4 Steps to Winning Over the Community
SAN FRANCISCO -- Some say it takes a village to raise a child. Now, it looks like it takes a village to save an enterprise. When looking at findings of a recent Forrester Research report, it's apparent that now is the time more than ever to get behind the community. Forrester analyst Oliver Young projects that by 2013, Enterprise 2.0 will be a $4.6 billion industry and that social networking tools will see the bulk of spending.
In a presentation at the Web 2.0 Expo here this week, Forrester analysts Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff presented attendees with a four-fold plan to foster communities and to successfully deliver social strategy. The four steps can easily be remembered by the acronym, POST.
- People (Know them): Obtain a full view of consumers and what kind of community they would want.
- Objectives (Map them out): Decide what you want to accomplish and then hopefully they will come.
- Strategy (Develop one): Plan how you want relationships with customers to change and what you will do if, or when, that happens.
- Technology (Learn about it): Research, learn about, and stay in tune with changing Technology.
Bernoff says that, to be successful in social strategies, developers must recognize a tier of consumers. At the top of the tier is what he lists as purists; next are the pragmatists and at the bottom are the corporatists. "If you want to get anything done, you need to reach out to the purists and say 'help me to understand and be a part of it,'" Bernoff suggests "And you reach out to corporatists and say, 'Help me connect.' It's in the intersection of the opinions that real change can happen."
Many companies underestimate the power of really listening to consumers. Li presents Del Monte, a dog-owners community site, as an example of how marketers and product developers can bank off the community-driven Web. Moderators of Del Monte engage pooch-lovers in conversations, asking questions about what the users' dogs would like to eat for breakfast. Feeling engaged in the community, users respond specific and tailored answers. So, when Del Monte went to release its own brand of doggy breakfast treats, its focus group research had already been completed.
Does community retention work the same way for large enterprises as it does for smaller consumer sites? Steve Pearman, senior vice president of product strategy at MySpace thinks so. Pearman says that no matter the scale, when it comes to user communities, developers and Web companies need to check their egos at the door. In a segment "What MySpace Knows," during Thursday's keynote, Pearman revealed latest statistics on the size of the online social networking site. "MySpace had a record month: 117 million unique users," Pearman shares. "This makes us slightly smaller than Japan and slightly larger than Mexico."
Pearman points out that even an amazingly vast community such as MySpace can not afford to lose customers. When the company is only 90 percent right about something, the numbers that drop off equate to losing a whole country of people. It's like kicking off New Zealand, Singapore, and Ireland, says Pearman. How does user retention and satisfaction evolve in MySpace? Pearman says that users don't hesitate to share what they want. In fact, MySpace members send Tom -- MySpace founder and a member's first "friend" on the site -- concerns, input, questions, and suggestions. Tom receives more than a thousand direct feedback messages daily.
So, what does MySpace know about the community? Perhaps it's simpler than anyone thought. "The Community has a voice. Listen and be respectful," Pearman recommends. "They are 100 times smarter than any organization can ever hope to be."
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