Tag Archives: Online Communities

Making Brand Communities Work

What has the potential to be a powerful market-research lab, early-warning system and customer-loyalty builder? I guess the title gave it away.

I was inspired this week when I found an old article posted on Wall Street Journal regarding online communities. The authors remind us of the potentials of insights and the opportunity for strengthening the bond between our brands and the customers we work to satisfy with brand communities. If you remember my last post, I reinforced some of the struggles that market research leadership faces: time and money. Communities can offer insights, at a reasonable price and with a quick turn around:

“At a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing programs, a well-designed brand community can be used to conduct market research with very quick turn-around; generate and test ideas for product innovations; deliver prompt and high-quality service to customers with a problem; strengthen the attachments that existing customers feel toward the brand; and increase good publicity through word-of-mouth.”

To get it right, here’s what we can do:

  1. 1. Stop controlling everything. Whether it’s good or bad, let it fly. Having an outlet where the person knows they are being heard is sometimes all they need. Allow the customers to help each other and discuss any negative or positive experiences with the brand
  2. 2. Welcome diversity. Don’t only seek visitors who fit the profile of the brand, rather seek potential customers who may bring a well-rounded outside perspective to the brand. Find people that use the brand differently, at different frequencies, and watch them converse.

  3. 3. Give visitors ways of interacting. Don’t just have the community to garner a relationship between a brand representative and the customer; give the customers a way to communicate with one another (hence the brand ‘community,’ right?). Allowing a customer-run site that has options for personal profiles, pictures, histories, etc. lets people feel that they are a part of something special and create bonds with people that share similar interests.
  4. 4. If you can’t be like the fan sites, at least monitor and support them. So you can’t start your own brand community. If you have a brand that people are passionate about and seek feedback from others via the web, the sites are out there for you to monitor and support. Whether people are getting together to talk about their passion or their disappointments for the brand, the insights are meaningful and worth following.

While the article is aged (2009), I find the content incredibly relevant as many of us are still trying to find our ways in the world of communities.

For more insights of online brand communities, visit The Market Research Event in Orlando!

Garrett McGuire (@GJMcGuire) is a Consumer Insights Analyst for a major retailer. His areas of focus are advertising research, brand equity, and providing consumer insights for many marketing initiatives. Prior to his current position, he was a graduate student at Michigan State University where he began his blog, “The Journal of a mAD Man,” that explains the theories and methods of advertising.

Social Media and Communities

The key to shaping perceptions of brands, products, or services comes from an intimate understanding of consumers’ experiences and preferences in their natural settings. As new media transitioned to social media, consumers began forming communities to discuss these very aspects of their lives. As market researchers, we now have the ability to not only tap these communities to hear what the consumers of our brands are saying, but we also have the ability to form these communities.

At one time, conversation between a consumer and a brand was limited, if not nearly impossible. With social media and online brand communities, conversation is not only possible, but also instantaneous. Consumers now expect to be heard and they know we’re listening.

Market and brand researchers now have the ability to track online conversations. As not all campaigns are designed to increase sales, conversation tracking has become a part of many business’s tracking strategies. For research initiatives, we can pose specific questions to gain the feedback from the consumers closest to our brands. By understanding these perceptions, marketers can act much more quickly than ever before to responding to the needs of consumers.

There are other benefits to social media and online brand communities. I truly believe that consumers are much more comfortable typing their opinions, attitudes, and beliefs about a brand than they are in interviews and focus groups. Without a researcher present, or at least in person, consumers seem to be more candid in their responses ‘ providing rich and meaningful data for researchers about their brands.

For more information about social media and communities, join us in Orlando at The Market Research Event in November where experts will discuss the new opportunities of these resources.

Garrett McGuire is a Consumer Insights Analyst for a major retailer. His areas of focus are advertising research, brand equity, and providing consumer insights for many marketing initiatives. Prior to his current position, he was a graduate student at Michigan State University where he began his blog, “The Journal of mAD Man,” that explains the theories and methods of advertising.

Online access panels, natural communities and online research communities ‘ what, when and why?!?

About the author: Christian D??ssel is blogging about market research in German language here and here. After having worked for TNS, TBWA and other strategy and market research agencies he now holds the position of Senior Research Director at MM-Eye in Hamburg / Germany with special responsibilities for MM-Eye’s new media and online research approaches.

