Private Online Communities


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Private Online Communities

  1. 1. HOW TO ESTABLISHAND RUN A SUCCESSFULPRIVATE ONLINECOMMUNITY (POC)Establishing andrunning POCs for Co-creation and otherresearch A publication of London, September 2012
  2. 2. ESTABLISH AND RUN A POC HOW TO ESTABLIISH AND RUN A PRIVATE ONLINE COMMUNITY (POC) FOR CO-CREATION AND MORE by Michalis Michael Michalis Michael is the CEO for online research specialist DigitalMR, focusing on understanding the problems customers face and developing solutions that meet genuine research needs. Tel: +44 751 571 0370 @DigitalMR mmichael333 ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved
  3. 3. ESTABLISH AND RUN A POC WHY YOU SHOULD READ THIS eBOOK 1) The growth of social media owning a POC doesn’t guarantee has fuelled a dramatic results. To develop it into a real increase in use of Private asset for your organisation, it needs Online Communities (POCs) to be set up and run effectively. to co-create with customers This eBook will show you how to 2) POCs save you money and define the scope of your POC, the provide richer insights from role of the community manager, how an engaged audience to recruit and replenish community members and, above all, how to 3) To reap the full benefits, effectively incentivise and engage POCs must be set up and run them to get the most from your properly. This eBook shows POC. you how It is the ideal companion piece to The dramatic growth in use of social our eBook on how to apply a range media by consumers has led to a of tools and techniques to use your corresponding increase in the use of POC for research and co-creation. Private Online Communities (POCs) and their acceptance as a valid Now is the perfect opportunity to research tool. engage with your audience using POCs. To find how to effectively set POCs are the perfect tool for up and run one of your own, read interacting with your customers to on.... build brand advocacy and to conduct research and co-create with an engaged audience. However simply ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved
  4. 4. ESTABLISH AND RUN A POC TABLE OF CONTENTS: 1. What is a Private Online Community 4 2. Why should a brand own a POC? 7 3. The Establishment Process for an Private Online Community 9 4. Defining Scope 11 5. Recruitment 13 6. Incentives 16 7. Role of the Community Manager 19 8. Keeping your Community fresh 22 9. Research Applications 24 10.Conclusions 27 ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved
  5. 5. CHAPTER 1What is a PrivateOnline Community?a POC?
  6. 6. ESTABLISH AND RUN A POC What is a Private Online Community (POC)? Despite widespread use, there is still some confusion regarding POCs, probably because: 1. There are a number of terms used for client owned online communities –the aforementioned POCs, Branded Online Communities (BOCs) or Market Research Online Communities (MROCs). 2. These terms are also often mistakenly used in reference to online panels, especially “private” panels that clients have custom built for research purposes. Panels and communities are quite distinct. Put simply, a panel is a group of consumers that a client will conduct surveys with – perhaps once a month or so. The client asks questions and panelists give their answers in a fairly structured way. ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved
  7. 7. ESTABLISH AND RUN A POC However with a POC, not only For a POC to develop into a can clients ask their community long term resource for a members questions using organisation, it is crucial to get qualitative and quantitative the establishment and research techniques, but also management of it right. members can interact with the client (or host) and among themselves. The nature of the community allows them to do this in a much more unstructured and ad hoc way. And it’s opening up these boundaries and restrictions posed by more conventional research that enables communities to get you closer to your customers. We differentiate between online communities for co-creation and community panels by the number of members they contain - ideally between 200- 500 for co-creation and more than a thousand of members for community panels. Large communities can also be used for quantitative online research in addition to using sub- communities for co-creation. ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved
  8. 8. CHAPTER 2Why Should a BrandOwn a POC?
  9. 9. ESTABLISH AND RUN A POC Why should a brand own a POC? Private online communities Brands want to know what the should be part of every brand’s connected consumer of today, customer strategy. They can be thinks and feels so that they can used for co-creation and for align their marketing approach other more traditional marketing for maximum impact, for research objectives. advocacy. Communities create potential for This is especially relevant as genuine dialogue and consumers are now also relationship building both publishers on earned media among consumer members and where “followers” or “likes” are with the brand owner. If run earned based on merit. correctly, these communities can develop into a powerful research A POC can also boost low resource that also builds brand incidence of niche respondents advocacy. that otherwise make research projects cost prohibitive. The research element is not Owning the sample in a private restricted to just asking online community or community questions –when your panel means that you only pay community members are for sample acquisition only and interacting with one another it’s can then use it as and when a great place to simply listen. required. It’s a bit like finding out what your customers and potential customers think of your brand, once you’ve left the room! ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved .
