Digital communities are a growing space for consumers, who are looking for like-minded people to talk about topics of interest to them. And, as these communities are filled with like-minded people, they may seem like a way to highly target campaigns, offers, and even test new products. The question is, are these good spaces for brands to enter?
by Kristina Knight
Phil Ahad, Senior Vice President, Digital Proucts, Toluna: Digital communities help companies go beyond the transaction and learn the “why” behind consumer sentiment and action. Marketers can use them to engage directly with a target audience, and send surveys, collect ongoing feedback and ask follow-up questions.
Our recent QuickCommunities launch, marketers now have a ground-breaking, do-it-yourself tool to develop a custom community experience that can engage people in real time, often on the heels of a survey to probe deeper into consumer feedback. Marketers can now create an instant brand advisory board to gather consumer feedback, and brainstorm new products and concepts. QuickCommunities eliminates budget and time-to-launch barriers that companies often face in adding the richness of qualitative insights to research programs.
Kristina: What are some of the ways marketers can effectively interact with communities?
Phil: Content is king in digital communities. Marketers need to use a variety of content types to keep things lively and fresh for members. Users can provide participants with media, concepts and other forms of media to test, in addition to on-site activities. Community members may also post and respond to questions with by submitting images and videos as their responses, keeping the interaction highly engaging. From there, a marketer may want to use the community to conduct one-on-one qualitative chat sessions to get deeper insight into consumer perceptions.
Kristina: What are best practices to drive community engagement?
Phil: In a digital community, engaged community members are interested and involved. Keeping members engaged is actually quite simple, keep topics and tasks relevant and reward them accordingly for their time and effort. Every community task, such as a newsletter, survey, member profile or discussion, should be related to your engagement goals. Marketers need to use a mix of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards to achieve those objectives. For instance, an article that includes members’ opinions may provide the social incentive needed for participation. While survey participation may require a monetary or other prize reward.
Kristina: How can marketers measure the effectiveness of digital communities?
Phil: The ROI of a community can be measured by the success of messaging and marketing campaigns influenced by the insights collected from the community. Where to find your target customers, what messaging most resonates with them and avoiding any barriers to conversion or purchase are all insights that can be collected from an engaging community.
Also, it is essential to monitor and measure community success. Keep a close eye on participation and response rates. If one or both are low, that’s a flag that something is not working and you need to course correct. An effective community provides an environment for quickly and easily testing concepts, fueling new ideas and spotting trends. It also drives a better understanding of target consumers which will improve marketing effectiveness.