Online, Social Media Monitoring, Research Communities ‘ It has been a long time ago since market research was affected by that huge amount and speed of change. Not only in order to marketing their own services, but also to face the challenges new words, phrases, tools, brands and so on have been established.

No wonder that confusion sometimes is still quite large.

One approach that became a popular representative of new methods in a short time is the approach of online research communities, also known as Market Research Online Communities (MROCs).

There are different definitions of Online Research Communities, but they all have a common base: “An Online Research Community is a platform that is used exclusively to generate a deep understanding of needs, attitudes and the reality of life of specific target groups.”

So we don’t talk about access panels with a focus on quantitative research and we don’t talk about natural communities full of customers’ conversation, like brand communities, Facebook pages or topic related community sites.

But of course these sources can help us finding and recruiting the right participants for an appropriate Online Research Community.

But we have to make sure to keep advantages and disadvantages in mind:

For example people from Online Access Panels are used to the internet, but they are probably not used to community tools and have a lack of willingness to participate over a longer period of time.

On the other hand people from a natural community like a branded site or a Facebook page have rich experience with a specific topic as well as with the community tools but maybe they don’t want to participate in market research. And sometimes, especially if you are not the owner of the natural community, it might be difficult to talk to the community members.

We will learn more about research communities at The Market Research Event 2011 in November. If you look at the program you will see that IIR USA has planned a whole track for this topic. It will be interesting to follow the “Social Media & Communities” track on Monday.

Happy Holidays from Community 2.0!

We’re taking some time off from our coverage of online communities to celebrate the season with our loved ones. We want to sincerely thank you for your readership, your comments and your participation. We look forward to returning to the world of Community 2.0 in 2011!

Here are our top Community 2.0 posts from 2010:
VW’s Social Media Campaign “Punch”
How Open Do I Need to Be REALLY? Charlene Li Responds
Walmarts Black Friday Ads Go Viral Early

We wish you Happy Holidays!

A look back at TMRE 2009: Lessons from the White House from Joel Benenson

The Market Research Event 2010 is taking place this November 8-10, 2010 in San Diego, California. Every Friday leading up to the event, we’ll be recapping one session from The Market Research Event 2009.

Lessons from the White House: Stories From Obama’s Lead Pollster & Strategist
Joel Benenson, Lead Pollster & Senior Strategist, The Obama Administration

What does a politics pollster know about market research’s issues? While looking at the agenda, he saw a session doing with inspired performance, and it’s contending with a session on online communities, as well as building a teen brand, and finally one about leveraging knowledge to prepare for and outwit the competitors. For nearly a century that campaign teams have understood political marketing and how it combines with brand marketing.

In a world of politics, they’re driving by a world that corporate don’t embrace, and they have one measure of success that’s determined on one day. They win or lose. And they’re driving by competition, and they face competitors.

YouTube didn’t exist when Bill Clinton left office, and now consumers can post a video about whoever they want whenever the want. George Allen’s senate race campaign was crippled by a handheld camera taken by an intern in his party. 27million people watch a speech by Obama in February of 2007. This technology creates turbulence that’s new.

-Risk takers
-Challenge convention thinking
-Embracing heated debates to get to the right strategy

If you’re a pollster and want to have an impact in the debates, you must be there to tell them where the numbers are coming from and why. What are their underlying attitudes that make them determine why voters are voting for a certain politician.

There would not have been a campaign if Obama wasn’t willing to challenge the conventional thinking of the time. In politics you’re never as smart as you look when you win, and you’re never as dumb as you look when you lose. You have to be willing to take the loses, and continue to be daring to keep winning.

Beninson realized that any democrat would be change from Bush. They had to make it so that the only way there was change would be if Barack Obama was the change. They set out to define Clinton’s experience as irrelevant.

What they wanted to do to define change with Obama as the answer . They could gain more quickly and convince voters that they represented change, than trying to convince with democrats that they could compete with Hillary on experience. This set up a template. They defined a change that they could believe in. People were hungry in America, and they wanted to end partisan conflicts, and they wanted a president that they could believe in. A speech in November 2007 in Iowa set up a situation where the candidates had to give a speech. There were no teleprompters, they made an ad of this speech, this message shared the campaign where Obama wanted to create a unified America. Next in South Carolina, and they were holding back.

