by , President and CEO,
Many businesses are caught in the debate between publicly accessible content (like a public Facebook page) and a more exclusive online presence. For some companies, providing an open, public online presence is sufficient to support employee, customer and partner needs. However, in order to promote the greatest customer engagement and interaction, more businesses are creating private online communities.
There are several distinct advantages to private online communities. The first is that membership is exclusive. Professional behavior is the norm. Community managers can monitor and moderate content if necessary and if appropriate and individual access can be revoked. This also offers the advantage of privacy—things that are shared in the community are shared only with the community, not the entire World Wide Web.
This type of exclusivity also promotes engagement among members. Since they are required to sign up—generally by providing a valid email address—they automatically get updates from the website and have access to more content. These registered customers also tend to use their memberships to share information and start conversations with other members. Forums, activity streams, Wiki’s and peer access are invaluable sources of information for companies regarding industry trends, and concerns or needs shared by clients. Employees can also post within communities in order to spark interest and start conversations with customers. This is an excellent way to track consumer satisfaction and engagement with specific products or services.
We recognize the importance of public social networks and believe that every company should have an engagement strategy around those, however if you are worrried about content ownership, fostering more private conversation and better supporting your stakeholders, perhaps a private online community might be the right tool for you.