By Kathy Barton
A branded digital community is like a private Facebook community, where you own the content, define the rules of the road, and moderate and curate the content. These communities offer many benefits to companies looking to promote business goals while providing members with information, support, interaction, and camaraderie.
Some of these benefits include:
- Increased brand engagement and loyalty, driving sales and wallet share
- Direct access to the “voice of the customer”
- Increased reach for internal resources and expertise
- Reduced support costs
- Increase collaboration across the organization
Private, branded communities should not be viewed as a substitute for public communities like Facebook or LinkedIn in an overall digital marketing strategy. However, they offer several advantages as a complement to public social media platforms.
|They own the data
|You own the data
|No control of site policies or changes
|You control site policies
|You control who accesses the information
|Public social media URLs are often blocked by corporate or government firewalls.
|The URL is based on your website – much less likely to be blocked
|Limited by the design, security policies and capabilities of the public community
|You design the community to meet your needs
Related Articles: Private Digital Communities: Your Best Lead Nurturing Platform
Getting Started With Your Private Social Community
To be effective, branded communities must be properly designed, built and managed. This requires managing the people, process and technology aspects of the project.
The starting points are the creation of a vision, identification of target segments, development of specific use cases, approval of the business case, and the implementation of a robust community governance structure.
Next, it is important to build a strong engagement plan, create appropriate branding, messaging and “voice” for the community, and identify the required community structure and content.
Private social communities are built on technology platforms such as Higher Logic and others, typically run in the cloud, and are accessed from your company web site.
Once the community is live, it is important to continuously moderate the interactions, maintain and refresh the content, and assess and act on the community metrics.
LIVE Webinar Oct. 23rd: Increasing Customer Engagement with Digital Communities
Best Practices for a Branded Community
A variety of best practices can help drive the success of your branded community. Several of these, as outlined in a recent Forrester paper include:
- Persistent link to the community in the main navigation of their websites;
- Use social media and email to promote their communities;
- Dedicate at least one full-time community manager;
- Integrate the community with the rest of the marketing mix;
- Define and measure active and super-active members; and
- Have extremely passionate affinity audiences.
ISM has built private, branded communities for global, best-in-class companies including ExxonMobil, Heinz-Kraft, AAA and others. To learn more about how a private, branded digital community can enhance customer and employee engagement and increase revenue for your organization, you can reach us via our contact us page or by calling 301-656-8448.