Chapter 12. Why Care About Communities?

Simply put, you should care about communities because they want you to. A 2008 study by Cone, LLC, found that most online consumers want companies to have a presence online, and that many want them to be interactive with their customers, and use social networks to help them with problems (Figure 12-1).

Most users of social networks want companies to join them

Figure 12-1. Most users of social networks want companies to join them

Many of the benefits of communities are associated with marketing communications—a new kind of public relations. That’s only natural. Marketing communications is about getting messages out to the world, and as conversations, social networks fit that bill well. But communities do much more than simply deliver messages.

They are the start of a long funnel

Audience engagement starts long before someone visits your site. It begins in the communities and online venues where your market first hears of you.

They amplify messages more efficiently

If the community adopts your message, it will amplify that message across the Web in a new and more effective form of promotion that people trust.

They help customers to help themselves

Community-based customer self-service not only lowers your own costs, it actually provides better service than you can offer by yourself—and customers prefer it.

They make your business more agile

By short-circuiting traditional market research, you can go straight to ...

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