Building Your Own Online Community


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We are all familiar with the typical social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, but some companies are bringing social media in-house and reaping enormous dividends.  While shopping for some outdoor gear, I came across and discovered a whole community of customers who were actively participating in the e-commerce site.  Almost every item I viewed on the site had a collection of reviews, comments, Q&A and customer-submitted photos.  Before purchasing a shirt, I was debating which size to get and decided to post a question to the “Product Wall” about whether it runs large or small.  Within an hour, I received an answer, not from a employee, but from a fellow customer on the site who had purchased the shirt a week before.  Add to cart, checkout.

This community of users goes beyond the typical model of static product ratings and reviews.  These customers are actively participating in a brand they believe in.

What does a company gain from having its customers so actively engaged?

  • Allow your customers to become your extended sales force and support team
  • Get immediate feedback (good and bad) and a forum to address problems or concerns
  • Not only do you have a target audience, but you have an audience that is actively listening
  • Loyalty is contagious-let it spread to new customers

There are many sites using social media elements to grow their brands and different techniques have been used to feed the growth. holds monthly giveaways for active members.  Others simply rely on the lure of elevated user status for each contribution to the site.

It takes time to grow a community of dedicated followers, but providing an environment for loyal customers to engage with others is worth the investment.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Josh Eastburn
Josh is an application developer and systems integration professional responsible for design and development of client solutions for CSG Systems. Josh's experience and technical interests include: web and application development, web analytics, systems integration, business process automation, and web services.


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