Prediction 6: The Socialization of Place Continues

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by: David Polinchock

What happens when the social elements of things like myspace leave cyberspace and enter the physical world? Can and should brands use their physical space to help facilitate social interaction in the real world?

As we’ve been writing for some time, we believe that there could be a significant change in the use of retail space, going from inventory management to social experience. With online retail up 24% this year, people are becoming much more comfortable with the buy today, receive tomorrow world of retail.

With all of the talk about creating communities, we don’t understand why retailers aren’t using their physical space as a community-building tool. You already have their audience gathering there, but many times, you just treat your audience like an unwanted guest who’s barely tolerated. In 2007, successful brands will use everything they have to create successful communities, not just online tools.

And when you’re building your community efforts, don’t forget your most important audience — your employees. They need to be the first-line in your brand community efforts and, if given the chance, we’re sure they would want to take up that challenge. But it doesn’t work unless you actually treat them like you want them to be a part of your community. Without taking these steps, everything else will not quite ring true and authentic.

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