ComBlu recently published their 2012 study on online branded communities. The study, titled The State of Online Branded Communities, shows that brands are becoming more and more involved in building communities. Brands, such as SAP and Mountain Dew, have built online communities to engage with a target audience and generate great social signals for raising page rankings.
What is an “online branded community”?
According to Jeremiah Owyang, an Industry Analyst for Altimeter Group, “online communities” are “where a group of people with similar goals or interests connect and exchange information using web tools.” Based on this definition, an “online branded community” is an online community formed on the basis of connecting through and sharing interests on a brand.
Why online branded communities?
Online branded communities strengthens a brand’s relationship with their target audience, not only with their clients and consumers, but also with those in their industry: employees, competitors and market experts. As more and more consumers rely on the web for information on products and services, brands can provide this information through their branded communities. Using websites and social media, brands are able to offer customer support, answer questions, resolve problems and predict trends for the future. More importantly, brands garner consumer trust by being open and responsive to their needs.
What are “social signals”?
Social signals are the Facebook Likes, Twitter Tweets and Google +1’s a piece of content generate through social media. “These social signals are [an individual’s] recommendations for worthwhile content that search engines use to enhance their search results. The more a website or article is recommended, Shared or Liked, the more that website or article’s ranking will increase.”
What does online branded communities have to do with social signals?
As brands respond to consumers, consumers respond, in turn, by aiding a brand’s search ranking. Online branded communities compel community members to send out social signals on the brand’s content and website. The more social signals a brand generates, the more the brand is recognized by search engines. Social media and social signals aid a brand’s search engine optimization (SEO).
A good example of this is the new Google+ Communities. Brands, such as Microsoft and Audi, have built communities where Google+ users can discuss and share ideas, stories and conversations. These communities have compelled Shares and +1’s, aiding to the brands’ page rankings.
Do you have any thoughts on online branded communities? How do you think branded communities affect social signals, or vice versa? Any predictions for 2013? Comment below; we’d love to hear from you!