Online Communities

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The Problem With Online Ratings

Studies show that online ratings are one of the most trusted sources in e-commerce decisions. But research suggests that these ratings are systematically biased and easily manipulated. The heart of the problem lies with herd instincts — natural human impulses characterized by a lack of individual decision making — that cause us to think and act in the same way as other people around us.

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Turning Facebook Fans into Product Endorsers

“If you engage customers,” says V. Kumar, “they go and they get their friends” to try out a product, too. Kumar, of the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University, explains how companies can find their most influential online customers and enlist them to help promote their brands.

Mark Yolton, senior vice president of SAP Communities & Social Media

SAP: Using Social Media for Building, Selling and Supporting

SAP runs a 10-years old, online community network that has more than a million unique visitors a month. Mark Yolton, senior vice president of SAP Communities & Social Media, tells how his company is using social media for “outside-in” market insight and as a mechanism to immediately tell the world about its new products.

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Enhancing Relationships With Customers Through Online Brand Communities

Online brand communities can bring customers closer to a brand, generate “buzz” and enhance brand loyalty. Yet, important as online brand communities are to consumer markets, little is known about the role they play in consumer decision-making. Although the popularity of online brand communities as a means of gathering pre- and post-purchase information continues to grow, knowledge about how to effectively manage those conversations remains scant.

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The Power of Innomediation

Many companies have learned to use the Internet as a powerful platform for collaborating with customers on innovation. They have created customer advisory panels to solicit ideas for new products, fostered online communities to encourage dialogue among customers, and built toolkits that enable customers and engineers to codesign products.

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Confronting the Limits of Networks

As networks become very large, they can fall prey to saturation, cacophony, contamination, clustering and high search costs. Those phenomena mean that larger networks can, in some cases, have less value than smaller ones. The authors have identified several strategies that network builders can employ to maintain network effects or limit their decline.

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