Social technologies are now beginning to matter. As the web evolves into the ‘the social web,’ having a social Internet strategy and an Internet strategy are becoming one and the same. Cultivating and nurturing online communities provide consumers a ready-made, high-usage, high-value, trust-inducing environment. Additionally, it is important to align your ‘social web’ objective with a clear sense of purpose, i.e., a clear sense of why it matters to your existing customers to have a community that is front and centre.
In this context, communities act as a hyper-efficient mechanism to coordinate important resources. The information and knowledge shared can, because of the serendipitous nature of communities and network effects, provide critically important utilities for its members. These benefits include getting a job done, solving a problem, increased productivity, fulfilling unmet needs and more indirect psychological benefits, e.g., a sense of belonging or being able to sate your curiosity.
Hence, understanding ways to leverage social technologies can be a key source of value. We can imagine and do things, which were just not possible a few years ago. Consumers are rapidly adopting these technologies and creating uniquely valuable experiences. Products now act like artifacts or ‘social objects’ around which consumers can have connected experiences. Such connections are key in online social networks; people are loyal to that which they are connected and to what provides them benefits. People stick with ties they trust.