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The value of online Communities

30 May, 2008

online community international

I met with Bruno Boutot in April 2008 on what was probably the first sunny Spring day in Montreal. I had a very enlightening conversation with him about Communities and their value in the online media world.

Bruno used to be a journalist and he has a wonderful way of summarizing complex interactions in very mundane concepts.
With a background in traditional media (being amongst other things co-founder of the magazine Infopresse – link) and with seniority in online community moderation (he’s been moderating forums and BBS sites for half a decade), Bruno has a very clear vision about how to bridge real life interaction with online interactivity.

From his perspective, it’s all about “affinity” or “community” with the major online revolution being that community is now real time, always available and therefore measurable.
Proximity (i.e. “always available”) is another key concept to Bruno. Whereas in traditional media the distance between the ad and the store can be miles and/or days away, on the Web the distance has narrowed down to a mere hyperlink (i.e. URL). The call to action and the ability to take action are instantaneous, almost real time.

And this is exactly where most media companies miss the point. Too focused on page views and unique visitors to measure their online ad display revenue, media corporations miss the conversion to action stage.

To get your customer engaged enough to act upon an ad with the intent of following through, remains the biggest conversion whatever the media. And then, what happens?

Because online businesses seldom focus on the conversion use cases, the opportunity loses itself in cyberspace and the customer turns his back on the brand with a frustrated experience.

Bruno compares landing on a website to walking into a restaurant after you heard an ad on the radio. You (as an online property owner) should welcome your customer (new or returning) with:
- your product’s uniqueness and specific offers and options
- your current promotions
- the community of people who are there at this given moment and means to interact with and see what they say about the offering
And if you’re a returning customer:
- a personalized welcome greeting
- a personalized selection because the system knows your preferences

You can check out Bruno’s blog at:

next post: Max has type 1 diabetes

previous post: The Art of the Start

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