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What is the state of your social commerce effort?

Amidst the rush of this past holiday season, you might have missed ComBlu’s insightful report analyzing the community and social marketing programs of 45 companies across nine industries, including such online luminaries as Best Buy, Mini-Cooper and Sony. It is worth a close read.

ComBlu makes a number of interesting points, many of them quite relevant to what we are doing with the Viewpoints Technology Platform (VTP). A few that I found noteworthy:

  • “The  majority of communities in our study offered only a limited number of ways for members to engage.” ComBlu points out that different people have different preferences about how they would prefer to interact with communities. A successful community needs to take account of this. VTP, of course, offers five different content modules – Ratings & Reviews, Discussion Boards, Q&A, Blogs & Guides, and Ideas & Voting – in addition to a broad range of social tools, to entice the casual community viewer to become an engaged community member.

  • “No There There.” ComBlu notes that while companies are implementing a variety of social tools, few are doing what is necessary to organize them within a true community with a distinct sense of place and compelling reasons to engage. It’s easy to understand why this is: there are hundreds of vendors offering these tools, but few providing a comprehensive community platform. At Viewpoints, we offer multiple entry points to our platform (including 

ComBlu Best Practicesfrom directly within e-commerce pages), but ultimately, the goal is to build a cohesive community – one that drives results for your brand. Every VTP implementation starts with a process to identify key goals and then develops a branded community home page featuring the modules and integration points that will serve those goals. The MySears and Craftsman home pages are great examples of communities with strong identities.

  • Lack of active community management. Throughout its report, ComBlu stresses the need for community engagement. At Viewpoints, we see this partly as a technology challenge (e.g., having a variety of social features like friending and alerts and our unique Social Loyalty Engine) and even more, a matter of having experienced community managers to recruit, activate, moderate, grow, and  put a friendly face on the community. Viewpoints has a dedicated professional services team that does just this. They can train your staff on community management best practices and/or moderate the community on your behalf. (See community management at work in this discussion thread.)
  • No comment? Many vendors who claim to be in the Social Commerce business do not offer commenting as part of their toolset. As ComBlu points out, commenting is a critical engagement tool. “If visitors or members cannot interact with experts and peers, they will have little reason to continue to use that community.” This product review and this idea submission are examples of of threaded commenting on the Viewpoints platform.
  • Community best practices. The report identified a range of community “best practices” (see chart above). It’s noteworthy that VTP affords its partners the ability to easily implement virtually all of these.
  • Who you gonna call? ComBlu found that many communities end up as “Ghost Towns” – communitie s that lack members, engagement, and return visitors. Viewpoints offers community accelerators to ensure that your community will be active from day one. Click here to see the latest activity that has taken place on the MySears community, even since you started reading this post.

Naturally, we are proud that ComBlu cited MySears as one of the top-performing communities sites that it reviewed, among a very strong group of peers. Contact us to discuss how Viewpoints can launch a high-performing community for your brand.