Is A Social Network Right For Your Community?

January 5, 2010 by: Enogg

It is important to build a brand that reflects the voice of the consumer community. You have choices. But first it is important to establish a game plan to determine the merits of a social community.

Why A Social Network?

The social network website can drive innovation and loyalty with members who are well connected (or not) to each other and to your organization. With the ease of Internet connectivity driving many social experiences, the consumer’s expectations for how they want to interact have changed.

Communities or consumers alike want to be listened to and feel appreciated. They feel it is important to create and grow their community. You may even be surprised to learn there is a vibrant community that needs a meeting space to connect around common interests, learn, share, evangelize and vent.

An on-line community can make your event calendar far more dynamic and participatory. Special groups and discussion forums can be formed around each event. Also, special discussion groups can be formed around product offerings.

An online community can make your organization a more successful enterprise by extending the momentum year-round. People attend events to network, learn, work and have fun. An online community gives attendees the tools to get the most out of the event, products and services with the ability to pre-network, discover more about your products and services, and schedule meetings with each other.

A platform that encourages a community will maintain momentum and relationships that endure for a long time and can dynamically build into new collaborations never thought of before.

You need a solution that is easy to launch, manage, and control and one that gives you robust customer intelligence to help you drive the business of your organization.

Pick a Focus Group

The call has gone out to your community to participate in a focus group to determine the theme, functionality, needs and community requirements for a social network. Choosing the right focus group is very important. Maybe you already know who should be in the group and can recommend that certain individuals participate. If not, send out a questionnaire to your community that will help determine the group and filter the selection process.

The focus group should devote about a month to complete the process. Participants should want to serve and be excited about being part of the development and collaborating on the ground floor of an exciting venture.

The participants should be familiar with your community, brand or organization. Generally they should come from a global cross-section or a diverse pot. It is good to have at least one member that is not technically savvy and a member that is not an early adopter.

Allow your focus group free rein. Think outside the box. You can always rein things in when it comes to the actual implementation. Allow for an open slate of possibilities. You’ll be amazed with the results.

Many Decisions

Your organization could consider driving a social network that weaves through your current website. Or, depending on the focus group’s findings the website could be a separate entity that at times weaves through your organization’s main site. Or the social network could dynamically include, for instance, a shopping cart for goods and services. The social community could offer a place to individualize the community members and reach out for support in a like-minded community.

Ultimately, you have to determine how your organization integrates into the social network website. By weaving the organizations core offerings though the website will build brand awareness, thus building your organization’s vision. At the very least the social network site should provide links to your organization.

Additionally, you’ll have to determine if the technical platform that runs your social network is homegrown or built from scratch. Or your organization could establish a turnkey social network platform by using a SaaS provider.

For the most part, Saas social network platforms, power ongoing communities of all types and sizes, fueling loyalty, revenues and innovation.

What’s In It For You?

The more connected your customers are to each other, the more loyal they are to you.

Leverage your community to:

  • Build your brand
  • Grow loyalty
  • Tap into the wisdom of your customers
  • Increase event attendance
  • Increase word-of-mouth marketing
  • Improve your products and services
  • Create new revenue streams
  • Cut customer service costs
  • Differentiate your organization

The net-net: Social networks are the key to building your organization by creating a vibrant community that keeps chugging along feeding you with dynamic information fueling future growth.

From The Desk of EnoggEggbert

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