Anyone managing a brand these days had best be thinking about how to engage customers in ways that let them experience the brand. One obvious manifestation of this is to create an online community.
A truly engaged online community can generate a high volume of content. For example, on any given day, the ITtoolbox community creates 1,500 to 2,000 pieces of content through discussion groups, blogs and wikis. Obviously, the audience engagement factor is incredibly high since the audience is not only consuming the information, but taking part in its very creation.
What’s going on here? Well, with the emergence of all the new Web 2.0 technologies, anyone with a computer has the ability to contribute and be a publisher.
But what is interesting to me is the fact that this gives traditional publishers, whose ad revenues have been declining over the last few years, the upper hand. Where else can you find a homogeneous community just waiting to be served? Two examples: InformationWeek, with 500,000 like-minded technology professionals and enthusiasts, and CIO magazine, a community of 150,000 CIOs. Just add water and it makes it own sauce!
Where’s the Buzz? We are still in the early adopter stage of online communities. And their evolution will bring greater value to both community creators and members.
One thing is for sure. Going forward, brands will be defined by the communities they serve. So you better listen to their needs and find a way to serve them. As Bob Dylan once said – “You’re gonna have to serve somebody!”