7 best examples of brand communities 0

Posted on November 11, 2014 by Rob Petersen



brand communities

A Brand Community is “a specialized, non-geographically bound community, based on a structured set of social relations among admirers of a brand.” This is according to Albert Muniz Jr. and Thomas C. O’Guinn who coined the term in 2001 with their study on Brand Community for the Journal of Consumer Research.

Muniz and O’Guinn said Brand Communities exhibit three traditional markers of community:

  • Shared consciousness
  • Rituals and traditions
  • A sense of moral responsibility

Although it would be easy to see how a lot of brands would jump on this bandwagon, the Harvard Business Review said in, Getting Brand Communities Right, it’s not so easy. There are Myths vs Realities about Brand Communities.

  • MYTH #1 :A brand community is a marketing strategy
  • THE REALITY: A brand community is a business strategy
  • MYTH #2: A brand community exists to serve the business
  • THE REALITY: A brand community exists to serve the people in it
  • MYTH #3: Build the brand, and the community will follow
  • THE REALITY: Engineer the community, and the brand will be strong
  • MYTH #4: Brand communities should be love-fests for faithful brand advocates
  • THE REALITY: Smart companies embrace the conflicts that make communities thrive
  • MYTH #5: Opinion leaders build strong communities
  • THE REALITY: Communities are strongest when everyone plays a role
  • MYTH #6: Online social networks are the key to a community strategy
  • THE REALITY: Online networks are just one tool, not a community strategy

How do you separate the myth from reality? Who is getting brand communities right?

Here are 7 best examples of Brand Communities. (All of these Brand Communities have been around for at least 5 years and are growing).

  1. BEING GIRL (PROCTER & GAMBLE): The site was created in 2000 as a destination for young, teenage girls. P&G includes content provided by experts and encourages open discussion with expert advice on topics such as menstruation, eating disorders, acne and dating. They take a big-sister approach. They also advertise the companies products, Always and Tampax. Being Girl is now available in over 25 countries. It has been cited in the book, Groundswell, as delivering 4X the Return on Investment (ROI) of traditional marketing.
  2. FIGMENT (RANDOM HOUSE): Is an online writing community owned by Random House, the biggest general-interest trade book publisher in the world. It was founded by Jacob Lewis and Dana Goodyear in 2010. It currently has over 300,000 users. The target group of the community is mainly teenagers between 13 and 18 years old. It’s succeeded because they gave the community something to do, write and share novels. This isn’t just a community of interest, it’s a community of practice too. They highlight the best contributions of the community.
  3. H&R BLOCK: Tax preparation is a highly seasonal business.  H&R provides immediate access to a tax professional for Q&A through the “Get Answers” section of their website but also connects you to learn and share experiences with others through their H&R Community.  The effort secured 1,500,000 unique visitors and answered 1,000,000 questions for a 15% lift in business versus the period before H&R Block created the community.
  4. HARLEY OWNERS GROUP (HOG): Is a sponsored community, operated by Harley-Davidson for enthusiasts. The HOG is “the grandaddy of all community-building efforts,” serving to promote not just a consumer product, but a lifestyle. The HOG has also served to open new revenue streams for the company, with the production of tie-in merchandise offered to club members. Membership is 1,000,000+. The Harley Owners Group was created in 1983 as a way to build longer-lasting and stronger relationships. At that time, the company was facing bankruptcy.
  5. LUGNET (LEGO): When Lego Group set out to develop Mindstorms NXT, the latest version of its game for building programmable robots, it enlisted help from a group of adult enthusiasts whom it found on the largest unofficial community of Lego fans. While the marketing target for Mindstorms is mainly teenage boys, the people that Lego reached out to were a group of men in their 40s and 50s who knew each other from communicating and working together on elaborate Lego projects on group’s members, according to a Lego spokesman, contributed “incredibly valuable insights” in hardware, software, design and usability based on their own experiences.
  6. MY STARBUCK IDEA: Is now 6+ years-old and remains the gold standard of crowd sourced tip boxes that have actually worked for a brand and delivered ideas from customers (150,00 plus) with innovations (277) that have actually been implemented. Customers today can order a “skinny” beverage and a cake pop, garner digital rewards for using their Starbucks Card and enjoy free Wi-Fi – all thanks to suggestions from fans. “Our passionate customers and partners have been sharing their ideas with us on My Starbucks Idea, and we have listened and acted upon many amazing innovations that we have received from this online community,” said Alex Wheeler, VP global digital marketing for Starbucks.
  7. ORACLE COMMUNITY (ORACLE): Is a site for people interested in Oracle Corp.’s database and software products. Members share personal stories, pictures, videos and birthdays. They can create blogs on the site, form groups around themes and build networks of designated friends. Members can also schedule meetings and events both online and in person.

