Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Your Virtual Community

The California Management Review (Summer 2011) provides an overview of how companies and managers can foster and sustain customer engagement through a firm-sponsored virtual community (How to Foster and Sustain Engagement in Virtual Communities by Constance Elise Porter, Naveen Donthu, William H. MacElroy, and Donna Wydra).  The bottom line - - a sponsor must understand consumer needs and motivate members to cooperate by making them feel embedded and empowered.

The following are the various needs that members fulfill via virtual communities:
  • Information - - Virtual community members find value in a community that provides access to information that helps them learn, solve problems, and make decisions.
  • Relationship-Building - - Virtual community members seek to build productive relationships through interaction with others within a community.
  • Social Identity/Self-Expression - - Virtual community members want to achieve self-awareness that they are a member of the community and are gratified by the emotional and cognitive connection with the community, as a whole, as well as their ability to express such connection.
  • Helping Others - - Virtual community members are grateful by helping others within a community, especially those with whom they have developed a personal connection.
  • Enjoyment - - Virtual community members are gratified by achieving flow states, while interacting with others by having control over their experience with a community.
  • Belongingness - - Virtual community members desire a sense of attachment to a community, as a whole, and are gratified by having their contributions to the community respected by others.
  • Status/Influence - - Virtual community members seeks status and influence among others within a community.

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