Companies and Community

We have spoken a lot here about how companies are jumping on the social media bandwagon because it’s the thing to do, but not all of them have a strategy that allows for actual leveraging of the unique qualities of social networking sites.  Deloitte did a study that came out this week that proves the point, and took a look at some of the more interesting aspects of social networking that often go unnoticed.  The study looked at how over 400 companies maintain online communities and what they do there. 

The challenges to building an online community are familiar to most of us: 24% of respondents identified getting people to join the community as an obstacle, 30% said it was difficult to get people to stay engaged, and along with this 21% said that getting people to come back was a challenge.  None of this is really very surprising or even that noteworthy.  But, the study found that 32% of respondents are trying to figure out how “lurkers” – those site visitors who stick around but don’t engage – derive value from the site, I assume so that they can also figure out what will get them to be active.  And, what’s more important, 39% said that they were assigning full-time employees to manage those communities, which means that they are thinking about the social connection as more of an enterprise-wide affair.  ReadWriteWeb points out that “social media campaigns are often framed in traditional marketing practices. But really, the possibilities of social technology are infinite. Traditional media campaigns have a beginning and end. Social technology fuels conversation. One, five, ten or ten thousand people could all be stirring up and participating in conversations using social media tools. The conversation has a time dimension that just runs on and on. As we noted yesterday, this is why social tools adopt a river-of-news style. With such an activity stream, the conversation is endless.”  In the final analysis, Deloitte says, these three things are what social marketers need to keep in mind:

  •  Think tribe, not market segment
  • Think network, not channel
  • Think customer-centric, not company-centric.


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