How communities and businesses are helping each other out, online
The second part in our series of posts on online communities is about how they are actually benefiting business, and vice versa. Let's pause now for a minute, while we listen for the sound of Marx stirring in his coffin. Actually, it's not as sinister as it sounds (the concept, not the dead economist) - there's no exploitation going on. Forums attached to business websites are becoming more and more popular, and can be the great leveller.
There are a number of exceptional benefits to be had from a properly functioning community on a website. For a start, on the side of the organisation, a good group of people regularly saying interesting or helpful things will bring new visitors back to your site again and again. If you are offering any kind of product that needs support, having a message board or forum can cut down on your support costs as users give each other advice on how they overcame problems, or you can post advice about common support issues. It's also a good way to demonstrate that you can deal with criticism and respond to problems quickly and effectively. You can scour the forums for positive feedback which can be used (with permission) in your marketing materials and promotions.
On the side of the user, browsing an organisation's forum can quickly tell you whether this is an organisation worth dealing with or buying from. At the very least, simpy having a forum demonstrates an open attitude, and self-confidence in the product or service being offered. You can also search for quick answers to problems you may have been having, or find novel ways of using what is being offered which may be of benefit.
If you are convinced by the benefits, and are considering starting your own community, you should only do it if you have enough time to give to the project. A neglected community does not send out a good message. You need to make sure that you moderate it properly and update it regularly to send out the all-important message of professionalism, and keep the site secure.Contact rechord
if you need any more advice on this subject, at no charge. We could chew anybody's ears off for hours about it; we are just passionate about online communities.
Labels: business, communities, marketing, tips