Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Unfettered Rise of Social Communities

Social communities were born back in the "dark ages" - when "dial up" was the only way to connect to the web, AOL was aggressively marketing it's brand via CDs and the WELL was the absolute coolest place in the world to hang out.

Two first generation web pioneers Stewart Brand and Larry Brilliant founded the WELL back in 1985 and to a certain extent, it's discussion groups or communities were similar to the "wild west days" and textual chat that took place on CompuServe going back to 1969.

Social Communities and Baked In Commercial DNA

in spite of what some purists think, social communities have always had some commercial attributes and capabilities. The Grateful Dead's community used the Well as a meeting place from the late 1980s and into the 1990's and according to Howard Rheingold, the Well's Usenet feed was for many years provided by Apple over UUCP.

Many of us, sell included were using Usenet and Newsgroups in the early 90's in the pre .com era to market brands and businesses.

At the time it was controversial in that many did not want to see messages or posts made about commercial brands, events or news. The "social blow-back" behind a post that was self-serving could be fierce and strident.

However you look at the history of social communities, through the perspective of others, or the impact of technology, the definition of communities and how we all interact with each other has been redefined in a once in a generation shift.

We are all digitally connected today via devices and computers and the world has splintered into distinct communities with discussions and engagment encompassing the mundane to the spiritual.

Five Great Examples of Unique Social Communities with a Flavor all their Own

We all use mainstream (or many of us) social communities or networks with horizontal discussions like Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, G+ LinkedIn and others being mapped out by next generation potential billionaires.

Dell's Facebook page
is a stellar representation of how a brand leverages a broad social platform to reach its consumer base.

With over 8.5 Million Fans, Dell's page is a study in big brand marketing across the social web: with curated images, videos, embedded product launches promoted on the page, dynamic community management and more.


Intuit's Tax Community is another great example of a next generation social community.

Free tax advice from CPA's, accountants, financial planners and tax experts? Doesn't that defeat the purpose of selling more of Intuit's TurboTax software and negate the upside of this kind of community?

No, it's a great forum for tax professionals to generate awareness of their expertise with a broad base of consumers who may use Turbo Tax or not; but, regardless, the community is a great brand builder for Intuit.

If you look closely at the User Interface you'll see a very textual interaction that has its roots in CompuServe.


7-11's Yammer community is a great example of connecting over 3,500 people around the world who must have access to critical data that has a bottom line impact on their business. And, many of them are connected via mobile devices all over the world - the community has to work for multiple mobile platforms and disparate cultures, which is the hallmark of any good social community.


Spice Works features a blended vertical social community built around providing access to IT managers who need help with a broad array of technical challenges.

It's free with no paywall and provides high brand value for Spice Works, enabling the firm to raise over $100M in venture funding, connecting more than 5 million IT professionals and over 3K large brands connect with one another, learn about the latest tools and work more efficiently.


Oakley Forum is a great example of a modern day version of the Prodiby or CompuServe, only it serves consumers interested in all things Oakley with tens of thousands of users accessing the site daily to get deals, learn about Oakley and/or discuss the company's products.

It's a great example of a deep vertical focus on a narrow brand with a somewhat old school interface. But, regardless, it works for their community.


Expect to See an Unlimited Number of Social Communities Moving Forward

Clearly social communities are here to stay, whether your interested in a branded products or vertical markets, expect to see a dedicated social community that addresses your needs as our world continues to be more and more fragmented around interest that are uniquely tailored for each of us.

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