Social Community—Hey, Get Your Own!

iStock-491486796_social network_resized.pngAs a business, participating in social communities is good. Having your own social community is better.

For some companies, the use of the term social community represents the collection of public social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn where they can “cast a wide net” to share information, as well as listen to and interact with customers, partners and prospective clients. 

You’ve probably seen links on websites, maybe your own website, such as “Join our Social Communities” with a link to a page of social network icons. Or, maybe a “Follow us on Facebook” button that leads to the company Facebook page. While that is a good start, it’s not enough to satisfy the needs and demands of today’s informed customers and buyers.

For digitally maturing companies, the term social community represents a corporate-owned, on-domain social network where they can do all the things they do on public social networks—and also maintain complete control over the user experience and drive outcomes that align with specific business objectives.  

The top (3) business objectives for corporate-owned, social communities are to:

  1. reduce costs by providing 24x7 online self help and collaboration to deflect calls
  2. gain insights from customers by soliciting and acting on feedback about how products and services are adding value—or need improvement, and
  3. grow and protect revenue by creating brand affinity and loyalty with more meaningful brand-to-customer engagement.

Unlike Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn, a corporate-owned social community provides a company complete control over the user experience, the branding look and feel, the access levels and permissions of community members. Importantly it also offers spam controls and moderation, and the company owns the data, the messaging, and the direction that the community member conversations go in.

Corporate-owned social communities are not intended to replace a company’s public social network participation. Corporate-owned social communities are used to draw those otherwise public social network conservations—or perhaps complaints or support requests—into a more trusted, protected space to solve problems, gain insights and generate return visits.

The potential benefits? More call deflection, more insights and more revenue. And, when information is shared within a corporate-owned social community—and it is deemed useful or insightful by the community members—they can share it with a Like or Share or a Tweet to get that information back out to the public social networks to draw in more visitors to further the company’s business objectives.

To summarize, companies that have started the process of embracing public social networks as a channel to listen to their customers and prospective buyers—and share information on a large scale—are off to a good start. And yes, some may call those social communities. 

However, to really reap the rewards for your business, the best thing you can do is get your own, corporate-owned social community to achieve real business results.

Later this month, look for my blog explaining how companies use public social network participation with their corporate-owned social communities to create a more comprehensive, consistent and satisfying customer experience.   

 

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