Research by Incyte Group highlighted by Get Satisfaction shows the weakness of Facebook as a way to engage with brands. There is a wide gap between how customers want to engage with brands on social media, and how companies are using Facebook.

Consumers Prefer Customer Communities to Facebook for Brand Interaction

  • 70.2% use Facebook for social networking.
  • But only 12.% use it for company, brand or product connections.
  • 81% would prefer to look at a company’s website to learn about a product or service.
  • Only 19.9% would prefer to iuse Facebook.

The infographic suggests that branded communities built for customers take the interaction further, allowing customers a central location for purchasing products, getting service and FAQ where they can actually interact with other customers, benefit from their experience, and more effectively seek answers to their questions.

3 Reasons Customers Prefer Branded Communities

Research by the Incyte Group shows that consumers say that they prefer branded communities built for customers for 3 primary reasons:

  1. 42.1%: To get information more quickly.
  2. 40.5%: To get answers from consumers “like me.”
  3. 17.4%: To get the most accurate information.

Customer Communities Create Brand Advocates

Providing incentives and rewards can be costly, and yet, the research shows that these are less likely to generate brand advocates than customer communities.  Of customer community users:

  • 42.1% are willing to freely advocate the brand or product without an incentive.
  • 40.5% are willing to advocate only with an incentive.
  • 17.4% would not advocate.

5 Steps to Make It Work

According to Incyte, there are 5 steps to satisfying customer needs with branded customer communities:

  1. Integrate the community with social networks: to allow social media users to more freely share it.
  2. Make the content easily searchable: by categorizing it intuitively.
  3. Create multiple entry points to the community: so customers can link at every website touchpoint.
  4. Provide service and support: self-serve or peer guided to make the experience seamless and easy.
  5. Give customers a forum: By allowing customers expression of and listening and responding to their needs, you provide a superior brand experience which turns customers into brand advocates.

The benefits of a branded customer community are many. They provide an instant interactive forum for online customers who might not otherwise navigate to a Facebook or Twitter page, enhance their brand experience, and allow them to share their good experiences and advocate for your brand. When there are problems, it provides you a way to show that you are concerned, customer-focused and responsive.

According to Get Satisfaction:

Consumers need more than just a platform where they passively “like” or “follow” brands. Many seek a more trusted, deeper customer experience—one that encourages greater interaction and makes accurate, trusted information easy to find.