Online Communities: Let's Go
Photo source: Oriol Salvador on
The benefits we enjoy from communities have long been
known. Teamwork and collaboration within
the community gives rise to benefits that we could have never achieved on our own. Today, a revolution in online communities has
begun and the benefits are being reaped by organizations every day.
Early online communities, such as MySpace and Facebook, were
born to serve a general purpose: broadly participating with others around a
shared interest (or relationship). In
2014, however, online communities are not just for social media. More and more organizations are providing customers
destination to meet and interact in an online, social environment.
These communities and the interactions within
them are now helping organizations to further their reach and generate valuable
engagement with customers. The following
three organizations that would benefit greatly from providing an
Content is the driver of sales and the action sports camera
GoPro, has some of the best on the planet. GoPro has enabled anyone to take a video
camera with them into the harshest environments, such as swell-filled oceans
and snow-capped mountains. The
that people churn out is simply stunning.
A surfer films himself dropping in on a 30-foot wave, gets
barreled, and maneuvers out the back unscathed, all from the first-person
perspective. This feat is extremely
difficult to accomplish and, thus, it is a view hardly ever captured. A back-country snowboarder leaps from a
helicopter and rockets down the steepest face of the mountain, leaps off a huge
cliff, rides it out, and gets a high five from his buddies waiting at the
bottom. All captured from an
unprecedented point of view.
This is great content! But, where does it go? Yes, some
of it is posted to GoPro’s website, but most of it goes to
YouTube. Thus, YouTube enjoys most of
the quantifiable benefits of the amazing content that GoPro users are creating
every day. If GoPro had an online community
on their website, with an area for people to contribute original content, I
think GoPro users and fans alike would interact and engage with the content and
one another in that space.
Now, GoPro would
reap the benefit of the content that users generate, not YouTube (of course,
they could still embed their YouTube videos in their community). The result would be valuable user engagement
directly on the GoPro website, with
full ownership of the resulting activity
Photo source: Gordon Tarpley on
Elance is an online employment platform for
freelancers. Covering a wide range of
disciplines, with a diverse pool of freelancers, there is a lot going on and a
lot to keep track of. Elance currently
acts as a networking service to connect freelancers with organizations and vice
versa. If Elance were to set up an
online community on their site, they could
create different social groups, within
which freelancers and organizations, alike, could self-identify, join, and
The result would be much higher satisfaction on the part of
both hiring organizations and freelancers, as they would be able to interact
and gain insights into finding the best fit for them. The benefit of valuable insight would not end
with the participating groups, either.
With these social groups, Elance would also gain critical
insights into hiring trends. Since
Elance owns this valuable engagement data, important trends could be
identified. For instance, Elance could determine which groups were seeing the
most activity. They could also determine the types of freelance roles seeing
the least activity and come up with a plan of attack for addressing that gap.
Both Elance and GoPro are established brands in their
respective industry, but what if they weren’t? Can an online community help an organization whose brand isn’t quite so
recognizable? The answer is a
Santa Cruz Music Festival
Have you ever heard of the Santa Cruz Music Festival, otherwise
known as “SCMF”? If you don’t reside in
the Bay Area, the answer is likely "No." Because it’s a regional event with a
(presumably) modest budget, the festival needs to develop the SCMF brand as
quickly and cost-effectively as possible.
There are certainly traditional promotional routes that festival
organizers pursue, but they often take years to show benefits. This can be a major issue for organizers who
need for their next year’s festival to show growth. What measures could the organizers of the
Santa Cruz Music Festival take to get fast traction, with little cost? The answer is clear to me:
give SCMF fans a
place to interact
and help promote the festival organically!
If SCMF had its own online community on its website, they’d
begin to develop festival (and brand) advocates.These are people or organizations who love
your brand and are willing to promote your organization. Consumers become brand advocates through
By all accounts, SCMF 2013 was an amazingly rewarding
experience for those who attended. Some attendees
will become brand advocates and will spread the good word and positivity to all
who will listen (no pun intended). By
establishing an online community, you give brand advocates a wider audience to
which they can preach. Since these
interactions occur in an SCMF-branded community and are indexed by search
engines, they will
show up in search results more and more.
The Bay Area music lover who (tragically) has never heard of
SCMF will now catch wind of how great a festival it is through Google searches for
the latest and greatest music festivals. As their SEO improves, SCMF will show
up higher and higher, thus making their brand more and more recognizable. In no time, the SCMF brand will develop and
spread thanks to brand advocates and the associated online community. Then they are well on their way to a killer
2014 festival and beyond.
Related post: Colleague Bruce Chapman writes about 10 Ways DNN Can Improve Your Website SEO.
There it is, three organizations that could greatly benefit
in different ways by
adding an online community to their website. These use cases are applicable to a wide
range of organizations in greatly varying industries. Content generation, site engagement, customer
satisfaction, and brand development are ways in which most organizations can
benefit from online community building.
By implementing an online community, organizations will
realize that their customers and end users can help them drive awareness,
visibility and new business. Use the Comments area below to share your thoughts. Would these three online community ideas work?
Online Communities: Let's Go
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