3 Most Frequently Asked Questions on Customer Communities

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by: Idris Mootee

This is an
exciting week and I’m running like crazy to try to set things up for this new
company which I’m starting with three very intelligent young men and woman.
Yesterday was the first day of planning and we had that meeting in my living
room. We have no local or international offices, no server room, no corporate
credit card, no blackberries, no personal assistant, no espresso machine or
giant HD projectors. Well, hopefully all these will magically appear in 3-4

Today I want
to write about an interesting topic. The 3 most frequently asked questions from
clients and prospects:

1/ How do I
get people to come to my community?

2/ How do I
manage the conversations that being carried out within these communities?

3/ Does it
mean I am now a media company?

The answer
to question one is you must give them a good reason to come, and more so a
reason to come back. One good way is to provide good stories, good personal
stories. The answer to the second question is simple. No, you cannot manage
those conversations. You shouldn’t even try. The art is to get people to talk
about issues directly, confronting the unpleasant reality…rather than
obliquely surfacing the issues. For question three, the answer is a simple
“no’. That’s a silly question, please don’t ask that.

communities are a big part of driving “customer
This term is becoming mainstream and is now included
in many of the marketing and agency people vocabulary. But what does it mean?
Honestly I’m not sure if people even know what it means.

people involved is becoming harder and harder for many of us, “Attention Deficit” is now a common
condition. Loud design and a bold headline does not make the cut anymore, since
it works when you’re the only few in a crowd who is yelling. But now the market
place is like a heavy metal rock concert, music is loud and everyone is
shouting. No one hears you.  Your studded heavy metal punk jacket doesn’t
get you the attention you want. Not even your full-body tattoos. Too bad.

The most
important thing you need to remember is if you can provide an environment that
your customer is comfortable in sharing their stories, you are off to a very
good start. You really don’t have to worry much. It
is those content that sparks conversations and conversations drive communities
The best content or stories are those that:

1/ Reads
like my life experience

2/ Relates
to my life experience

3/ Speaks to
me in my language and

4/ Something
that makes me want to share them with my friends.

communities compose of many interactions; otherwise they shouldn’t be called
communities. The definition of interactivity recognizes different levels of
communication: 2-way non-interactive communication; reactive communication (or
quasi-interactive); and full interactive communication. 2-way communication is
present as soon as messages flow bilaterally. Reactive communication is when in
addition to a bilateral exchange; later messages refer to earlier ones. Fully
interactive communication requires that later messages in any sequence take
into account not just messages that preceded them, but also the manner in which
previous messages were reactive. In this way the interactivity forms a social

Who gets it?
Netflex.  This is a company that consistently did it right. Netflix
currently offers an extensive recommendation engine which covers movies
suggestions, but they take it that a step further. Netflix has always allowed
you to see the movie reviews of those who you have designated as Friends, now
the new update includes what they called Latest Reviews which allows you to see
a live, rolling list of the most current reviews being posted by other users,
right on the community page. The list of the reviews includes
information on who posted it and how they are similar to yours, based on
previous ratings and reviews etc. The really cool part is it can show 4 users
that are the most similar to you in taste. What they are doing is extending from communities to social networks.
Hats off to the Netflex team.