In this issue of conduit:
1) Featured Question and Answer: Using Focus Groups?
2) Your Community
Do you feel that a focus group is worthwhile
way to gain crucial information from consumers or site participants?
Voice: Community; Luxury or Necessity?
Issue's Quote: Imagination is more
important than knowledge." -Albert Einstein
Featured Question and Answer:
"Using Focus Groups?"
This issue's questions encompasses the use of focus
groups to gain site member feedback:
thinking of holding an online focus group with members to gain
feedback about new services we are wishing to provide on our site.
What should I consider?"
To read our
response, please see "Using Focus Groups?".
Are you searching for
information on a particular topic? Check out our
archive of past question and
Do you feel that a focus
group is worthwhile way to gain crucial information from consumers
or site participants?
What do you think? We want to hear from you.
Community; Luxury or
The question of luxury versus
necessity is a burning one for many a web site owner across the
world, especially in the current economic climate. In a downturn it
is often the case that priorities shift away from some items or
services which would now be deemed luxuries in favour of others
which are necessities. As community specialists, of course we see
the value of placing community on a site and could very easily argue
that it is a necessity whatever the economic situation and not a
luxury that can be dismissed.
On the other hand, we have never
been ones for the "hard sell" or scare tactics such as "If you do
not have community on your site, no one will ever wish to return."
or "Without community your site will be stagnant, lack imagination
and creativity." There are many sites which would debunk any such
suggestions. However, we can responsibly provide information for
site owners to make the most educated decisions based on their own
needs and that of their sites.
We can certainly state from the
outset that online community satisfies some very basic human needs.
It does so on the global as well as the local scale by connecting
people across geographical boundaries, cultural differences or
1) Gain information and
2) Share thoughts, experiences,
ideas and opinions;
3) Belong to and identify
themselves with others.
Online community provides venues
where people can connect with other individuals or with
organizations in order to pursue and fulfill these fundamental
needs. Such connections often take place because of shared knowledge
and comparable interests or backgrounds. But any commonality
provides potential for community. For example, a customer with a
specific product need may find themselves part of a community of
others (consumers, representatives and son on) who also have had
that same need or who can provide solutions to that need.
A sense of loyalty and
bonding to a site and the services or products it provides.
A consumer who feels closely connected to
a company is more likely to initiate and then continue to purchase
services/products from that company and participate in propagating
the brand. We would like to think that we all act with what
economists call perfect knowledge, that is, rationally and with
complete opportunity of information. However, we tend to exhibit far
more emotional and partial behaviours than this. Responses to brands
and products are often in ways which can only be explained by a
loyalty or bond which often arises out of a sense of togetherness,
even if that togetherness is simply the sharing of a recommendation
from a friend or colleague.
Similarly, community participants
are more inclined to share their experiences with other consumers
via word of mouth, which is a prolific form of viral marketing. For
example, a potential consumer visits a software company's community
with a view to gaining insight into a particular product before
purchasing. Both company representatives and fellow consumers become
valuable informational resources. The latter often perform a
significant surrogate sales representative role via their own
feedback, experience and recommendations.
In turn, those positive
experiences are communicated to others and a domino effect is
induced. Services and products that are talked about tend to
Both prior to and post-purchase
the interaction between consumers and between a consumer and the
company will assist in generating sales and building long-term
Community members re-visit their communities more often, by
definition, and they also, according to research, are more likely to
purchase and purchase in greater quantities than single-visit users.
Community components are an excellent way to promote
services/products available on a website. Site owners can utilize
conversations within chat or message boards to raise awareness of
their products or services and also point members in the direction
of a service/product that would be of assistance to them.
resource. Community also serves as an excellent means to
encourage a member’s participation to build upon site contents. This
can be done in many ways, most commonly by linking articles to
community areas where discussion and interaction provides excellent
additional content and information for members to revisit and
Member "buy in" to the
site. Members who have a place to connect and share gain a
sense of belonging and are more likely to visit, revisit, purchase
and recommend. This occurs especially in cases where member
activities are highlighted and rewarded on a website. Not only does
this encourage a member to continue to participate, but also spurs
further conversation among new and regular visitors.
Research. Community provides continuous consumer feedback -
unlike a survey which might be distributed in a one-off or
periodical fashion. The continuous nature of consumer responses
gives companies an advantage in the development of additional
services or improvement of existing ones. Companies that are
equipped with this information from existing and potential consumers
tend to become the recognized leaders in their field, as well as
being a strong and trusted brand which is, in turn,
So, now you be the judge…. Is
community a luxury or necessity? We welcome your thoughts and comments.
You can contribute to
communityanswers.com and gain valuable insights by asking a question