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Online Insight Communities - a proactive social network

Online Insight Communities give you the opportunity to gain profound insight into your brand's consumers, their social networking habits, their expectations of online marketing, and what they demand from your brand. Furthermore, these communities allow brand and marketing managers to proactively harness insights to direct their chosen strategy.
Online Insight Communities - a proactive social network
Brand and marketing managers are increasingly looking to social networks to showcase their brands, products and services. This is understandable as social network channels give the opportunity to reach niche markets by honing in and targeting certain consumers. However, the challenges are to know who your consumers are, what their social network habits are, how they like to receive and engage with marketing initiatives, as well as what they want from your brand in terms of marketing and beyond.

Online Insight Communities give you the opportunity to gain comprehensive insight into all four of the abovementioned challenges, whilst providing a proactive social network for your consumers. These are online communities that are expressly built and managed as insight tools. They are designed to help support both the consumers and an organisation's market research needs, and represent the strongest example of social media infiltration into research. These communities convene in a private, custom-built virtual site with social network and research capabilities, where hundreds or even thousands of invited consumers regularly spend time engaging in research activities, brainstorming ideas, offering advice, sharing experiences and feelings, discussing trends, and helping brand owners to better understand their businesses and related marketing issues. These communities are challenging the way in which brand owners engage consumers in insight creation, and are increasingly viewed as a strategic decision-making asset.

There are various ways of gaining insight from an Online Insight Community to proactively aid your brand and marketing strategies. Some of these include:

Member profiling: Depending on how you recruit people for your Online Insight Community, various strategies can be implemented to ascertain who these people are. Member profiling can provide a good understanding of the people engaging with your brand. Online Insight Communities allow you to gather data beyond static demographics and rating scales. Aspects such as members' interests, likes and dislikes can be tailored into the community sign-up process.

Targeted discussions: Online Insight Communities enable direct targeted discussions with the entire community, or with a certain subset of the community. This goes beyond the static 'command-control' paradigm, as members freely interact with one another whilst discussing and debating issues. Such discussions are usually initiated by community moderators, but members can choose to post topics that are of interest to them. This facilitates a bottom-up research approach, and previously unheard of or unknown topics can be explored.

Photo insights: Members of Online Insight Communities can upload photos and consequently provide tangible insights into who they are. Photo insights can be specifically targeted by asking members to either upload photos of themselves interacting with your brand, or photos that resemble the brand in some way. Photo uploads can also be encouraged by asking members to upload photos relating to a specific question or theme, and extrapolating the responses.

Quick surveys and polls: Online Insight Communities usually consist of hundreds of members. The advantage is that they can be harnessed to provide quick, top-level quantitative insights to inform further research or to assist in situations where time does not permit lengthy research engagement.

"Netnographic" insights: Over and above the insights gathered from the more structured and formal channels, Online Insight Communities also provide valuable ethnographic, or rather netnographic, insights. The tone of the community and the language used by members all give a different level of insight into how your brand is perceived, described and the general sentiment towards it.

In it for the long term: As your Online Insight Community grows and matures, you will be able to establish when members are most active and direct your community's events in line with this. A long-term community ensures that you are able to keep in touch with what is relevant and important to your consumers.

Online Insight Communities allow you to proactively manage your social network strategies to ensure that your brand remains relevant to consumers, while at the same time filtering insights into the organisation to inform internal planning and strategies. These communities enable you to harness continuous insights, without commissioning ad hoc research projects, making the approach particularly cost-effective and valuable.

South Africa's Specialist Online Research Company

Columinate specialises in online market research and insight communities and is, to date, the only company to offer this research method in South Africa.

Columinate are experts in innovative online research. We provide market research solutions that go beyond traditional routines in order to yield better, faster and more cost-effective insights. Contact Columinate ([email protected]) to request an obligation-free demonstration of the online community platform, or a presentation or brochure with information on any of our other offerings. Visit for more information.

2 Feb 2011 11:40



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