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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Online Community Can Create Advocacy But Not For Free
I couldn’t agree more that for certain brands a Private Online Customer Community can provide not only insight and innovation like a more traditional panel, but that they can also create increased engagement and advocacy.  But no one should suggest that those engagement and advocacy benefits come without effort and cost.  The manager of the community (be it in-house or an outside supplier) must be responsive, provide feedback, share inside information, be open to giving the community members partial ownership, provide product samples, bring executive management into the discussion on occasion, and more if they wish to keep the community alive, productive, and one which builds the emotional ties that manifest themselves in the generation of online and offline positive word of mouth. 

Simply buying a software package and forming a customer community won’t do it. Calling a “panel” a “community” won’t change the output.  In fact such approaches may even damage the corporate image and decrease advocacy.  Producing insight, innovation and advocacy requires planning, commitment of resources, and daily attention.  The more companies claim that they will generate advocacy without establishing a process to prove that they are achieving that objective, the deeper they dig the hole. The longer we go without separating those that really create high levels of advocacy from those that don’t, the more likely the entire concept of Private Online Customer Communities will fail.

11:54 am edt          Comments

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