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Community platforms are a tool to increase customer engagement within advocacy marketing. Community platforms are online forums for customers, providing a space specifically tailored to people who share a common interest, bringing them together. The goal is to increase customer engagement, loyalty, and to improve a brand’s relationship with its customers. Customer platforms can be found on Facebook or LinkedIn for example, or can be created as another arm of your company’s online presence.
This approach promotes customer interaction, conversations, and provides a means for the customer to ask questions and receive help in using your product. The aim is increased engagement, advocacy, and a greater appreciation of your brand. It can be a source of insight into how your product or service is used, who exactly is buying it, as well as its potential flaws, in this way making the company aware of avenues for improvement concerning advertising, brand perception and product effectiveness. This sort of platform gives access to demographic information at little cost through user-generated content. Some incentives offered to the customer on these forums include exclusive content, news, a Q&A forum, as well as rewards in the form of discounts or exclusive offers. Your customers may also benefit by using your platform as a means of networking with those who have similar interests and goals, which in turn enables a brand to learn more about its audience and their needs.
According to ComBlu, there are three guiding principles in implementing a consumer platform; these are feedback, advocacy, and support. Some examples of highly successful community platforms include those created by PlayStation, Random House’s “Figment,” H&R Block, Harley-Davidson’s Harley Owners Group (HOG), and Oracle Community. Such forums are successful in that they do one or more of the above things: they bring together a community of people with a common interest to discuss the product and to network (PlayStation and Harley-Davidson); they encourage activity which serves the brand (as in reading and writing at Figment, which also inspires creativity in the teenagers who use it); and in the case of H&R Block and Oracle, helpful information and advice in the use of the product.
The brands which successfully use customer platforms promote their brand effectively by offering something of value to the customer.
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