8 Reasons Why Online Communities Are The Next Big Thing For Retailers
By Tom Leung, CEO, Yabbly
About five years ago, branded communities were the talk of every brand agency. The theory from brand executives was: “Why drive potential customers to Facebook, when we could host them within our sales channel on our own web site.”
Dell launched Digital Nomads, a community for office-less workers; Sony launched VAIO Nation, a community for new and established artists to share skills; Ford launched syncmyride.com, a community for users of its voice-activated entertainment system. By and large, these communities, and many other branded communities launched around this time, were failures. Most are now defunct. The reason?
The majority of first generation, branded communities centered on restricting the community to a very narrow band of products, rather than ensuring there was enough breadth and depth of topics to justify habitual usage. Secondly, the brands behind many of these communities had short-term outcomes in mind rather than long-term visions.
When they didn’t become Facebook-sized overnight or were unable to illustrate a correlation to increased sales, the plug was pulled. Finally, they really were before their time — both in terms of consumer interest and the technology available for implementation.
Today, we’re seeing a renewed interest in online communities from brands, and especially retailers. Best Buy launched Shoppable Hangout, a pop-up community over the holidays that gave consumers last-minute shopping advice through Google Hangouts.
Net-A-Porter recently launched The Netbook, an invite-only online community that lets consumers follow their favorite fashion trendsetters. Sephora’s Beauty Talk community has over 300,000 conversations.
So why are retailers starting to create their own online communities? Here are eight reasons: