Content Discovery Smackdown: Hootsuite vs. Buffer vs. KloutContent Marketing Minds: Ingredients of the Tastiest Content [Nutrition Label]From the Corn Field to the Digital Era: Content Marketing Starts with TrustContent Marketing: Is 2014 Really Shaping Up to Be the Year of Video?
Your Customers Aren’t Listening! How to Create Consumer Dialogue that Converts4 Tools for Nonprofit Social Listening and Reputation ManagementThe Promising Role of Social Listening in Treating Health IssuesThe Importance of Social Listening for Brands
- Public Relations
Facebook Testing a Way for Users to Buy Products on the Platform7 Website Tips to Attract More Shoppers to Your PagesHow eCommerce, Augmented and Virtual Reality Will Redefine the Retail ExperienceSearch Query Analysis to Increase eCommerce Website Conversions
- Content Marketing
Technology & Data
Social Startups: Bizible Connects All the Dots from Marketing Contributions to RevenueCreating the Perfect Profile for Your Social Media Marketing EffortUsing GPS and Localization for Social AnalyticsAnalytics and Prospect Intel: Discovering Your Ideal Prospect
- Big Data
- Tech & Innovation
3 Security Risks You’re Taking Every Day While Using Social MediaShould the President Have the Power to "Pull the Plug" on the Internet?How Safe is Your WordPress Website From Hackers and Other Malicious Attacks?
- Software & Tools
- Small Business
- Social Organization
Celebrating the Grand Re-Launch of Social Media Today! SBH Podcast Episode 8Why Should You Care If Your Employees Are Thought Leaders?Beyond Engagement: The Art of Managing Social-Media Risk in Employee Advocacy
Why All-in-One Social Media Management Systems Don't Cut It for Social Customer ServiceWhat You Should Know About Customer, Digital, and Contextual ExperienceSurging into Q3: How to Make It Better Than Q2Is How You Serve Your Customers Costing You Business?
Join us September 15th in Atlanta for The Employee Advocacy Summit and learn how to unleash the power of your employees.
Post your event here and we'll share it with our community. If one of our members is featured, we'll promote as well on their profile.
- Marketplace & Webinars
The SMT Marketplace
Your resource for exclusive content and insights from Social Media Today, and opportunities to reach our community of professionals.
The Social Business Book Club brings you books, discussions, and insights from today's to business thought leaders.
Join interactive talks and and panel discussions with leading thinkers and practitioners on social media and networked business, or browse the catalogue of recorded sessions - all completely free.
Reach Social Media Today's community of marketing and communications professionals in an editor-approved context with a native advertising package.
2012 "State of Online Branded Communities" Study
Posted on November 13th 2012
Mature social brands demonstrated a new level of “experimentation” in their approach to their owned online community assets. This was one of the key conclusions in 2012 State of Online Branded Communities studyfrom ComBlu, which uses both quantitative and qualitative measures to assign Lumen ratings as an indicator of how well a brand delivers an integrated, meaningful experience across its community/social ecosystem.
One of the qualitative data points is an assessment of the maturity of the brand’s community strategy. These range from cohesive, social experimentation, community overload to ghost town. The social experimentation category jumped from 50 percent to 55 percent, which dragged down the scores of some previously high-scoring brands such as Intel, American Express and Discovery. At first, this was disturbing. However, the ComBlu team concluded that this actually is a healthy phenomenon.
A natural part of the maturation cycle of community strategy is to make adjustments based on member input and performance analytics. When brands first launched communities, legacy knowledge was non-existent and experimentation was rampant. Brands tried many things with no obvious strategy and searched for the ultimate “secret sauce” of community.
As brands gain experience and measurement becomes more sophisticated, they are using their learning to jettison non-performing engagement approaches and are introducing new tools and engagement catalysts. The goal is to stimulate new levels of engagement and reignite dormant community members. They thus enter a new phase of experimentation and no doubt will apply the best performing new ideas across a new cohesive framework in the near future. This is a trend to watch to see if cohesive strategy rebounds in 2013.
Last year, we saw a growth in the number of brands that offered a cohesive framework across their community and social ecosystem. The decline in the percentage of brands in the cohesive category this year equaled the gain in the experimentation stage.
We initiated our study four years ago when we could not find any data about community experience from the members’ perspective. Most research focused on brands self-reporting many things: social marketing budget in dollars and as a percentage of overall marketing spent, growth of that budget year over year, who “owns” social inside the organization, the split between social business and social enablement, how they intended to engage within these communities, and so on. We also found lots of opinion and research about online community best practices, but again, the existing studies stopped short of determining how those practices impact engagement levels, stimulate return visits or generate a robust community experience.
ComBlu created a best practices scorecard that overlaid multiple studies on the topic to find the core practices across multiple sources. We then joined just over 200 communities representing 92 companies across 15 industries and scored our experiences against the scorecard. While this is a herculean task, it has become a labor of love. Our main objective is to gain first-hand experience of how these communities engage and interact with their members.
Specifically, the research assesses the brands’ effectiveness in:
- Providing a meaningful experience for members.
- Integrating their brand strategies across multiple communities and social media.
- Applying best practices to strengthen customer engagement.
In 2012, we’ve found:
- Activity levels are generally healthy but fairly static across the board. While 43 percent of communities are enjoying high-levels of activity, that’s a mere one percent jump from last year.
- Many brands continue to define Facebook as “community” and are missing the opportunity to engage more deeply with defined customer segments through a true online branded community. A “social only” approach is as incomplete as a “community only” strategy. The two are symbiotic and contribute to overall engagement. It is important for brands to understand what to do where and optimize the natural leverage between the owned and social infrastructure.
- Top performing industries include telecommunications, gaming, technology and consumer electronics, entertainment, and consumer products-beverage. And, notably, #1 ranked Telecomm is the first industry in which all of the brands scored over 50 points.
Once again, the report contains great information, insights and data on community constructs, best practices and social integration but the industry section is especially jam packed this year, with more analysis of segment-specific performance data.
This infographic showcases some key highlights from the 2012 report and links to a free download of the study. We’re always interested in hearing what you think and learning about your own experiences, so be sure to share your insights.