Simply put, you should care about communities because they want you to. A 2008 study by Cone, LLC, found that most online consumers want companies to have a presence online, and that many want them to be interactive with their customers, and use social networks to help them with problems (Figure 12-1).
Figure 12-1. Most users of social networks want companies to join them
Many of the benefits of communities are associated with marketing communications—a new kind of public relations. That’s only natural. Marketing communications is about getting messages out to the world, and as conversations, social networks fit that bill well. But communities do much more than simply deliver messages.
Audience engagement starts long before someone visits your site. It begins in the communities and online venues where your market first hears of you.
If the community adopts your message, it will amplify that message across the Web in a new and more effective form of promotion that people trust.
Community-based customer self-service not only lowers your own costs, it actually provides better service than you can offer by yourself—and customers prefer it.
By short-circuiting traditional market research, you can go straight to ...