Can branded customer communities drive revenue? Asking the question is answering it. Social networks are not the holy grail of customer acquisition, retention and loyalty. Online communities as ways to build and improve relationships, while involving community members in a bi-directional way to create mutual value, are.
Building a community within one single platform such as Facebook or LinkedIn is not enough to build effective online communities for your customers. Branded customer communities provide more possibilities.
Although there are good examples of using Facebook and other social networks (certainly LinkedIn in B2B) for online customer communities, people prefer to build relationships with brands in customer communities that are tightly integrated with the company website or other online properties, close to the brand.
The main reasons why consumers participate in branded customer communities online:
- Getting information more quickly.
- Getting answers from consumers ‘like me’.
- Getting the most accurate information.
The infographic by GetSatisfaction (for the record; specialized in customer community) below, says it all. Are the rules and data in it universal? No. Everything depends on the goals, target customers and context (and the source of the infographic of course). There is an important difference between some B2C and B2B industries (longer buying cycles), for instance.