Leveraging the potential of online communities and social media means:
1. Engaging customers with your brand and helping them hold informed and meaningful conversations about your company, your products, and your services wherever these conversations may arise. Your corporate Web site might be the center of your online universe, but it’s not the center of theirs. Sure, they come to your company-sponsored community, but they’re also talking about you in the other B2B and B2C communities they frequent, at social and professional networking sites, and inside the firewall on their company’s intranet.
2. Getting customer-related data to flow easily and appropriately between your own applications. Their data is in their community profiles and in your HR, CRM, sales automation, and other systems.
Integrating applications that share community content and customer data helps deliver on this potential. Integration is all about getting content to move in and out of the community, quickly and securely, to wherever else it may need to be…perhaps your corporate Web site, your service and support application, your CRM system, Facebook or LinkedIn, or wherever else your customers and their data are.
More and more companies are successfully integrating community content and data with other systems and networks. Here are a few examples:
• GlobalTravelBlog.com gives traveler enthusiasts an interactive,
map-based interface for finding posts of interest from experienced
travelers. The social media platform provider Awareness built this
mashup to integrate community content with Google Maps.
• Neutrogena lets its customers participate in its “Beautiful For Good” community directly from Facebook, via an integrated application created by LiveWorld, its community platform provider. If you’re a Facebook aficionado, you don’t need to leave Facebook and go to the Beautiful For Good site to participate.
• Logitech helps its customers find answers and solutions—whether these reside in its own extensive knowledgebase or in its community forums—by integrating its community platform (Lithium) and its knowledge management system (RightNow Service). Search for “mouse problem,” and you’ll be returned a single page that shows relevant and ranked matches in both the Lithium-powered community and the RightNow-powered knowledgebase. No more searching both areas separately. This integration also helps Logitech’s support agents ensure there are no unanswered questions in the discussion forums and lets them easily turn effective customer-created solutions into more formal knowledgebase articles.