can be taken to insure these forums are helpful?
“When it comes to building online brand communities, do unto yourself as others already do unto you.
“Social Web sites that focus on products and brands have taken off in recent years. In these “brand communities,” customers or would-be customers can learn more about the products, discuss the problems and potential solutions – or simply communicate with others about their shared passion.
“Trouble is, this online world is divided into haves and have-nots.
“The haves are the sites where visitors like to hang out, exchanging ideas and information, chatting freely about the product or company – or about the weather, if they prefer. These Web sites have rich potential for marketing insights and for strengthening bonds between the product makers and their customers.
“The have-nots, not so much. These sites tightly control what visitors can discuss – often, the product only – and offer few ways for them to interact. These communities are so drab, so uninviting, that many visitors never return after a brief first visit.
“But here’s the really sad part: Most of these have-not communities are run by the companies themselves. The more-successful communities are usually run by enthusiasts and customers of the brands and products…”
Click here to continue reading “The Fans Know Best”.