These days, many social communities have migrated to the Web and new ones have formed. Facebook has fan pages, LinkedIn has groups, Twitter has followers and millions of people are blogging with enthusiasm about an endless number of topics, products and ideas. Each of these social communities are communities for one reason: they share similar interests, beliefs and values and view the world differently, yet similarly, from other communities.
Sue LaChapelle of LaChapelle Design says, “With all my clients we are monitoring what ideas, feedback and suggestions people have with regard to a product or service. Utilizing the communities is the key to getting valuable, microscopic information from your target audience.” According to Sue, social communities can be used:
• To monitor brand reputation.
• As an early warning system for potential customer service or product issues. The Google team recently used Twitter to obtain feedback on the new Droid (“GoogleVoice rocks!” and “Don’t use it with a magnetic phone case!”).
• To identify competitive activities. Jeff Heger of Nixco Plumbing actively monitors the business community on LinkedIn and Facebook regarding local and national competition, to see what is working and not working for others.
• To provide insights for R&D, product innovations and initiatives. Brenda Stradley (ItsInTheDetailsLtd.com) has a Facebook group that drives traffic from different markets to her site. She studies where new buyers are coming from then targets those areas for Facebook. She constantly is learning what consumers like, which drives her product choices.
• To identify emerging social trends and new vocabulary.
Some social communities are even sparking off-line gatherings, giving firms an expanded opportunity to reach a group of like-minded consumers.