These examples show Brand Communities can produce significant results and ROI but they also demonstrate companies should not try to create them unless they accept are willing to accept diversity of opinion, occasional conflict and apply the internal resources necessary to engage.

Do these examples explain Brand Communities? Are they best examples to you?


11 case studies prove social media ROI for nonprofits 3

Posted on September 08, 2012 by Rob Petersen


Light at the end of the tunnelIn a tough economy, it’s especially tough to be a nonprofit because people have less to give.

But it looks like there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Although nonprofits report being “cut to the bone” in their budgets according to the Urban Institute, the American Association of Fundraising Council reports Americans gave more than $298.42 billion in 2011 to their favorite causes despite the economic conditions, up 4% from 2010 and reflective of recovering economic confidence.

Individuals who share a common interest, conviction and passion for a cause drive nonprofits and account for 73% of donations.


2011 Nonprofits Contributions By Source Pie-Chart

How effective is social media given these dynamics? Here are 11 case studies that prove social media ROI for nonprofits.

  1. AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION: Although the AHA is a large national organization, fund raising occur largely through local, grass-roots events. Even today, most donations still occur through the manual process of paper and clip boards. AHA changed the context of connecting with consumers at events from paper and clip board to text messaging.  Donations increased 5X through text messaging in just 10 minutes versus the  manual process that took days, even weeks, and costed more.
  2. AMERICAN RED CROSS: When the earthquake in Haiti occurred, American Red Cross had a flickr group with hundreds of behind the scenes pictures of their operations and a Twitter account with over 150,000 followers. Their Facebook group which incorporated media from all of their social media outlets had over 190,000 followers. American Red Cross quickly sent their text-to-donate message across their social media outlets and it became viral. Within a week, they raised $5,000,000 from texting alone. Over $20,000,000 was raised in a matter of months through social media.
  3. BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH: The updating of personal status on social network pages for women with breast cancer received more media attention and impression on CNN and newspaper networks for a higher ROI than the paid efforts of numerous PR firms and built stronger advocacy.
  4. CANADIAN CANCER SOCIETY: Mark aka, “The Guy At Home In His Underwear,” is a Toronto native and a testicular cancer survivor. He was given 25 days to raise money for testicular cancer “one Facebook friend at a time”. The challenge was to get 25,000 ‘Likes’, in 25 days for Stanfield’s Clothing, an underwear manufacturer, through a photo of Mark at home in his underwear. If Mark could complete this challenge, then Stanfield’s Clothing would donate $25,000 to the Canadian Cancer Society in support of testicular cancer awareness. Mark’s consistent posting and fan support delivered 50,000 “Likes” within 25 days to overachieve the challenge and demonstrate advocacy for the cause.
  5. CARE2: 9% of Americans have texted a charitable donations from their mobile phones. The Care2 network recruited an additional 30,000 through timely text alerts and petitions with an integrated social media plan
  6. FOUNDATION ABBE PIERRE: A French based charity named after a priest who devoted his life to getting people off the street and finding them a decent home. They joined Facebook in 2010 and built up a fan base of 7,000 in their first year, but in the last 6 months they have increased this by over 200,000 fans and gathered a further 50,000 signatures on their Facebook petition. Does this translate to ROI? Yes. The organization was spending $1 per signed petition and, though a signed Facebook petition, spent 4X less plus built a very visible support network they could turn to again.
  7. HELPING HANDS: A local affiliate of the Oregon Food Bank sponsored a Thanksgiving fun run, Give N’ Gobble. The campaign goals were to increase overall donations, registered runners, volunteers and awareness in the Portland metro area. The race director hired Bonfire Social Media to create a search optimized blog, Twitter and Facebook pages. The blog served as a platform for race news, interviews, photos and easy race registration. Donations increased by almost 50% versus the previous year; runners increased by over 25%; volunteers increased 2X; web traffic increased 76%; pages indexed by search engines increased by 150%.
  8. LIVESTRONG: The Livestrong Challenge involved the purchase of yellow gel bracelet that became ubiquitous. It cost $1 and raised $10,800,000. It also occurred almost entirely through social media and a blog serving as the hub to generate awareness and tell the story. This occurred in 2009, at the height of the recession that was particularly hard on non-profits.
  9. SAVE THE CHILDRENZynga, the company behind popular social media games, called on all FarmVille players to buy more virtual radishes. Partnering with Save the Children, Zynga created “in-game” donations to raise money for all those affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Whenever players purchased virtual sweet potatoes in CityVille, radishes in FarmVille, and kobe cows in FrontierVille, they raised money; all of the proceeds went towards the Save the Children’s relief efforts. It raised $1,000,000.
  10. WORLD WILDLIFE FOUNDATION: Used social media to promote Earth Hour, an event to generate awareness of wildlife conservation and endangered species. Their YouTube channel ranked 9th for most subscribed non-profit organization). WWF also had a Facebook group which they used to engage the public in meaningful discussions and to raise awareness about their efforts. When WWF official Earth Hour began, the video was viewed every 4 seconds, and the topic appeared 56.1 million times in Google within a 24 hour time span. Earth Hour (#Earthhour) was amongst the top three Twitter trends. Their Earth Hour Canada group on Facebook had more than 100, 000 people participating. They even created a Facebook application that supporters could use to remind their friends to turn off the lights. This was significant awareness all gained as Earned Media through social media, at a fraction of the cost if it had been Paid Media.
  11. WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME: The World Food Programme (WFP) is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. On Facebook, they posted a photo: The photo posted here states “This is our web editor, Martin. He’s about to go shopping in a food market in Pakistan. He’s got 100 rupees (US $1.00) to spend. How much food do you think he’ll be able to buy?” This resulted in over 80 comments and 140 ‘Likes’. On YouTube, they posted a video and raised $36,000 on World Food Day. It has helped feed over 650,000 children.