  10. 10. CHAPTER 3The EstablishmentProcess for a PrivateOnline Community
  11. 11. ESTABLISH AND RUN A POC The Establishment Process Setting up and managing a POC from scratch can be a daunting process, so we would suggest breaking it down into the following stages, which we will cover in this eBook. The “Run Activities” stage is a topic in it’s own right and examined in more detail in our eBook on the research applications of POCs Size of the community Define Scope Specific objectives and target members Customisation Utilise appropriate resources and channels to Recruit recruit members Appoint an Online Community Manager Talk to members from the first day they join Engage Connect them with each other Plan activities for the duration of the community Execute research activities Run Activities Encourage co-creation Reward participation and share results The manager will minimise requirements Replenish Some members will inevitably drop out Define a replenishment cycle ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved
  12. 12. CHAPTER 4Define Scope
  13. 13. ESTABLISH AND RUN A POC Define Scope What are the specific objectives is to build advocacy then a branded and scope of your POC? Is it approach may be favourable. mainly for the creation and You will also need to consider enhancement of your products or statutory regulations that affect communications? Or is it for more certain sectors, for example traditional marketing needs such Pharma, Alcohol, Tobacco or as customer segmentation, pricing Gambling carry additional codes of research, purchase habits, usage conduct for research and and attitudes? advertising. What is the scope in terms of These are all questions that need duration, geography, community to be answered before you start size, profile of participants? Should looking for someone to build, your community be branded or recruit and manage the community. should it be “blind” so community members do not know who the owner is? If you are engaging It is usually better to have one creatives or early adopters for co- supplier/partner deal with all these creation of products it should be tasks for a more seamless okay to brand the community. integration. It is important that the However for broader research a online platform functionality is branded community may well adaptable, if it cannot already cause bias among members who support a wide range of research know the brand paying their techniques then it is unlikely that it incentives! will be flexible enough to accommodate a brand’s research and co-creation needs. However if a primary consideration ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved
  14. 14. CHAPTER 5Recruitment
  15. 15. ESTABLISH AND RUN A POC Recruitment The best way to recruit feel, participants feel at home members to a community is to straight away and will be use your existing assets! ready to participate in co- Because your brand will already creation projects right away. have interactions with consumers both online and Other options include inviting offline, the best starting point is Twitter followers, members of to utilise what already exists. a loyalty scheme or simply people from your CRM or If you have a Facebook fan- direct page, you can invite your fans emailing database. Also If you to join your Private Online. run an active web listening DigitalMR has developed an programme this is a powerful application, meaning existing tool to indentify and recruit fans can be seamlessly invited key influencers to your to participate in research and community. For more see our can access the private eBook on Finding and community environment from engaging influencers. their facebook login. Once community members are inside the private environment it is possible to segment further, so that sub-communities of the fans based on specific research requirements may be created. And because the platform utilises a “Facebook” look and ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved
  16. 16. ESTABLISH AND RUN A POC Community Member Types Early Loyal Lapsed Adopters Customers Customers Recruitment Methods 1. Use existing email database 2. Buy email database 3. Social Media 4. Consumer Panels 5. Banners on relevant websites 6. Face to face/offline ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved
  17. 17. CHAPTER 6Incentives
  18. 18. ESTABLISH AND RUN A POC Incentives Incentivising membership and participation depends on the nature of the community and type of brand it supports. For example some luxury brands, charity brands, aspirational and iconic brands automatically create an emotional bond among users and admirers. These groups of people require little additional incentive to participate in POC activities! However for most of us a little incentive is required to recognise and reward the time and attention participants give to their community. Although cash rewards can usually be effective in the short term, it helps to be a bit creative in order to build long term buy-in to a POC project. These options can include product tests and giveaways or contributions to charity. ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved
  19. 19. ESTABLISH AND RUN A POC The chart below shows a range of incentives available. The aim is to stimulate participation through active engagement rather than simple financial reward. It helps generate more of an emotional attachment to the community and affinity with the brand which in turn develops online advocacy. Two keys to developing engagement are: 1) Use interesting research tools and techniques (see How to use POCs for Co-Creation and other research) 2) Use an experienced community manager, whose role we will explain in the next section. ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved
  20. 20. CHAPTER 7The Role of theCommunity Manager