They took this ad and put it in front of focus groups for African Americans in South America, then it lead to the backing of Obama by African Americans in South Carolina. Campaigns are all about the delegates. The delegate gain is very complex. They have to go down to the congressional districts. Strategy for the Obama campaign was to build up a delegate lead for Obama. On February 5, 2009, the critical day in California, they’d be targeting specific congressional districts. On February 18, 2009, there was a caucus in Idaho. In the last week, they had to decide where to send Obama? They took the risk and sent Obama to Idaho on February 1. There were 14,000 people lined up to see Obama speak at the Boise State arena. They focused their efforts in Idaho. Clinton got a predictive win in California, and she did win, but by marginally less. They neutralized Clinton’s gains in California with Obama’s huge gain in Idaho.

From this, Beninson stated that it’s not about knowing who your customers are, you must understand who your valuable consumers are. You should spend your dollars on them so that profitability is high when they spend their dollars.

The public wanted someone who was strong and steady in the crisis, so when John McCain wanted to cancel the debate the week the stock market crashed, Obama wanted to continue on with the debate because the commander and chief must be able to multitask.

So today, where are we? Obama won by 50% in the popular vote, which hadn’t been done in a long time. Today, Obama’s approval ratings are high, as well as confidence, which is important. He’s also dealing with education, health care and energy.

Parallels between polling and market research client on marketing side: if you’re a researcher on a client side, how can you be more strategic player. Maybe you’re asking yourself the wrong questions.

Clients with strategic research partners should wonder why they aren’t hiring them. How does your organization react when someone comes up with an out of the box solution. What kind of constraints are you placing on thoughts and ideas? You have to breakthrough unfamiliarity. Take a leap, do something different. How many risks have you taken with the data you have in front of you.

Have you let science restrict your creativity? Vendors sell things to people, strategic partners bring something to the table that no one else can. Do you need to reevaluate what you’re addressing your services as?

The interactivity on your webpage

Shane Richmond adds his views to a current debate currently happening in the UK: How much commenting and interaction should take place with the community when it comes to online newspapers? The article points out that the majority of those who contribute are a small segment of angry readers. There also needs to be a way for users to interact beyond the small comment box typically found at the bottom of the article.

What do you think of these points? Is this part of the reason your company is having trouble diving into social media? While one or two boisterous readers may dominate your comments, how can you join them in the conversation? Is there a way to promote interaction from your other readers who may be content to just read your articles? How can we learn from this debate that is taking place and apply it to our own online communities?

Social networking and business objectives

Dion Hinchcliffe recently looked at the how online communities are revolutionizing many businesses. Millions of individuals have joined online communities with in the past few years. Hinchcliffe looks at the difference between the growing contrast between business communities and consumer communities. While many business communities have not faired as well as consumer communities, some businesses have found the perfect way to strike the balance.

He recognizes a running theme in all of the communities that work:
[Successful communities are] Attracting like-minded people highly interested and engaged in what they do.

Read the full article here.

Efforts to help Haiti continue online

As we reported last Wednesday, there are many efforts going on in the online world to help those who are affected by the earthquake in Haiti. Now, the New York State governor, David Paterson, has set up an online registry for the New York State residents who were in Haiti at the time of the earthquake.

Governor Patterson said this of the new registry:

‘Presently there is little information from Haiti because the earthquake caused extensive damage to Haiti’s infrastructure. Although there is a massive international relief effort under way, it will take time until Haiti’s infrastructure is restored and systems are in place to help locate and identify individuals.

‘However, collecting information now about New York citizens in Haiti will help locate them once information becomes available. Once the massive response to this catastrophe is in place, I am sure a number of organizations will work to reunite loved ones. This registry will be of vital importance to that effort.’

Read more about Governor Patterson’s online effort here.

Interactive Community Map on Best Places to Go in 2010

Here’s an interesting use of social media technology…A map provided by Google for the NY Times that shows the most recommended places to go on vacation in 2010. The bigger the circle the more recommendations are made for that particular country. Once you click on the location a collage of photos are automatically selected for that country, sort of what Flickr does for their slideshows.

Happy Holidays from Community 2.0

We’re taking some much needed time off from our coverage of social media and online communities to celebrate the season with our loved ones. We want to sincerely thank you for your readership, your comments and your participation.

Here are our top posts from 2009:
Track Presentation: Southwest Airlines – Nuts About Online Communications

Enterprise Customer Communities: Hot Topics for 2009

Keynote: Traditional Corporate Communication is Dead

We’ll be back in January with more coverage.

We wish you Happy Holidays!