When it comes to proving ROI, revenue (or donations in the case of nonprofits) is always a primary measurement. But these case studies demonstrate, in addition to revenue, social media achieves other important results – getting petitions signed, providing disaster relief, fighting hunger, protecting the planet and helping find a cure for diseases.

They also prove, when a nonprofit builds a base of support through social media, advocates are ready to jump in and help the cause.

Out of demand from nonprofits to better understand and put social media to use, this November, from the 12th through the 16th, Rutgers University is offering a Mini-MBA on Social Media for Nonprofit Leader and Public Official. One of the course will be Measurement and ROI which I teach.

In this post, it is important to give a shout out to a nonprofit founded by Seth Wohlberg, who is on a mission to cure Rasmussen Encephalitis, a rare inflammatory neurological disorder, characterized by frequent and severe seizures, loss of motor skills and speech that occurs in the brain. “RE” occurs most often in children under 10 and Seth founded RE Childrens Project. He has connected families from all over the world where someone in the household has Rasmussen’s. He has built a global brand with the help of social media. He also has discovered that a cure lies in securing tissue from children who had a hemispherectomy, a surgical procedure where one cerebral hemisphere (half of the brain) is removed or disabled.

Seth has made incredible progress. In my opinion, he has already seen ROI but I believe, to Seth, ROI won’t be achieved until a cure has been found. Please visit RE Childrens and learn what Seth is doing. It is inspiring and Seth, and his daughter, Grace, are two of the most courageous people I know.

Do these case studies prove the ROI of social media for nonprofits to you?


21 reasons social media marketing fails 22

Posted on August 12, 2012 by Rob Petersen

When social media failsSocial media marketing is the use of community-oriented publishing vehicles, available to anyone, to create awareness and build relationships that are capable of generating business behind your brand.

