Last week, I presented at a webinar hosted by Acquia: “B2C Branded Communities: Delivering ROI, Making Customers Happy.” In it, we looked at ways that consumer companies are using online communities to drive stronger engagement with their customers, leading to higher customer loyalty and, along the way, greater revenue.
What we’ve seen when we build communities is that there’s a predictable trajectory that people follow when becoming more engaged with your brand:
- They start out with actions that are low in time commitment, such as following you on Twitter, liking you on Facebook, or just reading content on your social media channels.
- If they like what they see, and like your brand, they’ll move along quickly to more involved ways of interacting with your brand, such as rating products on your site and sharing or retweeting interesting posts.
- At some point, though, they cross the dividing line between lurker and member. Signing up for your online community signifies that they’re willing to engage more deeply with your brand, starting conversations that identify their needs as a consumer. From providing more contact information to giving you insights into their preferred product features, they’re articulating that they want to make themselves heard, and hear what your brand is saying.
A select few of these community members will grow into advocates for your brand, the final step on the engagement trajectory:
- Talking about your products or services with others
- Sharing ideas for new products
- Providing trusted feedback on products
One of the challenges we’ve seen for any community engagement strategy is getting customers over the “dividing line” between a lurker and a true community member. And it’s crucial to get people over that line, because that’s where you can start to really understand your customers, segment them for targeted, relevant messages, and build a solid relationship with your customer base.
Next Week: Part 2: Determining if customers are ready to move over the engagement line