Social Networks Built to Order
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Companies looking to establish a social networking presence might want to start small by launching a Facebook page, a Wiki or a few executive blogs.
Bigger firms with enough resources, might even set up a committee to research and deploy something on a grander scale such as a full-fledged company-branded social network using tools available from a variety of vendors.
Awareness said it now offers a faster onramp to corporate social networking. Based on its expertise in developing social networks for such big consumer brands as McDonalds and Sony, Awareness on Monday rolled out what it claims is the first series of "Best Practice Communities" (BPCs) of ready-to-deploy social networks.
"Last year, we would have said with our platform you can build anything you want," David Carter, founder and chief technology officer at Awareness, told InternetNews.com. "Now we're spelling out what can be done with these best practice communities."
Awareness offer eight social media models:
- Corporate Voice Community, which is used to facilitate communication with your audience.
- User-Generated Content/Microsite Campaign, which might include promotion of products and service with contests and viral marketing campaigns that encourage user submissions.
- Enthusiasts Community that serves as a destination for dedicated fans of the company and/or its products.
- Associations/Subscribers Community, a higher level or exclusive "velvet-rope" community for customers, association members, or subscribers.
- Loyalty Community, that rewards top customers.
- Innovation Community, that encourages customers to share ideas and knowledge to help generate new products and services including a rating and feedback system.
- Peer Support Community, to reduce customer service and support costs by providing a vehicle for community members to solve others' problems.
- Event Community, to build and maintain buzz leading up to and following an event.
Social media expert Charlene Li of the the Altimeter Group credits Awareness for breaking out specific segments. "They're offering a short cut on the development cycle and also from a strategy point of view, helping companies figure out what they need," Li told InternetNews.com.
"I love that they're not talking about technology, but about real business issues like how customers can support each other," Li added. She also noted Awareness is able to leverage its expertise working with many different industries. "An association of network engineers and one for pediatricians may well have very similar membership goals," she said.
"So Awareness can offer a kind of pre-fab solution as a starting point and the company or group can customize it from there. I think all the social media providers are moving in this direction of providing specific solutions."
Carter admits some clients have come to him wanting to do a social network "because they say 'everyone else is.' That's not a business case."
To that end, Awareness includes metrics related to the different modules so customers can measure performance. While in some cases the number of page views in an ad supported site might be an appropriate measure Awareness offers other metrics.
"For example, if you have a user community, a better measure is keeping track of when problems are solved," said Carter.