Let them talk! Managing primary and extended online brand communities for success
It is clear that customer-to-customer contact through informal social networking and more formal company-sponsored platforms, such as discussion forums, is an increasingly integral element in building brand communities. There are many benefits to this interaction, such as nurturing brand champions and ‘super users,’ and reduced service costs through customer-to-customer solutions for product problems. However, there are also hazards inherent in these largely unregulated communities, such as the potential damage of widely spread negative information, which may be based on fact or on malicious intent. Herein, we summarize the results of several years of research examining these communities in an attempt to understand why they succeed, what benefits can be extracted from them, and—in particular—how negative information emerging in these environments can be strategically managed. Based on a series of quantitative and qualitative studies, we identified several key drivers of online brand community success (i.e., intervention, conversion, value creation, and harvesting) and the different combinations of community players who must collaborate to achieve such success. Delving more deeply into the issue of negative information management, we find that the topic being discussed (i.e., core versus augmented product) and the validity of the claim greatly influence a firm's appropriate strategic response. Throughout this article, we offer managerial guidance on the most effective ways to develop primary brand communities that encourage loyalty, purchases, and positive word of mouth.
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- James C. Ward & Amy L. Ostrom, 2006. "Complaining to the Masses: The Role of Protest Framing in Customer-Created Complaint Web Sites," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(2), pages 220-230, 07.
- Kaplan, Andreas M. & Haenlein, Michael, 2010. "Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 59-68, January.
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