Saturday, March 31, 2007

CREATING THE COMMUNITY CONNECT

Just heard that oktatabyebye.com is re-launching on April 2nd. I say ‘re-launch’ coz I’ve been on it since a year now(if not more) – so essentially (if I understand right) now the idea would be to take the travel community a step further. Make it big and further the reach.
This also got me thinking as to what it takes to create a thriving online community for a brand - now that marketers are catching on to the ‘clutter-breaking’ ‘big idea’ of the all important consumer centric communities online, in a bid to reach-out to their ever elusive TG.

I would think that the following are the key to building a successful community online:

- A compelling raison d'ĂȘtre: The REASON to CONNECT with your brand is important. Not all brands warrant a community. Oktatabyebye is a great fit for MakeMyTrip as is Blue Billion for Pepsi (Team India’s debacle notwithstanding!) Anything that your core TG is passionate about and that your brand rides on will do the trick – travel, a sport, movies, music... The goal should be to build trust and create an association between your customers' lives and your brand.

- The platform and tools: If the first is in place – its time to bring on technology. The site design and experience should enable user generated content, dialogue, community building, sharing – all you need to do is to give them the tools and let them run with it.

- The power to control: Give the customer the control and listen to what customers have to say and share. It’s free competitive intelligence!

- The competitive edge! What is it that the brand can provide in the community experience that none of it’s competitors can? It could be access to sporting or movie stars, exclusive content, expert views…It’s important to sustain the buzz with fresh and entertaining content that supports the brand every now and then.
But! Keep the marketing messaging discreet. No overt branding please lest you want the campaign to back-fire.

A great example for this is Blue Billion – where exclusive cricketer videos and pictures were made available to cricket fans online. Pepsi, in this case, was the enabler and they got special interviews canned only for consumption on the cricket fan site www.bluebillion.co.in

At the Gang of Girls site – Sunsilk got it’s resident expert – hair stylist Habib - to sort hair related queries of the community.

So there – get the heady COMMUNITY CONCOCTION in place - Sit back and let your brand and consumers to all the talking!
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