In April, I went to a workshop held in Boulder, Colorado titled “Making Digital Work”. The main theme of the workshop was that marketers should be creating communities around, and improving how communities use, products and services.

It makes sense. People want to be connected and can often be associated through a brand. The majority of brands accomplish this by asking for ‘Likes’ and running some kind of promotion through Facebook, Twitter and a host of other big-name communities.

While this creates many opportunities to interact with a subsection of users, this grouping of communities with third parties (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) can also defragment what should be a whole community under a brand. Rather than always sending users to these others platforms when in need of social integration, why not look at how user communities can be kept together as well as add features to brands, products and services?

Creating a community that adds to your product or service

Garmin is an excellent example of this. Garmin had a similar social setup to most companies. They have Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and a blog. But, their users were split into these communities and their product wasn’t getting better for it. So, Garmin developed a social experience — Garmin Connect — that fit the culture of their community as well as extended the benefits of their products.

Garmin Connect is an entire social platform for the outdoorsy Garmin GPS users. With a Garmin GPS, walking, biking, running and hiking routes can be uploaded and shared with other users. If a user is looking for a change of scenery or in an unfamiliar location, the user could access Garmin Connect to browse and download routes according to the activity, distance, elevation and time needed to complete. Users can also share and track workout goals and analytics. To date, Garmin Connect users have logged more than 1.15 billion miles.

What’s can be learned from this? While a proprietary social network can’t always be developed for a brand, product or service — it’s important to think about how user communities can stay intact while improving whatever it is being sold. If there’s a culture behind a brand, product or service, make a better way for that culture to get together — even if it doesn’t fit within the confines of popular existing social platforms.

Guest Post By: Scott Rostohar Lost Creature (formerly Dojo Collective) | Copywriter for Apollo Group

Intrigued by technology, passionate about the phoenix creative community and plagued by the blank page.

Website: MeMyselfandIdeas.com

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