I have found ten common themes that apply irrespective of what your enterprise does, your market is or what technology platform you are using. This is my fifth tip in this series. There will be 10 total posts; each with a particular theme. The tips are intended to be read in the order presented, as they will build upon each other…
Social Networking is About Connecting People
As I wrote last month, the core purpose of Social Media is to connect people. Why? People ARE the network: at the end of the day ideas, work and achievements all come from people. As such our communities should always focused on making it easier for people (the real network) to find each other and share knowledge, experiences and insight with the purpose of to “get something done” that is important to them.
People Will Only Participate If Your Community Matters to Them
People are busy. They will not come to your community and take the time (and risk) of sharing something about themselves if you do not give them something in return. This means you need to make your B2C community about your customers; your B2E community about your employees and your B2B communities about your partners. If you don’t, they won’t bother to participate. If they don’t participate, you will have a “dead network” that creates little-or-no value.
What Happens When You Fail to Follow This Tip
I once saw a crowdsourcing community (from a Fortune 500) company that essentially existed to ask its customers to provide leads as to where the company could sell its products to make more money. Obviously, this was not a first priority to its customers.
It is not surprising that this community did not get much participation. While it was a technology success, it was far less of a business one.
On the Other Hand, Communities That Are Compelling Are Highly Successful
Here are three examples of three companies that created communities that focused, not on themselves, but instead on their customers. As a result, these communities were very popular and created a lot of value.
Would you be responsive to a company that asked you to give them ideas as to how to provide you a more satisfying product? Probably. (I would be curious as to whether the were going to follow my advice.)
Here is a shots from the main page of Dell’s IdeaStorm. You will notice two things. First, they focus on asking for ideas for their products that will make you more satisfied. Second they tell you how many of these ideas they have actually implemented:
This is compelling. It is worth customers’ time. That is why it is successful.
Have you ever wanted to lose fat, gain muscle or both? Many of us have. Would you go to site where you could get ideas for weight loss from people like you, get support for losing weight, and take advantage of a public weigh-in to incentivize you to stay on track? Tens of thousands of people have.
Here is a shot from Men’s Health’s Belly Off Community. Notice that it celebrates its members’ success and offers reward from better health to public acclaim.
This is rewarding to customers. This is why it is also a success.
If you owned a small business, would you want your small business credit card provider to offer a place where you can get advice, publicize your company, and build connections with partners, customers and providers? I would. (Actually, I do as I am also a Managing Partner in my own boutique consulting firm, Oulixeus Ltd.)
Here is a highlight of American Express’ OPEN Forum. Notice all the relevant advice to small business owners:
This is useful. It makes life easier. This is why it, too, is a success.
Remember, It’s Not Just About You.