The necessary ingredients are:

  • Relevant content
  • Commitment to publish consistently
  • Willingness to connect with others and engage in conversations
  • Courage to put yourself out there

If you need to see proof of results, a free eBook, 166 Case Studies Prove Social Media Marketing ROI, is available to download on the sidebar of this website with just a click and no strings attached.

Social media marketing has evolved. It offers the same multi-media options and consumer profiling as mass media. There is TV/video (YouTube) and radio (blogtalkradio, podcasts). Social networks function much like magazines skewing to specific demographics. Facebook, for example, is like People magazine; Twitter like Us; LinkedIn is like business publications (Forbes, Business Week, Inc.) and Pinterest like women’s service books (Ladies Home Journal, Better Homes and Gardens, Cosmopolitan).

Plus, there are targeting and promotional tools to help you find advocates and influencers on social networks (Booshaka, Klout), blogs (Technorati, Alltop), geo-target (Twitter Search) and promote in ways that encourage sharing (Wildfire).

But it would be misleading to say social media begets success for all businesses. Many don’t realize the return expected. Why? Here are 21 reasons social media marketing fails.

  1. Desired business results are not defined
  2. Social media is seen a substitute for a business strategy
  3. Measurements and key metrics (Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)) are never established
  4. A Facebook and Twitter page is thought to be what’s sufficient for a social media presence
  5. Who you want to attract is not articulated
  6. Where they spent their time on social networks has not been investigated
  7. What are the shared interests with your brand are not explored
  8. The conversation is a monologue, not a dialogue
  9. Negative as well as positive comments aren’t acknowledged or responded to in a timely fashion
  10. There isn’t enough relevant content
  11. Keywords are not used so consumers find your brand the way you want to be found
  12. Your brand is promoted more than you give thanks to others; the latter is a much more important form of expression
  13. The action you want consumers to take is not clear or made easy
  14. “Like” us on Facebook is seen as all that’s required for a meaningful relationship
  15. Social media is not integrated with other marketing efforts
  16. The efficiency of social media content in other forms of marketing (traditional email, eBooks, webinars) is not pursued
  17. No one looks at the KPI’s, Key Performance Indicators, regularly to keep the business strategy on track
  18. No one takes actions or makes adjustments based on the learning to optimize results
  19. The head people at the company says: “So what if we ‘Likes’ and ‘Followers,’ how is this helping business?”
  20. Soon, even the “Likes” and “Followers” start to stall
  21. Everyone in the office says they have too much to do to devote time and attention to social media. It’s concluded social media can’t really help this particular business.

Is this something you have observed? It’s too bad because with the right content, commitment and a little courage, there are plenty of examples that prove the situation can be turned around.

Do you think these are accurate descriptions of instances where social media fails?

7 inspiring insights about our social media behavior 0

Posted on November 22, 2011 by Rob Petersen

The Pew Research Center released findings this month about our social media behavior.

The facts and figures are telling, but more telling is the insights they reveal about our character as human beings.

Here are 7 insights into what social media usage reveal about our character.

1. FRIENDS AND FAMILY ARE OUR #1  PRIORITY: The top reason we use social networks is to stay in touch with friends, family members and connect with old friends we have lost touch. Meeting new people or interacting with celebrities are much less relevant than deepening bonds with those who are already important.

2. PEOPLE OF EVERY AGE WANT TO BE INVOLVED: A common misconception about social media is older demographics don’t use it because they’re either not computer savvy or didn’t grow up with social media. Not true. In 2011, we see, for the first time, saturation among the youngest demographic while the oldest (65+) is growing at the fastest rate.

3. ENGAGEMENT IS GOOD: When asked to describe their experiences on social media, positive comments like “good,” “fun,” “interesting” and “great” dominate testimony as this tag cloud visualizes of engagement experience.

4. WOMEN ARE MORE SOCIAL THAN MEN: We known for some time women are the networkers of the species. This is confirmed across social network with the exception of LinkedIn.


