The wisdom of the crowd is one of the tenets of Web 2.0. It’s the belief that the aggregated opinions of a large group of people will be as good as, or better than, the opinions of any one member of the group. The idea is that essential facts will triumph over the individual spin given by each member because each person’s biases will be cancelled out by someone else’s, leaving you with a reliable statement. Online, you have to approach crowds via the social networking sites and discussion forums where they already exist.
Then there are communities; in the digital space, these are groups around a common topic or topics of interest. A closely-knit community can be a valuable source of advocacy and information for a business, and that’s why they are increasingly investing in building branded communities. These communities also serve as focus groups for testing new ideas and refining them. A community is something that you have to build using a combination of existing and exclusive platforms.
When do you turn to crowds, and when do you go to your own brand-related community?
Crowds are great for big ideas. You can test out the appeal of a large new concept with crowds, or get a lot of inputs to kick off internal brainstorming for new offerings or features. Because of the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ effect, you can get a pretty accurate dipstick of what is going to work, what people want and what needs are not being fulfilled in the current market scenario.
But when it comes to detailing your new ideas, you need to go to a more private, focused community. Private because crowds are great at broadcasting; but product development is not when you want a broadcast to go out to competition. And the focus is important too; your brand community, over time, consists of fans of your brand, people who will take the time to give you detailed feedback and help brainstorm your ideas.
When you’re ready to launch your new offering, both crowds and communities are important. Your community advocates will help spread the word; reaching out to the crowd will give momentum to your marketing.
Drawing on the wisdom of crowds and the commitment of communities is a vital part of building a digital marketing strategy that will deliver measurable benefits to your business. That’s the kind of strategy the team at i-Vista specializes in. Think of us as a community of online marketing specialists standing by to help drive your business success!