Digital communities: our best practice examples

Written by Julia T. on 2019.07.02

More and more digital businesses have come to realise that in order to be successful in the digital world, they need to provide a portfolio of different features, products, services and functionalities to an already convenient audience. This means that the businesses need to operate as platforms to facilitate and guide rather than sell and lead. One of the key elements in being a successful operator of platforms is the capability to build, manage and run digital communities. 

Here are our best practice examples from both outsourced communication channels and communities as business models.

Communication channels (Outsourced team or departments)

Zalando(Facebook Community) What they do: The biggest exclusively online fashion retailer in Europe. Success Factors/ USP: Customer focus. One of the fastest developed communities of its kind due to it’s great online experience and customer service teams. This Facebook community gives users the chance to speak to a team member in real time with live chat, as well as return items and fix any issues directly. 

Coca Cola(Twitter Community) What they do: Coca Cola’s main Twitter feed is used for communication among members. Success Factors/ USP: Active, and engaging. This twitter feed has a huge number of mentions and responses every day on Twitter. It has over 75,000 tweets, and is one of the most active brands on twitter. Coca Cola uses this channel also to maintain its customer service fast and efficient. 

SAP community network What they do: A community networks for SAP users, developers, consultants to get help, share ideas, learn and connect with others. Success Factors/ USP: An enablement and knowledge community. The mass of knowledge available to community members. This platform has over 430 sub-groups dedicated to a range of topics, services and industries, for academic communication and networking. 

2. Community as a platform/as a business model

Airbnb What they do: Community-based platforms used for listing and renting local homes. Success Factors/ USP: Builds a sense of community and belonging. The business model was built on the idea of trust among the community which works as a facilitator, between travellers and hosts. Ranking systems and feedback opportunities ensure transparency, authenticity and commitment. 

Uber What they do: On demand transportation service.  Success Factors/USP: Convenience and value. This community was built by word of mouth. Uber incentivised referrals, and gave value for money, so that everyone became an advocate for their brand. 

Yelp What they do: Crowd-sourced review forum and business directory. Success Factors/ USP: Rewards current and active community members. The most active, are group into a community called ‘Yelp Elite Squad’, they are rewarded with job opportunities, events and parties. 

Tripadvisor What they do: The world’s largest online travel portal Success Factors/ USP: Remarkable SEO strategy which has led it to show up front and centre of almost every travel related search. This, and user-generated content has resulted in trip advisor being seen and heard at all times. Again, ranking and feedback options leave a notion of trust and authenticity, beyond commercials and travel agencies. 

In decades to come, we will witness a heavy increase in communities as business models. This transition, starting at the outsourced and ending with a business model communities, is a is are result of platform building. These platforms enable you to interact with new leads, target groups, and to build new services. When building a service online, it is essential that you become the enabler through and with a digital community. Conceptualising, building and managing communities as a business model is a key digital capability of the future. 

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