Brands used to build their social marketing ecosystem around big global social networks mainly Facebook and Twitter. So far brands could not ignore the huge reach, impression and engagement potential of these sites. However things started change. Since giant networks turned to be always on media spending channels, brands started to re-think if this is the right communication center for their social efforts.
And now there is an alternative approach in this context. We call it “branded communities”. It means brand’s owned digital assets, mainly interactive community websites where brands and its advocates get together. Branded community sites are a social hub for the brand where it curates original content with social content, create conversation and event get likes or subscribers. It also curate other contents from traditional social network channels like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
There is dialogue, feedback, customer experience within branded communities. And people will not be there for building friendship. If they are seeking to meet with their friends they can meet with their real friends on Facebook, Twitter or something. On the contrary, branded communities are based around brands not friends. They will be there to receive a basic value from the brand he/she likes, cares or wonders. That value may be a exclusive content, a solution, a promotion code, an information or a special experience.
Another important aspect of branded communities is the fact that you owned all user data, behavior and activations within the platform: A real oppurtunity to build relations with your community through re-marketing or loyalty programs. A chance to constantly optimize your engagement with the audience.
Realities: Building a platform is not easy! It is painful with lots of on the go learnings. However if you build it in rights hands then it is the next stage of online community management. It requires strong design perspective, user interface/experience solutions, right context and always-on editorial effort.
Some aspects of such branded community sites are:
- They are open to dialogue, feedback, customer experience and any user generated content.
- Branded communities are build around the brand and its advocates.
- It is based on the assumption that your advocates will search and find you on internet. Not necessarily on Facebook or Twitter.
- It is not for social networking. And don’t try to create a one.
- Branded community website requires dedication and commitment.
- Exclusive and authentic content is the fuel of these community websites.
- Digital media plans should be centered around this social hub since it is an always on owned media asset.
- Not every brand necessarily have one, it depends on your brand’s advocacy power and its audience.
I want to give a strong example for such website. GreatnessAwaits.com is the social hub of PS4 created by Playstation. Check it out to have a deeper understanding of branded community sites behaviors. According to Playstation this social hub gathers 4.5 million page views, 3.3 million pieces of content curated within site and 75,000 fans featured on the site. Amazing scores for a brand owned platform.
Here are some features of the platform: