With branded communities coming to – or rather returning to – the forefront of digital marketing awareness, there are going to be a lot of businesses seeking answers. Naturally, the online gurus will be glad to speak up and help, but it falls upon each of us to sort the good advice from the bad.
The natural enemy of the “fact” is the “myth,” of course. And like any hot internet topic, branded communities have plenty of myths to wade through before getting to the truth. Here are four of the most common branded community myths to watch out for:
MYTH: A branded community should be built to serve the business.
FACT: While the purpose of the community is to serve the business, that should not be the highlight of the development process. An effective branded community is built to serve the customer or the user first. Serve the customer, and the boons to the business will become very clear in due time.
MYTH: Build the brand first. The community will form around the brand on its own.
FACT: You’re always building your brand, right? Most effective businesses are. This doesn’t mean that a community is going to coalesce of its own accord around every brand that’s created – not by a long shot. The community must be actively cultivated and given reason and inspiration to form.
MYTH: Opinion leaders and “alphas” build strong communities.
FACT: While this might seem logical, the truth is that communities are as much a group effort as you’d expect them to be. A strong community is born when all members and participants are active, vocal, and appreciated for their input. A community that’s lead by a few overpowering “experts” might as well be a tech support forum.
MYTH: Existing social networks are the key to building a community.
FACT: Most social networks are almost the antithesis of the branded community. They are aggregate and chaotic by nature, and focus or deep discussion are rarely permitted entry. Social networks are great for marketing and raising brand awareness – and you may even use them to bring some people into your branded community – but they’re not as critical as some people believe.
About the author Eric Hays: Based in Chicago, Eric Hays is a technology entrepreneur currently focused on building branded niche communities in Sports via SportsFYLE, LLC. They have a current test community launched at the time this article was written found at: http://www.HockeyFYLE.com