  21. 21. ESTABLISH AND RUN A POC The Role of the Community Manager It takes a lot of resource to But this level of engagement recruit a community of doesn’t just happen overnight. customers – so you want to It needs to be nurtured and keep hold of them for as long as managed on an on-going basis possible! To save money in the by an experienced Community long run and maximise the Manager. Think of your usefulness of your community, it community comprising a large makes sense to invest in a number of guests for a big capable online Community dinner party. You have a large Manager to minimise drop-out room full of individuals with and keep members engaged. shared interests, but they don’t really know each other and may be reluctant to interact Engagement is what sets a POC initially. apart from other types of research. Highly engaged community members are more As host, the Community likely to take part in research Manager is there to welcome initiatives, more likely to take new joiners, break the ice, the time and care to let you provide games and activities know their true feelings (and for people to get involved in, more likely to discuss brand and subjects for them to talk related issues among about. When the conversation themselves). begins to flow you are then in a position to listen with interest. ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved
  22. 22. ESTABLISH AND RUN A POC However, while dinner parties and value their involvement, have a start and a finish, a they will begin to feel that they community is ongoing are a part of your inner circle, and constantly evolving. Once that they are informed about the members are interacting, you outcomes of surveys and need to maintain freshness and discussions, and that they have active engagement. There needs a stake in processes such as to be enough interest and product development. motivation to keep them interacting with you and with Because social media allows each other. It’s very much a customers to interact with reciprocal relationship. If your organisations at the time of community becomes their choosing, it’s only neglected and members begin fitting that research platforms to leave, not only is research should try to enhance this weakened, but advocacy is lost experience further. Research has and you’ll need to work even previously been restricted in the harder to get it back. degree of interaction it can provide. But by adopting a Whereas the previous role of the social media approach and research manager may have treating your “sample” as been more project-orientated, guests or collaborators you can the Community Manager is more now become the perfect host about long term continuous and really engage with development. Over time you your customers for co-creation, build deeper relationships with allowing their views to be consumers and in turn they will listened to, acknowledged and provide you with deeper levels acted upon. of insight. If you are able to make your guests feel welcome ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved
  23. 23. CHAPTER 8Keeping yourcommunity fresh
  24. 24. ESTABLISH AND RUN A POC Keeping your community fresh The community manager will sample size up, giving you more play a crucial role in keeping flexibility for research projects, your community active and and also keep the community stimulated. fresh, welcoming new people with new ideas and opinions. The other key area to focus on is the range of tools and research techniques that can be deployed to maintain interest and help you better interact with your communities and customers. Click here for more on this topic. Replenishment Once the community is up and running, the hope is that member attrition will be kept at a minimum. However there will inevitably be a degree of drop- out and there needs to be an ongoing process to “top up” the community. This will keep your ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved
  25. 25. CHAPTER 9ResearchApplications
  26. 26. ESTABLISH AND RUN A POC Research Applications There are many ways to apply the activity tools for market research and co-creation: •Idea generation for new product development •Ad and product concept testing and refinement •Product testing •In-depth tracking of brand perceptions and competitors •Observe occasions of product usage for customer experience evaluation (ethnography) •Evaluate and explore new target groups •Discuss various topics and identify perceptions relating to the product category •Identify trends •Evaluate customer experience and improve loyalty ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved
  27. 27. ESTABLISH AND RUN A POC In addition to all the ways described above a community owner can also let the members of the community discuss among themselves and just listen for “gems”. We love ideas at DigitalMR, if you have a new idea on how you would like to use your POC for co-creation, get in touch to explore the possibilities further. ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved
  28. 28. CHAPTER 10Conclusion
  29. 29. ESTABLISH AND RUN A POC Conclusion The era of brand control and one way communication is long gone. We are now witnessing a transformation of our society that fundamentally changes the A POC should become a long way we market and sell term resource for your products. organisation that will generate insights, help you co-create with Private online communities are your customers and develop one of the most important tools greater online advocacy among for marketers today and has them. been the fastest growing tool in the market research industry Using the stages for POC over the last two years. establishment and management outlined in this eBook will Of course simply owning a POC ensure your community is a is not enough. It needs to be place for vibrant exchange of set up and managed properly ideas and opinions for years to and it to get the most out of come. this valuable resource you also need to use the right tools for job. ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved
  30. 30. ESTABLISH AND RUN A POC Download our free eBook on how to Online Focus Groups. Attend one of our exclusive breakfast meetings at the Gherkin in London or the Sky Club in Warsaw. Register to receive the Social Media Research Digest a compilation of the best research blogs, news and white papers of the month. Follow us on social media: ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved ©2012 DigitalMR® All rights reserved