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Online Branded Communities: Misguided and Missing the Point – Marketing News Blog.
If you ask brand managers the purpose of online communities, the reply you’ll most often hear is “customer engagement.” Among marketers, this term is more prevalent than Frisbees at a dog beach.
But the real question is this: Are brands providing meaningful and engaging experiences to their customers through their online communities? Our research on 135 online communities representing 45 major brands indicates that, with few exceptions, the answer is no.
Nearly half of the brands in the study were still in the social marketing experimentation stage, showing fairly robust levels of activity but lacking an integrated strategy across multiple communities and social media. Almost one quarter of the communities were “ghost towns,” mere facades with little or no member participation.
The primary focus of the research was on evaluating how well communities took advantage of best practices to strengthen customer engagement. We were somewhat surprised to find that only 36% were utilizing a majority of community best practices. Another finding was even more startling—60% of the communities showed no signs of active community management by the brand sponsor.
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