Written by: Evan Goodfellow
The Social Media Landscape is Changing
In a recent article entitled 3 Risks of Social Media-only for Building a Branded Community found on Stacy Jackson’s blog the author writes about the place of social media platforms and the importance of an online branded community. Social media platforms are changing and maturing, and this has great significance for companies. In the early days of social media platforms companies were able to reach audiences of thousands for free, but those days are over now. Jackson writes that now savvy marketers are building their own branded communities as a way to create a bigger impact.
Branded online research communities are not subject to the same rules and dangers of social media platforms. Branded communities allow for the company to have control of user experience and the attention and focus belongs to the host of the community. Promotions, and products discussed on the site are not shared with other competing brands. Social media platforms can rise and fall while the branded community’s rise and failure is dependent on the brand. Further, the data in the branded community remains the property of the company, while on a social media platform care and control of the data is held by the platform itself. Jackson discusses the rise and fall of MySpace as well as Google+. She also discusses Facebook’s move to monetization whose changes have greatly impacted companies seeking to market and advertise through the site. She writes, “Instead of risking your ability to connect with your community, consider social media engagement coupled with an owned, online branded community. When a platform’s fortunes change, you won’t be left scurrying to reconnect with users who have jumped ship.”
5 Reasons Why People Follow You On Social Media
Social media is still important, and you will still attract followers. It is important to know why your fans are following you. Jackson writes that the top five reasons why individuals follow you on social media are as follows:
1. Find promotions and discounts
2. Discover the latest product information
3. Get customer service support
4. Be entertained by content
5. Provide feedback
She comments that unless your content that you are producing is satisfying one of those five needs then you are essentially wasting their time.
So how can you use social media and pair it with an online community? Jackson suggests that you use social media to invite members into the private community. An online private community cuts out your competitors trying to attract away customers from you. Another concept building on the idea of using social media sites as an invitation to join your online community, is to offer discounts or promotions on social media and say that an additional discount is available through signing up for the community.
Cost Savings on Customer Service
Other benefits that communities provide to companies is the ability to provide cost savings on customer service and customer support. Jackson writes, “with a branded community, you can do just that. A well-run community that allows users to help other users solve low-level problems and issues can help you focus your agents on those high priority service and support tickets.” The qualitative aspect of the online research community forums become a database of customer support solutions for individuals who would rather search a problem and find the answer themselves than have to call someone on the phone and wait to receive an answer.
A branded community in the right market research online community platform will also provide you with a full set of research tools that allow you to gain a deeper understanding of your customer segments. You can engage in quantitative and qualitative research exercises that allow you to gain a deeper understanding of your customer segments and their motivations. The ability to engage in in-depth research with your customers is limited in social media platforms, and is often far too public and accessible to risk in such a forum. The very nature of social media is in direct opposition to confidential study.
Jackson finishes by stating that customers appreciate a business that takes the time to create a place that shows dedication “to customer satisfaction and customer service.” A community provides a place for your customers to “learn, engage, and collaborate” with your company as well as like minded members. A community is a great place for individuals to learn more about your products, how to use them, and for you on how to improve upon them.
If you would like to know more about how to integrate a branded online community with online customer engagement programs, feel free to contact us for a consultation.