Most Marketers today are looking at new ways to improve brand advocacy through online crowd sourcing platforms. These platforms can be classified under one of the following:
1. Online Review Communities: With the growth of ecommerce platforms, reviews from other buyers/users today plays a big part in a prospect’s buy decision. Prospects are expected to buy on platforms with a larger volume of reliable reviews. The credibility of the most successful ecommerce platforms today can be attributed to the availability of reliable and impartial volumes of reviews on their sites.
2. Idea Contribution Communities: Such communities crowd source new ideas related to products/services of the company. By allowing customers to contribute ideas, you not only expand the pool of available ideas exponentially but also induce a sense of ownership among customers for your brand.
3. Peer to Peer Collaboration Communities: Such communities are aimed at enabling users to help each other. Common examples of such forums are product developer/user forums where members help each other with using products. While the organization owning the product actively contributes, the success of such communities lies in creating a sense of ownership among users.
So why should you consider an online crowdsourcing platform for your organization?
These communities can act as a generator of brand advocates for your products. It may also be used to reduce product support costs and make it widely acceptable depending on what your priorities are. Above all, online communities are the most cost-effective and self-sustaining way to promote your brand.
The question, however, is how can you ensure that a platform like this is successful and thriving?
The answer is simple – Use the power of Reputation
At the heart of a community is an individual who engages and provides relevant contributions to the community. The success of the community depends purely on the ability of the platform to attract and retain such individuals. But why will these individuals spend their valuable time engaging with your community? What do they get in return?
Successful community owners know that the answer is reputation. In exchange for their contribution, you reward your community members by helping them build their reputation. Member activity details, rank/scores, testimonials, likes, awards, titles for their contribution to the community- all serve as reputation builders.
Participants work hard to achieve these awards, titles, likes etc. and this motivates them to stay active in the community.
Below are two examples of successful Reputation Management Systems:
Harley Davidson has over many years, through a carefully orchestrated campaign maintained its image of “Exclusive – Not for all”. Harley Owner’s online community has immensely contributed to the growth of the brand and its business by perfectly complementing a voraciously active offline community. It has successfully brought together many smaller groups and broadened community interactions many folds.
Does reputation play a role here? Of course, it does. Being part of an exclusive community in itself is prestigious to a Harley fan. Members of this community not only help the brand, they own it and it becomes a part of their life.
The second example I would like to share is the Oracle Community. The challenge for an organization such as Oracle is the range of products and the variety of audience. Each product line has a developer community, a user group, and a partner ecosystem with different objectives but could have a shared audience pool. The moment you bring in product lines, there are infinite permutations and combinations of forums that a user could likely participate in.
Despite these challenges, Oracle community today is a single source of support and knowledge for all Oracle developers, customers, and partners.
While a sophisticated and rigorous moderation strategy is key to the success of a vast community like this, at the core of the community are again, individuals. The people listed on the global leaderboard on the home page of the Oracle community are proud to be there. This is evident in their testimonial videos found posted in the community.
Complexities around the structure of systems will always exist and may need constant monitoring and tweaking. However, this does not take away from the fact that Reputation Management Systems are a powerful yet cost-effective way to increase brand advocacy, online word of mouth, and reduce support costs.
If you are looking to build your own Reputation Management System, take a look at what the Oracle Service Cloud Community Self Service provides. It is a powerful and flexible underlying structure for organizations to design and build their own Reputation Management Systems. Along with Oracle Knowledge of Service Cloud that allows organizations to share knowledge articles with the larger community, the Self Service Communities can be a formidable platform to enable your user communities.