5. IT’S TOUGHER TO BE A TEEN: Are people kind or unkind to one another on social networks? When this question is asked, the answer, for the most part the answer is yes but teens navigate a more uncertain social world.


6. TEENS CAN HAVE A DARK SIDE ONLINE:  When teens (12-17) are asked how people behave online, the negatives outweigh the positives. A good number of the descriptors are troubling. If you’re a parent reading this, you should take away social media, like the internet in general, is a different world for teens than adults. Take the time to help your teen through it and tell them you understand what they’re going through.


7. TEENS KNOW WHAT’S RIGHT: When asked how people should behave online, the answers change and a different picture is painted.  Teens, like all of us, know what the right behavior is.


Taken together, these findings show extraordinary growth of social media bringing out a primal part of our character – to look out for one another.

If you don’t know, The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan “fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. It is a charitable trust that gives away its research for free.

To learn more about some of the extraordinary work the Pew Research Center is doing, take a look at this video from Mark Schaefer, marketing/business consultant and a fellow Rutgers MBA faculty member, with Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

What do these insights into our social media behavior say to you?




6 ways to demystify web analytics fast 2

Posted on August 27, 2011 by Rob Petersen


“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” That’s what Peter Drucker said to clarify the role measurements play in driving business growth.

But when it comes to the topic of web analytics, measurements can get very confusing very fast.  What does a clickstream, CPC or Bounce Rate have to do with sales?

Here are 6 ways to demystify web analytics fast.

1. KNOW WHY YOUR SITE EXISTS:  Is your website for e-commerce, lead generation, new prospects for a new product, a better customer experience or to lower internal overhead.  If you are clear why your site exists, you’ve already taken a big step toward clarifying the web analytics most important to measure.

2. IDENTIFY WHO YOU WANT TO ATTRACT AND HOW WELL YOU WANT TO GET TO KNOW THEM.  Any business can define their customers according to demographics and psychographics. For example, an audience for a new, compact car might be young adults
18-34 who relish their independence and, for first time, bought or leased their own car. So what? Web
analytics can explain how that audience generates greater sales and profitability by showing who is likely to be a loyal customer versus a price shopper?  Who will be high maintenance versus an advocate for your brand?  In short, web analytics tell you who to spend time pursuing and who not to waste time on. You have to devote time and resources to finding this out but, based on how valuable it is to your business, web analytics are a major asset.

3. FIND OUT HOW THEY FIND YOUR SITE: 80% of traffic to a web site begins with a search query according to Econsultancy.  But what caused the consumer to get to your site after that query. Was it where your business stands in the search rankings? A paid search ad? A review on Yelp or a friend’s recommendation on Facebook?  The right web measurements answer these questions and tell you how to spend your marketing dollars most effectively.

4. TIE WEB METRICS TO BUSINESS MEASUREMENT: In his book, Data-Driven Marketing, Mark Jeffery identifies the “The 15 Metrics Everyone in Marketing Should Know.” 5 metrics are for “Demand Generation;” 5 measure “Financials” and 5 are essential “Internet Measurements.” Mark believes a business only grows when it creates demand and does it profitably. Hard to disagree. The 5 essential internet measurements and: 1) CPC (Cost Per Click), 2) Transaction Conversion Rate (Click Through Rate that then buys), 3) Return on Ad Dollars Spent (ROI), 4) Bounce Rate (the percent of people who spend less than 5-10 seconds on your site) and 5) Word of Mouth (reviews and social media advocacy) because they relate to measuring demand and financials.

5. BUILD AN ACTIONABLE SCORECARD: Every business should be guided by Key Performance Indicators.  KPI’s are your primary guideposts for success.  They also show progress and a difference versus a prior benchmark period.  That’s what makes them actionable. Below is how to go about setting up a KPI dashboard which is not be hard to do.

6. CREATE AND KEEP CUSTOMERS: Peter Drucker also said: “The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer.”  The fact is the most eye-catching website, killer marketing plan and fanciest web analytics aren’t worth a dime if a business can’t prove that it satisfies customers. But, if you are focused on customer satisfaction, web analytics can guide you on how to keep them coming, buying more often and making the most of your marketing dollars.

Do these steps help demystify web analytics for you?

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