Tag Archives: social media diary

Social media diary 9/1/2009 – Skype

Sony crowd-sources name for new online community

Sony this week launched a beta version of it’s new online community this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The site combines company blogs with videos, photos and polls as well as allowing users to create profiles; it’s a site for users to engage with Sony as a brand and as a company. They’re using the site at the Show both to report on product launches but also to allow people to engage with their bloggers and content. From the perspective of launching an online community, many of the usual criteria appear to be met. The community is missing just one thing: a name. Sony are looking to co-create the name for their online community, working with those people who are first to use and try the site both to get feedback on the content and the interactions, but also to suggest a name for the community. As their chief blogger and senior vice president of corporate communications, Rick Clancy, says:

We want to get feedback from users and also we thought it would be great to reach out to users for suggestions on a name for the site. My favorite so far is ‘Sony No Baloney,’ which I used for the very first blog post, but some of my colleagues disagree. Hopefully, the community members themselves can suggest something more clever.

So what can we learn from this?

There are many things right about how Sony are launching their online community. Getting the strategy and launch right can really help to maximise the chances of success, including:

  • seeding the community with content and members even before the beta launch
  • bringing together the ways the company interacts – making the user experience simple and not making them do work to find out where to interact
  • launching alongside an event – capitalising upon the PR the event will bring and also establishing the clear relationship between the online and offline community of consumers – they are the same people after all, just engaging in different ways
  • using the first members to help you finalise and develop the community

By working with these first members to co-create the name for the online community itself, Sony is allowing them to have real input into a significant part of the community member experience – what the community is actually called. There are many ways to engage community members and confer a feeling of ownership of the community too them, but I particularly like the idea of getting them to name the site. Naming conventions in society are important – those who help to name something feel ownership of and responsibility for it. By getting these first community members to work together to name the site they will create a set of people who feel responsibility for the success of the site and who want to work to make it a success. Understanding the social dynamics at play in online communities is important, and if you capitalise upon them you can really help maximise the potential for success at launch and whilst you grow and develop your site.From the FreshNetworks Blog
Read all our Social Media Diary entries
Subscribe to updates from the FreshNetworks Blog

Social media diary 5/12/2008 – Orange

Orange launches ‘Film Club’ online community

I’m a big fan of mobile operator Orange‘s involvement with film and cinemas in the UK – from their amusing adverts in cinemas (including this with Rob Lowe) to their Orange Wednesdays offer where Orange customers can take a friend to the cinema for free. To date they haven’t formally used social media to engage people around their film associations, but this week they launched The Film Club. In Facebook and Bebo, this ‘club’ is actually an application that gives users access to free preview screenings, exclusive competitions, trailers, reviews and other film related content. The Club also lets you see which of your friends are taking advantage of the Orange Wednesdays offer, and if you’re not an Orange customer you can poke your friends who are and ask them to take you. For Orange this move is all about capitalising upon their association with film and being seen as providing a place for people to share this passion with them. As Spencer McHugh, head of brand communications at Orange, says:

The new Film Club communities give movie fans on Facebook and Bebo a place to come together and chat about the things they love most.

So what can we learn from this?

At FreshNetworks we talk a lot, and have indeed posted a lot in the past, about the difference between online communities and social networks and about how building a community online is as much about building an actual community of people as it is about doing it online. What Orange have done with their Orange Film Club is to cleverly and astutely leverage social networks (in this case Facebook and Bebo) to help connect their users and act as a portal for all their film-related content and activities. But building a true community in these social networks is notoriously difficult for a brand to do. People invariably spend time in social networks for very self-centred issues – it’s a ‘me’ place where I upload my photos, plan my events, talk to my friends and join groups that reflect me. From this angle it is clearly a great place for Orange to bring together all of its members who engage with it on film – taking advantage of their offers or watching their content. This one-to-one relationship between Orange and individual fans or customers will continue. Building a real community, where it is these fans who also grow the discussions and content and where they talk to each other and form bonds might prove more difficult. A community tends to have a common purpose or something they are all contributing to, it tends to have no leaders but everybody (brand and fans alike) being equal members) and it needs careful design and guidance to make it grow and flourish (a bit like a garden can grow on its own but needs a gardener to look at its best). In Facebook (or any social networks) it’s difficult to do the latter and as a very public space people are often unwilling to start discussions and build that real community feel. So if Orange wanted to build and grow a large and flourishing film community, they may find doing it in Facebook or Bebo hard. If, on the other hand, they want to bring together all their activities and fans in this space into a convenient place then things will be much easier to do. I suspect this is what they want – making it easier for both parties to find content and engage on film. However, I hope this is the precursor to something. I hope they are planning an online community here. It could be great, and their brand could really help it to work – online and on the go.From the FreshNetworks Blog
Read all our Social Media Diary entries
Subscribe to updates from the FreshNetworks Blog